The Best High-End Gaming Computer Builds: Jan 2018


(Recommended $800 and $1200 Builds to Maximize Performance & Reliability for Your Money)

Last Updated: Jan 5, 2018

The following are our current top recommended high-end gaming computer builds showing you how to maximize performance, reliability, cooling and aesthetics for your hard-earned moolah when putting together a top-tier custom rig for elite gaming throughout 2018 and beyond. 

With these monthly-updated high-end PC build examples we've done the extensive, oftentimes-painstaking hardware research for you to help you more confidently pick out and tweak the right parts-list for your budget and needs.

The below two build examples show you how to make the most of spending amounts of under $800 and $1200, and are aimed mainly for flawless gaming in 1080p, decent 1440p performance, and will also hold their own when it comes to VR (although our extreme PC builds are more ideal for VR or 4K). 

We also have our budget PC builds for those on a real tight budget who still wish to play modern games. Without further ado let's get into the best high-end gaming computer builds for under $800 and $1200 including explanations of why each part was chosen.


Important to Know: Our suggested parts-lists below do not include Operating System Software or peripherals which are required for a new PC to be fully functional. We recommend Windows 10 and see our top-rated gaming monitors, keyboards, mice, and headsets. Also, if you want a CD/DVD drive in your build (they're optional), make sure your case has at least one drive bay and this is the drive we would pick.




Best High-End Gaming PC Build Under $800 (Jan 2018)



Gaming Performance:

1080p (1920 x 1080):

1440p (2560 x 1440):

VR & 4K:

FLAWLESS

GOOD

AVERAGE

The above is the average expected performance of this build at different resolutions when playing a typical, graphically-demanding modern game on high settings.


BEST $800 PC BUILD
Graphics Card EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB SC
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 1500X 3.7 GHz
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-AB350 (DDR4, USB 3.1)
RAM Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 8GB (DDR4, 2400 MHz)
Hard Drive WD Blue 1TB (7200 RPM)
Power Supply Seasonic S12II 620 (80+ Bronze)
Case Corsair Carbide SPEC-02 Mid Tower
TOTAL COST: $794

* Total cost is only an estimate as hardware prices fluctuate


This is another carefully-considered, well-balanced, excellent bang for your buck custom gaming desktop build that will last you years and years of playing the latest games. It's going to provide flawless performance for 1080p resolution, but will also hold its own in 1440p as well. 

It's also upgrade-friendly, has great cooling and airflow, and looks seriously awesome when finished with the stylish case that includes a see-through side panel that reveals the inside of your case. Let's take a closer look at each component chosen, and more importantly why they were hand-picked out of the vast sea of hardware out there.


$800 Build Graphics Card:

EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB SC


First to what matters most to us gamers, the graphics card, and at this moment in time your best bet based on the current market is opting for one of NVidia's GTX 1060 GPUs which come in 3GB and 6GB variants.

AMD's 570 and 580 are excellent choices, and the 570 gives NVidia's 1060 a run for its money in terms of bang for buck, however stock and pricing of AMD cards has been real bad recently and so it's tough to find them at a reasonable price if you manage to see them in stock at all. 

For this month's $800 rig we've specifically picked the EVGA 1060 6GB SC card which will serve you well for super smooth 1080p gaming for years to come, and decent 1440p performance. SC stands for SuperClocked, meaning it's automatically tuned to run slightly faster than standard 1060 models. 

Feel free to opt for the cheaper 3GB model if you're strapped for cash as the performance differences between the 3GB and 6GB versions isn't huge, but ideally get the 6GB as it's more "future proof", and especially get the 6GB if you'll be running higher resolutions than the standard 1080p.


$800 Build CPU:

AMD Ryzen 5 1500X 3.7 GHz


For a gaming PC build around this price the AMD Ryzen 5 1500X is a great choice. This 4-core, 8-thread 3.7 GHz processor offers excellent bang for your buck when it comes to both gaming and other demanding non-gaming applications.

AMD Ryzen's like this one are still a great choice when building a new rig in this new year - despite Intel's latest processors hitting the market recently. AMD have slashed prices of their Ryzen's quite a bit in the wake of the new Intel CPUs, therefore keeping their Ryzen range as seriously good bang for your buck.


