Build an Extreme Gaming PC that you can be proud of!

| June 14, 2015 | (4)

What is this article?
This guide covers everything that you need to know to build a custom Extreme Gaming PC, including all the parts that you need to build it!

I suggest five builds that cover what you need to build an Extreme Gaming PC that allows you to play video games at 120/144FPS+ (1080p), on a 2560 x 1440/1600 monitors, on a 4K (4096 x 2160) monitor, in 3D or on multiple monitors. With maxed out settings of course!

I recommend parts for U.S.A. readers and for International readers too!

I don’t know how to build a PC, help me!
Building a computer has never been easier. Click here for more information.

Click on a section to jump to it:
Recommended parts summary
Recommended parts in details (with Internationally available parts)

Is this the right type of PC for me?

If you’re looking for an Extreme Gaming PC, capable of handling any video game maxed out at very high resolutions, in 3D and/or on multiple monitors, you’re at the right place. Otherwise, check out our other Computer Systems or The Best Laptops For Your Money instead.

Four Geforce GTX Titan X video cards in a 4-Way SLI. This is what I recommend for the two most powerful Gaming PC Tiers. Play any game you want, with maximum details, that's my goal for you.

Four Geforce GTX Titan X video cards in a 4-Way SLI. This is what I recommend for the most powerful Gaming PC Tier. Play any game you want, with maximum details, that’s my goal for you.

5 Reasons to choose Hardware Revolution’s Extreme Gaming PCs:

1. Outstanding performance

All of the Extreme Gaming PCs are equipped with Quad(4), Hexa(6) or Octo(8) cores high-performance Intel Core i7 CPUs, 2, 3 or even 4 video cards, 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of high-speed memory and high-performance storage with SSDs (Solid State Drives), all to ensure the highest gaming performance possible.

Simply put, you will be able to run any game at its highest settings on a 120/144Hz monitor, on a 2K or 4K monitor or even on multiple monitor, without slowdowns.

You’ll be able to run the heaviest applications and multitask without running out of power.
Windows, programs, games all load much more quickly.
These powerful Extreme Gaming PCs can easily double as a Workstation for most workloads!

2. Boost performance to the next level: Ready for safe overclocking!

Equipped with a dependable power supply, a motherboard with solid power delivery, a case with enough airflow to ensure proper ventilation and heat dissipation, a high-end CPU Cooler to keep your CPU at safe operating temperatures and CPUs with unlocked multiplier, every Tier of the Extreme Gaming PCs is ready to be safely overclocked if you want to boost the performance without sacrificing reliability.

Recommended overclocking guides: overclockers.com 3 step guide to overclock Haswell, overclock.net Haswell overclocking guide and Tweaktown Haswell-E overclocking guide.

3. Top-notch reliability with high-quality components

‘Wait, I don’t know which components I need!’
No problem. That’s exactly why I’m here to help you.

Every part is hand-picked by me, Mathieu Bourgie (see my About page), a professional with 14 years of experience, to guarantee that this PC is as unlikely to fail as possible.

In this article, I make recommendations as well as suggest upgrades and alternatives that you may desire, for five builds (Tiers) at progressively higher performance and price points.

That way, you can easily build your dream Gaming PC, because I offer to you a complete list of the components that you’ll need to build the computer itself as well as suggest accessories that you might want too.

4. Longer warranties:

Now, keep in mind that every part is subject to failure, sometimes during manufacturing or transport. Computer parts are very precisely manufactured items that are easy to damage. That said, by avoiding brand and models that are more likely to fail or give you issues, you can be more confident about your PC’s reliability because you know that it will be filled with high-quality parts that rarely fail.

If they do fail, you can contact the seller within 30 days for an easy exchange. After 30 days, you must contact the part manufacturer to get them the warranty. Each part comes with its own warranty. While Lenovo, Dell and HP offers warranties generally varying between 1 and 3 years for their PCs, the parts that I recommend come with warranties that last one, two, three, five, ten years or even a lifetime!

5. Effortless Customization:

Want a different case with stunning looks? Want more storage capacity, more RAM or a faster CPU? Alternatives and Upgrades are in Italic and are guaranteed to be compatible with the other recommendations (unless noted otherwise), so you can easily customize your PC to your desires.

Choose Your PC Performance (Tier):

There are five recommended Gaming PC builds (from now on: Tiers) in this article. They are in order of performance and price.

The Tiers and their recommended parts are indicated by their respective numbers (8, 9, 10, 11 and 12) through the article.

The least expensive, lower-end Gaming PCs Tiers 1 to 3 can be found in the Build a stunning Budget Gaming PC that you can be proud of! article.

Mid range / High Performance Gaming PCs Tiers 4 to 7, with a single video card and a dedicated sound card, can be found in the Find out how you can build an extremely High-end Gaming PC that you can be proud of! article.

Need a Tier recommendation?

Leave a comment: Tell us about the games that you want to play, the level of details that you want (i.e. medium, high or ultra details) and finally the resolution (e.g. 1920 x 1080. NOT the size) of the monitor(s) that you’ll use.

Recommended Parts Summary:

Main recommendations, upgrades and alternatives:

1. Recommended Components are in Bold, with one color for each Tier that it is recommended for. A part that’s recommended for one Tier has one color looks like this and a part that’s recommended for more than one Tier gets multiple colors looks like this. They are also indicated by numbers (8 to 12), so if you’re color-blind, don’t worry about colors, just go with the numbers.
2. Suggested Alternatives/Upgrades are in Italic. You can upgrade most parts, but there are some compatibility issues that may prevent you to from doing so. I make this clear in the article so if there’s something you should know, I tell you so.
3. Not all parts are interchangeable/compatible with each other. For example, Tier 8/9 CPUs/motherboards (LGA1150) and RAM (DDR3) aren’t compatible with the Tier 10-11 CPUs/motherboards (LGA2011v3) and RAM (DDR4).

