Recommended High-End Gaming Computer Builds: January 2017

(Best Builds for $1200 and $2000)


Last Updated: Jan 12, 2017

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)



*All prices listed were correct at the time of writing but may fluctuate day to day.


Expected Performance:

1080p (1920 x 1080):
Flawless

1440p (2560 x 1440):
Flawless

4K (3840 × 2160):
Good/Smooth

The above is the expected average performance of this build for each main resolution in modern, graphically-demanding games on ultra settings (ie: maximum in-game graphics settings).




High-End Build Breakdown & Recommended Peripherals

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.

Graphics Card

Getting a 1070 series graphics card when building a rig around this price is an obvious choice. In 2017 it's THE high-end card to get and will dominate 1080p and 1440p gaming, and perform very capably in 4K resolution too. You don't really need anything more than a single 1070 for gaming these days unless of you have the cash to splash to further increase the life of your build, or you want absolute flawless performance in 4K with the most-demanding games on ultra settings (or if you'll be gaming on multiple monitors).

There are many different versions of the mighty 1070, and for this month's high-end build we've opted for the well-priced ASUS GeForce GTX 1070 Dual-Fan OC 8GB which also fits in nicely with the awesome white theme of this build. This card has great built-in cooling too with quality dual fans, and a high clock speed.

CPU and CPU Cooler

The Intel Core i5 6600K is an excellent processor and a pretty standard choice for a high-end gaming rig. You don't need an i7 for flawless high-end gaming, as an i5 such as this one is all you need for maximum performance and you're better off putting the extra money that an i7 would require towards your graphics (as we've done in this build - you'll notice the graphics takes up the majority of the overall budget and for good reason).

Only reason we'd suggest an i7 is if you simply have the money to burn and are after the absolute best of the best, and/or if you need the extra horsepower for highly-demanding non-gaming applications such as 3D/video production/rendering or high-end multitasking.

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 as it performs slightly faster at stock speeds than the locked i5-6500.

As for the CPU cooler, which you'll need as the i5-6600K doesn't come with a cooler, we have the safe bet in the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. It's been one of the best value for money coolers for a long time and will have your i5-6600K running super quiet and cool. It's a fairly large cooler but it'll fit in just fine with the rest of the components in this rig.

Motherboard

As for the motherboard the popular ASUS Z170-A will serve as an excellent base for your high-end PC. 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 (so no real need getting a separate sound card unless you really want to), quality built-in LAN, the latest USB 3 support, and last but not least it looks seriously awesome with a sexy white design. Can't go wrong with this one.

RAM

For memory we have the slick and super-fast Ballistix Sport LT 16GB DDR4 which matches the motherboard nicely too. Crucial memory has always been some of the best of the best. 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 non-gaming applications as mentioned above), 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.



SSD

For this build we've opted for a nicely-sized SSD in the Crucial MX300 275GB. Definitely a good idea to include an SSD as it really speeds up the boot process (for Windows and any games/programs you throw on there). Whilst 275GB is a solid amount and will hold a nice amount of games/programs as well as Windows, feel free to go for a 500GB model or even going all out and ditching the traditional WD 1TB drive we've included in this build and getting a single large SSD (such as 1TB) as your main drive.

Power Supply

The EVGA SuperNOVA G1 750 Watts is a high-quality 80+ Gold-rated PSU (the second highest quality rating overall). EVGA produce some really top-notch power supplies these days and this one is a prime example. The last thing you want to do is go too cheap on your PSU and put all of your other precious components at risk; don't underestimate the importance of a good quality PSU, especially with a high-end system such as this one.

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 should you get power-hungry down the track). To top it off the SuperNOVA G1 750 is also fully modular which helps in keeping your build nice and tidy by minimizing excess cabling.

Case

Last but not least we have our choice of enclosure to house the precious insides of your shiny new high-end gaming PC build. 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 gaming PC case. 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 time of writing 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 other 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 (it's a generously-sized mid tower), plenty of ports/bays, and a bunch of other nice features.

Highly recommended, however feel free to pick a different case if this one isn't up your ally. Most mid or full tower sized cases will do the trick, but do your homework on compatibility especially if it's a mid tower (some may not have enough room for a build of this nature).

Recommended OS & Peripherals







The Extreme Gaming PC Build


(Best Performance & Quality ~ $2000)




*All prices listed were correct at the time of writing but may fluctuate day to day.


Expected Performance:

  • 1080p (1920 x 1080):
    Flawless
  • 1440p (2560 x 1440):
    Flawless
  • 4K (3840 × 2160):
    Excellent

The above is the expected average performance of this build for each main resolution in modern, graphically-demanding games on ultra settings (ie: maximum in-game graphics settings).




The Extreme Build: Full Breakdown & Recommended Peripherals

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:

Graphics Card

For an extreme gaming rig it's obvious to go for the current king of single GPUs (besides the Titan X) which of course is the almighty GTX 1080. The specific version we've picked is the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW (ACX 3.0, 8GB GDDR5) which is one of the better models.

CPU and Cooler

The Intel Core i7 6700K is an absolute powerhouse processor that'll satisfy anyone after the cream of the crop. Sure, getting an i7 isn't actually necessary for maximum gaming performance right now (assuming your graphics card is up to scratch) and an i5 such as the one included in the previous high-end build is more than enough processing power - if you're dropping around 2k on a new computer you might as well get the best of the best to maximize the lifetime of your machine. We've paired your i7-6700K CPU with the high-end quality of the Noctua NH-D14 to keep your i7 as cool and quiet as possible.

Motherboard

We've gone with the ASUS ROG MAXIMUS VIII HERO (DDR4, Z170, SLI) 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.

RAM

As for memory you have the Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 3200MHz RAM. Feel free go higher than 16GB, although for 95% 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).

SSD

For this rig we've scrapped traditional storage technology altogether and gone for an SSD-only setup for your storage with the ever-reliable Samsung 850 EVO 1TB. This particular drive is the cream of the crop when it comes to reliability, and of course it's very speedy too.

Of course, if you need more than 1TB then add in a secondary drive, or if you don't wish to spend so much simply on your storage setup because it doesn't matter so much to you then go for the traditional, more cost-effective route of getting a large traditional drive and smaller SSD as in the previous high-end build above.

Dropping the extra cash on a large SSD isn't for everyone, and some builders would prefer to spend that money somewhere else such as on better peripherals or perhaps even an extra graphics card if you need the extra graphical power for whatever reason (multi-monitor gaming anyone?). But yeah, if you can afford an SSD-only setup then it's certainly a nice feature to have.

Power Supply

The EVGA SuperNOVA G2 850 Watts 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 an extreme system like this.

Case

The Corsair Obsidian Series 750D Airflow Edition (Full Tower ATX) 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:



Building Your Gaming 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 video? 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.

Thanks for reading, and we hope we've helped you choose the current best parts and build a killer new gaming PC you can be proud of. If you have any feedback for us or need some further assistance, we'll do our best to get back to you if you shoot us a message here. Good luck and long live PC gaming!





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