Last Updated: Feb 15, 2019
In this guide we'll look at how to build the best gaming PC under $2500 for the ultimate 4K and VR experience for 2019 and beyond
Building on the best extreme PC build under $2000, if your budget is more flexible and up around the $2500 mark, you're one lucky cat because in your hands (ok, wallet) you hold the keys to building a 4K gaming PC build that is capable of the magical 60FPS mark even on high/ultra/maxed game settings, and even in the most demanding AAA games on the market (in 4K). Plus, whilst you can build a VR-Ready gaming PC for WAY less than this (a GTX 1060 with a mid-range CPU will get you in the game), with a PC build budget around 2500 dollars (or well under 2500 pounds/euros for UK readers and a lot higher for Australia or Canada) you can guarantee optimal VR performance using the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive throughout 2019 and beyond into the unknown exciting ether that is VR gaming (PC VR is finally very decent and fun in 2019, but we ain't seen nothing yet!).
In this guide we explain exactly how we would strategically approach maximizing $2500 for maximum 4K gaming performance now and into the future by choosing the best bang for buck parts on the current DIY market, and simultaneously covering all the bases that makes a good custom PC build: overall build balance, flexibility (upgrade-friendliness), component quality, and of course choosing awesome-looking matching parts. When you build a $2500 gaming PC build there's little chance you'll be wanting to assemble a dud-looking eyesore of a machine, and our below recommended 4K custom battlestation of glory is an impressive sight to behold once fully operational.
Let's cut the small talk and get into our usual in-depth breakdown of why each carefully considered component was chosen for this build, including 4K and 1440p gaming performance benchmarks aggregated from multiple trusted sources, recommended software and accessories, and everything else we feel you might need to know when building a 4K gaming PC build around 2500 dollars. As always, use this well thought-out setup exactly as is or as a base for your own more customized 4K PC build. Enjoy, and we hope this guide helps you more fruitfully navigate the oftentimes confusing hardware market.
Best 4K Gaming PC Build Under $2500 (February 2019)
|Check Price (USA)|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB Black Edition|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-9700K (3.6GHz, 9th Gen, 8 Cores, 8 Threads, Unlocked)|
|CPU Cooler||Corsair Hydro H100i Pro RGB (All-in-One Liquid Cooler, 240mm Radiator, 2 x 120mm Fans)|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E (Intel 9th Gen, ATX, 4 DDR4 Slots, SLI, WiFi)|
|RAM||Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB, DDR4, 3000MHz)|
|SSD (system drive)||Samsung 860 EVO 250GB|
|HDD (secondary drive)||Seagate Barracuda 2TB (7200 RPM, 64MB Cache)|
|Power Supply||EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G3 (80+ Gold, 850 Watts, Fully Modular)|
|Case||Corsair Graphite 780T Full Tower|
$2420 - $2480 (US Dollars)
(Orders Parts on Amazon, Our #1 Recommended Store)
Notable Features Cheatsheet
|Estimated Wattage (Power Draw)||103W - 404W|
|RAM Slots||4 (2 slots free)|
|Max RAM Support||64GB|
|Hard Drives Supported||6 x SATA 6Gb/s Drives, 2 x m.2 SSD|
|Front Panel USB Ports||2 x USB 3.0 + 2 x USB 2.0 (+ tons more on rear of case)|
|Optical Drive Support?||Yes (2 x 5.25" drive bays)|
|Multi-Monitor Support||Up to 4 Displays|
|Case Fan Options||
Front: 3 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm fan (2 x 140mm fan Included)
Rear: 1 x 120 / 140mm fan (1 x 140mm fan Included)
Top: 3 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm fan
Bottom: 2 x 120mm fan
|Case Dimensions||11 x 25.6 x 25 (inches)|
|Max GPU/PCI-E Card Length||355mm|
|Max CPU Cooler Height||200mm|
|AMD CrossFire Support||Yes (up to 3-way)|
|NVidia SLI Support||Yes (up to 2-way)|
|Full Motherboard & Case Specs||ASUS ROG Strix Z390-E | Corsair Graphite 780T|
Recommended Parts for Canada, UK & Australia *
(2 stores included for Australia because Amazon AU isn't always best)
|Liquid Cooler:||      |
The above is the average expected performance of this build at different resolutions and refresh-rates when playing a typical, graphically-demanding modern PC game on high/ultra/maxed settings. If you're not sure what refresh-rate your gaming monitor is, chances are it's a standard 60Hz screen. See PC gaming refresh rates explained for more.