Extreme Gaming PCs Tiers:
Tier 8 (In Red): Ideal for Full HD 1080p gaming at 120/144 FPS+
Tier 9 (In Dark Green): Ideal for 2560 x 1440/1600 (2K) or two 1080p monitors
Tier 10 (In Brown): Ideal for gaming on a triple 1080p monitor setup.
Tier 11 (In Fushia): Gaming at 4K or 3x 1080p or 3x 2560 x 1440/1600
Tier 12 (Blue): 3x 2560 x 1440/1600 or 2-3x 3840 x 2160 monitors
Click on a component’s name (e.g. CPU) to jump to the detailed section.
Price
$2646
$3141
$4498
$5252
$7817
CPU
Intel LGA1150 CPU: Compatible only with LGA1150 motherboards and DDR3
8-9: Intel Core i7-4790K Haswell 4-core+HT 4-4.4GHz 8MB LGA1150
Intel LGA2011v3 CPUs: Compatible with LGA2011v3 motherboards and DDR4
10-11: Intel Core i7-5930K Haswell-E 6-core+HT 3.5-3.7GHz 15MB LGA2011
Tier 12: Intel Core i7-5960X 8-core+HT 3.0-3.5GHz 20MB LGA2011
-

$339

$600
$1026
Motherboard
Intel LGA1150 motherboards: Compatible only with LGA1150 CPUs and DDR3
Tier 8-9: Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H Z97 CF/SLI, M.2 10Gb/s ATX LGA1150
Intel LGA2011v3 motherboards: Compatible with LGA2011v3 CPUs and DDR4
Tier 10-11: Gigabyte GA-X99-GAMING 5 ATX LGA2011v3
Tier 12: ASUS RAMPAGE V EXTREME E-ATX LGA2011v3
-

$183

$285
$446
RAM
DDR3 RAM: For LGA1150 motherboards
Tier 8: Kingston HyperX Savage 16GB Kit (2x8GB) 2400MHz DDR3
Tier 9: Kingston HyperX Savage 32GB Kit (4x8GB) 2400MHz DDR3
DDR4 RAM: For LGA2011v3 motherboards
Tier 10-11-12: Two (2x) Crucial 32GB (8GBx4) DDR4 2400MHz kits
-
-
$140
$295

$550
Video Card
Tier 8: Two EVGA GTX980 Superclocked 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
Tier 9: Two EVGA GTX980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
Tier 10: Three EVGA GTX980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower 3-Way SLI
Tier 11: Four EVGA GTX980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower 4-Way SLI
Tier 12: Four EVGA GeForce GTX TITAN X SC 12GB 4-Way SLI
-
$1160
$1300
$1950
$2600
$4120
Storage
SATA III SSD (Solid State Drive):
Tier 8: SAMSUNG 850 EVO 500GB SATA III SSD
Tier 9-10-11-12: SAMSUNG 850 EVO 1TB SATA III SSD
M.2 PCI-Express 4x SSD: See detailed section for compatibility information
Tier 12: Samsung SM951 512GB M.2 80mm PCIe x4 SSD
SATA III Hard Drive:
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 5 yrs war. WD1003FZEX
Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 5 yrs war. WD2003FZEX
All Tiers: Western Digital Caviar Black 3TB 5 yrs war. WD3003FZEX
Western Digital Caviar Black 4TB 5 yrs war. WD4003FZEX
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$178
$378

$458

$70
$125
$151
$203
Optical Drive
Tier 8, 9, 10, 11, 12: ASUS SATA 24X DVD Burner
Pioneer Electronics USA 16X SATA Black Internal Blu-Ray/CD/DVD Burner
-
$21

$51
Power Supply
Tier 8-9: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000W G2 80 PLUS Gold Modular
Tier 10: EVGA SuperNOVA 1300W G2 80PLUS Gold Modular
Tier 11-12: EVGA SuperNOVA 1600W G2 80PLUS Gold Modular
-
$142
$206
$320
Case
All Tiers: Thermaltake Core V71 Extreme 3x200mm+1x140mm fans
Antec Twelve Hundred V3
Cooler Master Cosmos II
Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced Blue LEDs
Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced Red LEDs
Cooler Master HAF X
Cooler Master HAF XB EVO
Cooler Master Storm Trooper
Cooler Master Storm Stryker White
Corsair Carbide Air 540 Silver, White or Black
Corsair Graphite 600T Black, Silver or White
Corsair Graphite 760T Arctic White or Black/Red, Semi-Transparent Side Panel
Corsair Obsidian 550D
Corsair Obsidian 650D
Corsair Obsidian 750D
Corsair Vengeance C70 Black, Army Green or White
LIAN LI PC-A75
LIAN LI PC-A75WX
LIAN LI PC-A76WX
NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition – Black
NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition – White
NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition – Gunmetal
NZXT Phantom 820 Black, White or Gunmetal
Silverstone Fortress FT02B-W-USB3.0
Thermaltake Chaser A71
Thermaltake Chaser MK-1
Thermaltake Level 10 GT Black
Thermaltake Level 10 GT Snow Edition
-
$150

$170
$350
$160
$160
$180
$100
$150
$160
$130
$126
$190
$124
$144
$154
$120
$170
$215
$230
$140
$160
$170
$220
$250
$121
$153
$200
$200
Cooling
Tiers 8-9: Noctua NH-D15 CPU Cooler
Tier 10-11-12: Corsair Hydro H105 240mm AIO Liquid Cooling System
NZXT Sentry 3 Fan Controller
-
$95
$110

$31
Sound:
Sound card:
All Tiers: ASUS Xonar U7 7.1 114dB SNR 192kHz/24-bit USB
Speakers:
2.0 (2 satellites no sub-woofer)
Creative Inspire T12 2.0 18W
Behringer MS16 2.0 16W
Mackie CR3 3-Inch 2.0 28W
Cerwin Vega XD3 2.0 30W
2.1 (2 satellites + sub-woofer):
Genius SW-G2.1 1250 2.1 38W
Logitech Z523 2.1 40W
Logitech Z623 2.1 200W
Harman Kardon Soundsticks III 2.1 40W
5.1 (5 satellites + sub-woofer)
Logitech Z506 5.1 75W
Logitech Z906 5.1 500W
Headphones/Earphones:
Open Design Headphones:
Koss KSC75 Clip on headphones
Koss PortaPro
Superlux HD668B
AKG K240
Audio Technica AUD ATHAD500X
Grado SR80e
Sennheiser HD558
Audio Technica ATH-AD700X
Sennheiser HD 598
Closed Design Headphones:
Koss UR-20
Panasonic RP-HTX7 (In Black, Blue, Red, White, Cream, Pink or Green)
Audio-Technica ATH-M30x
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
Audio Technica ATH-A700
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Black, Brown or White
Sennheiser HD25-1 II
In-Ear Headphones:
Panasonic RPHJE120K Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Red, Silver or Violet
Panasonic RPTCM125K Black, Blue, Pink, Purple or White
Symphonized NRG Premium with Mic (Wood + White)
Symphonized NRG Premium with Mic (Red + Black)
Bose SoundTrue
Yamaha EPH-100SL
Shure SE315-K (Black or White)
Shure SE315-K (Black or White) with Mic & Remote Cable Kit
Bose QuietComfort 20i
Shure SE535-V (Bronze, Clear or Red)
Shure SE535-V (Bronze or Clear) with Mic & Remote Cable Kit
Microphone:
Zalman Zm-Mic1 Microphone
Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone
Headsets (Headphones + Microphone in one):
Yapster TM-YP100A
Koss SB-45
Sennheiser PC 151
SteelSeries Siberia V2 Available in 9 colors
Logitech 7.1 Surround G35
Logitech Wireless 7.1 Surround G930
Audio Technica ATHADG1 Open-Back Gaming Headset
-

