Recommended High-End Gaming Computer Builds: December 2016
(Best Builds for $1200 and $2000)
Last Updated: Dec 1, 2016
Welcome to this month's best high-end computer builds showing you how to maximize your money when building a new high-performance, reliable gaming PC to play the latest games in their full glory. We've done the extensive, painstaking current hardware research for you.
First up is the High-End Gaming PC Build which shows you how to maximize gaming performance with a spending budget of around $1200 US dollars, and then there's the Extreme Gaming Build which is for those lucky few with a massive budget of around $2000 to put together the ultimate dream gaming machine for the absolute best PC gaming experience possible.
If these builds are out of your price range then don't worry as you can still build a high-performance PC that is capable for playing any of the latest games well for a much smaller budget (see the Budget Gaming Desktop Builds
). Let's get into these 2 beasts that simply will not disappoint if you're after the best PC gaming has to offer.
The High-End Gaming PC Build
(Best Performance & Reliability ~ $1200)
High-End Build: Full Breakdown
This month's high-end PC build has it all - amazing gaming performance with a heavyweight GTX 1070 8GB graphics card, super-fast i5-6600K CPU, and a huge 16GB of speedy DDR4 RAM. It's also a well-balanced and reliable build, upgrade-friendly, fully VR-ready, and the icing on the cake is a seriously awesome sharp look inside and out (including matching white-themed components). Oh, and we've gone for a large SSD as the main drive (feel free to add a secondary storage drive if you need more space).
This build is also overclocking-friendly with an unlocked processor and overclock-friendly motherboard - but it's also a great setup for non-overclockers as well. A desktop of this caliber is enough power to please literally 95% of gamers out there and will have you playing the latest games very, very nicely for years to come.
The Intel Core I5-6600K 3.50 GHz
is the perfect processor for gamers and overclockers right now. No, you don't need an i7 for a high-end gaming PC. An i5 will do just fine and you're better off putting your money towards the graphics. Note that this i5 is the unlocked "K" version which is easy to overclock for even faster performance if you choose to do so now or later on down the track, but it's still a great choice even if you don't plan on overclocking at all.
Coupled with the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler
, your CPU will run super quiet and cool under load. If you don't plan on overclocking at all and want to save a bit of money you could actually just use the stock fan that comes with the CPU, which still does a fairly decent job at stock speeds. But if you're definitely going to be overclocking then you'll need an aftermarket cooler.
As for the motherboard we have the ASUS Z170-A ATX DDR4
which is a newly released DDR4-compatible board that will serve as an excellent base for your high-end rig. ASUS boards are typically great value and this one is no exception, and it comes with all the features you would ever need including SLI support if you plan on adding another video card down the road, solid on-board audio, built-in LAN, USB 3 support, and it's also aesthetically-pleasing too with a sexy white and grey design.
For memory we have the slick and super-fast Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 16GB DDR4 RAM
which matches the motherboard nicely too. You can't go wrong with Crucial memory. To be honest you could opt for 8GB of RAM if you really wanted to cut your costs and you wouldn't notice a difference when it comes to playing current titles on the market.
But if your wish is to future-proof this build as much as possible from the get-go (or you plan on using highly demanding applications such as CAD/3D development etc), then going for a massive 16GB of RAM does makes sense. As for anyone considering the other end of the spectrum, as in going for even more than 16GB either now or at a later date, that's totally fine as this build supports up to 64GB of RAM.
Now to the all-important video card which has the biggest say in your gaming performance. We've opted for the fairly recently released ASUS GeForce 1070 8GB Dual-Fan OC Edition
which will absolutely dominate anything you throw at it for a long time to come - even playing on high resolutions and maximum in-game graphic settings.
These days the 1070 is the clear choice for a card around this price range, and 95% of gamers won't need anything more powerful. This particular ASUS edition is super-fast with a high clock speed, great cooling with dual fans, and has a very nice design that fits in well with the other components of this high-end build.
For this build we've opted for a large SSD as your main drive, specifically the great value and speedy Crucial MX300 750GB
. Of course, depending on your own particular needs you may wish to switch up this storage setup - this is just our recommendation that will likely please most PC users.
Since large SSDs are still quite expensive, if you want to cut costs on this build then you may wish to get a smaller SSD such as around 250GB and then get a secondary, traditional hard drive of 1-2TB. Totally your call, but we like the idea of a large SSD in a high-end build as once you go SSD it's hard to go back.
The EVGA SuperNOVA 750 Watts G1 80+ GOLD Fully Modular
is a high-quality PSU at a good price. EVGA produce some really top-notch power supplies these days and this one is a prime example. 750 watts of power is also more than enough for this build even taking into account the beast of a video card and any potential upgrades you may wish to make in the future (yup, even a 1070 SLI setup). This one is fully modular too which helps in keeping your build nice and tidy by minimizing excess cabling.
Finally to our choice of enclosure to house the precious components of your high-end gaming PC build. After much debate, at this point in time the NZXT Phantom 410 Mid Tower
comes out on top as one of the very best choices for a value-for-money yet high-quality case for a high-performance gaming build of this nature. We're big fans of NZXT in general and the Phantom 410 has the quality and features of an expensive top of the range case minus the huge price tag. At under 100 dollars (at the moment, anyway) it's seriously good value.
First of all, it looks amazing (pics don't do it justice) with a very sharp and sleek design. We chose white based on taste however feel free to pick whichever color you prefer as they're all the same (was hard to pick between the black and the white versions to show off on this page).
Aesthetics aside, all of the more important aspects of a good case are present. You've got excellent airflow and built-in cooling (comes with 2 x 140mm fans and 1 x 120mm fan), tons of room to work with, plenty of ports/bays, and a bunch of other nice features. Overall, it'll serve your build well. Highly recommended.
