Welcome to the 2022 PC builder's thread!
GameGuru traditionally posted build suggestions in these top posts, but that seems pointless in the current hardware climate.
Instead, I want to use this space to enumerate helpful resources that I am always pointing people to. Will update this list as I remember or learn of new ones. But as this thread gets long, I suggest directing people back to this list of resources as appropriate.
- TechPowerUp GPU Database: Pick a GPU from the table, and the Relative Performance chart shows you how all the other GPUs perform in comparison to your selected one, expressed as percentages. Also includes a wealth of reference information on each GPU. The main TechPowerUp site is also a high quality PC news aggregation site.
- Power Supply (PSU) Tier List: The new home for the list that previously lived on the Linus Tech Tips forum. Provides a handy "this power supply is good, that one is crap" sanity check.
- RTINGS: "Is this monitor good? Is this mouse good? Are these headphones good? Is this TV good?" Answer: go to RTINGS and see for yourself! By far the most complete and comprehensive display, audio, and peripheral testing site. Gets down into the nitty gritty on things like latency measurement. Indispensable resource. The "Pro Football Focus" of hardware.
- PC Part Picker: Back in the days when you could simply buy the PC components you wanted, people utilized PCPP to configure their builds, check for any build compatibility issues, and find the best prices on each of their desired components. Maybe, someday, we will live in that world again.
- BlurBusters: For all things high refresh rate, variable refresh rate, and the like. They are insane and anal about display technology so you don't have to be.
- Gamers Nexus: If you watch only one PC builder's focused channel on YouTube, make certain it is this one. High levels of precision and rigor, low levels of YouTubey-ness. Also, shout out to Hardware Unboxed, especially for their display testing.
- AnandTech: One of the longest running hardware review sites, whose level of quality has stayed intact throughout changes in ownership, unlike some other sites (looking at you, Tom’s Hardware).
- iFixIt Repair Guides: Need to know how to disassemble that laptop of yours? iFixIt has a guide for that.
- PassMark CPU Benchmark results: PassMark's CPU Mark has long been a standard in CPU benchmarking. The Single Thread Performance test results are often of particular interest to gamers.
- How to build a PC step by step: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide: A helpful guide geared towards beginners.
- AVSForum: More and more, people are using TVs as their monitors (hey, I did this with a 32" 720p TV in the late '00s. Big chunky pixels!). Whether it's acting as a monitor or TV, you should bookmark the inevitable AVSForum thread about your specific TV. There's always behavior and quirks that are specific to an individual TV model, and the other owners of that TV will be in that thread discussing them and how to deal with them.
- PCPartPicker's Build Guides: Good, continuously maintained set of example builds across many price points and both CPU platforms.
- Microcenter Builds Showcase: Microcenter users show off their completed builds and part lists, and provide some pictures and description of their experience with the build.
- The TechBuyerGuru's DIY PC Build Guides: A monthly-updated set of builds across various prices and use cases, with some context provided about why they're targeting certain parts and how the current price fluctuations affect the build recommendations.
- Reddit PCMR Builds wiki page: A set of periodically updated builds at different price points, on the (ugh) "PC Master Race" wiki.
- PC Gamer's Gaming PC Build Guide: A guide with just one single build, but they update it semi-regularly.
Cases and Cooling
- GamersNexus: Best and Worst CPU Coolers 2021: GN does some of the best cooler testing around.
- GamersNexus: Best and Worst Cases of 2021: Ditto their case reviews. They produce these videos annually, and they should be your first stop.
- TechPowerUp: CPU Cooling Reviews: TPU does excellent cooler reviews. Look at any given cooler review to see a chart of competing coolers, which will clue you in on which coolers are the top performers.
- GamersNexus: Liquid Cooling vs. Air Cooling: The war that never ends. GN performs thorough testing to come to a well-reasoned conclusion.
- The Ultimate PC Airflow Guide: Setting Up Your Rig for Optimal Cooling: A pretty good guide that covers fan placement, case pressure, etc. Still looking for a more comprehensive guide, but here's a decent starting point.
- EKWB Guides: If air coolers and AIOs just aren't enough for you, EKWB has some comprehensive guides to get you up and running in the world of building custom liquid cooling loops.
A lot of guides out there for undervolting get the details very wrong, so here's a couple resources that get them right:
- NVIDIA Overclocking Guide: How to overclock and/or undervolt an NVIDIA GPU
- How to make an optimal curve for Nvidia GPU in Afterburner (guide): Another guide for undervolting in Afterburner.
- BroBot In-Stock Alerts: I bought a 3080 and a 3070 in early 2021 and you didn't, and it's all thanks to the BroBot alerts. Extremely fast notifications using the Telegram messaging app. Other people have sworn by Falcodrin Twitch channel, Distill.io, and HotStock.io.
- EVGA Queue Summary: For those that are still waiting in the EVGA queue. The old spreadsheets are no longer updated. This document is the current community-maintained queue tracker.