$87



$52
$80
$100
$116

$55
$85
$125
$150

$70
$359


$14
$39
$44
$68
$75
$99
$115
$114
$151

$15
$31
$65
$97
$118
$130
$250

$6
$11
$25
$25
$90
$106
$199
$243
$249
$494
$543

$10
$65

$20
$25
$52
$50
$81
$90
$226
Network
Tier 8-9: Dual Ethernet 10/100/1000Mbps on the motherboard
Tier 10-11-12: Ethernet 10/100/1000Mbps on the motherboard

Wireless adapters:
Tier 12: WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 included with motherboard
See The Best WiFi Routers/WiFi and Bluetooth Adapters article for more options.
-
Free
Free


Free

Never built a PC before and need help? No problem.

You don’t have to be a Geek to build a PC!
Building a PC has never been easier. We have hundreds of readers who had no experience and who built their first PC with the help of Hardware Revolution. If they can do it, so can you!

Start by reading our “Building Your First PC?” article, which covers everything that you need to know to get started. Feel free to join us on the forums to hang out with us and to take all the time that you need to get comfortable with the idea of building your own custom PC. No question is stupid and we’ll all be happy to help you out :)

Recommendations in details:

CPU:

Tier 8 and 9:

Intel Core i7-4790K LGA1150

Haswell architecture, Quad-Core (4) + Hyper-Threading (8 threads), Base Frequency: 4.0GHz, Maximum Turbo Frequency 4.4GHz, unlocked multiplier for easy overclocking, 8MB L3 cache, LGA1150 socket, 88W TDP

- $338.99 at Amazon
- $338.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why I recommend it / V.S. the AMD FX-9590:
High Gaming Performance:
It’s the CPU that offers the highest performance for a gaming PC with a one or two graphic/video cards, thanks to its high-frequencies and highly efficient architecture that offers far higher single-threaded performance than AMD’s CPUs.

Most video games only use two to four cores and prioritize single-threaded performance so when it comes to gaming performance, AMD’s fastest CPU, the 220W(TDP) FX-9590 is no match for Intel’s Core i7-4790K when it comes to gaming performance.

Simply put, AMD hasn’t updated their high-end FX CPU’s architecture since it launched in September 2011. In the meantime, Intel is trying to launch a new generation of Core i CPUs every year, alternating between a new architecture (higher performance) and a smaller manufacturing process (lower power consumption).

When the first CPU based on the Bulldozer FX architecture came out, they were facing Intel second generation Sandy Bridge Core CPUs, such as the popular Core i5-2500K. The Core i7-4790K is two generations ahead of that, so it has a higher-performance architecture, higher frequencies (4GHz base frequency, 4.4GHz maximum Turbo frequency) and is even more power efficient.

High overall performance:
With 4 Haswell cores and Hyper-Threading, the Core i7-4790K can handle 8 threads simultaneously. With its high performance, it can help you use this PC as a Workstation

The Core i7-4790K also consumes a lot less power (200W less at load than the AMD FX-9590!), resulting in a PC that consumes less electricity (lower electricity bill) and is less noisy.

It also allows you to spend less money on the power supply because you don’t need one that’s as powerful.

Ready to overclock
Finally, it is an unlocked CPU, so you can overclock it (raise its frequency) to raise its performance even more! It is possible to do this in a way that is safe, the PC components that I recommend can handle the additional stress/heat. Do note that you may need to upgrade your power supply to overclock: Overclocking increases the power consumption of your CPU. More details on this in the power supply section.

Do note that the Core i7-4790K is compatible only with motherboards equipped with the LGA1150 socket and DDR3 RAM.

Avoid the Intel Core i7-5820K:
Slower than the Core i7-4790K (lower frequencies), is has no place in a single GPU or dual GPUs Gaming PC.

As for 3 or 4 GPUs setups, you’re better off with the Intel i7-5930K, which offers 40 lanes of PCI-Express 3.0, which is necessary to avoid bottlenecking your video cards. The Core i7-5820K is limited to only 28 lanes of PCI-Express 3.0, which will be a bottleneck for 3/4 video cards setups. The Core i7-5930K also has two additional cores, as well as higher frequencies than the i7-5820K, so it is clearly the better choice for a 3-4 GPUs setup.

Tier 10-11:

Intel Core i7-5930K LGA2011:

Haswell-E architecture, Hexa-Core (6) + Hyper-Threading (12 threads), Base Frequency: 3.5GHz, Maximum Turbo Frequency 3.7GHz, unlocked multiplier for easy overclocking, 15MB L3 cache, LGA2011v3 socket, 140W TDP

- $600.00 at Amazon
- $579.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why am I recommending the Core i7-5930K over the Core i7-4790K?
In theory, gaming performance wise, the Core i7-4790k has the edge over the Core i7-5930K, thanks to its higher frequencies. In reality, when you play video games at higher resolutions, the video cards are more often than not the bottleneck, not the CPU. In other words, the Core i7-5930K is more than powerful enough to keep up with the video cards.

Because there’s more than just gaming:
I also realize that most people dropping this kind of cash on a PC are PC enthusiasts and do more than gaming on their system.

Outside of gaming, the Core i7-5930K offer substantially more performance over the Core i7-4790K in many applications that take advantage of multi-threading or simply for heavy multi-tasking, thanks to its additional two cores, for a total of six cores. With Hyper-Threading, it can handle up to twelve threads simultaneously.

If you do a lot of photo/video editing, heavy multi-tasking, highly demanding workloads, need all the CPU performance that you can get or just want a more powerful CPU, the six-core Core i7-5930K is an excellent choice and a great upgrade over the Core i7-4790K.

