Lots of DIY enthusiasts are still using DDR3 based rigs. These are plenty powerful to handle contemporary games. Intel changes the CPU socket every 2 years while AMD only changes it every 5 years with the memory cycle.
DDR4 speeds are faster than DDR3 and recent tests show it can reach 68 GB/s with DDR4-2400. DDR4 prices have come down considerably making the incremental cost much easier. $169 for 4x8GB sticks is enough for mainstream use. Windows 10 uses more memory if it’s available.
We tend to use mid-range to high-end CPUs only due to the desire for maximum general Windows performance. L3 caches are very desireable to improve performance. The i3-7100 launched at $120.
Intel LGA1151 are widely available and even Z170 boards are now down to $99 occasionally. AM4 boards will will be available for several years so expect to see a wide range of models through 2022.
The majority of gaming DIY boxes use a single video card. Such boards are the most common and competition is very fierce. We expect to find the following features for a good ATX motherboard:
- 4x DDR4 slots
- PCI Express 3.0 x16
- 4x PCI Express 3.0 x1
- PCI Express 3.0 x4
The M.2 slots for SSD will be popular over the next few years as the SSD slowly moves onto the motherboards. A basic 256GB SSD is enough for Windows and several games. Larger capacity M.2 up to 2TB are available.
Getting rig of PCI slots will afford more room for dual M.2 slots for SSD installations. Some boards may have PCI slots for some market segments but PCI Express cards and USB devices have replaced older PCI devices..
A hard disk can be used for more games and for audio/video libraries. We recommend using an extra disk for file history in case Windows craps out. USB attached disks are good for backups.
We suggest selecting a suitable DDR4 based motherboard first before selecting a CPU and memory.