The Enthusiast's PC
The Enthusiast's PC incorporates the perfect blend of both the Entry-Level Rig and Luxury System, making this our most balanced build. Our intent is to keep this system within the grasp of the average computer enthusiast, essentially offering a fully loaded PC minus some of the unnecessary bells and whistles that could set you back another grand or two.
|Processor||Intel Core i5-6600K||$240|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7||$200|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo||$30|
|Memory||G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000||$75|
|Graphics||Gigabyte GTX 1070 WindForce||$400|
|Storage SSD||Crucial MX300 525GB||$120|
|Storage HDD||WD Green 2TB||$92|
|Power||Seasonic M12II 620w||$70|
|Case||In Win 503||$60|
|Monitor||Dell U2715H 27"||$462|
|Speakers||Bose Companion 2 Series III||$100|
|Mouse||Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury||$40|
|Keyboard||CM Storm QuickFire XT||$80|
Core System Total
Core System + Monitor and Peripherals
Motherboard, Processor, Cooler, Memory
For the most part, the Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K deliver a similar gaming experience and with the Core i5 processor coming in a good bit cheaper, this is the way we recommend gamers go. If you are looking to build this rig for content creation then we do suggest considering spending the extra money on a Core i7 processor.
The Z170 is Intel's flagship chipset for the 100-series and with over 100 motherboards currently available, picking the right one is no simple task. We set the motherboard budget at around $200, for which we feel the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 is the best choice. The board offers loads of features and should you want to overclock it is more than capable. The onboard sound solution is also good enough you can easily forgo a dedicated sound card.
From what we've seen, the Skylake Core i5 range responds best to high frequency memory and we suggest a minimum of 2400MHz, but if you can afford to go higher then do so. The G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-3000 is unbeatable value at just $75. Given the price of memory today we upgraded to a 16GB kit whereas this time last year we went with 8GB.
The Core i5-6600K is a seriously capable CPU and it deserves an equally serious GPU so we chose the $400 Gigabyte GTX 1070 WindForce. There are plenty of great GTX 1070 graphics cards available right now but Gigabyte's WindForce seems to be one of the more affordable ones and we know the cooler works well.
With performance that matches the previous-gen Titan, the GTX 1070 is the perfect graphics card for tackling 1440p resolutions and this explains our monitor choice which we'll get to shortly. Our mobo of choice, the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 features a remarkable onboard sound solution from Creative and therefore we don't recommend purchasing a discrete sound card.
The 525GB Crucial MX300 is fast, roomy, and seemingly dependable, yet it manages to be one of the most affordable high-end drives around thanks to its use of Micron's in-house 3D TLC memory.
Most enthusiasts will want a larger hard drive complementing their SSD and if that's the case when we suggest the WD Green 2TB for just $92. That's a great value and performance isn't an issue here as it's probably just going to be used for multimedia content and backing up.
For the optical drive we went with an LG combo drive that supports DVD burning and reading Blu-ray. Spending money on an optical drive is a personal preference -- several TS staffers have gone a few years without one so they certainly aren't necessary.
Although you could probably get by with a solid 500W PSU, that would be cutting it close with some multi-GPU configurations, so spending a few bucks more now to have headroom later makes the most sense. There are plenty of options to pick from but we really like the Seasonic M12II 620w. It's Bronze certified, offers ample power, and costs just $70.
Having recently fallen head over heels for the Silverstone KL05B mid-tower, we felt it was a must-have item for the enthusiast build. The case supports loads of hardware, provides interference-free design for mounting 240mm or 280mm radiators, highly flexible storage accommodation of up to 8 or 11 drives, and quick access filters for easy cleaning. Best of all it's just $75, though availability seems to be limited currently and thus we've chosen the solidly constructed, $60 In Win 503 instead.
The 27-inch U2715H topped our enthusiast recommendation list in our best of monitors last year as an excellent all-round display. It uses the LG AH-IPS Neoblade panel featuring a borderless design that allows for a sleek thin bezel. With a native resolution of 2560×1440 and a 60Hz refresh rate, it's not a gaming-first monitor, however with factory calibration out of the box, amazing image quality, a five port USB 3.0 hub (1 with battery charging), good warranty, and a price that won't break the bank, it's our top choice here.
Those seeking an ultra wide experience, the LG 34UM68-P 34" brings a tempting proposition for even less. The IPS LED backlight monitor boasts a QHD resolution of up to 3440 x 1440, 320 cd/m2 max brightness and a 1000:1 contrast ratio. There is a Dell monitor competing in that range but it's considerably more expensive (hence our recommendation for the Luxury build).
If you're after an affordable 4K monitor then we suggest the Samsung U28E590D. Not many people need a 4K computer monitor right now, but if you've got the hardware to push that many pixels and want to jump in on the fun, there are a handful of relatively affordable options from Asus, Samsung and LG, but again we'd pick Samsung's 28-inch U28E590D at $400.
Note that all displays vary in features, especially in connectivity, so you'll have to see what fits your needs best.
Speakers are a tricky component to shop for because a higher price and wattage don't necessarily equal better audio, and if you are very picky about audio quality you may want to look beyond regular PC speakers (or look for higher-end options in the next builds).
As long as you don't expect studio-quality reproduction and you're not trying to rattle any walls, the ~$40 CA-3602 recommended for the Entry-Level Rig should be fine. For a little extra, the Creative T3250 2.1 provide a similar audio experience with a few more features, most notably Bluetooth support, which enables the T3250's to stream music wirelessly from most stereo Bluetooth devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. The speakers also come with an audio control pod that includes power on/off, Bluetooth, and volume control for ease of use.
Finally, if you want the best PC speakers for under $100, the Bose Companion 2 Series III are a proven solution with fidelity that impresses at this price range. We've long-term tested the previous generation Companion 2 system for years and we can say they're almost a steal at $100.
Mouse & Keyboard
Between the number of possible keyboard and mouse combinations and the various uses you could be making of this system it's virtually impossible to recommend a single component. However when we looked for the value middle ground, two great choices came up on top: the CM Storm QuickFire XT is a solid mechanical keyboard with a sober look and proven record well under $100. The Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury brings the familiar combination of quality, comfort and customization of high-end Logitech mice for a mere $37.
As an alternative, If you want peripherals with that gamer flair, we've been long-term testing G.Skill's mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse with great results: the Ripjaws KM780 MX and Ripjaws MX780 mouse, that is.