2022 is set to be an exciting year for PCs with next-gen architectures for CPUs and GPUs planned for launch this year. Current gen GPUs are still very difficult to come by at reasonable prices.
Builds will be updated when new products launch. For now all builds will have GPUs at their MSRP as it is possible to get them at that price (if you're lucky).
AMD Ryzen 5600X
Intel Core i5 12600K
Intel 12th Gen is technically the fastest gaming CPU but these are both great gaming CPUs, and in most games you won't be able to notice a difference between them, especially if you are gaming at a high resolution. Zen 3 with V Cache is coming soon which could be an interesting launch.
Intel Core i5 12400F
Ryzen 5 5600G
Intel Core i5 12400F is the highest performance best value CPU and comes in at under $200, though the Ryzen 5 5600G could make sense if you need a decent integrated GPU while waiting on a discrete GPU.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
The latest GPUs from both Nvidia and AMD are impressive. Nvidia has a substantial lead in heavy ray tracing applications but AMD is very competitive when it comes to rasterization performance. Currently, Nvidia leads in the $400 tier with the RTX 3060 Ti which is a fantastic GPU with better than console raster and RT capabilities. At the higher end the RTX 3080 and RX 6800 XT offer similar rasterization performance with the 3080 coming ahead at 4K and the 6800 XT ahead at 1080p. But in games with heavy RT effects there is a massive advantage for Nvidia GeForce RTX even before DLSS is enabled. The RTX GPUs have the ability to use DLSS 2.x in a handful of games which increases performance with graphics that are arguably on par with native rendering.
Intel is planning to launch their new DG2 GPU architecture in Q1 2022, which features hardware RT and AI upscaling similar to DLSS 2.x.
Recommended: 32 GB DDR4 3600
Value: 16 GB DDR4 3200
Some may argue 16 GB is enough but 32 GB gives you a lot more freedom in desktop usage and can improve your experience. Activate your memory profiles in BIOS in order to run them at their rated speeds.
Recommended: PCIe 3.0x4 NVMe SSD
Value: SATA SSD
The sweet spot is still PCIe 3.0 NVMe in terms of price and gaming load time performance. It could be years before we see games taking advantage of PCIe 4.0 speeds. Currently zero games use Direct Storage on PC. SATA SSDs are still great for gaming too.
TechSpot did a nice article where they tested drives in a number of games and found no difference between 3.0 and 4.0 drives at this point.
Graphics cards require more power these days than they used to, make sure you have enough PSU power or you could see system instability.
Good airflow is a concern with some cases make sure you do your research before buying a case to see if it is easy to build in and has the features you want as they can last you through a number of builds.
Xbox Series Controller
PS5 Dual Sense Controller
Xbox Series controller is fantastic on PC if you play console style games. The Dual Sense is also a fantastic game pad and Steam has Dual Sense integration. Xbox Series controller is cheaper but Dual Sense can be worth it especially if more games take advantage of it's haptic capabilities on PC.
Spatial Image Enhancement
Overclocking is a way to get even more performance out of your components but it does require a bit of tinkering to get things right as things can become unstable if you are not careful. There is not much overclocking headroom these days for current gen CPUs & GPUs however...
Programs for Setup & Overclocking
CPU-Z: Information on your CPU, motherboard and memory
GPU-Z: Information on your GPU and VRAM
MSI Afterburner: overclocking utility for GPUs, works on any modern GPU from any vendor
HWiNFO64: detailed system information
Pricing & Compatibility
PCPartPicker: Good way to see if all your components are compatible and compare prices between components aggregated from various websites.