BestConfigs Poll Results: Your Winning Builds

Have you ever come up with your own idea for a killer rig? Don't forget to tell us about it on the Tom's Hardware forums. The following ten setups were configured by forum members and chosen as winners in the Q2 2014 BestConfigs Poll.

Presenting The BestConfigs Poll Results

Why should Tom’s Hardware editors have all the fun? That’s (partly) the premise behind the system builder competition known as BestConfigs. Based on the popular quarterly System Builder Marathon, in which three of our editors (Paul Henningsen, Thomas Soderstrom and Don Woligroski) build systems at certain price points, for BestConfigs we invite the community of readers on Tom’s Hardware's Forums to dream up their own rigs. The ten current BestConfigs categories are:

  • Home Theater PC @ $700
  • High-End Intel Gaming PC @ $2000
  • High-End AMD Gaming PC @ $2000
  • Budget AMD-Based Gaming PC @ $1000
  • AMD-Based Office PC @ $500
  • Budget Intel-Based Gaming PC @ $1000
  • Intel-Based Office PC @ $500
  • MicroATX Gaming PC @ $1200
  • NAS PC @ $1000
  • High-End Workstation @ $4000

BestConfigs system builders submitted their PC specs via the Tom’s Hardware Forum, and the community voted for their favorites. The rules specified that each build should include the components required for a complete system (processor, motherboard, memory, storage, power supply and enclosure). A number of setups included optional components such as coolers, discrete graphics, SSDs and optical drives. Peripherals like monitors, keyboards and mice were not included.

Note that prices and availability may have changed since these builds were originally configured. Current prices can be found on the BestConfigs shopping pages.

With no further ado, it’s time to check out this quarter’s winners.

We start with an HTPC setup, followed by a couple of high-end gaming PCs, two budget gaming builds and a well-equipped mATX rig.  Next, we have a pair of low-cost PCs for the office and a NAS-oriented PC for storing and streaming media.  Last, but certainly not least, is the most exorbitant build of all—a professional workstation with a price ceiling of four grand!

Home Theater PC

Five Tom’s Hardware forum members’ builds were selected to compete in the Home Theater PC BestConfigs category this quarter, but ultimately, our readers chose a versatile hybrid in this category.

Joseph's Home Entertainment & Gaming Hybrid PC boasts both a speedy Crucial M500 120GB 2.5" SSD for performance and a large capacity Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM hard drive for lots of media storage. It’s built on solid foundation that includes an ASRock B85M microATX LGA 1150-equipped motherboard,  Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz dual-core Processor, Kingston HyperX Grey 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 memory and Corsair CSM 450W 80 PLUS Gold-certified semi-modular ATX power supply, all housed in a Cooler Master N200 microATX mid-tower case.

The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Windforce video card is a nice touch, supporting medium to high detail settings for console-style gaming at 30FPS or higher. The card's HDMI ports enable a convenient connection to an HDTV as well as an auxiliary monitor, and the Pioneer BDR-209DBK Blu-Ray/DVD/CD writer allows you to play and create media discs.

Joseph's Home Entertainment & Gaming Hybrid PC:

Congratulations to Joseph for suggesting the build picked by Tom's Hardware's community this quarter!

High-End Intel Gaming PC

There were five builds competing in the High-End Intel Gaming PC BestConfigs category this quarter. Our reader poll was close, with Nikoli’s 4K Ready Beast commanding 25 percent of vote, but AMD Radeon’s R9 290 Crossfire Build prevailed with 30 percent.

AMD Radeon’s R9 290 Crossfire Build complemented its powerful Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz quad-core processor with other top-notch components, such as the Gigabyte Radeon R9 290 4GB Windforce video card for maximum graphics performance and smooth gameplay at extreme settings.

The system’s foundation also included a Corsair H105 73.0 CFM closed-loop CPU cooler with its 240mm top-mounted radiator and an ASRock Z97 Extreme4 ATX LGA 1150-equipped motherboard. Additional features include the fast G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2400 memory and speedy Crucial M500 120GB 2.5" SSD to boost performance, a spacious Toshiba 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM disk, LG UH12NS30 Blu-Ray reader DVD/CD writer and Corsair Professional 850W 80 PLUS Gold-Certified power supply, all housed in a highly expandable Corsair 750D ATX full tower case.