Average Frame Rate for 4K ULTRA
(i7-9700K, RTX 2080 Ti, 16GB 3000MHz)
|Fortnite||80 - 90 FPS
|PUBG||65 - 75 FPS|
|Far Cry 5||65 - 75 FPS|
|Far Cry 5||85 - 100 FPS|
|Forza Horizon 4||75 - 85 FPS|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider||50 - 65 FPS|
|Star Wars Battlefront 2||70 - 80 FPS|
|The Witcher 3||60 - 70 FPS|
|Rainbow Six Siege||110 - 120 FPS|
|Quake Champions||120 - 130 FPS|
|F1 2017||80 - 90 FPS|
|World of Tanks||110 - 120 FPS|
Predicted Average FPS: Disclaimer
The average frame rates are an aggregated estimation based on carefully studying multiple online benchmark sources. Note these are averages, meaning that in the most action-packed scenes the frame-rate will go lower. For example, if we list the Witcher 3 average as 50-60FPS, your FPS may drop to 30-40FPS in the most intense scenes, so take that into account in your build planning.
Whilst we do everything we can to make these as accurate as possible, please note there's no guarantee you'll get this exact average as there are different factors that could affect your frame rate such as other hardware differences, software differences (OS, drivers, game patches/versions, etc), cooling/airflow of your build, enabled game features/settings such as Anti-Aliasing, different RAM setups you might be using, and so on.
We always err on the side of being conservative with our numbers though, so we'll round things down if we need to instead of rounding up, so you can rest assured our averages are pretty safe bets in terms of what performance you can expect from a certain setup.
No surprises that a NVidia RTX 2080 Ti takes the cake as the current best GPU for a 4K gaming PC build right now. While the price is out of reach for most gamers, and it not being the best overall value for money (in terms of frames per dollar the 2070 and 2080 are better value), if you're fortunate enough to have such a flexible build budget then a 2080 Ti is a no-brainer buy because there's simply nothing on the market that comes close. At least for now - here's hoping AMD can someday bring back healthy competition in the high-end GPU market once again.
The 2080 Ti is an absolute gangster of a GPU that pushes the boundaries of what single cards are capable of, and the new real-time ray tracing feature is a nice bonus that makes modern blockbusters that support this feature (such as Battlefield 5) look even more lifelike than they already do (if you don't mind the performance hit this feature brings). I've seen the new feature in action and it's sick, and can't wait for near-future titles to take further advantage of it and set a new standard of gaming graphics (I'm a sucker for realism; Fortnite's not really my thing and would rather play Crysis mouth-wide-open at a slow Grandpa-like pace).
As the above aggregated benchmarks that we've compiled for this guide show, with a mighty RTX 2080 Ti you can expect 60FPS on ultra settings in practically any AAA title (in 4K), which is a first as the previous king of gaming GPUs (1080 Ti) fell a little short in that regard. As for the VR heads among us, you can expect to run any current or upcoming PC VR title as smooth as possible without any worry of performance getting in the way of your epic adventures down the alternate reality rabbit hole (VR really is that good).
As for which RTX 2080 Ti model to get for your 4K PC build, that's a solid question as there are lots of juicy models to choose from. You'll be hard pressed to find a bad 2080 Ti out there though, although some models are of course better buys than others. Though current price is the biggest factor for most in terms of what constitutes as the best RTX 2080 Ti to get at any given moment, and at the time of updating this month's best 4K gaming build the EVGA Black Edition is at a very attractive price compared to others. Plus, we wholeheartedly recommend EVGA GPUs not just for their typically high quality construction and features but for their usually reliable service. This sounds like some cheesy infomercial sales pitch, but objectively speaking they're one of the most reliable GPU/hardware brands around.