It’s also an excellent lower-cost alternative to Tier 12’s CPU, offering as much as 75-80% of the multi-threading performance of the Core i7-5960X performance for less than 60% of its price.

- Do note that the Core i7-5930K does not include an Intel stock CPU Cooler. I make recommendations for after-market CPU Coolers, to offer proper cooling and for overclocking potential. See the Cooling section for details.
- Do note that the Core i7-5930K is compatible only with motherboards equipped with the LGA2011v3 socket and DDR4 memory.

Click here to go back up to parts summary

Tier 12:

Intel Core i7-5960X LGA2011:

Haswell-E architecture, Octa-Core (8) + Hyper-Threading (16 threads), Base Frequency: 3.0GHz, Maximum Turbo Frequency 3.5GHz, unlocked multiplier for easy overclocking, 20MB L3 cache, LGA2011v3 socket, 140W TDP

- $1,025.99 at Amazon
- $1,025.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

If you’ll settle for nothing but the highest-performance CPU:

The Intel Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition is the desktop CPU that offers the highest performance possible that’s currently available on the market, with 6 cores running at 3.6GHz and Turbo up to 4 GHz.

Unlike recently, when the $1000+ Intel Extreme Edition x CPU was just a variant with higher frequencies (higher GHz) with the same number of cores as the the lower-end $500-550 model. The Core i7-4970X and Core i7-4930K are good examples of this.

Things are different now. The Core i7-5960X has eight cores, two more cores than the Core i7-5930K!

If you’ll settle for nothing but the highest performance desktop CPU on the market, this is the one that you want!

- Do note that the Core i7-5960X does not include an Intel stock CPU Cooler. I make recommendations for after-market CPU Coolers, to offer proper cooling and for overclocking potential. See the Cooling section for details.
- Do note that the Core i7-5960X is compatible only with LGA2011v3 motherboards and DDR4 RAM.

Click here to go back up to parts summary

Motherboard:

Tier 8 and 9:

Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H Z97 CF/SLI, M.2 10Gb/s ATX LGA1150:

- $182.87 at Amazon
$159.85 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why did I pick this motherboard for Tiers 8 and 9:

Simply put: It’s a featured packed, reliable high-end motherboard at a reasonable price for what it is.

Compatible only with: Intel LGA1150 CPUs and DDR3 memory.

Features:

  1. Support for up to two video cards in SLI or Crossfire, 8x/8x PCI-Express 3.0 bandwidth. The third (bottom) PCI-Express 16x slot runs at 4x PCI-Express 2.0, avoid using it.
  2. Four RAM slots, for a maximum of 32GB (4x8GB) of RAM.
  3. Great onboard audio with Realtek high-end ALC1150 audio chipset. 7.1 support and S/PDIF Optical output.
  4. Two LAN ports. Ideal for additional networking needs, such as using a NAS (Network Attached Storage) Unit.
  5. 8x SATA 6Gbps ports and one SATA-Express port.
  6. Six USB 3.0 ports and a USB 3.0 header to plug in the case’s two front USB 3.0 ports, for a total of eight USB 3.0 ports.
  7. Power, Reset and BIOS switch (two BIOS, so if one gets messed up, you can switch to the other) buttons on the motherboard, allowing you to easily test your PC outside your case.
  8. Debug LED, which gives you an error code to help you troubleshoot your PC should a problem arise.
  9. Nothing short of six fan connectors (Five 4 pins, one 3 pins).
  10. Solid Power delivery components and good cooling for them, ensuring that the motherboard won’t bottleneck your CPU overclocking.

Ports, expansion slots, features, what’s included in the box, etc.

  • Ports on the back: 2x USB 2.0, 6x USB 3.0 (Two more on the front of the case with the USB 3.0 header), 2x 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ-45 LAN, P/S2, 5 audi0 ports (for 7.1 sound) and Optical S/PDIF Out.
  • Expansion slots: Two PCI-Express 3.0 16x slots (8x/8x), one PCI-Express 16x 2.0 slot (runs at 4x), two PCI and two PCI-Express 1x slots.
  • Included in the box: Motherboard, four SATA cables, two-way SLI dongle I/O backplate, manual and CD.

Click here to go back up to parts summary

Tier 10-11:

Gigabyte GA-X99-GAMING 5 ATX LGA2011v3:

- $285.04 at Amazon
$259.95 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why did I pick this motherboard for Tiers 10 and 11:

X99 chipset, LGA2011v3 CPU support, 4-way SLI support and excellent power delivery for overclocking.

Compatible only with: Intel LGA2011v3 CPUs and DDR4 memory.

Features:

  1. Support for up to four video cards in SLI or Crossfire, with 8x/8x/8x/8x PCI-Express 3.0 bandwidth.
  2. Eight RAM slots, for a maximum of 64GB (8x8GB) of DDR4 RAM.
  3. Great onboard audio with Creative Sound Core3D audio chipset. 5.1 support and S/PDIF out.
  4. 10x SATA 6Gbps ports and one SATA Express port.
  5. Six USB 3.0 ports and a USB 3.0 header to plug in the case’s two front USB 3.0 ports, for a total of eight USB 3.0 ports.
  6. Four fan connectors (Four 4 pins).
  7. Solid Power delivery components and good cooling for them, ensuring that the motherboard won’t bottleneck your CPU overclocking.

Ports, expansion slots, features, what’s included in the box, etc.

  • Ports on the back: 4x USB 2.0, 4x USB 3.0 (Two more on the front of the case with the USB 3.0 header), 2x P/S2, 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ-45 LAN, Wifi, 5 audi0 ports (for 5.1 sound) and Optical S/PDIF Out.
  • Expansion slots: Four PCI-Express 3.0 16x slots (8x/8x/8x/8x) and three PCI-Express 1x slots.
  • Included in the box: Motherboard, six SATA cables, two-way, three-way and four-way SLI and two-way Crossfire dongles, power adapter, I/O backplate, manual and CD.

Click here to go back up to parts summary

Tier 12:

ASUS RAMPAGE V EXTREME E-ATX LGA2011v3:

- $445.99 at Amazon
$445.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why did I pick this motherboard for Tier 12:

Simply put: It’s the enthusiast dream motherboard. It’s loaded with features to make push performance to the edge and it’s ready to overclock further than any other motherboard!