AMD Radeon’s R9 290 Crossfire Build:

Congratulations to AMD Radeon’s R9 290 Crossfire Build for being selected by the Tom's Hardware community this quarter!

High-End AMD Gaming PC

Only two entrants were chosen to compete in this quarter’s High-End AMD-Based Gaming PC BestConfigs category. Ivan’s AMD Overkill Build put up a good fight, taking 40 percent of the vote. But readers overwhelmingly favored CJ’s White Unicorn with no horn in this category.

The winning rig from CJ’s White Unicorn with no horn was built around the AMD FX-8350 4.0GHz processor, with a Corsair H110 94.0 CFM closed-loop cooler on an Asus Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 ATX AM3-based motherboard. It has Kingston's Blu Red Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 for memory, a Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD/CD writer optical drive, and splits up its storage duties between a super-fast Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5” SSD and a roomy Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5” 7200RPM hard drive.

The graphics capabilities are exceptional in this build thanks to the XFX Radeon R9 290X 4GB Double Dissipation video card, which features AMD’s PowerTune, TrueAudio, UltraHD and Eyefinity technologies. CJ’s White Unicorn with no horn’s build is powered by a low-noise, high-efficiency Corsair RM 1000W 80 PLUS Gold-certified modular power supply and housed in a Corsair 500R White mid-tower case, adding even more cooling to keep the graphics card humming smoothly.

CJ’s White Unicorn with no horn:

Congratulations to forum member CJ for having his recommended build picked by the Tom's Hardware community this quarter!

Budget AMD-Based Gaming PC

Five entrants’ builds were chosen for the Budget AMD-Based Gaming PC BestConfigs category this quarter. It was a close race for a while, but in the end Damric’s $600 AMD Budget Tweaker pulled ahead of AMD Radeon’s FULL AMD R9 290 Budget Build to win with 45 percent of community members’ votes.  

The heart of this cost-conscious config is an AMD FX-8350 with a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO heat sink, Asus M5A99FX Pro R2.0 motherboard, SeaSonic S1 211 620W 80 PLUS Bronze-certified ATX power supply, Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5” 7200RPM hard drive and G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 memory. While the system doesn’t skimp on graphics with its Gigabyte Radeon R9 290 4GB Windforce video card, its Lite-On iHAS124-14 DVD/CD writer is pretty basic for desktop computers today. All of these components are housed in a compact budget-priced Carbide Series 300R windowed mid-tower case.

Damric’s $600 AMD Budget Tweaker:

Congratulations to Damric’s $600 AMD Budget Tweaker on being picked by the Tom's Hardware community this quarter!

AMD-Based Office PC

Of the five builds in the running for this quarter's AMD-Based Home Office PC, there was really only one contender. With 43 percent of the vote, Cody’s Speed Machine smoked the competition with a PC that balanced the need for speed with a computing platform designed to get work done.

At the build’s core is a AMD A10-6800K 4.1GHz APU, a Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM-D3H microATX FM2+-equipped motherboard and G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 memory.

The components, which are housed in an affordable SilverStone PS08B (Black) microATX mid-tower case with removable fan filter, also include a SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB 2.5” SSD and Lite-On iHAS124-14 DVD/CD writer. A Corsair CX 430W 80 PLUS Bronze-certified power supply keeps everything up and running.

Cody’s Speed Machine:

Congratulations to Cody for having his recommended build picked by the Tom's Hardware community this quarter!

Budget Intel-Based Gaming PC

Five builds were selected for this quarter’s Budget Intel-Based Gaming PC category. With 42 percent of the vote, Damric’s Sub-$600 Low Power HD Gamer eeked out a win over AMD Radeon’s Black-Red R9 290 Budget Build by one percentage point.

The system's Intel Core i3-4150 3.5GHz CPU is a perfect entry-level processor for gamers, with an EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB video card and G.T Aegis 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 memory. It's all plugged in to an MSI H81M-P33 microATX motherboard.

Housed in a Xion XON-560 microATX mini-tower, which is built with gamers in mind, these and the remaining components—including a PNY Optima 240GB 2.5” SSD for performance and a Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5” 7200RPM hard drive for standard storage—are powered by SeaSonic 300W 80 PLUS Bronze power supply.