The i7-9700K processors stays from the recommended $2000 gaming PC setup, as it's hands-down the best gaming CPU on the market right now, taking the position of the top dog from the previous-gen i7-8700K. Besides the even faster i9-9900K, which would only make sense if your budget is some sort of craziness beyond $3000, if you're planning the best gaming PC build under $2500-ish the i7-9700K is a no-brainer and will not hold back your RTX 2080 Ti from doing its thing.
You could opt for the now-older 8700K instead of the latest 9700K if you really wanted to, which would save you some bucks and get you essentially the same performance (hardly noticeable difference in FPS between the two), but the logic here is that if you're forking out 2500 dollars for an epic new computer then you may as well get the latest and greatest processor. The motherboard, RAM, HDD and SSD also stay from the previous tier as they're excellent components that are also ideal choices for this price range.
As for the CPU cooler, we've gone for the Corsair Hydro H100i Pro as the previous $2000 build, which is a high-end cooler capable of keeping a high-end chip like the 9700K super cool even under load, and even under decent overclocks. Even though it is a liquid cooler, if you're a beginner building your first PC there's no need to panic, as it's an all-in-one cooler meaning that assembly is straightforward and it's absolutely nothing like building your own custom water cooling loop which is another thing entirely in terms of difficulty. The H100i Pro also has cool RGB lighting.
850 watts from a quality PSU is enough power for a monster single GPU build like this
To power a gaming PC you always want to choose a good-quality PSU, and the more you're spending on your components the more important this becomes. Risking a $300 set of PC parts by throwing in an average or straight-up low-quality no-name PSU is nothing compared to the potential calamity waiting to happen when you include a bad PSU in a powerful high-end system like this. But this is just common sense, so it should go without saying. So, for our current recommended 4K gaming PC under $2500 - a true beast of a system - we've once again gone for a high-quality EVGA SuperNova G3 80+ Gold model which is fully modular. As you'll see from the estimated power draw of this custom parts-list, this rig won't even use over 500 watts of power in the worst case, so 850 watts is way more than you need giving you a nice buffer to accommodate all sorts of future upgrades.
Yes, even buying a second RTX 2080 Ti graphics card to run in SLI for a significant boost in GPU power should you want to do that later on would be covered by a 850 watt unit, although if you're absolutely sure you'll be running a dual 2080 Ti SLI setup in future (not recommended for most and only for the true enthusiasts) I would personally get a 1000 watt unit. But for most gamers, an 850 watt power supply is truly all the power you need. Heck, you could even get away with 750 watts like in our current 2K gaming build, and that would still comfortably cover most future upgrades that you'd likely do.
While top of the range EVGA power supplies are great, and not just high-quality efficient units but good overall value for money too, another safe choice in a PSU manufacturer is the mighty Seasonic, who have cult-like status in the DIY world. Their Focus models are excellent and won't let down a high-end 4K PC build like this, and are worth considering instead of EVGA depending on current pricing and personal preference.
For a top of the range 4K system, skimping on your PSU is not something to ever consider even if someone held a gun to your head persuading you to buy a dud unit, but when it comes to choosing your case it's the same - you need something that's going to hold you in good stead and serve your expensive new combination of hardware well. And for many, many years to come - unless you're Tony Stark, nobody builds a $2500 monster rig and upgrades in only a year or two. Especially with the endless upgrade options that a setup like this allows you, you want this thing running long and strong until your dying days. Okay, perhaps that's overstating it, unless you're 95 and building a PC (in which case, you sir are a hero amongst men), but having your build for a decade is definitely in the realm of possibility.
The Graphite 780T is a great high-end case for first-timers and demanding enthusiasts alike. There's also a cool white edition which you may prefer and also looks just as awesome
To serve our $2500 4K gaming computer build we have a classic chassis, the Corsair Graphite 780T. A safe bet with excellent cooling, expansion options, and stunning looks, whilst also being beginner-builder-friendly with (gasp) clear instructions. Not something you always see with cases and computer components in general, but like all our recommended gaming PC builds we always favor cases that aren't just high-quality and value for money, but user friendly too.
Don't be fooled by the striking, impressive design of this full tower as it's not just all show and no go, but a very well-constructed, thought-out chassis that will please even the most picky hardware enthusiast out there, yet is also easy to work with as a first-time builder and makes for the perfect base of an extreme gaming battle station.