  • High performance
  • Top-notch overclocking
  • M.2 slot offers Gen 3 4x connectivity, allowing you to use higher performance M.2 PCI-Express SSDs such as the Samsung SM951 (recommended for Tier 12)!
  • 10x USB 3.0 ports on the back
  • 802.11 ac WiFi 3×3 Up to 1300Mbps
  • Bluetooth 4.0

Compatible only with: Intel LGA2011v3 CPUs and DDR4 memory.

Features:

  1. Support for up to four video cards in SLI or Crossfire, with 8x/8x/8x/8x PCI-Express 3.0 bandwidth.
  2. Eight RAM slots, for a maximum of 64GB (8x8GB) of RAM.
  3. Great onboard audio with Supreme FX audio chipset. 7.1 support and S/PDIF out.
  4. WiFi support: Latest generation 802.11 ac 3×3 Up to 1300Mbps
  5. Bluetooth 4.0
  6. Intel LAN port. Highly reliable.
  7. 12x SATA 6Gbps ports and 4x SATA 3Gbps ports, for a total of twelve SATA ports.
  8. Ten USB 3.0 ports and a USB 3.0 header to plug in the case’s two front USB 3.0 ports, for a total of twelve USB 3.0 ports.
  9. Two SATA Express ports.
  10. Safe Boot, Retry button, MemOK!, Start and Reset buttons on the motherboard, allowing you to easily test/overlock your PC outside your case.
  11. Debug LED, which gives you an error code to help you troubleshoot your PC should a problem arise.
  12. Nothing short of eight fan connectors!
  13. Solid Power delivery components and good cooling for them, ensuring that the motherboard won’t bottleneck your CPU overclocking.

Ports, expansion slots, features, what’s included in the box, etc.

  • Ports on the back: 2x USB 2.0, 10x USB 3.0 (Two more on the front of the case with the USB 3.0 header), 1x PS/2, 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ-45 LAN, Wifi, 5 audi0 ports (for 7.1 sound), Optical S/PDIF Out, reset CMOS and ROG connect on/off.
  • Expansion slots: Four PCI-Express 3.0 16x slots (8x/8x/8x/8x) and one PCI-Express 16x 2.0 slot (runs at 4x).
  • Included in the box: Motherboard, ten SATA cables, two-way, three-way and four-way SLI and two-way Crossfire dongles, WiFi Adapter, OC module, 5.25″ OC module drive bay adapter, I/O backplate, manual and CD.

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RAM:

Tier 8:

Kingston HyperX Savage 16GB Kit (2x8GB) 2400MHz DDR3

- $139.99 at Amazon
Patriot 16GB Kit (2x8GB) 2400MHz DDR3: $135.00 at B&H (International Shipping)

Tier 8 and 9 feature a dual-channel DDR3 RAM memory motherboard that supports DDR3, so for maximum performance, you want two or four sticks of RAM.

I’m recommending a dual-channel kit with two RAM sticks. Note that you’ll have two free RAM slots on your motherboard, so you can add two more RAM in the future if you want to upgrade.

If you’re like me and like switching back (Alt-Tab or Alt-Esc) to your desktop to check something while pausing your game and keeping it open, along with a bunch of open programs, 16GB will further improve the responsiveness of your PC compared to 8GB.

Also, if you intend on keeping this Gaming PC for more than say, 1-2 years, 16GB is worth it.

That way, you know that you’ll be future-proof for a while and that you can alt-tab out of your games with minimal lag.

Tier 9:

Kingston HyperX Savage 32GB Kit (4x8GB) 2400MHz DDR3

- $295.32 at Amazon
Patriot 32GB Kit (4x8GB) 2400MHz DDR3: $280.00 at B&H (International Shipping)

For Tier 9, I recommend 32GB of RAM due to the presence of the two Geforce GTX Titan X 12GB video cards.

You want at least as much as much RAM as VRAM (video card RAM), to avoid a bottleneck that could reduce the performance of your video cards and lower the quality of your gaming experience.

This means that with 24GB of VRAM (2 video cards with 12GB each), 32GB of RAM is what I recommend.

Tier 10-11-12:

64GB (8 sticks of 8GB) DDR4 2400MHz

Two (2x) Crucial 32GB (8GBx4) DDR4 2400MHz kits

You must buy two of these 32GB kits to get 8 sticks of 8GB, to get 64GB of RAM in total.

- $549.98 at Amazon
- $579.90 at B&H (International Shipping)

Tier 10, 11 and 12 feature a quad-channel DDR4 RAM motherboard, so for maximum performance, you want four or eight sticks of RAM.

For Tier 10, 11 and 12, I recommend 64GB of RAM due to the presence of the three or four Geforce GTX Titan X 12GB video cards.

You want at least as much as much RAM as VRAM (video card RAM), to avoid a bottleneck that could reduce the performance of your video cards and lower the quality of your gaming experience.

For Tier 10, 11 and 12, this means that you’ll want 64GB of RAM and this is what I recommend.

I recommend getting two quad-channel kits with four RAM sticks each to get eight sticks. It’s currently less expensive that way.

Heatsinks and CPU cooler clearance:
Every kit that I recommend in this guide feature either no heatsinks or not too tall heatsinks that don’t raise too much above the RAM sticks.

Why?

  1. Because RAM heatsinks barely make any difference when it comes to RAM temperatures. Besides, even if you overclock it/raise the voltage (at your own risk), RAM temperatures aren’t a problem as long as you have decent airflow in your case.
  2. Tall RAM heatsinks can get in the way of larger aftermarket CPU Coolers, preventing you from installing your aftermarket CPU Cooler!

Important: RAM can require manual configuration within the BIOS to reach its full potential or function properly!
By default, some RAM kits will boot at lower frequencies than they are rated for. This is perfectly normal, it does not mean that your RAM is defective.

You simply have to go within the BIOS/UEFI (The first thing that you see when your PC starts) and enable XMP, for your RAM to function at its rated speed. If XMP is not available or doesn’t work for some reason, you can adjust the RAM settings manually, such as frequency (In MHz, usually linked to the CPU, look for a CPU:RAM ratio) and timings (a series of numbers, such as 9-9-9-24). Refer to your motherboard manual and your RAM specifications for more information.

Alternative RAM:
I recommend high-performance RAM from reliable brands, to avoid defective RAM.

If the recommendations are out of stock, not available to you or you want something that looks different, look for alternatives from Corsair, Crucial, G.Skill, Kingston, Mushkin or Patriot.