Damric’s Sub-$600 Low Power HD Gamer:

Congratulations to forum member damric for having his recommended build picked by the Tom's Hardware community this quarter!

Intel-Based Office PC

Five entrants’ builds were chosen for the Intel-Based Office PC BestConfigs category this quarter. In the end, the winning machine got 37 percent of the vote with a compact chassis and a solid array of components.

Plugged into a Gigabyte GA-B85M-DS3H microATX motherboard, this build’s Intel Core i3-4130 combines on-die HD Graphics and Adata XPG V1.0 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR-1600 memory, providing users with a solid office PC experience.

Housed in a Fractal Design Core 1000 mid-tower case, the build also features a Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze power supply, a fast Crucial M500 120GB 2.5” SSD for applications, a Seagate Barracuda 1TB hard drive, a Lite-On iHAS124-14 DVD/CD writer and a Rosewill RNX-N250PCe 802.11b/g/n PCIe x1 Wi-Fi adapter with a pair of external 5dBi antennas for maximum wireless reach.

AMD Radeon’s Quick Multitasking Office PC:

Congratulations to forum member AMD Radeon for having his recommended build picked by the Tom's Hardware community this quarter!

MicroATX Gaming Build

There were five builds competing in the MicroATX Gaming Build BestConfigs category this quarter.

The winning build dominated with 43 percent of the vote, making no compromises on components in a small microATX form factor.

A compact gaming system designed for maximum performance, this build is housed in an Obsidian Series 350D microATX PC case that is small in size, yet roomy enough for components that won’t disappoint hardcore gamers. It sports a powerful Core i5-4670K and is topped by a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO heat sink and fan combo. A Gigabyte Radeon R9 290 4GB Windforce video card and Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 memory are plugged in to a Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-Gaming microATX motherboard.

It has a Crucial M500 120GB 2.5” SSD to maximize performance and a Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5” 7200RPM hard drive for storage. There’s also a budget-priced Lite-On iHAS124-14 DVD/CD writer and a Corsair Professional 750W 80 PLUS Gold-certified semi-modular power supply to keep the build powered up and games going at all hours.

AMD Radeon’s MicroATX R9 290 Build:

Congratulations to forum member AMD Radeon for having his recommended build picked by the Tom's Hardware community this quarter!

NAS PC

Five Tom’s Hardware forum members’ builds were selected to compete in the NAS PC BestConfigs category this quarter. The winning build got 39 percent of the vote with a system that provides plenty of storage and ample power.

Housed in a Cooler Master Elite 110 mini-ITX case capable of holding full-sized components, this build includes a massive and fast Western Digital Red 3TB 3.5” 5400RPM hard drive for maximum media storage and streaming.

Powered by an Intel Core i3-4130T 2.9GHz dual-core processor plugged in to ASRock's H87M-ITX mini-ITX motherboard with Adata XPG V1.0 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 memory, the system is rounded out by a Lite-On iHAS124-14 DVD/CD writer and Rosewill Capstone 450W 80 PLUS Gold-certified power supply.

AMD Radeon’s Low Power Space Saving NAS:

Congratulations to forum member AMD Radeon for having his recommended build picked by the Tom's Hardware community this quarter!

High-End Workstation

Two builds were in the running for this quarter's High-End Workstation BestConfig. When the polls closed, Joseph’s Workstation Build had prevailed with 64 percent of the vote.

This system’s Intel Xeon E5-2640 v2 2.0GHz eight-core processor is a top-shelf CPU designed to meet the performance needs of even the most demanding compute-intensive applications. Along with a powerful Nvidia Quadro K5000 card, it’s plugged into an Asus Sabertooth X79 ATX LGA2011 motherboard powered by a Antec 750W 80 PLUS Platinum-certified power supply. The Xeon processor is kept cool with a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO heat sink.

The build offers ample G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 memory that’s both fast and stable, plus a high-performance Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5” SSD and Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 3.5” 7200RPM hard drive for storage. There’s also a LG BH14NS40 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD writer. All of these components are housed in a Cooler Master Storm Enforcer ATX mid-tower case.

Joseph’s Workstation Build:

Congratulations to forum member Joseph for having his recommended build picked by the Tom's Hardware community this quarter!

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