Just keep in mind it's a Full Tower, meaning you'll need the space on/under/around your desk/office to fit this beast, but the extra room is worth it for an extreme gaming PC build as it allows for the best airflow and full compatibility with practically any type of custom setup your imagination can conjure. Yes, there are such a thing as Super Towers, the next level up in size from a Full Tower, but a Full Tower is more than enough for a build like this. Could you get away with using a smaller Mid Tower case instead? Depends on the model, as some Mid Towers are real roomy such as the Corsair Crystal 570X (great case btw), but you want to lean to a full-tower for a top of the range custom rig like this for maximum airflow and flexibility for the future. Who knows, perhaps in the future you'll throw in another RTX 2080 Ti or even a custom water cooling loop which aren't as scary to execute as they may sound.
The Graphite 780T only comes with the 1 x 140mm built-in fan, so you're gonna need to stock up on a handful of solid fans as for a high-end gaming rig like this you'll need good cooling within your case to keep things running cool and quiet, and to prolong the lifespan of your computer. Pick 3-4 non-LED fans or LED fans of your favorite color, and whilst 120mm fans will be just fine, 140mm are ideal as they have the potential to run the quietest. As this parts-list is, you'll only 3-4 fans for optimal cooling and noise, but feel free to get more if you are tweaking this $2500 gaming PC build further and will be running even faster components than is included here.
Whilst the Graphite 780T truly is hard to beat for the price and will serve a top of the range 2080 Ti build like this well, these are other solid case alternatives that get the BGC stamp of approval for this month's best gaming PC build under $2500 and are well worth considering if you prefer their style/features instead. See our guide to choosing the best computer case if you need pointers on what to look for in a good chassis and which includes even more of our top bang for buck recommendations.
As with all our current recommended custom PC builds, 64 bit Windows 10 is what we recommend for the $1500 custom gaming build unless you have a seriously good reason to get another operating system like Linux. You have a few options with buying and installing Windows for your new PC:
As for accessories to go along with a 4K build like this - besides being limited by how much more your wallet allows you to throw down on an already expensive system, you're only limited by your imagination in this price tier and building the ultimate 4K computer would be a bit of a letdown when paired with subpar peripherals like a dud headset, keyboard, or mouse.
You'll probably want some RGB case fans first and foremost for the Corsair Graphite 780T case, as it only comes with the one built-in fan anyway. One thing you definitely don't want to skimp on is audio, as it does make a huge difference in gaming, so whatever you do get a good gaming headset or quality pair of gaming headphones and a good gaming monitor at the very least. No, you don't need a sound card, as built-in audio on good modern motherboards like the Asus Z390 is of high-quality. For those taking the plunge into the epic unknown waters that is VR for the first time, see our guide to building a virtual reality PC which covers choosing the right VR headset for you.
This wraps up our guide to building the best gaming PC build under $2500 for hardcore gamers wanting 4K 60FPS Ultra performance and the perfect VR-Ready PC build to maximize the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift throughout 2019 and beyond. Speaking again on virtual reality just quickly; you may not be on the VR bandwagon just yet, but if you've tried some of the very best VR titles and experiences from 2018, you'll know what I mean. It's a total blast, and the future of VR gaming holds endless exciting possibilities. A custom PC of this nature will hold you in good stead to make the most of it now and over the next few years.
As for putting this $2500 parts-list together, it really is no more difficult than say, assembling an entry-level or cheap gaming PC build. Only difference is that it takes a little more time to complete installation, as you also have the CPU cooler to install which is typically one of the longer parts to put together as you want to make sure to do it slowly and properly if it's your first time, and there are a few steps involved. But building your own system isn't complicated; even when assembling a killer 4K gaming system like this. For actual instructions see our PC building tutorial for beginners or see the video tutorial recommended in our comprehensive guide to planning your first PC build.
Anyway, if you have questions about planning the right 4K gaming rig and tweaking these suggested parts for your own more tailored wants and needs, leave a comment (or message us) on the BGC Facebook Page or send us an email here. Feedback on our builds is also always welcome and appreciated (good, bad or ugly; we're always all-ears if you feel we could improve something about the site).
