If I had to build a PC during this crisis

Think the supply crisis is annoying because you want to build a PC? I can relate, running a site about building a PC is also not a lot of fun right now. Ideally all of us would just wait until stock is readily available again. But what if that’s no option because the current PC broke and a new one is absolutely needed, and it’s needed now?

It’s not ideal, while shops look like this:


Offering old and weak cards for way more than they were ever worth. But you do have some options.

If you do not want to buy a premade system you could build an interim system. By using a processor with integrated graphics that new PC will still be able to do office work, play Netflix, and run older or lightweight games.

AMD had some processors with integrated graphics, the Athlon 3000G, Ryzen 3 3200G and Ryzen 5 3400G. They were nice, but they are not available for their original price anymore. So they are out, and with them AMD in general - all other Ryzen processors do not have graphics integrated. That leaves Intel. And thankfully, almost all Intel processors do have integrated graphics. They are usually not as nice as what AMD offered, but they are available for a fair price.

In the USA, this system is what I would build right now:

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i5-10400 $159.99 @ Best Buy
Motherboard ASRock Z490 Pro4 $164.99 @ newegg
Memory G.Skill RipJaws V Series (16 GB) $74.99 @ newegg
SSD Crucial P1 1000 GB (1 TB) $99.95 @ B&H
Case Corsair 4000D Airflow Tempered Glass Midi-Tower - white Window $94.99 @ Amazon.com
Power Supply EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G3 (650 W) $109.99 @ Amazon.com
CPU Cooler Corsair Air A500 - 120mm $49.99 @ newegg
  Total $754.89
  Generated by pc-kombo 21.02.2021  

The locked i5-10400 is a six core processor that is very capable. It’s in stock, and the price is as high as it was before the supply crisis.

We put it on a Z490 board here. On the first look, that’s not the best combination: Z490 allows overclocking, which this i5 does not support. But the Z-board allows us to run faster ram, which gives higher performance, and it will enable a better upgrade path later. Accordingly, the ram kit is 16GB of DDR4-3200, a good compromise between cost and speed.

The 1TB SSD is an NVMe drive. There are faster options out there than the Crucial P1, but most of the advantages of faster drives do not matter in practice, at least for most of us.

The remaining parts are part good deal, part future proofing. The Corsair 4000D is excellent, easy to build in and with a focus on good airflow. Something less needed without a gpu, but useful with one in the future. Similarly, the 650W G3 power supply is utterly oversized currently, but will support the gpu that later will be added to the system. And the cpu cooler? The A500 is big and will support overcloking with stronger processors later. Till then it will keep the system very quiet. This specific cooler is not competitive for its original price, but on a sale like this it’s a good deal.

When graphics cards are back in stock and the prices get reasonable again, it will be easy enough to add a good one into this system. Be it a Radeon RX 6800 or a GeForce RTX 3070, they would fit and work well with the i5. This is basically guaranteed to also be true for the next generation of GPUs, in case of the current generation never coming back.

In Germany, or rather all of Europe, the build above is also the right direction. The board is available in a cheaper mATX version, which has no significant drawbacks. The case is a bit cheaper in black. Instead of the here unavailable G3 the Seasonic 650GM makes for a good alternative, with the Corsair RM 650 being a second - more expensive - option, to be preferred if the gpu to be added later will be a high end model. And the A500 cpu cooler is not on sale, so we replace it with the Arctic Freezer 34 eSports Duo, a price-performance champion. But keep in mind the cooler is optional, you could also use the stock cooler that comes with the processor.

These changes give us this system:

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i5-10400 158.90€ @ alternate
Motherboard ASRock Z490M Pro4 133.38€ @ computeruniverse
Memory G.Skill RipJaws V Series (16 GB) 79.99€ @ computeruniverse
SSD Crucial P1 1000 GB (1 TB) 98.90€ @ alternate
Case Corsair 4000D Airflow Tempered Glass Midi-Tower - schwarz Window 85.72€ @ computeruniverse
Power Supply Seasonic Core GM 80 Plus Gold, semi-modular (650 W) 79.90€ @ alternate
CPU Cooler Arctic Freezer 34 eSports Duo , 2x 120mm - rot 36.01€ @ computeruniverse
  Total 685.74€
  Generated by pc-kombo 21.02.2021  

If you are a gamer, not having a good gpu in the system will be annoying. But with a build like this the PC will at least be immediately usable, and old or lightweight games (like League of Legends) will run. And it’s a good foundation, just one inserted graphics card away from running every new AAA game.

Outside of gaming this system would work just fine as is. The supply crisis is less of a problem when gaming is not the target, now that at least some Intel processors are back in stock again.