Reddit is a stupid place. Don't go there. Except for these subreddits:
- /r/buildapcsales: The best, most timely updated aggregation of links to hardware components on sale. If you're looking to buy a component, check here first to see if it's on sale.
- /r/buildapc: The help and troubleshooting counterpart to the part sales subreddit above. This sub's wiki has a Beginner's Guide with more good resources.
- /r/NVIDIA: I use this sub for one thing only: the pinned discussion thread on whatever the latest NVIDIA driver is. Want to know if the new driver fixed that problem you have or not? Or if the driver fixed or tanked performance in a game? People in the driver thread will be celebrating or Female Doggoing about it, one way or another.
- /r/AMD: Same sort of deal as the NVIDIA subreddit, though the discussion will be in random posts rather than a nice organized sticky. Also if you want to know how an AMD piece of hardware is ackshually superior to its NVIDIA counterpart, this place will explain it.
- /r/lowendgaming: Trying to play games on a potato PC? There are dozens of you! Get tips from other gamers living the low-end lifestyle here.
- HWiNFO64: The most accurate hardware monitor. You want to monitor your temperatures and know you're getting the right values? Download this. One of the first installs on all of my systems.
- MSI Afterburner: The standard in GPU overclocking, undervolting, and monitoring. Comes with RivaTuner Statistics Server to provide On-Screen Display support, for monitoring your FPS and frametimes as well as CPU/GPU usage and temperatures while in-game. See this guide for setting up the OSD: How to Install & Enable On-Screen Display in MSI Afterburner (RTSS)
Software: Benchmarking and Testing
- PassMark PerformanceTest: Run your own tests that you can compare against the PassMark database. Primarily for CPU benchmarking.
- Cinebench: One of the most popular CPU torture tests, and my personal go-to as well. You want to be sure your CPU cooling is sufficient for high (but still real-world) loads? Give is a go with Cinebench. Also provides useful multi-core and single-core benchmark results.
- 3DMark: A comprehensive GPU testing and benchmarking suite. To download the free Basic version on Steam, click the "Download Demo" button off in the sidebar at this link. I wouldn't spend $30 on the full version, but it goes on sale for like $4.50 during the big Steam sales, which is where I picked my copy up. But the Basic version is just fine for some casual benchmarking.
- UNIGINE Heaven: Along with the other UNIGINE tests Valley and Superposition, Heaven is a great game-like hardware performance and stability test. Good for full-system testing, whereas most of the other tests above are geared towards isolating CPU or GPU.
- OCCT: OCCT stands for "OverClock Checking Tool", but despite that name, it's not just for overclocking. It is a suite of stability tests, which is helpful not only for validating the stability of an overclock, but also identifying a struggling or failing component.
- Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition: Supposedly the benchmark tool inside ME:EE is particularly good at testing GPU stability, particularly with undervolting and the like. You'll find the benchmarking tool is a separate .EXE file inside the Metro Exodus install folder.
- iFixIt Essential Electronics Toolkit: This $25 toolkit belongs in every PC builder's tool collection - at least, those builders who don't step up to the more complete Pro Tech Toolkit.
- GamersNexus Modmat: For more serious builders, a modmat is a must. The ones from GN are the most popular. I own an old one from ModRight that predates the GN mats, and is still available. Alphacool sells one as well. Or, if you want to be less expensive (but more boring!), you can get a good cheap plain antistatic mat.
- Magnetic Screw Tray: If you ever unscrew anything, you should own one of these. You should own three of them. They're like $6. Don't ever not have one of these when you're using a screwdriver.
- HighSpeedPC Half-Deck Tech Station: Their website looks straight outta 1998, but HighSpeedPC's build stations are legit. Never make the mistake of building everything inside your PC's case before you power it on for the first time.
The DO NOT USE List
These are resources which often come up in Google searches but are actually garbage.
- CPUBoss and GPUBoss
- CPU Monkey
- Game Debate
Grouping these all together, as they come up frequently when you search for "this GPU vs that GPU" (or CPU or whatever).
Instead, use: TechPowerUp GPU database for comparing GPUs, PassMark's database for CPU comparisons, etc.
- The Verge PC Build Guide (video reupload): "How to build a PC? Wrong answers only."
Instead, use: If you want a video how-to guide, try Linus Tech Tips' First Person POV video, or the How To Build a Gaming PC in 2019 3-part series from Paul's Hardware.
- Can You RUN It?: A site meant to scan your hardware and determine if you can run the game you're interested in. A nice idea, but unfortunately too inaccurate to rely on.
Instead, use: Read a game's minimum requirements, and use TechPowerUp and the like to compare those components with the one you have. Also, ask people that actually play that game. Game performance is too much of a moving target to make a site like this work accurately.
- Under Armour Sportsmask: The pandemic may have destroyed the PC hardware market, but it doesn’t have to destroy you! Your mask sucks (unless you’re in that hardcore N95-wearing crowd), this comfortable multi-layer mask does not. I wish I had bought these things a year and a half ago. Everyone in my family is getting these now, and you nerds should too.