TechSpot PC Buying Guide: H1 2022

TechSpot PC Buying Guide: H1 2022

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Is this finally a good time to buy or build a new PC? For the past year, the market has been plagued with component shortages and skyrocketing prices, but things are starting to look better. Let’s take a look at how the market has changed in the past few months…

With Alder Lake, Intel has mostly retaken the gaming throne, at least until the release of AMD’s Ryzen 5800X3D, but the differences are nothing like they were in previous generations, and arguably limited to unrealistic situations. Support for DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 graphics cards is also more of a bragging right than a useful feature for now. Between two current-gen CPUs with the same number of threads, you should probably pick the cheaper one for gaming, considering cooling and motherboard prices.

In response to Alder Lake, AMD has slashed the pricing of Ryzen 5000 CPUs, and announced new parts that are almost as fast for tens of dollars less. After years of healthy CPU competition, the market is full of great options for PC owners that haven’t upgraded in some time. It’s too bad that new budget parts like the Core i3-12100 suffer from poor availability right now.

In the high end, AMD still dominates. With 64MB of cache and up to 32 threads, the top Ryzen 9 CPUs are still faster, or at least more efficient, when fully utilized. Intel never had an answer to Threadripper 3000, which is now terribly overpriced, and AMD has made the new Threadripper 5000 series OEM-only, so Ryzen 9 may be the most sensible choice for core-heavy workloads unless you’re building something powerful for your business needs.

Graphics card prices have seen a huge improvement in the past couple of months. While most Nvidia cards are still far from selling at MSRP levels, mainstream AMD cards are quickly getting closer to that mark.

Pricing for all but the cheapest SSDs remains reasonable, and if you still use a spinning disk for anything except long-term storage of large files, then you should definitely take advantage of that. Most notably, DDR4 memory prices are still about half of what they were a few years ago.

If you don’t need the very best GPU or a server-grade CPU, then you can now get great value for your money with a new PC. In this PC Buying Guide update we’ve included four recommended component lists, meant for different budgets and purposes…

Our recommendations were influenced by availability and pricing at the time of writing.

If a component from the list that you were considering is unavailable or significantly more expensive while you are reading this guide, fear not. We included an explanation for every one of our choices, so that you can make alternative and informed purchases.

The Remote-Office Box

• Good performance • Fast for everyday computing • Gaming with add-on GPU

If you haven’t been following the PC market in recent years, you may be shocked by what you can get for ~$500. This system is good for web browsing with tens of open tabs, and even 1080p live streaming. Add a graphics card, and this will become a capable gaming machine.

ComponentProduct Price
ProcessorIntel Core i5-10400 $153
MotherboardMSI B560M Pro-VDH Wi-Fi $130
Memory16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2933+ CL16 $55
StorageSamsung 970 Evo Plus 500GB $60
GraphicsIntegrated $0
PSUEVGA 650 BQ $55
CaseFractal Design Focus G Mini $56
 Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)  

Core System Total


With 6 cores and 12 threads, Intel’s Core i5-10400 is the best-value CPU you can regularly buy these days. The i3-10100 is available for less, but giving up a third of the processing power to save $45 would be simply wrong. With a 65W TDP, the Core i5 should be kept cool by the stock cooler in a properly ventilated case.

Intel B560 motherboards are still widely available, with support for high-speed RAM, USB 3.1 (or “3.2 Gen 2”) and PCIe 4.0 (with 11th-gen CPUs). When relying on the CPU’s integrated graphics, it may also be important for the motherboard to have both DisplayPort and HDMI ports for monitor compatibility.

Our recommended motherboard for most people in this price range is MSI’s B560 Pro-VDH Wi-Fi, with decent thermal performance, four memory slots, two M.2 slots for storage and USB 3.1. If you don’t need a Wi-Fi adapter, the $110 Asus Prime B560M-A is one of the cheapest B560 motherboards with DisplayPort and USB-C.

A dual-channel kit of 16GB of memory is the minimum we’d recommend today. Many such kits are available for about $55, so just pick the one you like the best.

With its on-board DRAM, the Samsung 970 Evo Plus is one of the best PCIe 3.0 SSDs, providing great responsiveness regardless of how much of its space is used. If your budget isn’t too stiff, you may want to go with the 1TB version, which is an even better value at $110.

