Whether you use your computer for intense gaming sessions, rendering high-definition art or just getting lost down YouTube rabbit holes, one thing we all have in common is our desire for a laptop or desktop PC that performs well and gives us the best bang for our buck.
But increasingly, it seems more and more people are building their own PCs in lieu of readily made machines. Indeed, the r/buildapc subreddit has seen a sizable increase in the number of subscribers in recent years, and a 2021 poll revealed that just under a third of desktop gamers use computers they’ve built themselves.
Unlike users of pre-built computers, PC builders have the distinct advantage of being able to mix and match budget-friendly computer parts to create their own dream machine. And like any other online shopper, when they’re browsing cases, CPUs, hard drives and graphics cards, they’re likely to explore the reviews and ratings of buyers gone before to check whether they’re making the right purchase.
With this in mind, the team here at Electronics Hub delved into the reviews and ratings of the PCPartPicker community to discover the most popular and most commonly used components in PC builds.
We first retrieved the computer components in eight different categories (e.g., CPUs, hard drives, etc.) that have the highest proportion of five-star reviews on PCPartPicker.com.
We could then isolate the highest-rated component in each category and rank the top 10 highest-rated components overall.
Next, we isolated the components most frequently used in pc builds that are cataloged on PCPartPicker.com overall, and among newer builds cataloged since September 1, 2022.
- According to the PC build community on PCPartPicker, the highest-rated PC part overall is the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 3.5 GHz 16-Core Processor, for which 98% of ratings are five stars
- After another Ryzen card in second place, the SeaSonic FOCUS Plus 650 Gold 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply is the third highest-rated component overall (97% of five-star ratings)
- The Western Digital Caviar Blue 1 TB 3.5″ 7200 RPM Internal Hard Drive has been used in more PC builds (14,694) than any other individual component
- But the Samsung 980 Pro 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive has been used in more PC builds (1,571) since September 2022
What’s the Best Possible PC Build Based on Community Ratings?
We’ve generated a blueprint of the best PC build possible using the highest-rated computer parts online. The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 3.5 GHz 16-Core Processor takes pride of place, a powerful 16-core, 32-thread CPU for which nearly all (98%) of community reviews are rated five stars. “It races through all my work applications, 3D rendering, video rendering, ZBrush and the list goes on!” gushes a reviewer.
Some users note it can run a little hot, which brings us to our dream machine’s cooler. The Noctua NH-U12S chromax.black 55 CFM CPU Cooler (95% of five-star ratings) runs close to silent and boasts a sleek black aesthetic (which users much prefer to the brown version). Encompassing the whole contraption is the roomy Lian Li PC-O11 Dynamic ATX Full Tower Case (92% of five-star ratings).
Using Amazon’s prices as listed on PCPartPicker, buying all of these components would set you back $1,745.86. The very best pre-built gaming PC on the market (according to Tom’s Hardware) goes for upwards of $4,000, making this build a steal in comparison.
A 2022 Ryzen CPU Ranks as the Highest-Rated PC Component of All
Below are the top 10 most popular computer parts, ranked by the proportion of five-star ratings.
Intel CPUs might sell and perform better than AMD’s Ryzen brand, but only Ryzen CPUs make the cut, including the AMD Ryzen 5 5600 3.5 GHz 6-Core Processor (97% of five-star ratings), labeled a “really good budget CPU for 1080p gaming” by one reviewer.
The SeaSonic FOCUS Plus 650 Gold 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply is one of two power supply options that make the ranking, boasting a 97% five-star rating. “Modular, high quality, virtually inaudible,” says a reviewer. “10/10 would recommend.”
A lone video card also makes the top 10: the NVIDIA Founders Edition GeForce RTX 3060 Ti 8 GB Video Card (96% of five-star ratings). This reasonably priced card runs cool and features a heatsink that uses up space left by a smaller PCB. “It’s amazing. Great price, great performance, all of it. Blows away my GTX 970 in performance,” comments an impressed reviewer.
A Western Digital Hard Drive Is Used in More PC Builds Than Any Other Computer Part
Some computer parts are old favorites, used time and time again by PC builders. Below, we’ve visualized a PC entirely made up of the most commonly used components in builds logged on PCPartPicker, a build that would set you back just over $975 at today’s prices on Amazon.
Inside is the Western Digital Caviar Blue 1 TB 3.5″ 7200 RPM Internal Hard Drive, used in more builds (14,694) than any other single component in our analysis. “Quiet and a bit of a tank,” writes one user. “I’ve put this in four different builds over the past six years and have yet to have a single issue with it.”
The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6 GHz 6-Core Processor serves as the build’s CPU (used in 5,590 builds), a solid budget option equipped with six cores and 12 threads. “Got it for only $90,” a reviewer writes. “Great CPU. Good and still fast for what I use it for. Runs both old and new games while multitasking like a charm.”
