The Compact GTX 1080 Gaming PC Build with SLI Capability (October 2016)
This is one of our reader-requested builds from our computer hardware help service. Check it out if you want us to thoroughly research and write-up a personalized build for your own specific budget and feature-needs (and if you don't want the build published on the site for whatever reason just mention that).
The challenge was to compile the best high-end gaming build with an absolute maximum budget of $2000 (the less the better) that is very high-performing in the latest games and VR yet also preferably compact, running cool, and quiet. A dedicated sound card, DVD drive, support for future SLI, and a black case with LED green lighting were also requested.
You can see the full build requirements in detail below after the build, but without further ado here is what we conjured up after a lot of mucking around and hours of current market research:
The Compact GTX 1080 SLI-Capable Gaming PC
The price listed above was correct at the time of writing but may change at any time as component prices can fluctuate from day to day.
Full Reader Requirements
Please provide details on what you'll be doing with this PC, including any specific games/applications/performance-aims etc:
"I would be gaming mostly steam games and most importantly virtual reality games for the HTC Vive. I would also be editing video (Specifically 2.7k or 4k GoPro videos) i would also be doing normal computing stuff such as watching netflix, browsing, or watching youtube videos. I would very much like to be able to run very high quality games in highest settings at a very high FPS most people say you cant tell after 30fps but there's a certain delay most games have anything under 60 so i'm not certain if its possible with my budget but hopefully i can run highest settings on all games new (Virtual Reality specifically) with about 65fps 40 at the absolute least. Also FRAPS and other recording programs may be used."
What is your maximum budget NOT including rebates/taxes/shipping? Or do you have a budget range (eg 600-700):
"Absolute budget would be about $2000 USD. Please nothing over that."
Tick everything you want included in your budget:
Any other parts/accessories/features you want included in your build?
- Tower (CPU, Motherboard, RAM, Graphics Card, Power Supply, Case)
- Standard Hard Drive
- DVD Drive/Burner
- Aftermarket CPU Cooler
- Dedicated Sound Card
- Operating System (Windows)
- Wireless Wifi Card/Dongle
"Nothing i can think of. If you can give me any suggestions id love to hear them. I just need the basics of course and maybe a but of luxury like the DVD player. So if you can think of anything like that it'd be appreciated. Also Id really like the computer case to be able to light up. The ability to be able to change the colors would be great but if a case like that would cost over $200 then either green or just none would be fine. Last two things: Id really love to be able to see as much as the hardware as possible so glass cases are great. Lastly id very much appreciate the whole unit to be compact. If not very possible or likely its not a big deal but this unit is going to be moving around between the bedroom and front room for VR and a nice looking and/or Smaller size would be great."
Will you be re-using any parts/accessories? If so, please include as many details as possible (brand, model, etc):
Do You Have a Processor Brand Preference?
Must Be Intel.
Do you have a Graphics Card Brand Preference?
Must Be NVidia.
Will you be overclocking (only for experienced builders)? If so please provide details on which parts etc:
"Not sure what Overclocking is so I'm not sure."
NOTE FROM MODERATOR: For your information, overclocking is basically when you use software to increase speeds of your hardware to gain more performance, at the expense of more heat/power consumption/slight risk to damaging components etc. But if you're brand new I'd suggest forgetting about it to keep things simple.
If you have any preferences for your case, such as size/color/clear-side-panel/features please include here:
"I'd prefer the case to be clear-side-panel, either green and/or able to change colors, and compact but the quality and play speed are more important so that should come first before the beauty of the rig. The case should hopefully be nice enough for a living room preferably a shiny with matte black."
Any other details we should know about?
"Going to use with either an HD TV or 3 BenQ gaming monitors all at once. Some USB/MIC/Audio Ports in the front would be great. The quieter would be better. I would like the be able to run more than one graphics card in the future if needed and if possible unless it is already required now. If need be to go over 2k to get what im asking let me know but dont count on over 2k budget. Thanks!"