Low-wattage, high-quality power supplies have been strangely expensive lately, so the EVGA 650 BQ has become our budget recommendation, with its ratings of 650W and 80 Plus Bronze efficiency, 5-year warranty, and semi-modular design that lets you disconnect the cables you don’t need. The Corsair CX 650M is just as good for $5 more.

For our choice of an mATX motherboard, we can go with an equally compact mATX case, and so we did as an ATX case would look empty without a graphics card. Fractal Design’s Focus G Mini combines old and new, with two external 5.25″ bays and top 240mm radiator support. If you don’t need those things, the Cooler Master Q300L is a good alternative with two USB 3.0 connectors and magnetic dust filters. If you do want to install a graphics card, you may prefer the full-sized Focus G for a similar price.

Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse

If you are considering this system, then we’re assuming that you’d prefer work comfort over gaming performance. Yet, with current prices, we see no reason not to go with a “gaming” monitor that offers refresh rates up to 144Hz (we wrote a guide on how to enable them) in addition to an IPS panel and a height-adjustable stand.

The AOC 24G2 is a great option for the price. If you are willing to pay more for a more professional look (and a higher-quality stand), check out the ViewSonic Omni XG2405. More options for different budgets can be found in our best monitors feature.

Logitech’s highly ergonomic MK570 is our recommended keyboard and mouse combo at this price point. For more options, see our lists of best keyboards and mice.

The Value Gaming Rig

• Excellent performance • Great multitasking • Perfect for gaming

This PC is meant for those who want to get the best experience for their money in the latest games. If you’ve upgraded the graphics card in your old computer in the past two years, now is a great time to buy the rest of this system.

ComponentProduct Price
ProcessorIntel Core i5-12400F $180
CPU CoolerBe Quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black $45
MotherboardMSI Pro B660-A $140
Memory32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3600 CL18 $120
StorageSamsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB $110
GraphicsNvidia GeForce RTX 3050 $250 (MSRP)
CaseCorsair 4000D Airflow $95
 Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)  

Core System Total


When running the latest games with high settings, you’d need a very expensive graphics card to show performance differences between modern 6-core CPUs. When Intel’s Core i5-12400F and MSI’s Pro B660-A are both in stock, they are a winning combination.

The MSI motherboard is the only one at its price range that can handle not only the i5 CPU but also sensible upgrades like the Core i7-12700. If you want a board that can also withstand an extreme upgrade, such as the Core i9-12900K, the B660 Tomahawk WiFi and the more compact B660M Mortar WiFi will easily justify their price.

AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600X is a strong alternative at $229. If you find the non-X version for $200, it may offer the best value. If you don’t have or want to buy a graphics card yet, then you should go with the $210 Ryzen 5 5600G, which performs close to the last-gen Ryzen 7 3700X with a dedicated card and has an integrated GPU that’s good to play esports titles, or modern games at low settings. The 5600G’s main drawback is the lack of PCIe 4.0 support.

The market is full of proven motherboards for Ryzen processors, but MSI’s B550 Tomahawk seems to offer the best balance between thermal performance and price. Asrock’s B550 Extreme4 and Asus’ ROG Strix B550-F Gaming are excellent, but cost more.

The mentioned CPUs ship with the middling RM1 and Wraith Stealth coolers, which you should probably replace with something better. These processors are power efficient, and don’t need the heaviest and most expensive coolers on the market. We chose the $45 Pure Rock 2 Black from Be Quiet! for its combination of looks, compact size, acoustic efficiency and price. Just don’t forget to order the free LGA-1700 mounting kit if you go with Intel. The Arctic Freezer 34 eSports Duo and the Noctua U12S Redux now come with a similar kit in the box.

With current memory prices, we see no reason to get less than 32GB. All modern CPUs work great with RAM speeds up to 3600MHz, and with a CL18 latency such modules are also affordable. Many kits of 2 x 16GB cost about $120 these days. If you see a good 4 x 8GB kit for a similar price, go for it.

When compared against competitors’ current prices, we think the Samsung 970 Evo Plus offers the best experience for the money for a 1TB SSD. If you go with the Ryzen 5 5600G, you won’t see the benefits of a faster PCIe 4.0 drive anyway.