$800 Build Motherboard:

Gigabyte GA-AB350 (DDR4, USB 3.1)


This is a good no-frills, well-priced motherboard that'll serve as a nice base for your AMD Ryzen rig. It has a total of four memory sockets, which will leave you with two free sockets for upgrades if you choose the memory we've suggested for this custom build (the board has support for up to 64GB).

The GA-AB350 also covers all the basics you'd expect from a good gaming motherboard such as solid built-in audio, LAN, plenty of USB ports and add-on sockets.

It also has CrossFire support should you want to add another AMD graphics card to the mix later on. Most modern motherboard's don't have built-in WiFi support, and this one is no exception, so you'll need a separate wireless adapter should you want wireless internet/networking.


$800 Build RAM:

Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 8GB


As mentioned in our budget builds, 8GB is the sweet spot for gaming these days and any more is just a luxury. 8GB of memory in your build will allow you to fully maximize performance in most games for the foreseeable future.

Crucial has long been a reliable manufacturer with great value RAM, and the model we've included is no exception. Also, 2400Mhz is fast enough; in general the speed of your RAM rarely matters when it comes to most gaming setups, so there's no need to stress over the speed of RAM you get unless you're a true hardware enthusiast.

So just make your motherboard supports the speed you pick. But whilst speed isn't a hugely important issue when picking RAM, do definitely stick to DDR4 memory as they're the latest and greatest type of desktop RAM.


$800 Hard Drive:

Western Digital Blue 1TB


At this price point you could include an SSD as well as your main hard drive for storage, but I've decided to leave it out for this build as it would bring the total cost over $800 and would rather not downgrade another more important part just to accommodate an SSD.

But it's personal preference of course, and feel free to include a small to medium sized SSD (120GB - 240GB etc) if you want to to load your operating system and other programs onto for faster loading. If you do want an SSD for this rig, I'd consider the one included in the next build below.

As for the standard hard drive for this build, just like for both the budget gaming builds the 1TB Western Digital Blue stays as it's hard to beat in terms of value. 1TB is more than enough for most.


$800 Build Power Supply:

Seasonic S12II 620


Some beginners make the tempting mistake of picking the cheapest PSU they can get their hands on in order to cut costs on their build thinking that it doesn't matter, but as we've said before this is the last thing you want to do.

The quality of your PSU does matter and it's a definite risk to have a low quality unit powering your expensive components. You could say your PC is only as good as your weakest link.

For this month's $800 high-end gaming computer we've included a good-quality yet very well-priced Seasonic unit which is also bronze-rated PSU which is a nice bonus (even though the rating isn't the only determining factor of quality).

Seasonic are renown for quality PSUs, and this model is no exception. 620 watts is also more than enough for this particular parts-list, with plenty of wiggle room for any type of upgrade you may wish to make to this computer down the track.


$800 Build Case:

Corsair Carbide SPEC-02 Mid Tower


To top off this custom rig we have a stylish yet feature-rich mid-tower case, which is fairly priced too. It's got the quality, durability and looks of more expensive cases, yet for a very competitive price.

It's got a clear side panel so you can see the insides of your new masterpiece in action, and it comes with 2 pre-installed fans which is all the airflow you need for this setup. It's also got 2 USB 3.0 front ports, decent cable management features, and plenty of room for upgrades.

That wraps up the best gaming build under $800 (IMHO) for this month after hours upon hours of research and contemplation based on many years of designing custom rigs. If you need even more power, let's to move onto the next high-end computer build where we start getting into real enthusiast and hardcore-gamer performance territory.




Best High-End Gaming PC Build Under $1200 (Jan 2018)




Gaming Performance:

1080p (1920 x 1080):

1440p (2560 x 1440):

VR & 4K:

FLAWLESS

GREAT

GOOD

The above is the average expected performance of this build at different resolutions when playing a typical, graphically-demanding modern game on high settings.


BEST $1200 PC BUILD
Graphics Card EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB FTW2
CPU Intel Core i5-8400 (8th Gen)
Motherboard MSI Z370-A Pro (ATX, DDR4, SLI)
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB, DDR4, 3000MHz)
Hard Drive WD Blue 1TB (7200 RPM)
SSD Crucial BX300 120GB
Power Supply EVGA 650 GQ 650W (80+ Gold, Semi Modular)
Case NZXT Phantom 410 (ATX, Mid-Tower, White)
TOTAL COST: $1216

* Total cost is only an estimate as hardware prices fluctuate


A high-end gaming computer of this caliber is enough to please the majority of gamers out there with the powerful pairing of the epic GTX 1070 graphics card and the latest 8th gen Intel i5, and will have you playing the latest games perfectly in 1080p and very nicely in 1440p throughout 2018 and beyond without any real need to upgrade for a long time.

