Best of the Best - Maximum PC-approved hardware and components for your rig building needs

Hard Drive (Performance)
Samsung 850 Pro Series SSD

We were blown away by the performance of the Samsung 840 Pro, and the Samsung 850 Pro takes things to a slightly higher level with its use of 3D vertical NAND flash memory, which staks 32 cell layers on top of one another. This results in higher density and superior performance. Unless you're moving to a PCI-Express solution, this is about as fast as it gets.

Hard Drive (Capacity)
Seagate Barracuda 4TB

Hard drive capacity marches ever onward, compelling us to replace the 3-terabyte Seagate Barracuda with the 4TB version. Performance has improved to the point where the smaller drive doesn't offer much advantage, and the bigger drive no longer commands a steep premium.

Budget Air Cooler
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo

Yes, we've been in love with Cooler Master's Hyper 212-series of CPU coolers. And why not? Each new model has been better than the last, and each one has been incredibly affordable. We don't see a big reason to switch from the older Hyper 212 Plus, but if you're building anew or need to upgrade from a stock cooler that's not getting the job done, this is our pick. 

High-End Air Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC14PE

The Noctua-alike that out-Noctua'd Noctua, Phanteks only makes one air cooler: the PH-TC14PE, but it makes it well. The massive cooler is the best-performing air cooler we've ever tested, and it ships with two 14cm fans. It even comes in your choice of white/aluminum, red, blue, or orange. The huge heatsink does interfere with tall RAM heatspreaders, but if you need best-in-class air cooling, try Phanteks. 

Water Cooling System
Corsair H100i

The H100i is pretty much the best 240mm radiator that we've seen. The performance and noise levels are excellent, and it gets a sturdy metal backplate, unlike most of its competitors. The five-year warranty is also pretty sweet. As with the 120mm H80i, the logo on top of the pump lights up in a range of customizable colors.

 

Full-Tower Case
Corsair 900D

The Corsair 900D is a titan among full-tower cases, sporting room for a combination of nine SSDs and HDDs, four GPUs, dual PSUs and still room left over for water cooling enthusiasts. Beautifully designed, we trusted the 900D to house Dream Machine 2013 to provide great looks and a great building experience. Be warned: you'll need an army of two to lift it.

Midtower Case
Thermaltake New Soprano

Chassis fans running at high RPMs can get loud, but the Kick Ass Thermaltake New Soprano case does a great job with soundproofing. The chassis also offers good cooling, easy installation, and slick aesthetics. It's also very affordable to boot.

30-Inch Professional Display
Asus PQ321Q

Future generations will look back at technology and regard 2014 as the breakthrough year for 4K panels. Indeed, we've seen 4K panel prices start to become reasonable as of early 2014, and we view 4K as the next frontier in panel technology. The ASUS PQ321Q has won our hearts, wowing us on every front.. that is, except it's pricetag. For professionals seeking a 4K panel, the ASUS PQ321Q truly is the best of the best.

Mid-range Monitor
Asus PA238Q

It's almost astonishing that Asus can deliver such a crisp and beautiful IPS panel for so little money. The PA238Q is gorgeous and well-built, comes with good color calibration and a great chassis. It's simply stunning.

Gaming Speakers
Corsair SP2500 Gaming Audio Speakers

Corsair's SP2500 looks a little plain Jane when there's nothing sitting next to it to reveal the size of its gargantuan subwoofer. But one thing is for sure: There is nothing subtle about this system. It will punch you in the gut with clean, powerful sound. Corsair has established a new high-water mark for computer audio: This mutha rocks.