Here at The Tech Buyer’s Guru, it's our goal to make building a PC easier for everyone, from first-time builders to veterans. Whether you’re a serious gamer looking to build the all-conquering gaming rig, a professional needing an affordable but powerful PC to use while working from home, or a parent looking to share a great hobby with a child, there’s so much to gain by putting together your own PC.
We’ve been publishing hands-on, step-by-step PC building guides since 2013, and they've proven to be very popular with our readers. But time doesn't stand still, and neither does PC technology. Every year we see new products released, indeed entirely new categories of products created. Just a few years ago, hard drives still dominated the storage market, modular ultra-efficient power supplies came at very high prices, and PC cases were constrained by bulky drive cage arrays and loud 120mm fans that produced little actual airflow. Well, all that has changed, and what we're going to be showing you in this guide is a truly modern PC, fit for the year 2017. We spend a lot of time (and money!) putting together these guides every year because we strongly believe that PC builder's guides must change with the times. Could we keep sending you to the same old guide we published years ago, similar to ones you'll find on other sites? Sure, but then we'd be doing you a disservice, because what you really need to know is how to build a PC today, not how you would have built a PC using obsolete components.
And as always, in putting together this guide, it was important to us to build a PC that we actually wanted ourselves. So we chose the incredibly-stylish and incredibly-affordable SilverStone RL06-Pro. Special thanks to SilverStone for letting us get a crack at this case before it even hit the market. We've published a full review of the case, and we're pretty sure a lot of our readers are going to agree that this case is a must-have item. To make sure we can give you the best advice regarding the latest trends in overclocking and motherboard connectivity, we of course had to build this system using Intel's new Kaby Lake platform. Special thanks to MSI for providing its cutting-edge Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard to get us up to speed on what a serious Z270 board can do. As for the CPU, as always we bought it at retail (in this case, the $350 Core i7-7700K), because we firmly believe that requesting media samples of performance-related items like CPUs and GPUs limits journalistic freedom and potentially taints the entire evaluation. We don't want no cherry-picked gear!
With that being said, here's the full parts list for this build:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
- Motherboard: MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon (thank you to MSI for providing this review sample)
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC 8GB
- SSD #1: Samsung 850 Evo 500GB M.2
- SSD #2: Crucial MX300 1TB 2.5"
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2x8GB DDR4-3000
- Case: SilverStone RL06-Pro (thank you to SilverStone for providing this review sample)
- CPU Cooler: Arctic Freezer i32 (thank you to Arctic for providing this review sample)
- Power Supply: SilverStone Strider 850W Platinum (thank you to SilverStone for providing this review sample)
- Operating System: Windows 10 Flash Drive
All told, the retail value of these components was just over $1,800 at the time of publication. As built, this system is most similar to the configuration currently listed in our $1,500 High-End Gaming PC Buyer's Guide, but with upgraded SSDs. Note that in some ways, this build straddles the line between mid-range and ultra-high-end, and we chose these parts to provide a broader view of the components available on the market today. If you're looking to build yourself a true mid-range PC, you'd substitute the Core i5-7600K in place of the Core i7-7700K, the MSI Z270 SLI Plus in place of the MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon, an 8GB RAM kit in place of the 16GB kit we used, and the Strider 550W power supply in place of the SilverStone Strider 850W Platinum unit. If you're looking for a seriously high-end machine, you'd substitute in the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming Video Card, the SilverStone Primera PM01 Case and the Corsair Hydro H100i v2 cooler, respectively, for the video card, case, and cooler we used.
One interesting note: the Samsung 850 Evo solid-state drive has made a number of appearances in our guides over the years, and yes, we do mean "years" plural, dating back to 2015. It's likely the longest-lived and best-selling model in SSD history. The big difference is that we haven't always used the M.2 version of the drive, which is a much slimmer form factor. While it performs exactly the same as the 2.5" version, we believe builders in 2017 and beyond should be using the M.2 form factor to streamline their new PCs.
Again, we want to emphasize something important here. While we received samples of a number of the products in this guide, there are two components we never accept samples of: CPUs and video cards. It's our belief that when we buy these at retail, we are free from the constraints placed on other reviewers to freely discuss the pros and cons of specific products in these highly-competitive markets, where allegations of bias run rampant. If you believe this approach to testing has merit, please support this website by using any of our product links the next time you're in the market for new tech gear!
Before we jump into the assembly process, we want to make clear which tools you need, and which you absolutely do not need. There are only two things you'll need to put together this build: a long-reach magnetic-tip screwdriver, and a jeweler's-type screwdriver set to install the M.2 SSD. Either would be useful for a whole lot more than just building PCs, making them great investments! Please don’t bother buying the anti-static wristbands, anti-static mats, and 45-piece tool kits that vendors are all too happy to sell you. We’ve built a whole lot of PCs and never used any of these, and we know they serve no purpose whatsoever.
OK, with that out of the way, let's move on to the building process!