Don't think you need to spend any more than this on a custom gaming PC unless you're absolutely sure you need more power (such as for maxed-out 1440p or great 4K performance; see our extreme PC builds). As with all our monthly builds, let's breakdown each individual component selection of this slick setup and why they made the cut.


$1200 Build Graphics Card:

EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB FTW2


The 1070 is an obvious choice with no equal right now in the $400 - $500 price category in terms of performance for your dollar, and it'll dominate 1080p (full HD) gaming flawlessly as well as provide a smooth 1440p experience.

4K and VR will be decent too, though it'll depend on the title, game settings, and what sort of frame-rate you're happy with. A 1080 or 1080 Ti would be absolutely ideal for 4K or VR, but with a 1070 you won't be missing out on too much and is enough graphics grunt to please most.


$1200 Build CPU:

Intel Core i5-8400


Now to Intel's all-new "Coffee Lake" 8th generation CPU, the i5-8400, which makes its debut in our high-end build lineup this month and slightly edges out our previously recommended Ryzen 5 1600 in terms of pure gaming performance.

Note that this is the locked version, meaning it's not meant for overclocking, so if you're an enthusiast and do wish to push your CPU further then make sure to get the unlocked i5-8600K instead (which would fit into this build without having to change anything).

In fact, if you wish to spend the extra on the 8600K instead of the 8400, go right ahead as you'll get slightly faster base performance without needing overclock, however we've picked the 8400 for this build as overall we believe it's the better value for money and we assume most our readers aren't into overclocking.

As for cooling, the 8400's stock CPU cooler is adequate and all you need for most situations. For those getting the 8600K instead, consider getting a decent third-party cooler as the Cooler Master 212 Evo especially if you'll be overclocking.


$1200 Build Motherboard:

MSI Z370-A Pro


The MSI Z370-A Pro is a good value 8th gen Intel motherboard that'll serve your new Coffee Lake i5 build well, with all the basic features you need for a typical gaming build and a slick design. 'Nuff said really.

Keep in mind, like most motherboards there's no built-in WiFi so if you want wireless you'll need to get a separate adapter as usual (either a PCI-E card or a USB dongle; either will work fine).

It also has SLI support for any hardcore enthusiasts out there who may consider adding a second GTX 1070 to the mix later down the track. Speaking of SLI, the PSU included in this rig is more than capable to accommodate a second card.


$1200 Build RAM:

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3000MHz


Can't go wrong with Corsair memory, and at this price we've bumped up from the gaming sweet spot of 8GB to the "all-out" amount of 16GB to future-proof this system to maximize gaming and non-gaming performance over the next few years.

Although to be completely honest, you could get away with 8GB when you have such a powerful GPU and CPU and not see a flicker of difference when it comes to gaming in almost all situations over the next year or so.

So it comes down to whether or not you'd rather spend the extra amount on 16GB now, which makes sense if you like the idea of fully future-proofing your rig without having to upgrade later, or if you'll be doing memory-intensive tasks like heavy multitasking or high-resolution video editing, or whether you'd rather put the added cost of 16GB towards something else in your rig. 


$1200 Build HDD & SSD:

WD Blue 1TB

+

Crucial BX300 120GB


For this build we've gone for a standard 1TB HDD as well as a good value 120GB SSD from Crucial that's on sale for Black Friday. SSDs aren't recommended when building a super cost-effective build, but at this price point it makes a lot of sense to include one as the performance increase is worth it.

Whilst 120GB is a solid amount and will hold a few key games/programs as well as your Windows install for super-fast loading, feel free to go for a 240GB model instead to store more on there.


$1200 Build Power Supply:

EVGA 650 GQ 650W


For a high-end gaming computer build you really want to get a high-quality power supply, and this one is definitely that. 80-Plus Gold-rating, high-quality make and reliability, and semi-modular as well. Can't go wrong for the price.


$1200 Build Case:

NZXT Phantom 410


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

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).

That wraps our current best high end gaming computer builds for this month that'll set you up well for a memorable 2018 PC gaming experience. Up next are our extreme builds if you want to compile the ultimate monster system. Good luck and happy gaming!



NEXT: The Extreme Gaming PC Builds












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