At its MSRP, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 would be the cheapest GPU we’d recommend buying new, mostly because AMD’s Radeon RX 6500 XT is basically a laptop GPU in disguise. In our research, we found no RTX 3050 card available for a decent price, thus we recommend that you hold on buying one. If you don’t want to wait, AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 is currently available for about $400, just like the RTX 3050. Assuming your CPU and motherboard support PCIe 4.0, it will consistently outperform the 3050 by a large margin, unless you enable ray tracing or DLSS.

The MSI MPG A650GF PSU provides 650W at 80 Plus Gold-level efficiency, a 10-year warranty and a fully modular design for a great price. The Corsair RM650x is just as good for $5 more, and at the time of writing both PSUs are $65 on Newegg after rebate.

Our case of choice for this build is the Corsair 400D Airflow, and the main reason for that is in its name. If you want a case with external 5.25″ drive bays and more internal drive bays, check out our best old-school cases guide. Anyway, our general best cases guide includes more great options for under $100.

Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse

The RTX 3050 is capable of 1440p gaming at 60 fps with high settings, or at 144 fps with lower settings or in less-demanding games. The Gigabyte M27Q will let you do all of that on a 27″ IPS display for a fair price. Clearly, there are dozens of good monitor options you can choose from and that’s why we have entire guides dedicated to monitor shopping and gaming monitors especifically.

The Logitech G502 Hero is a safe bet for a mouse, and so is Corsair’s K55 RGB Pro for a keyboard. If you prefer mechanical keys and a compact size over a numpad and a detachable wrist rest, you can go with Redragon’s K552 RGB Kumara. Once again, our best gaming monitors, mice and keyboards guides include more options for more specific needs and budgets.

The High-End Gaming Machine

• High-end performance • Heavy multitasking • Hardcore gaming

This build is for those of you who care less about performance per dollar, and more about performance, period. With the latest high-end GPUs, gaming at resolutions higher than 1440p is a sensible option, and this build will let you do it.

ComponentProduct Price
ProcessorIntel Core i7-12700F $313
CPU CoolerNoctua NH-D15 $100
MotherboardMSI Pro Z690-A $195
Memory32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3600 CL16 $170
StorageWestern Digital SN850 2TB $260
GraphicsNvidia GeForce RTX 3080 $700 (MSRP)
PSUNZXT C850 $120
CaseCooler Master MasterCase H500 $104
 Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)  

Core System Total


Intel’s Core i7-12700F is one of the best gaming CPUs you can buy, even more so considering the price. We opted not to pay $65 more for an all-core overclocking ability that will draw much more power and may perform worse in games than the default single-core turbo boost. Even without overclocking, the 12700F consumes a lot of power, so we went with the best air cooler: Noctua’s NH-D15.

If you are willing to wait (and pay) a bit more, AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X3D will be the first consumer CPU to use 3D V-Cache of 96MB for lower latency and possibly better gaming performance than any processor on the market (you can scroll down a bit for relevant cooling and motherboard recommendations in the next build).

For the current system, a high-quality B660 motherboard would be enough, but if you want several SSDs to be able to enjoy PCIe 4.0 speeds in the future, you’ll want the Z690 chipset. For the price, The MSI Pro Z690-A seems to be the most sensible choice, with the Asus Prime Z690-P as a good alternative, but if you want something flashier, you can spend a bit more for the MSI Edge WiFi.

As we have shown, four memory sticks are likely to be faster than two even on a dual-channel system. CL16 latency is the sweet spot for a 3600MHz speed in terms of price.

Western Digital’s SN850 is arguably the best M.2 SSD for gamers, who need to locate many small files more often than transfer a few large ones. The 2TB version was also slightly more affordable than the Samsung 980 Pro at the time of writing, and that’s enough excuse to give it the plug.

The GeForce RTX 3080 is the best high-end GPU you could buy without feeling that you were completely ripped off, largely due to DLSS support and superior ray-tracing performance over Radeon cards. If you don’t want to buy it for $1,100, several options offer “an equally good value,” (in an otherwise inflated market) including the 3070 Ti for $850, 3060 Ti for $630, and AMD’s Radeon RX 6700 XT for $600.

You’ll need a lot of power to support one of the best graphics cards. NZXT’s C850, Corsair’s RM850x and MSI’s MPG A850GF are three equally good options for the same price.

