A while back Newegg approached us with an interesting offer. They wanted to regularly give away complete PCs to our readers, and they wanted our help in doing so.

While it’s easy enough to hold a giveaway – something we’ve done numerous times now – we and Newegg agreed that it needed to be something more interesting and exciting than just a bog-standard giveaway. Part of this is simply to get more attention for the giveaway, but at the same time we also wanted to make our giveaways deeper for the reader, as we are so fond of doing deep articles on new technologies. Building a PC (or even just window shopping for a PC) is fun, but so much of that fun and the challenge is in the component selection process rather than in the build process itself. So after looking at our options, and after one too many Top Gear reruns for Ian, we hit upon an interesting idea for our Newegg system giveaway.

Ultimately we wanted to turn the build process into a competition in and of itself. And while all of the AnandTech editors could easily design a good system and make for a good competition, after thinking it through we thought we could do even better than that. Why not make it a competition between groups who are already competitors and have real incentive to beat each other? To that end we decided to turn to the PC component manufacturers themselves, to create a competition between the people who are making the hardware we use day-in and day-out, with the end result being a set of comparative data and a bunch of hardware to give away. Newegg jumped on board, and today we are officially launching our Build-A-Rig project, where we invite companies to configure a PC to a budget which we then build, test and give away.

Build-A-Rig (BAR) Introduction

The Build-A-Rig project, in its simplest form, involves us approaching our contacts at the various companies we work with and asking them to produce a PC build for a given budget. With the aid of our project sponsor Newegg, we then obtain the components, build the system, and run it through our series of tests to see which company can configure the best system. Each round (which is roughly a quarter) we will approach two or three companies to configure builds for a given value, as well as interview them about the build and the PC industry to learn about why they made the choices they did. Once the results are in, all the systems built will be analyzed, reviewed, and then given away to our readers through a sweepstakes.

BAR is essentially a bit of fun for all concerned – each company gets to focus on their components and build a PC around them, we get to interview the head of each build, then we get to play with the components and tell our readers about the ease or difficulty of each system/where its strengths lie then give them away. Even if a reader doesn’t win the system, it gives them a chance to build the system for themselves if they wish and follow how we did it here with an expectation of results. Or, if you have a better idea for a configuration, please feel free to comment on what you would change/keep and how it should affect the performance.


For the purposes of the giveaways, we should state that standard AnandTech contest rules will apply. These will be repeated in our giveaway application form (users will have to submit through a website to apply, which is different from usual), but the overriding implications are that the giveaways are limited to United States of America (US50), excluding Rhode Island, and winners must be 18 years or older.

With apologies to our many loyal readers outside the US, restricting the giveaways to the US is due to the fact that AnandTech (and more specifically our publisher, Purch) is a US registered company and competition law outside the US is very specific for each nation, with some requiring fees or legal implementations to be valid with various consequences if rules aren’t followed. It’s kind of difficult for the rules of 190+ countries/nations worldwide to all be followed, especially if certain ones demand fees for even offering a contest or tax on prizes. We recognize that other online magazines and companies do offer unrestricted worldwide competitions, but there are specific rules everyone should be following in order to stay on the side of the law. That’s the reality of it, and unfortunately we cannot change on this front, even with the help of Purch.

The Rules

When we approach the companies to configure within a budget, there are certain rules they have to follow in order to be fair:

  • All components must be available at Newegg.com at the time of selection (so no pre-choosing unreleased parts)
  • No combo deals will be considered in the price tag
  • No mail-in-rebates will be considered in the price tag
  • Components must be compatible
  • There will be some time between configuration and giveaway, so a 3% leeway is given on the overall build budget if prices change
  • There is no compulsion to use the hardware of the vendor who you’re up against
  • Each round, we will let the companies competing know who they’re up against, but not the build until it is published on AnandTech
  • Each company must agree to an interview on their build

We’re styling this initiative under the Build-A-Rig name, and the main goal was going to be similar to that of ‘Star in a Reasonably Priced Car’ that Top Gear UK used to do. Except rather than getting our ‘celebrities’ to race around a track in a fixed car, they each get to configure a system and the system does the racing. Furthermore, in order to throw some randomness into the mix, each round will feature companies not in direct competition with each other in order to see how different sides of the spectrum attack the same type of configuration.

Note that it most likely sounds like all we care about is performance here. Aesthetics is going to be part of the build-log as well, along with noise and ease-of-use. So we will most likely see some builds go all-out on performance regardless of design, whereas others may decide to spend their budget on cable sleeving or specific fans/fan controls along the way. There are no restrictions on this, meaning that two configurations on the same budget might focus differently either for ATX, mATX, or small-form factor systems.