Good luck my friend and may the force of this build be with you for a long time. Enjoy, and remember that while VR is ridiculous fun and I cannot talk it up enough based on my experiences, there is a real world out there so come out of the Matrix every now and then for some fresh air and food. Eating in VR isn't real calories.. at least not yet.
(Orders Parts on Amazon, Our #1 Recommended US Store)
Whilst we're all about building your own system here at BGC, and wholeheartedly recommend it to all PC gamers even if you're a complete hardware beginner who's a little intimidated as it really is easy to do, some gamers will still want to get a pre-assembled PC for whichever reason. Maybe you simply don't have the time or patience to assemble it yourself and you don't mind spending a little more money.
Whatever the case, the following are the closest-specced pre-built gaming desktops for 4K gaming that we can recommend instead of the custom parts-list above. As you'll see, these pre-builts aren't as good overall as the custom build, but are worth considering if you just absolutely cannot go the DIY route for whatever reason (we won't judge :P). Even if you're still building your own, looking over and comparing these systems to the custom setup is interesting as you'll clearly see the advantages of choosing all the parts yourself.
ZOTAC Gaming MEK Ultra Gaming Desktop
(RTX 2080 Ti 11GB, Z370 Motherboard, Liquid-Cooled i7-8700K, 32GB DDR4, 500GB NVMe SSD, 2TB HDD, Windows 10)
CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming Desktop
(RTX 2080 Ti 11GB, Liquid Cooled i7-8700K 3.7GHz, 16GB DDR4, 480GB SSD, 3TB HDD, 802.11AC WiFi & Windows 10)
- Corsair H100i Pro Review vs. H100i V2, CLC 280, & More
- Corsair Hydro Series H100i PRO Review
- The Core i7 9700K tested
- Asus ROG Strix Z390-E Gaming Review
- Building a PC in the Corsair 570X Tempered Glass Case
- Corsair Crystal 570X RGB - Review
- ASUS Rog Strix Z390-E Gaming ATX Motherboard Specifications
- Intel Core i7-9700K Processor Specifications
- Corsair H100i Pro RGB Liquid CPU Cooler Specifications
- Corsair 570X RGB Mid Tower Case Specifications
- EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti XC BLACK EDITION GAMING 11GB GDDR6 Specifications
- Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 DRAM 3000MHz C15 Memory Kit Black Specifications
- Saumsung 860 Evo 250GB 2.5" SSD Specifications
- EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G3 80 Plus Gold 750W Fully Modular Power Supply Specifications
Got a question or want to share your thoughts on this guide? We're listening and you can reach us on the platforms below (or feel free to email us). Also, constructive criticism is always appreciated as it helps us continue making BGC the best noob-friendly DIY resource it can be.
Have more specific wants and needs for your build and want to tap into our build design experience to thoroughly plan the perfect parts-list for your exact situation?
We'll be glad to help: send in your budget, performance aims and any other requirements here in as much detail as possible, then leave a small tip in our tip jar to cover the time necessary to properly do this for you (we'd love to research builds all day for free but BGC would suffer for this as the site requires a 110% workload as-is and that math doesn't add up ;p)
We'll then get to work on your build ASAP and email it within 1-4 business days (depends on our current schedule) including any relevant info on your parts that we think you may need. If instead you simply want us to look-over your parts-list feel free to email us here and we'll gladly give you a few pointers (100% free of course) assuming we're not too crazy-busy.
Former hobbyist game programmer turned tech enthusiast, Julz is the founder of BGC and has kept a keen eye on the latest in DIY gaming since starting the site in his spare time over a decade ago as an almost-laughably basic, unimpressive little site with a simple aim to try and make building a PC more accessible to the average gamer since most resources were far from noob friendly.
Over countless reinventions and reiterations to the quality and depth of content over the years, the site has steadily grown into the fairly expansive, comprehensive and constantly-updated PC building resource that it is today, now reaching and helping thousands of gamers and power users each and every month to more effectively plan optimal setups for their exact needs. His fav PC games of all time are HL1, WC3, C&C TS and SWKOTOR (OOT, Perfect Dark, DKC2 & MGS2 for consoles) and he promises never to speak in third-person again. You can learn more about the BGC mission here & how to support it.