Here’s what you need to make sure that it’s compatible with your PC:
- Tier 8-9: DDR3, 2400MHz (Frequency), Four(4) sticks of RAM so 2x8GB (16GB) for Tier 8 and 4x8GB (32GB) for Tier 9.
- Tier 10-11-12: DDR4, 2400MHz (Frequency), Eight(8) sticks of RAM so 8x8GB (64GB) is what you want for Tier 10, 11 and 12.

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Video Card:

A few important recommendations and notes regarding video cards:

  • Get the latest version of the video card drivers directly from AMD or Nvidia. That way, you’ll be sure to get the latest bug fixes as well as the best performance possible from your video card(s).
    If you have multiple Nvidia video cards that you want to run in SLI: You must connect all of them with a ‘SLI Bridge’, a flexible cable or solid connector that allow the cards to run in SLI, included with the motherboard.
  • To confirm whether Crossfire or SLI is working or not, use GPU-Z which will show that information to you in the last field at the bottom of the program’s window.
  • The video cards require PCI-Express 6 or 8 pin power connector(s) to be plugged into them to function properly. The recommended power supplies come equipped with enough 6 and/or 8 pin PCI-E connectors for your video cards. Those are different than the 8 pins 12V connector for the motherboard). Just make sure to plug them in ;)

Tier 8:

Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI

- $1159.98 at Amazon
- $1159.98 at B&H (International Shipping)

Faster than two GTX 970, especially when you get to higher resolutions where the GTX 970 gets limited by its memory.

The GTX 980 is 15% faster than the GTX 970. It outperforms AMD’s fastest single-GPU video card, the R9 290X while consuming less power, running more cool and being less noisy.

Two GTX 980 have no problem outperforming a single GTX 980 Ti.

What settings can this setup handle?
Two Geforce GTX 980 in SLI are ideal to run the latest games maxed out at a resolution of 2560 x 1440/1600 (2K), or to easily handle 1080p Full HD gaming.

Most games at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD/4K) and a triple 1080p monitor setup (6.2MP) should be able to run maxed out, although the most demanding ones will require you to lower settings. See Tier 10 or 11 for higher performance.

Tier 9:

Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI

- $1299.98 – Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Amazon)
– $1299.98 – Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (B&H – International Shipping)

Want more performance than what the fastest GPU (GTX 980Ti/Titan X) can offer? Get two and team them up in SLI for more performance!

Simply put, this card features the fastest GPU on the market, even faster than the Radeon R9 290X and the Geforce GTX 980.

The Geforce GTX 980 Ti uses the same GPU as the more expensive Geforce Titan X video card, only with a small portion of it disabled.

The Geforce GTX 980 Ti offers on average 97% of the performance that the Geforce Titan X offers (according to AnandTech), while costing 35% less, making it a bargain for such high performance.

What settings can this setup handle?
Two Geforce GTX 980 Ti in SLI are ideal to run the latest games maxed out at a resolution of 2560 x 1440/1600 (2K), or to easily handle 1080p Full HD gaming.

Most games at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD/4K) and a triple 1080p monitor setup (6.2MP) should be able to run maxed out, although the most demanding ones will require you to lower settings.
See Tier 10, 11 or 12 for higher performance.

Tier 10:

Three Geforce GTX 980 Ti in a 3-Way SLI

- $1949.97 – Three EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Amazon)
– $1949.97 – Three EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (B&H – International Shipping)

Want more performance? Time to step up to three Geforce GTX 980 Ti in Three-Way SLI.

Remember to plug the Nvidia Three-Way SLI bridge on the three cards to be able to enable Three-Way SLI. It’s included with the motherboard.

Make sure to get the latest version of the drivers straight from Nvidia, avoid those on the included DVD as those are outdated.

There are updates on a regular basis, especially when new games are launched. New drivers fix bugs, increase performance and support newer games.

What settings can this setup handle?
Ideal for gaming on a triple 1080p monitor setup (6.2MP) or a 4K ( 3840 x 2160) monitor.

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Tier 11:

Four Geforce GTX 980 Ti in a 4-Way SLI

- $2599.96 – Four EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Amazon)
– $2599.96 – Four EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (B&H – International Shipping)

Want more performance? Time to step up to four Geforce GTX 980 Ti in Four-Way SLI.

Make sure to get the latest version of the drivers straight from Nvidia, avoid those on the included DVD as those are outdated.

There are updates on a regular basis, especially when new games are launched.

New drivers fix bugs, increase performance and support newer games.

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Tier 12:

Four EVGA Geforce GTX Titan X 12GB in Four-Way SLI

- $4119.96 at Amazon
$4355.80 at B&H (International Shipping)

You don’t mind paying more to get as much performance as possible or feel that you need more than 6GB of VRAM per video card?

Four Geforce GTX Titan X in a Four-Way SLI is the ultimate setup.

What settings can this setup handle?

For gaming on a 4K monitor with maxed out settings, for a triple 1080p or 2560 x 1440/1600 monitor setup or even a two 3840 x 2160 monitor setup (16.6MP), this is what I recommend.

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Storage:

SSD FAQ:

If you wondering “Who are SSDs for?”, if you want a quick recap on what a SSD is or want to learn more about the benefits of using a SSD, I invite you to read our SSD FAQ.

Tier 8:

SAMSUNG 850 EVO 500GB SATA III SSD:

- $177.99 at Amazon
- $177.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why am I recommending the Samsung 850 EVO SSD?

  1. Samsung SSD’s reliability is unmatched. (according to hardware.fr, according to a French e-tailer as of November 2014)
  2. Samsung 850 EVO SSDs offers top-notch performance. While it’s not the fastest SSD on the market, it consistently ranks amongst the best. For gaming, you won’t perceive a difference in performance between this SSD and the fastest.

Simply put, the Samsung 850 EVO offers high performance, unmatched reliability at excellent prices and is available in capacities up to 1TB.

Tier 9, 10, 11 and 12:

SAMSUNG 850 EVO 1TB SATA III SSD

- $377.99 at Amazon
- $377.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

For Tier 9 to 12, we’re bumping the SATA SSD storage capacity to 1TB.

With 1TB to play with on your SSD and 3TB on the hard drive, I doubt that you’ll run out of space anytime soon. ;)

Tier 12:

Faster than SATA III SSD: Samsung SM951 M.2 PCI-Express 4x SSD!

$457.99 – Samsung SM951 512GB M.2 80mm PCIe x4 SSD

Higher performance than any SATA-based SSD, with the following specs: Sequential Read: 2150MB/s and Sequential Write: 1500 MB/s

If you want higher performance than what SATA III SSDs can offer, then the Samsung SM951, the replacement to the Samsung XP941 (Sequential Read: 1080MB/s, Sequential Write: 800 MB/s, Random Read (QD=32): 120K IOPS, Random Write (QD=32): 60K IOPS) is a relatively affordable solution.