Over the next year, we want to visit the following budgets and focal points:

  • $1500 Gaming PC (single monitor)
  • $2500 4K/Multi Monitor Performance
  • $700 Small Form Factor/Entry Level or HTPC
  • $1500 Workstation

Each of these budgets will have different requirements, and for the larger $2500 budgets we will ask companies to choose monitors and peripherals along with the PC itself and the operating system. $1500 will require the operating system but not the monitor/peripherals, while the $700 entry model will not include the OS as we recognize that other operating systems may be used instead. If you have ideas of price points/focused builds that we should be considering, please let us know.

Build-A-Rig, Starting July 2015 with Corsair and Zotac

We already have our first two companies on board for the first round of the contest. Dustin Sklavos from Corsair Memory (ex-AnandTech) and Chinny Chuang from Zotac have both submitted their component lists under the $1500 Gaming PC requirement, and I’m glad to say that each build list is different enough to have an interesting contest. It makes it all the more interesting as I know both Dustin and Chinny have been friends for many years. Over the next few weeks we will have a run-down of the component lists, interviews with each, and then reviews of the systems followed by a final giveaway. Let the battle commence!

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  • coconutboy - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    This is AWESOME. Always enjoyed Top Gear's star in a reasonably priced car segment, and that was without prizes.

    Kudos to the manufacturers and Anandtech for bringing us the goods. It'll be similar to system builder guides, only more fun. Really looking forward to seeing this inaugural contest. I own a lot of Corsair gear, but I'd love to see Zotac pull off an underdog win.
  • Semper Idem - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    Though it might sound like yet another rant on the US-only restriction, I'm genuinely interested if the statement for different competition rules in each country is valid for the European Union.
    While I understand AnandTech and Newegg are US-based companies, I believe it is not uncommon for EU citizens to read AnandTech and order parts from the US. Probably Newegg keeps statistics for non-US visitors, but I myself have had my sister ship Newegg components from New York to Sofia, Bulgaria, so that would not be included in such statistics.
  • gamer1000k - Thursday, July 2, 2015 - link

    When I first saw this article I thought that there would be some way for us readers to submit our dream PC builds as part of the competition for the chance to win them. Unfortunately, on closer reading, that is not the case, we'll simply be able to win PCs designed and built for the competition.

    Anyways, I might as well post what I would enter for the $1500 gaming PC build:

    Name: Destroyer of Consoles
    Case: Silverstone FTZ01B ITX $130
    PSU: Silverstone SX600-G 600W $130
    MB: ASRock Z97E-ITX $130
    CPU: Intel Core-i5 4690K $240
    RAM: G.SKILL Sniper 2x4GB DDR3-1866 $58
    GPU: Zotac Nvidia GTX 980ti AMP! $650
    SSD: Crucial MX200 250GB $103
    CPU Cooler: Corsair H55 $60
    OS: SteamOS or Windows 10 Preview $0
    Total: $1501

    Rationale: Recently I've become fascinated with ITX gaming systems, and Silverstone makes some amazing cases that allow for a tremendous amount of power in a console form factor. This build takes into account not only traditional GPU bound games, but also provides a very fast CPU with a lot of overclocking headroom (courtesy Corsair H55 and 600W PSU) for some of the newer indie games (like Kerbal Space Program) that are actually CPU bound. The potent combination of an overclocked i5 and 980ti should allow for 4K gaming at reasonably high settings. This system is designed to be used in conjunction with a NAS/media server due to the low internal storage, but if the budget were flexible this case has room for another 2.5" and 3.5" drive.

    Anyways, I know this won't help me in the least for actually winning anything, but I still enjoy planning a build so I figured I might as well put something up.
  • piiman - Friday, July 3, 2015 - link

    'giveaway application form (users will have to submit through a website to apply, which is different from usual), "

    What does this mean? What website do you have to submit the applications from and where do you get the application?
  • Ian Cutress - Saturday, July 4, 2015 - link

    We'll link to it when we get going with the articles. It's a surveygizmo type thing for name, email, confirmation you're a US resident etc.
  • mr_tawan - Friday, July 3, 2015 - link

    Well why don't we have a contest of gaming rig at the price of (current generation of) consoles ? I'm not eligible so I cannot enter though.
  • erple2 - Sunday, July 5, 2015 - link

    Interesting. But the 2500 level seems a bit wonky. I don't think that you should include the price of the monitors in that, as the cheapest 4k monitors drive the cost of the build down to the 2000 to 2200 range instead. I'd like to see a $2k build inatead, with strong recommendations on monitor layouts.

    I'd also argue that mouse keyboard not be included in the budget, as most considering this can get by with a already an existing combo. That, and its nearly impossible to objectively evaluate their "value", given that they are so subjuctive in nature. The rest of the compoments, though, should be included.

    As for why not include other countries, "impossible to satisfy all legal requirements outside of the US" is good enough for me.
  • chrysrobyn - Thursday, July 9, 2015 - link

    This is going to be interesting. Companies will have to fairly evaluate themselves in comparison to the competition and say why they do better at their target. And if they don't, hopefully there's a chance to respond or take that back to their teams to improve the product. Everybody wins!

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