A year and a bit ago, you chose Kerm's new laptop, and two years ago you (let's be honest, Tari) guided me towards a new GPU for my desktop. Now my desktop and its 9-year-old CPU and/or motherboard have bit the dust, and I'm going to get myself a new motherboard + CPU + memory.

First, some background. A few months ago, I was using my desktop normally, and it randomly shut off. "Weird," I thought. I tried turning it back on; no dice. I unplugged it and plugged it back in, no dice. The only thing that would happen was a click from the PSU. I pulled the PSU and tried the "paperclip trick", same thing. Undeterred, I RMA'd my EVGA PSU, and a few weeks later, a "new" one arrived. However, to my significant surprise, even this didn't do the trick. The computer would whir to life, various LEDs on the motherboard would flash, but a second or so after the CPU fan started to spin, the whole thing would power off. Applying some debugging knowledge to try to find a MWE, I disconnected all my SATA devices: same thing. I pulled half of my RAM, then swapped it for the other two sticks: same thing. I even removed my GPU: same thing. Therefore, I now fear that my PSU's misadventure fried my motherboard (and I'm slightly concerned about whether it may have take other components, like my GPU and my storage devices, with it, although I know from testing that at least one of the HDDs is just fine).

As one does, I headed over to PCP Art Picker, and tried out its various build guides. In fact, I see that its various types of AMD options, from moderate to enthusiast, all spec out the same CPU + motherboard + RAM:

PCPartPicker Part List: https://pcpartpicker.com/list/RtFhK3

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 3.7 GHz 6-Core Processor ($299.99 @ B&H)
  • CPU Cooler: Scythe FUMA 2 51.17 CFM CPU Cooler ($59.99 @ Amazon)
  • Motherboard: *MSI B550-A PRO ATX AM4 Motherboard ($129.99 @ Amazon)
  • Memory: *Crucial Ballistix 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3600 CL16 Memory ($69.98 @ Amazon)

Total: $559.95

Opinions on this? Could I do better? And I'll almost certainly double that RAM, possibly with 16GB sticks to give myself room for the future.
Seems pretty reasonable to me; if you wanted more grunt it would be pretty easy to step up to a more powerful Ryzen 5000 series CPU (aside from perhaps actually getting your hands on one) and I'd agree that 32GB of RAM would probably be worthwhile. Spending a little more for faster (some combination of higher frequency and low CAS latency) memory might be worthwhile.

I agree with specifically looking for a B550 chipset since when compared with X570 you don't need active cooling (meaning you don't have a tiny fan that will make noise and eventually fail) and PCIe 4.0 support (as you get on X570) probably isn't important.
Great, thanks, Tari! At the same clock rate and CAS latency https://pcpartpicker.com/product/zcH8TW/gskill-ripjaws-v-32-gb-2-x-16-gb-ddr4-3600-memory-f4-3600c16d-32gvkc is highly rated. Trying to push the CAS latency or the clock rate even a little appears to have a significant impact on price (doubling, in fact), so I'll probably avoid that for now. For CPUs, the Ryzen 7 5700G is an interesting choice for only $10 more right now, although I'm not sure what I lose with the hopefully-redundant APU. The Ryzen 7 5800X seems like the next logical step up, $85 more than the Ryzen 5 5800G; it's not clear how much extra power you get versus (say) the 5700G, and I see people mentioning that it runs hot.
Based on the Tom's Hardware review, normal pricing for the 5700G would be $60 more than the 5600X, so it seems like a pretty good deal. The hardware cost you pay appears to be only getting 16MB of L3 rather than 32MB on the 5600X and lose PCIe 4.0 support (which you don't get on the B550 chipset, but would still have available on PCIe lanes connected directly to the CPU- often allocated to a M.2 slot and PCIe x16 slot for a GPU). Their concluding remarks seem sensible:
Overall, if you already have a discrete GPU for your build, we think most enthusiasts will be better served with other alternatives, be they from the Ryzen 5000 product stack or Intel's lineup. Pricing is fluid, though, so be sure to check our list of Best CPUs for the latest advice.
Based on the pricing you're seeing, the 5700G seems like a very attractive option- single-threaded performance is only a sliver lower than the 5600X and you get two more cores for a good boost in multithreaded workloads. It's also nice to have an iGPU as an option (for instance if you needed to replace a broken dGPU).

If you're mostly interested in gaming it might not be worth going for a beefier CPU, but I guess that's up to you.

As for memory, doubling the price for a small performance uplift sounds like a silly thing to do so I agree with you on that front.
I guess the only argument for a beefier CPU in regards to gaming would be based on whether you're playing much Minecraft these days, with 1.18 coming out soon having the increased world height.
If anyone is curious, I ended up settling on the following, and I've been very happy with it so far:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8-core, 16-thread CPU
  • ASUS ROG Strix B550-F motherboard
  • Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240L RGB V2 cooler
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 3600
I was reading this as it was new! Glad to hear it's working well. What's the perk of going with 2x RAM instead of 4x? When I upgrade my Motherboard I was thinking of going with 4x8GB to get to 32GB.
KermMartian wrote:
PCP Art Picker

Wow, I didn't figure you would be the type to hang out in those places.
Alex wrote:
I was reading this as it was new! Glad to hear it's working well. What's the perk of going with 2x RAM instead of 4x? When I upgrade my Motherboard I was thinking of going with 4x8GB to get to 32GB.
I went with 2x to leave two slots for further upgrading in the future.
There’s no hardware advantage to going with 2 over 4? I was under a (lightly read) understanding that on a 4x RAM that two channels went to one set of cores and the other two to another set.

So buying two 16GB RAM and placing them in (for example) Slot 1 and 3 would give the CPU the 32GB but also each set of cores 16GB, otherwise the CPU needs to do some stuff to let the cores use the allocated memory on the other side, this having slowe read/write times to RAM - however negligible.

I realize this take may be entirely wrong, poorly articulated because I am not familiar with verbiage, or misguided, but thats what I was curious about why you went with 2 instead of 4.
Basically all desktop-class processors have two-channel memory controllers, where in your example slots 1 and 2 might be channel A, while 3 and 4 might be channel B. Putting one stick in each of slots 1 and 3 puts one stick on each channel, which is good; putting them in slots 1 and 2 (or 3 and 4) would be bad, since you'd end up with significantly reduced memory bandwidth when using only one channel.

Using four DIMMs increases the loading on the bus which can sometimes cause compatibility problems (if signal integrity with the combination of your board, CPU and memory were marginal) and offers no additional performance since you only have two channels.

Note that the actual channel-to-slot mapping varies between motherboards, which is why it's important to refer to the motherboard manual when installing RAM.
Tari wrote:
slots 1 and 2 might be channel A, while 3 and 4 might be channel B. putting them in slots 1 and 2 (or 3 and 4) would be bad, since you'd end up with significantly reduced memory bandwidth when using only one channel.

This goes against what I remember reading. Why is this?
Each memory channel is 64 bits wide and operates independently, unaffected in its operation by how many DIMMs are present; sticks of memory sit on a shared bus which is one memory channel. When you have two channels, you have two buses.

Because each channel operates independently, using two can get you about twice as much bandwidth.
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