Recommended OS & Peripherals
The Extreme Gaming PC Build
(Best Performance & Quality ~ $2000)
The Extreme Build: Full Breakdown
This is an example of the type of dream machine with all the bells and whistles that you can put together if you have some serious cash to drop on a new build. The experience of playing a great game on a machine like this will absolutely blow you away, assuming you also have a nice large, high-quality monitor and a solid set of speakers or headset to go with it. In an ideal world this is how game developers want their creations to be enjoyed. Let's take a look at the individual parts that make up this monster:
CPU and Cooler
For the extreme PC build we have the mighty Intel Core I7-6700K 4.00 GHz CPU
which is an absolute powerhouse processor and an obvious choice for a top of the range rig. We've paired it up with the massive Noctua NH-D14 CPU Cooler
to keep things real cool and quiet as this beast of a cooler is one of the absolute top rated in the industry.
We've gone with the ASUS ROG MAXIMUS VIII HERO DDR4
motherboard which provides an excellent high-quality and reliable base. This board is one of the best-priced premium boards out there and comes with a ton of features (more than you'll ever use to be honest), and it also looks very slick.
As for memory you have a large 16GB of high-performance DDR4 3200 MHz RAM from G.Skill; a respected name in the memory game in terms of quality, value for money RAM sticks. Feel free go higher than 16GB, although for 99% of people 16GB is absolutely more than enough for any tasks including demanding non-gaming stuff like streaming, virtual machines, production, heavy multi-tasking etc.
Even over the next few years you'll unlikely find any benefit of having more than 16GB, especially if gaming is your primary concern. You'll find that 8GB has been the gaming sweet spot for a fairly long time, and it'll take an eternity for 16GB to not only take that crown but for it to be outdated if that makes sense.
The only situation where I could comfortably recommend spending the cash on more than 16GB is if you simply have money to burn and wish to make your system last as long as humanly possible (or you're using freakishly-taxing applications to take over the world).
As for the all-important graphics setup, for an extreme gaming rig it's almost a no-brainer to opt for the current king of single GPUs (besides the Titan X). Of course I speak of the godly GTX 1080, and the version we've picked specifically for this month is the NVidia GeForce 1080 FTW
With a single 1080 your PC can handle 4K or multi-display maxed-out gaming very nicely. As for 1080p or 1440p resolutions? Child's play my friend. Also, keep in mind this is the "FTW" model which is the best of the best, but feel free to get a cheaper 1080 model for 100 bucks or so less as the performance difference isn't significant. We just felt like going all out for this one - it's the "extreme" build after all.
The EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW
In the extreme build you have a reliable high-quality SSD in the Samsung EVO 1TB as your main drive - for high-end PCs we always prefer to disregard traditional hard drives altogether and go all-out with SSD-only storage. However, of course if you need more than 1TB of space then add in a secondary drive as we include in the below optional components. But for most people, 1TB is a heck of a lot.
The EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2
is a very high-quality, reliable, gold-rated unit that will not let your precious components down. 850 watts is plenty of power for the extreme build, even with the monstrous graphics setup and all of the other components (the GTX 1080 is actually fairly power-efficient to be honest).
You also have plenty of extra power at your disposal to take into account future upgrades you may wish to make, and yes - even if you went on a power-hungry rampage and threw another 1080 graphics card to the mix (if you do so, be sure to email us to make us jealous).
Discerning readers of our site will know we previously had the Seasonic X-850 in this spot over previous months, however the EVGA is right up there with the Seasonic and is currently (at the time of writing) a bit cheaper. But feel free to get either as they're both top-dog 850 watt PSUs that will reliably power your top-tier rig.
The Corsair Obsidian Series 750D Airflow
is a full-tower case that has stellar quality, features and design. It's widely regarded as one of the top value high-end PC cases and does a better job than some cases that are a lot more expensive. This case has it all and will serve your extreme gaming PC build well for many, many years to come.
It comes with 3 built-in fans which is plenty to cool your rig, but feel free to add more for whatever reason such living in a hot climate or if you want to get some LED colored fans. I'd personally get the Corsair Air Series AF140 LED
fans if I wanted some cool lighting that will look good with this build, however like I said the 3 stock fans will keep most people happy from a cooling standpoint. Your call, boss.
Recommended OS & Peripherals
Optional Add-On Components for High-End & Extreme Builds
For either builds above you may want to consider an optical drive if you want to be able to play DVDs or if you have older games on disc (new games these days are downloaded online with Steam etc), a wireless card if you want WiFi (most motherboards don't have it built-in), a mousepad for better control and comfort, and an anti-static wrist band if you want extra peace of mind whilst building your rig. The following are our top value picks for each of these:
Assembling Your PC
If you are building your very first computer you can feel safe that these days it's very straightforward. These resources will help if you need step by step guidance:
- Prefer reading? Check out our installation guides. Alternatively, take a look at this step by step guide here.
- Prefer videos? This YouTube tutorial is popular and for good reason: it's easy to follow. That video is part 2 which covers the actual building process - you don't need to watch part 1 as it just covers things you probably already know like "what is a computer" etc.
Need Further Help?
If you're wanting to modify one of our builds but want some expert guidance on how to do so, or have other questions or concerns about choosing parts, our Personalized Parts-List Email Support
may be what you need. For a small fee we can research a fully-personalized list of parts for your exact budget and wants/needs.
Either way, good luck with your new build and long live PC gaming. If you have any feedback/suggestions/comments feel free to reach us here
. If you've received some benefit from this site then all we ask is to share it with your friends who may also find it useful. Thanks in advance for the support :)
- JD, Creator of Build-Gaming-Computers.com
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