The CCL custom PC builder tool is one of the most popular pages on our website, and allows customers to configure every component in their system build - and then have our experts build it for them. One gaming PC spec in particular has been more popular than others in November, and has outsold all other custom specs. We looked at the system in detail to find out why.
There are plenty of reasons to purchase a gaming PC off the shelf on Black Friday or Cyber Monday 2021, and gaming laptops like the MSI GF75 Core i7 have become more popular than ever due to GPU shortages, but there are still many PC enthusiasts who want to create their own gaming PC specification, and either build it themselves or have an expert build it for them.
There's something about configuring a gaming PC that is very cathartic. Checking reviews, skimming Reddit arguments and benchmarks notwithstanding, I used to spend hours building my dream PC and saving it to a wishlist for my wife to laugh at. Eventually I purchased my dream PC and I'm still using it today - although the spec is left wanting on some of the AAA titles of today. My GTX 970 graphics card is a little on the fragile side, and my Core i7 4790 is not what you'd call mind-bendingly fast under the strain of video editing or rendering. However, when I first put that spec together, you could practically hear a pin drop in my office, as I focused on each and every component like my life depended on it.
Most PC enthusiasts will have dabbled with a PC builder tool at one point or another, and will know the feeling well. As soon as you hit "Save" or "Buy Now", you feel elation and satisfaction. A sense of achievement, even.
Never Tell Me The Odds
Customers of CCL can build their own PC using our very own tool - https://www.cclonline.com/pc/custom-pcs/ - and we regularly see this page receiving hordes of visitors around the festive season, with novices and veterans alike customising their gaming and workstation PCs to their heart's content. Very often, certain specifications appear more than others as customers find their own value in the CCL store. The most interesting thing is - there are millions of combinations of products, so what makes one spec more popular than another? Actually, the probability of choosing a gaming PC with the same custom specification as the next person is forty-nine quadrillion three hundred ten trillion five hundred eighty-two billion four hundred fifty-eight million nine hundred seventy-four thousand four hundred ten to one. Approximately.
Of course there are some factors that make some components more attractive than others, and some customers are quite happy with the cheapest SSD in favour of spending a little more on the CPU and GPU. In fact, some customers tell us they will re-use the hard drive or SSD in their previous computer to save money, as well as the PSU from their old system. Saving money here and there is a good idea when you consider the pricing of processors and video cards are still well over MSRP.
Anyway, we were so intrigued with all this that we had to find out why customers were buying the same specification over and over in November 2021.
The Most Popular Gaming PC Spec
The specification we're going to be talking about is as follows: -
|Mid Tower Gaming Case - Black |
|AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 3.7GHz Hexa Core AM4 CPU |
|CPU Cooler |
|2TB SATA III 3.5" Hard Drive - 7200RPM, 256MB |
|B550-A PRO ATX Motherboard |
|850W Modular Power Supply 80 Plus Gold |
|16GB (2x8GB) 3200MHz DDR4 Memory |
|GeForce RTX 3070 Ti 8GB |
You may notice that there are no brands in there other than the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, and a GeForce RTX 3070 Ti 8GB GPU. That is because this specification changes slightly from one day to the next due to stock levels and availability - but the basic specification remains the same. This specification has been sold more than any other system in November, and here's why...
Mid Tower Case
One of the most popular Mid Tower gaming cases we sell is the GameMax F15G, which is currently priced at around £67. This case fits the budget of most gamers, and has features that allow it to stand alongside some of the bigger names in the industry. The case was also the most popular option in the above specification.
|Specification ||Detail |
|Cooling System ||Front: Supports 3 x 120mm, 3 x 140mm or 2 x 200mm fans (2 x 200mm ARGB fans included), Top: Supports 2 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm fans, Rear: Supports 1 x 120mm fan (ARGB fan included) |
|Internal Expansion Bays ||5 x 2.5" / 4 x 3.5" |
|USB Ports ||1 x USB 3.0 + 2 x USB 2.0 |
|Headphone Ports ||1 x 3.5mm Jack |
|Microphone In Port ||1 x 3.5mm Jack |
|Expansion Slots ||7 x Full Height |
|Power Supply ||ATX Power Supply supported |
|Material ||0.8mm SPCC, ABS, Tempered Glass, Mesh |
If we compare this ARGB case to one of the more higher profile cases out there, such as the Corsair iCUE 4000X at £134.80, there's a huge saving to be made. That's not to say the GameMax F15G is better than the 4000X in terms of features, cooling and chassis build, but the savings are there nevertheless.
The case comes highly recommended by both CCL and industry reviewers, and it is not hard to see why it was the most popular choice in this specification.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 3.7GHz Hexa Core AM4 CPU
Easily the most recognised AMD CPU right now, the Ryzen 5 5600X is dominating headlines as AMD's only processor to match the Intel Alder Lake 12th-Gen chips. Even though the Intel CPUs are benchmarking higher than the Ryzen 5 5600X, consumers realise that the pricing of the AMD gaming CPU is extremely attractive in comparison.
The Ryzen 5 5600X is priced at around £280 - AMD's valiant rally against the release of the Intel i5-12600K/KF CPUs, which are around the same price. At this point, it really is only performance that consumers are caring about, and AMD's market share and loyal customer base has proven that they are willing to sacrifice PCIe and DDR improvements, up to 50%+ multi-threading capabilities and the extra 10 - 15FPS gaming improvements of the 12th-Gen Intel chips (Source: Tech Deals).
"Why?" you may ask.
