Ars Technica System Guide, “Affordable GPUs Again” Edition

Oric Lawson

It’s been a long time since we last put together a guide to building desktop PCs, in part because trying to make your way through bots and speculators to pay double the retail price of a graphics card was a miserable experience we don’t want to inflict on anyone.

But until 2022 he has made most things more Expensive, PC builders are lucky. CPUs and motherboards are in stock and easy to buy, DDR4 memory is actually cheap, and you can head online to Amazon, Best Buy, or Newegg and find virtual shelves full of GPUs at prices that seemed miraculous though still somewhat bloated six years ago. Months.

Overall PC demand is expected to drop quite dramatically in the coming months, but if you’re patiently waiting to build your first desktop or replace an existing version, this is probably the best time to build a PC since mid-2020.

To help anyone looking for advice on building a system, we’ve put together four building templates that focus on getting the best performance for your money. These rigs will not be flashy and high-quality, and you should treat them as starting points. As we explain why we chose the components we chose, you can decide for yourself if you need to make adjustments to suit your requirements. We may make separate guides focusing on ITX mini architectures and high-end PCs later.

A note about ingredient selection

Part of the fun of building a computer is making it look the way you want it to. We’ve selected cases that fit motherboards and other parts that we recommend, and that we think will be stylistically appropriate for each system. But there are many cases, and our picks won’t be the only ones available.

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The same goes for the power supply. We mostly recommend EVGA models with 80 Gold Proficiency Certificate Or better because we have good experiences with them in our buildings and experiences that we have collected for friends or acquaintances. But if you know enough to get hold of a favorite brand, by all means go with what works for you. Same goes for RAM — we’ll recommend specific capacities and speeds and use brands that have worked well for us in the past, but that doesn’t mean they’re better than many other RAM combos with similar specs.

Finally, we will not include the cost of a Windows license in our cost estimates. You can pay a lot of different prices for Windows—$139 for an official Microsoft retail licenseAnd the $120 for an “OEM” license for system builders, or between $15 and $40 for a product key from gray market product key reselling sites. If you have a product key for Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7, you may also be able to install and activate Windows 11 without paying anything extra since Microsoft never blocked this option after the Windows 10 free upgrade period. We’ll leave that decision up to you for you.

We also didn’t price most peripherals, like webcams, monitors, keyboards, or mice, as we’re assuming most people will reuse what they already have or buy these components separately.

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