In the motherboards that I recommend, only the motherboard for Tier 12 (ASUS RAMPAGE V EXTREME) can fully take advantage of its performance, thanks to the M.2 slot running at PCI-Express 3.0 4x.

This is why I only recommend it for Tier 12. That and well, its high price too. In this case, you do get what you pay for thanks to its vastly superior performance.

So Tier 12 gets the Samsung SM951 512GB PCI-E SSD, the Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD and the Western Digital Caviar Black 3TB hard drive.

Yes, you can boot from the Samsung SM951.

Note that TRIM (essential to ensure long-term sustained performance and longevity  for SSDs) for PCI-Express SSDs is NOT supported by Windows 7, only by Windows 8, 8.1 and 10.

Hard Drives:

All Tiers:

Western Digital Caviar Black 3TB 5 years warranty WD3003FZEX

- $151.10 at Amazon (USA)
- $162.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Western Digital launched an update to their Black line-up of hard drives, with performance gains of anywhere between 26%-48% (compared to the previous generation) depending on the capacity thanks to an improved dual-core processor and other controller and firmware improvements.

StorageReview reviewed the 4TB model and found that the Western Digital Black hard drives are the fastest hard drives available on the market.

It also comes with a solid five years warranty.

Keep in mind that you’ll have a 500GB or 1TB SSD to store the OS and programs/games and when you want the extra performance.

3TB is not enough or too much? Want 1TB, 2TB or 4TB?

No problem, just pick the hard with the capacity that you want. All of them offer  high performance and a 5 years warranty.

– 1TB (WD1003FZEX): $70.31 at Amazon (USA) or $54.95 at B&H (International Shipping)
– 2TB (WD2003FZEX): $124.99 at Amazon (USA) or $114.00 at B&H (International Shipping)
- 4TB (WD4003FZEX): $202.85 at Amazon (USA) or $174.00 at B&H (International Shipping)

Other alternative hard drives:
The Western Digital Black series of hard drives are an excellent choice, but if you’re interested in alternatives, I invite you to read our article on The Best Internal 2.5″ and 3.5″ Hard Drives (HDD) For Your Money.

Reliability/Backup

Keep in mind that no matter how reliable they can be, all hard drives and all SSDs are still prone to failure though, which is why you should Have a Backup System that you can rely on!

SATA Cables: Make sure you have enough!
Just make sure that you have enough SATA cables: The recommended motherboards in this guide include four to ten SATA cables. You’ll need one SATA cable for your optical drive, one for the hard drive and one for your SSD. So by default, you’ll be fine.

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Optical Drive:

Tiers 8-9-10-11-12:

ASUS SATA 24X DVD Burner

- $21.10 at Amazon (USA)
- $19.95 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why this ASUS DVD Burner?
Simple: It’s highly reliable, having the best customer reviews on Amazon for a DVD Burner. It’s also reasonably priced. It’s the best selling model for a reason. ;)

This drive is able to read and burn CDs and DVDs. Relatively silent (it obviously makes some noise when reading/burning at high speed), compatible with all major formats including DVD-RAM.

Don’t believe people who say you don’t need a DVD drive anyone. For only $20, you can listen to audio CDs, watch TV and movie DVDs, see pictures stored on a DVD, the list goes on.

Upgrade to Full HD movies and TV shows by getting a Blu-Ray optical drive:

You’re getting a massively powerful Gaming PC with a or several nice Full HD 1080p, 2K or even 4K monitor(s), why limit yourself to movies in low DVD definition (a mere 720×480)?

They will look awful on your screens if you watch them in fullscreen mode.

Do yourself a favor: You want to watch movies in Full HD to get the best visual experience possible. You want a Blu-Ray drive instead of a DVD drive.

Blu-ray burner:

So if you want that, as well as wanting the ability to not just read but also burn Blu-Ray disks, then I recommend to you the:

- Pioneer Electronics USA 16X SATA Black Internal Blu-Ray/CD/DVD Burner, which is available for $50.95 at Amazon or $63.95 at B&H (International Shipping).

It’s a fast 16x model that’s recent (read: more compatible with all sort of Blu-ray disks), it’s reliable and well priced. It does not include any software, so you can buy

Software required for Blu-Ray playback:

Can I use free software to play Blu-ray disks?
If you want a trouble-free experience, no. As far as I know, you still require paid software to playback Blu-Ray disks on a PC.

Based on various reviews and feedback on various forums, PowerDVD 15 is the software that I recommend to you.

You’ll want at least the Pro version for Blu-ray playback and the Ultra version for 3D Blu-ray. There’s the live version too, which you can subscribe to for 3 months or 12 months which includes ongoing access to future PowerDVD versions so you’re never stuck with an old version.

It is fully compatible with Windows 7/8/8.1/10 and should play give you any problems.

For burning blu-ray disks, there are many software solutions available on the Internet, including free ones. I’ve never burned Blu-Ray disks so I suggest that you do your own research on the best software for your needs. If you have experience with burning Blu-Ray disks and would like to suggest software for those who want to burn blu-ray disks, please leave a comment at the end of the article.

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Power Supply:

Tier 8 and 9:

EVGA SuperNOVA 850W G2 80PLUS Gold Modular

- $141.99 at Amazon
Corsair RM850 850W 80PLUS Gold Modular: $129.00 at B&H (International Shipping)

This power supply is capable of delivering up to 850W, not that you should rely on this information only as I often point in posts such as Warning: 6 Surefire Ways of Blowing Up Your Computer Due to an Inadequate Power Supply, but more importantly 70.8A on the 12V line, the most important factor when it comes to choosing a power supply for a gaming computer.

It is 80 Plus Gold certified, to insure very high efficiency, a lower power bill, less heat and noise, compared to a less efficient and/or lower quality power supply.

It’s also fully modular meaning that all cables are removable, so that you only install the ones that you need, resulting in less of a cable mess.

At low load, it will stop its fan to operate silently. As the load increase, it will automatically turn on its fan as necessary.

Of course, it’s based on a reliable design, to ensure that it will last you many years. It comes with an industry-leading 10 years warranty; that gives you an idea of what to expect reliability wise!