A Cooler Master Gadget Ranks as the Second-Most Common Component in All PC Builds
Different hard drives fill out our ranking of the most used components in PC builds overall. While the Western Digital model pictured in our build above is used the most often, Seagate (which claims the lion’s share of the world’s hard disk drive market) and Samsung hard drives are used in thousands of homemade computers.
The next most common component overall is the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler (used in 6,401 builds), a sleek black fan unit that reviewers note is a great option for budget and first-time builds. “The fan speed is fine and it cools down the CPU as needed,” says a user. “Good budget cooler for budget gamers like me.”
Pictured: A PC Build Made of the Most Commonly Used Newer Components on the Market
Old favorites are all well and good, but when each year brings new and improved hard drives, CPUs, coolers and cases to store shelves, it’s easy to see why the majority of PC builders plan to upgrade their machines. Our graphic below reveals the most used components released since January 1, 2022, in PCPartPicker.com builds. Altogether, these parts would cost you $2,880.28 on Amazon.
The Samsung 980 Pro 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive (used in 1,571 builds) serves as this fantasy build’s hard drive, boasting a massive two terabytes of storage (twice the minimum storage a first-time builder should opt for according to Reddit).
The motherboard is the Asus TUF GAMING X570-PLUS (WI-FI) ATX AM4 Motherboard (used in 182 builds), about which a reviewer writes: “Decent board, none of the USB issues that [plagued] other 3rd gen Ryzen boards…” Meanwhile, an NVIDIA Founders Edition GeForce RTX 4090 24 GB Video Card serves as our video card (188 builds), labeled by TechRadar as the “best graphics card ever made.”
A Corsair Power Supply Unit Ranks Among the Most Used Newer PC Parts
The Samsung 980 Pro 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive has been used in 1,571 builds logged on PCPartPicker.com since September 2022, placing it at the top of our ranking of the most commonly used PC parts in newly built PCs.
Also making the cut is the Corsair RM850x (2021) 850 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply (used in 806 builds), boasting an 80+ gold efficiency rating. “Came with lots of power cables,” says one reviewer. “A lot more than I needed anyway. It’s completely silent and does its job great.”
In ninth place comes the Corsair 4000D Airflow ATX Mid Tower Case (used in 653 builds), a large black case that features a side panel of tinted tempered glass. Reviewers give this case bonus points for coming with zip ties and velcro straps for easy cable management.
What Else Do You Need for Your First PC Build?
From hard drives to CPUs, must-have PC components can be seriously pricey. Luckily, you can usually get these essential tools and helpful accessories for less than $15…
Thermal paste is used when attaching a CPU cooler to a CPU. Some coolers already have it applied. It helps to efficiently transfer heat from the integrated heat spreader (or lid) of a CPU to the cooler’s water block or base plate. PC builders debate over the best way to apply the paste, but one test reveals that it doesn’t matter too much as long as you’re using the right amount and cleaning up any mess.
2. Screwdriver and a screw tray
With PC building comes screwing and unscrewing components, so you’ll need a decent screwdriver before you start a build. PCWorld recommends a Phillips #2 and adds that a magnetic version can make it easier to keep tricky screws in place. A magnetic screw tray will also keep your screws organized and stop them from rolling off the desk and getting lost while you’re tinkering with your build.
3. Cable ties
An untidy tangle of cables can hinder a PC build’s aesthetics. Luckily, cable ties are an easy and cheap way of collecting wires together. You can use the traditional plastic kind, but velcro ties will be easier to unstrap if you want to rearrange your cables, and you won’t risk cutting wires by mistake like you might with plastic ones.
To explore the most commonly used and most popular components in PC builds, we first collected information about different parts from eight different categories (e.g., CPUs, hard drives) from the web portal PCPartPicker.com, filtering the products in advance by five-star reviews only. Simultaneously, we gathered information about the builds that users were posting.
Among the parts with at least 50 reviews, we isolated the highest-rated per category and the top 10 highest-rated overall based on the percentage of five-star reviews received.
Next, we isolated the parts most frequently used in builds cataloged on PCPartPicker.com per category and the top 10 overall. We repeated this process, counting only the builds published after September 1, 2022.
The analysis of this data is correct as of November 2023.
|ADDITIONAL SOURCES |
Alcorn, P. (2019). AMD Ryzen 9 3950X Review: 16 Cores Muscles Into the Mainstream. tomshardware.com.
Hordijk, R. (2021). Demand for PC Hardware Has Skyrocketed: Who Are the Gamers Looking to Upgrade? What Motivates Consumers to Spend?. newzoo.com
Wiredwiz. (2022). AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 3.5 GHz 16-Core Processor. pcpartpicker.com
ChippyChipboi. (2023). Samsung 980 Pro 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive. pcpartpicker.com
Kesterlath. (2023). Corsair RM850x (2021) 850 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply. pcpartpicker.com