With two front 200mm fans, the Cooler Master Mastercase H500 will make sure that the system remains cool. More expensive versions of it include features as front USB-C and more flexible radiator support. Again, our best cases and best old-school cases guides include more good options.

Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse

The best 4K proper gaming monitors for the money right now are Gigabyte’s M28U and M32U. If you’d rather play on a TV, check out LG’s C1 48″ OLED.

If you prefer a different shape or resolution, we have a dedicated article revisiting the different top choices including Samsung’s Odyssey G9 49″ Curved, or for a more value-oriented choice, the Gigabyte G34WQC Ultrawide Curved. With a 34″ 3440x1440p VA panel, it offers a very immersive experience and great contrast.

If you want to feel like you have a better mouse than the average person’s, Logitech’s wireless G604 Lightspeed is the one for you. Similarly, Corsair’s K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical keyboard comes with an aluminum body and premium switches. Our best mice and keyboard guides include more options.

The Humble Workstation

• Workstation-like performance • Extreme multitasking • Hardcore gaming

Considering its price, this machine is great for any workload you can think about, from 4K video rendering to any kind of 3D modeling. It can also play games as well as the best gaming PCs if you equip it with a fast GPU. It’s not cheap, but for what it can do, it’s a really good value.

ComponentProduct Price
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 9 5950X $599
CPU CoolerBe Quiet! Dark Rock 4 Pro $90
MotherboardAsrock X570 Taichi $250
Memory64GB (4 x 16GB) DDR4-3600 CL16 $375
StorageSeagate FireCuda 530 2TB $360
GraphicsNvidia GeForce RTX 3080 $700 (MSRP)
PSUNZXT C850 $120
CaseThermaltake Core V71 $200
 Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse (see notes)  

Core System Total


With 32 threads and 64MB of cache for $600, the Ryzen 9 5950X is the obvious choice for this system. It’s also surprisingly efficient, so instead of going with the outright best CPU cooler, we could go with the one with the best performance to noise ratio among active coolers: the Be Quiet! Dark Rock 4 Pro.

Last year, we recommended a Threadripper 3000-based system for content creators, but the current Threadrippers now look too expensive, especially considering the price drops on Ryzen 9 processors, and the Threadripper 5000 series is likely to create buyer’s remorse if it arrives at the consumer market any time soon.

If you want more than one SSD to be able to work at PCIe 4.0 speeds, you’ll need the X570 chipset. For the price, Asrock’s Taichi is probably the best choice, but if you must have a top-quality mainstream board, you can spend a bit more for Gigabyte’s Aorus Master. We chose RAM with the same speed and latency as the kit we chose for the best gaming system, but twice the capacity.

The Seagate FireCuda 530 is the best M.2 SSD for creators, with a sustained write speed up to twice as fast as its competitors, and not only a 5-year warranty, but 3-year rescue data recovery services. A 2TB drive should be sufficient for regular work unless you have very specific storage demands. An archive of all your work will probably be safer on external drives or on a NAS.

Choosing the best graphics card for this system greatly depends on the programs you’ll be working with. We recommend that you search the web for relevant benchmarks before making your choice. In rare cases (Siemens NX is a prime example), professional Quadro and Radeon Pro graphics cards may justify their price with certain ease. As a default, we’ll keep the same recommendation from our previous build: the GeForce RTX 3080 as the primary option, and the 3070 Ti, 3060 Ti, and Radeon RX 6700 XT as secondary options.

Our PSU recommendations remain the same as the previous system as well: NZXT’s C850, Corsair’s RM850x and MSI’s MPG A850GF.

For a case, we chose Thermaltake’s Core V71 Tempered Glass Edition for its value, airflow and versatility, including its two 5.25″ external drive bays. As always, our best cases and best old-school cases guides include more options.

Monitor, Keyboard & Mouse

Some of the most comfortable and accurate mice and keyboards we use include the Logitech MX Master 3 and Das Keyboard 4Q. Choosing a monitor may be more complex. As with storage, you may have special needs and requirements for work. If you want to view your 3D models in great detail and comfort, Dell’s Ultrasharp U3219Q is a great choice with its 4K IPS panel.

If you edit 4K movies, though, the higher-end Ultrasharp UP3221Q uses Mini-LED for greatly improved contrast and qualifies for HDR 1000. It also has a true 10-bit panel, and can display colors that very few monitors can.

Masthead credit: The Final Rig by Douken

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