The Ryzen 5 5600X is still a solid processor, and the motherboards are readily available right now at great prices. Unless you are planning on buying the Intel chip for all of the new features that will be bedding in over the next year, you will get similar performance in your games from the Ryzen 5 5600x, and be very satisfied with the performance.
If you are team AMD all the way, then you will already know that Zen 4 and AM5 is on the way next year (hopefully), so you wouldn't be interested in waiting out the Intel market at all. If you want a gaming PC right now, you will not be sorry you went the AMD route.
B550-A PRO ATX Motherboard
As we said above, the motherboards for the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X are readily available and already getting great pricing on the run up to Christmas and New Year. These are amazing value over Intel's Socket 1700 motherboards, too. The cheapest of the Intel Z690 boards is around £185 (without DDR5 support), where the most popular option in the specification above - the MSI B550-A PRO AMD Socket AM4 Motherboard - is packed with incredible features at just ~£170.
MSI B550-A PRO AMD Socket AM4 Motherboard
The MSI B550-A PRO AMD Socket AM4 motherboard was probably the most popular choice for our customers because it has just about every feature you could hope for in a B550 chipset: -
|Specification ||Detail |
|CPU ||Support for 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen processors and future AMD Ryzen processors with BIOS update |
|Chipset ||AMD B550 Chipset |
|Memory ||4 x DIMM; Max. 128GB DDR4; 4400+ MHz |
|PCIe x16 Slots ||1x PCIe 4.0 x16 slot (x16 / x4) 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (max.@x4) 2x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots |
|Graphics ||HDMI, DisplayPort |
|Audio ||Audio Boost |
|32Gb/s M.2 ||1x 22110 (PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA mode) 1x 2280 (PCIe 3.0 x4 mode) |
|Wireless ||No |
With the above specifications, the rest of the system will be running as smooth as silk, and you'll reach all of the peak performance with overclocking (but will also be more than satisfied with the excellent stock performance).
2TB SATA III 3.5" Hard Drive - 7200RPM, 256MB
The most popular choice of SATA III hard drive in this specification is the Seagate BarraCuda 2TB 3.5" HDD, which offers amazing results that rival some SSD.
Speaking of SSD, this popular specification did NOT include an SSD drive, as customers preferred to go with a SATA HDD instead. This is becoming a more favourable option, considering the upcoming deals we'll no doubt see for SSD, and the fact that you can still receive extremely fast read/write speeds with SATA.
Seagate BarraCuda 2TB 3.5" HDD
The Seagate BarraCuda 2TB SATA III has a 256MB cache, 7200RPM Spin Speed, and with the SATA III interface, you'll see 6Gb/s performance. When paired with an SSD for your Windows 11 OS and game files, you are able to use this high capacity HDD storage for large files and non-essential applications, making it excellent value for money in a gaming PC build right now.
It also has to be said, the results of SATA III HDD vs SATA SSD vs NVMe M.2 SSD are still pretty close, when you consider games like GTA V load around 1 minute slower on SATA III HDD, or 10 seconds slower in the case of the Witcher 3, so it is not a huge sacrifice for gamers by any stretch of the imagination.
16GB (2x8GB) 3200MHz DDR4 Memory
In this part of the specification it came as no surprise that the Kingston FURY Beast 16GB (2x 8GB) 3200MHz DDR4 was the most popular RAM, not least because of the excellent value for money at this clock speed, priced around £57 for the 16GB kit.
Kingston FURY Beast 16GB (2x 8GB) 3200MHz DDR4
This 16Gb DDR4 kit also allows you to customise your loadout with AMD Ryzen ready profiles (AMP), which will enable you to reach overclocking speeds recommended by Kingston's own engineers.
GeForce RTX 3070 Ti 8GB
Down to the meat and potatoes of the specification, and customers were all over the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3070 GAMING OC 8GB Graphics Card, and whilst this card jumps in and out of stock quite often, the custom PC builder gives you an idea of the available stock for custom PCs (which is often different from the main site's stock levels).
Check GPU stock on the custom PC builder page here. Simply select the "Customise this PC" tab, and check the graphics card you want to add to the specification.
Currently, the most popular GPU for the above specification is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070Ti 8GB - an incredible graphics card that will allow you to play games with RTX and DLSS. The Ti is a noticeable improvement over the standard RTX 3070, which we covered in this comparison article with the RTX 3080 vs. RTX 3080Ti.
I've left out some of the specification in favour of providing highlights of the main aspects of this system build, but honourable mentions go to the Be Quiet! Pure Rock 2 Black Air Tower CPU Cooler, and Cooler Master V850 Gold V2 850W Modular PSU, which were the top picks for our customers. Also, it is important to note that this build comes with 3 years warranty at just £19.99
The GPU choice is very slim for the specification, for sure. Although stock levels might still be low or depleted, manufacturers and distributors are doing their best to keep retailers stocked towards the end of 2021. It's not all doom and gloom, or rehashed 'GOU crisis' rhetoric however. With the promise of new GPUs from Nvidia, AMD and, of course, Intel with their ground-breaking ARC Alchemist graphics cards as early as Q1, the future is brightening for gamers.
All in all, we can see a lot of sensible choices in this specification, and the choice between AMD and Intel right now is a tough one - though props to our customers for seeing the added features & value of an AM4 B550-A Pro motherboard over the Socket 1700 Z690. With some uncertainty of the market as far as GPUs and memory coming into Q1 of 2022, all eyes are on retailers like CCL right now to see where we stand on fair pricing. Our Black Friday deals and upcoming pricing for Cyber Monday will confirm to our loyal customers that we are still committed to providing value and excellent customer service, along with incomparable peace of mind.