The market for PC components has been a wild ride in recent years. With the cryptocurrency craze driving component prices through the roof throughout most of 2017 and 2018, PC building took a hit and left enthusiasts seriously considering prebuilts (shudder).
But the crypto bubble has popped and other market influences are pushing prices down – for now. Prices for GPUs, the core components gobbled up by cryptocurrency miners, have generally come back down to MSRP, and after a supply shortage that drove up prices, RAM is finally sinking to around 2016 levels. Add to that a diverse market of storage options (HDD, SSD and the newer M.2 drives), as well as other supply improvements that are driving down prices, and you have significantly reduced costs for building a PC.
How long will it last? The latest generation of high-end Nvidia GPUs might be experiencing a string of card failures and low supply is nudging prices up. Meanwhile, US tariffs are pushing some manufacturers to raise prices. The time might be right to start building a PC—or begin looking for an upgrade.
We’ve put together a list of some PC components that provide great value going into the holiday season:
For a while, this card was being sold well over MSRP due to it being a better performer for cryptocurrency miners, but prices are finally coming down, revealing a great value card. Truth be told, the RX 580 is a repackaged RX 480 using the previous generation’s architecture, but improvements in manufacturing allowed AMD to enable higher clock speeds. The RX 580 trades blows with Nvidia’s GTX 1060 6GB, depending on your game, and it manages very good performance at 1080p.
AMD’s second generation of Ryzen CPUs gave Intel a run for their money with Ryzen+’s excellent value and multi-core performance. Packing a whopping six cores, 12 threads, and a base clock of 3.6GHz, the Ryzen 5 2600X is an excellent choice for PC builders who are also interested in multitasking—think dozens of chrome tabs open, streaming games, or improved workstation performance. From a strictly gaming perspective, the Intel Core i5-8600K’s single-core performance might take a slight lead, but AMD’s all-round workhorse is a better value. Plus, it comes with its own RGB CPU cooler.
3. NZXT H500
With all-steel construction, a tempered glass side panel, and good cable-management, the NZXT H500 is a great-looking ATX mid-tower case that’s simple to build in. Removable air filters make cleaning a breeze, and the two included Aer F120 fans can push a decent amount of air. A PSU shroud and cable-management bar keeps the interior clean and neat, an aesthetic that extends to the minimalist flat-face front. Although this means airflow takes a hit, the ventilation system won’t choke your components inside. The upgraded H500i includes “smart device” functionality and lighting strips for $100, if RGB is your thing.
Price: $80 (for 500 GB)
An often-overlooked upgrade route is adding an SSD to your system, which can provide faster boot speeds and/or game and program load time improvements over a standard HDD. The Samsung 860 EVO SSD is one of the best-value (as well as best-performing) 2.5-inch SATA drives on the market. Samsung’s 64-layer V-NAND technology uses vertically stacked flash cells that provide greater density in each unit, which means this drive can hit read/write speeds of 550MB/s and 520MB/s, respectively. The Samsung 860 EVO also comes with a 5-year warranty in case anything ever goes wrong.
In 2016, Dell released the 27-inch S2716DG, quickly winning over gaming enthusiasts for its high refresh rate, QHD resolution, and (relatively) low price. But because it utilized G-Sync, Nvidia’s proprietary adaptive sync technology, the monitor’s full benefits were limited to those with Nvidia GPUs. This year, Dell released the S2719DGF, which features AMD’s FreeSync tech at the same super-fast 1ms response time and 144Hz refresh rate, making this an excellent monitor for AMD GPU owners. Although both are twisted nematic (TN) panels, which typically don’t have the contrast or color accuracy of more expensive in-panel switching (IPS) panels—the low input lag, high resolution, and excellent refresh rate make up for it.