Build a PC: Recommended Builds (July 2014)

Tom McNamera

Budget, baseline, and performance PC builds!

What time is it? It's time to Build a PC with our Blueprints! This month, we've built three rigs at three approximate price points: Baseline, Performance, and Ultra. Baseline gets you a powerful system for gaming and content creation at 1080p, Performance beefs everything up across the board, and Ultra lets the dogs out.

Prices listed here reflect print time and may not match the ones you find elsewhere online. In addition, Newegg has jumped on board to offer packaged deals for each of the builds below in an attempt to offer a better overall value. To see these bundle prices, click the "Buy-or-get-more-info-at-Newegg" button at the bottom of each build. Feedback is welcome. Tell us what you think!

Note: Some of the prices/links listed below may not show up properly if this page is ad-blocked.

Part Component
Case Corsair Vengeance C70 $108
PSU SeaSonic G-750 SSR-750RM 750W
Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H
Intel Core i5-4670K $240
Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
GPU MSI R9 280 Gaming 3G
RAM 2x 4GB G.SKILL Ares Series F3-1600C9D-8GAO $69
Optical Drive Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD Burner $20
SSD Samsung 840 EVO 250GB
HDD Seagate Barracuda 1TB ST1000DM003 $65
Total = $1212
Click here to see the live bundle price:

As this issue went to press, we did not have a "Devil's Canyon" CPU from Intel, which is a refresh of its Haswell generation. But we did have several motherboards that use Intel's new Z97 chipset. We chose the Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H because of its balance of features, price and performance. AMD card prices have stabilized, so we can now recommend an MSI Radeon R9 280, which consistently outperforms the GeForce GTX 760 at the $250 price point. Rosewill's Hive-750 PSU from last time was out of stock, but the SeaSonic SSR-750RM is modular, gold-rated and competitively priced. The 550w model used in our February Build It (pg. 58) performed quite well.

Part Component
Case NZXT Phantom 530 $130
PSU XFX ProSeries P1-1050-BEFX 1050W
Asus Sabertooth X79
Intel Core i7-4820K
Cooler Corsair Hydro Series H100i
GPU Gigabyte Radeon R9 290X 4GB GV-R929XOC-4GD $550
RAM 4x 4GB G.SKILL Ripjaws F3-12800CL9Q-16GBRL
Optical Drive LG WH14NS40 Blu-ray Burner
SSD Samsung 840 Evo 500GB MZ-7TE500BW $260
HDD Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001 $110
TOTAL = $2150
Click here to see the live bundle price:

The next version of Intel's workstation CPU is still on the horizon, so we're staying with the Core i7-4820K. Unlike the build above, this LGA 2011 chip has enough PCI Express lanes to handle 3-4 video cards, if you want to go that route. Speaking of which, we've swapped the GeForce GTX 780 with a Radeon R9 290X , now that the price for the latter has returned to orbit. This Gigabyte model runs cool and quiet, and it outperforms the 780 in most tests, and the price premium for that is pretty small. We've also switched our power supply to the XFX P1-1050-BEFX, since it costs just a little more than the Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 while offering much higher efficiency. There are cheaper SSDs than the Samsung 840 Evo, but we prefer its software.

Part Component
Case Corsair Obsidian 900D $320
PSU Silverstone Strider Gold Evolution 1200w
Asus X79 Deluxe
Intel Core i7-4930K
Cooler Cooler Master Nepton 280L
GPU Sapphire Radeon R9 295x2 100360SR $1500
RAM 4x 4GB G.SKILL Ripjaws F3-12800CL9Q-16GBRL $150
Optical Drive LG WH14NS40 Blu-ray Burner $68
SSD Samsung 840 Evo 1TB MZ-7TE1T0BW $460
HDD Seagate Desktop HDD.15 4TB ST4000DM000 $160
TOTAL = $3948
Click here to see the live bundle price:

Compared to the Intel Core i7-4820K on the previous page, this Core i7-4930K has an additional two cores, with Hyperthreading giving us twelve processor threads, as opposed to eight. This is a nice boost for video encoding and live streaming, and some games are starting to use as many threads as we can give them. We've seen more than a few reports that users of the Cooler Master Glacer 240L CPU cooler have experienced some build quality issues, so we've switched to the company's Nepton 280L. As its name implies, it has a 280mm radiator, giving it more surface area to dissipate heat, and it performed quite well when we reviewed it in the April issue.

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 780 and 780 Ti video cards have been a mainstay in the Ultra build for some time now, but we've been impressed with AMD's Radeon R9 295X2 . It combines two R9 290X GPUs onto one card that uses an integrated liquid cooler. It runs very cool and quiet even when overclocked, though it is held back a little by a non-adjustable voltage.

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