Build Notes From Admin
Alright, there we have it. This was a little challenging to compile and took way longer than expected, but I think this build will satisfy your hunger (in fact, it makes me want to build this mini powerhouse for myself - I'm about due a fresh new rig).
Because you wish to play games flawlessly on ultra settings, and also because you may use a triple monitor setup, I've included a 1080 video card in your build which if you didn't know is the single best gaming card on the market right now (excluding the insanely priced Titan which isn't very "bang for your buck" tho) and will fit your needs.
However, the performance you'll get from a 1080 using 3 simultaneous monitors will depend on the size and resolution of your monitors.
If they are 1080p (standard HD) monitors then the 1080 card will have flawless performance with the 3 screens, but with triple 1440p screens (and obviously triple 4K resolution monitors) you'll need SLI (multiple video cards) to get a flawless 60FPS+ with ultra settings in AAA titles.
As for the typical single monitor setup at 1080p or 1440p resolution, a single 1080 card will play any game on ultra settings at 60FPS without breaking a sweat.
As for 4K resolution, on a single screen, you can expect smooth performance around 30-40 fps in the most demanding games (which is still a solid experience according to most of us gamers).
As for the 1080 video card, I've opted for the ASUS Turbo model which has the benefit of being more exhaust-oriented which is favorable (in terms of size and cooling) for smaller cases, and also better suited if you do end up getting another card down the line and using SLI 1080's in this case.
Now to the case, and since you mentioned you'll be moving your build around and would prefer a compact case, I've gone for a small form factor case - the Corsair Carbide Air 240. It's easily one of the best small sized cases on the market today. It's got great cooling, design (including a clear side window as asked for), and based on the motherboard I chose as well it WILL support SLI (ie multiple 1080 graphics cards).
You've also got a compact yet quality CPU cooler that'll run your i7 very cool, and will come in even more handy should you ever choose to overclock your processor one day.
As for the green LED lighting request - I could not find a case I could recommend that fits in well with everything else that also has built-in LED lighting. However, not to worry, because you can easily mod your case by simply getting some extra LED case fans. These are the ones I'd get:
You can add these fans anywhere you like (top, front, bottom of the case, etc) so that the lighting looks how you want it to. There are already 3 fans included as well with your case, so with a total of 5 fans your high-powered rig will run super cool. You could even get more fans for more lighting, or replace the default fans (which are not LED at all). Also, even with the 3 default fans the rig will run cool tho, so don't think the extra fans are necessary for cooling - it's only because you wanted the LED lighting.
Another thing is - this case doesn't support DVD drives. These days many gamers don't include them in their builds as they get all their games from Steam etc. I could not find a case I could recommend that has DVD drive support on top of all the other requirements - but if you still want a DVD drive don't worry as you can still get an external one and it hardly costs more than an internal one. I would personally get this one:
It simply plugs into a USB port and voila - DVD reading and writing at nice speeds.
If you want to reduce the cost of this build, the first place I'd look at doing so would be the sound card and the processor. A sound card isn't necessary, as these days motherboard audio is very much sufficient and good enough to please most gamers to be honest. Unless you have a really high-end set of speakers/headset that you want to take full advantage of and if you're picky about having the absolute highest quality sound experience possible.
As for the processor, when it comes to gaming these days there isn't all that much performance difference between an i5 and i7 as they're both very powerful. If you have a high-end video card like the included 1080, a mid-range processor is all you need.
So if want to save some money you could opt for the i5-6600k instead for this build (it'll slot in nicely with the other components - no need to change anything else if you do make this switch) and you won't really notice a difference when it comes to gaming. For resource-intensive editing you may though, but keep in mind an i5 is still a great processor. Totally your call, but if in doubt and this build is still happily within your budget then just stick with the i7 as it's more future proof.
So that's it for the compact GTX 1080 gaming build - hopefully you like it and we haven't confused you. If you, or anyone else reading for that matter, has further questions about this build then don't hesitate to reach out to us. Cheers, and enjoy this little beast!! (I'm a bit jealous, I'll admit :P)