The internationally available alternative:
The Corsair RM850 is also a great choice. It’s slightly less expensive, but its warranty is only 3 years compared to 10 years for the EVGA SuperNOVA. Hence why it’s not my main recommendation, but it remains an excellent power supply, especially considering its price and the fact that it’s available from B&H who offer international shipping.

Tier 10:

EVGA SuperNOVA 1300W G2 80PLUS Gold Modular

- $205.85 at Amazon (USA)
- Antec HCP Platinum 1300W 80 PLUS Platinum: $249.95 at B&H (International Shipping)

Capable of delivering 1300W and 108.3A on the 12V line.

This Power Supply is 80 PLUS Gold certified, to ensure that it doesn’t exhaust much heat and that it’s fairly silent too.

This is a modular power supply, allowing you to only plug in and only use the cables that you actually need, resulting in less of a cable mess.

It also comes with an industry-leading 10 years warranty.

Tier 11 and 12:

EVGA SuperNOVA 1600W G2 80PLUS Gold Modular

- $319.99 at Amazon
- Corsair AX15000i 1500W 80 Plus Titanium: $399.94 at B&H (International Shipping)

Capable of delivering 1600W and 133.3A on the 12V line.

This Power Supply is 80 PLUS Gold certified, to ensure that it’s efficient, that it doesn’t exhaust much heat and that it’s fairly silent too.

This is a modular power supply, allowing you to only plug in and only use the cables that you actually need, resulting in less of a cable mess.

It also comes with an industry-leading 10 years warranty.

Power Consumption:

How I calculate power consumption:
I start with the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator.

Here are the settings that I used:

  • For Tier 8 and 9: Core i7-4790K overclocked to 4.5GHz, 1.3v Vcore voltage, 90% TDP
  • For Tier 10-11: Core i7-5930K overclocked to 4.3GHz, 1.3v Vcore voltage, 90% TDP
  • For Tier 12: Core i7-5960X overclocked to 4.3GHz, 1.3v Vcore voltage, 90% TDP
  • Motherboard: High-End Desktop
  • Video Cards depends on the Tier, make sure to select Crossfire or SLI
  • Four sticks of DDR3 for Tier 8-9, 8x8GB DDR4 for Tier 10-12
  • One SATA 7,200rpm hard drive + one Flash SSD
  • 1 DVD-RW/DVD+RW Drive
  • 8 USB Devices
  • Fan Controller
  • 3 x 250mm regular fans, 1 x 140mm LED fans
  • System Load: 90% (Your PC will never pull 100%, no matter how hard you push it)
  • Capacitor Aging: 20% (Seeing as you want your power supply to last more than a year or two)

Estimated Power Consumption, per Tier:

According to the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator, with the settings that I described above and my own research, it is estimated that this system will require at load (peak usage), the following numbers. The minimum requirements are in Italic, while my recommendations (including overhead) are in Bold:

  1. 632W/800W with the Core i7 4790K (4.5GHz/1.30v) and two Geforce GTX 980 in SLI (Tier 8)
  2. 752W/850W with the Core i7 4790K (4.5GHz/1.30v) and two Geforce GTX 980 Ti in SLI (Tier 9)
  3. 1089W/1300W with the Core i7 5930K (4.3GHz/1.30v) and three Geforce GTX 980 Ti in a Three-Way SLI (Tier 10)
  4. 1314W/1500W with the Core i7 5930K (4.3GHz/1.30v) and four Geforce GTX 980 Ti in a Four-Way SLI. (Tier 11)
  5. 1398W/1500W with the Core i7 5960X (4.0GHz/1.30v) and four Geforce GTX Titan X in a Four-Way SLI. (Tier 12)

A quick note about the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator:
While this is the main tool that I use to estimate power consumption, do note that my recommendations also take into account my personal experience (over 14 years) and some additional research of my own to verify these numbers.

This is why you may notice that the numbers that I give above may be higher or lower than what the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator gives you. When in doubt, stick with my numbers or ask us on the forums.

Why should I get a power supply that’s more powerful than the requirements?

1- You don’t want to run your power supply too close to its maximum output.
While you can match a 650W PSU with a 632W requirement, I don’t recommend it: Running your PSU at full load all the time will increase the wear and tear on its components. This will reduce its lifespan, increase its chance of failure, reduce its efficiency, increase its heat output and noise output. You’re likely

I recommend adding a 15-20% overhead to give some breathing room to your PSU so that it lasts you many years, runs efficiently and doesn’t get too noisy. Note that my recommendations include this overhead.

2- Consider that you may want to upgrade to more power hungry components in the future.
The Geforce GTX 970/980 don’t consume much power for high-end video cards. Future generations of video cards might have higher power consumption, so you may choose to get a more powerful power supply so that have some

3- You want to overclock the video cards
My recommendations take into consideration that you will overclock your CPU but not the video cards. Why?

1. You may already have more than enough performance for the video games that you play.
2. You will have two, three or four GPUS in close proximity, so proper cooling is already essential.

Overclocking increases the power consumption, heat, as well as the temperature and noise of your video cards.

You must take care to ensure proper cooling when dealing with 2, 3 or 4 overclocked, hotter GPUs. It is a task that should not be underestimated. Simply put, I don’t expect the majority of you to overclock your video cards.

That said, if you take the time to do it properly (monitor the GPU temperatures!), you can safely overclock your video cards. The cooling on the cards and case that I recommend is up to the task.

If you want even better cooling, consider a custom water-cooling setup for your video cards. This is outside of the scope of this article, but there’s a lot of resources on the Web that can assist you in the process.

If you’re up to the task and want to overclock your video cards to get even higher performance in video games, go for it! It’s your Gaming PC after all ;)

If you choose to overclock your video cards, add 50W per GPU to my estimated power consumption.
In other words, upgrade to a more powerful power supply if necessary.

  • SLI is 2 GPUs (+100W)
  • Three-Way SLI is 3 GPUs (+150W)
  • Four-Way SLI is, you’ve guessed it, 4 GPUs, so you need to add 200W more.

Efficiency: 80 PLUS ratings
80 PLUS refers to a certification from an independent group that a PSU meets their requirements for the specified level of efficiency.

Here’s a chart that shows the different required levels of efficiency depending on the specific 80 PLUS certification:

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/80_PLUS

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/80_PLUS

What does this mean?
Power supplies convert AC (Alternative Current, what you have in your house) to DC (Direct Current, what your PC components use). This is not a 100% efficient process.

The efficiency of a computer power supply is its output power divided by its input power; the remaining input power is converted into heat. For instance, a 600-watt power supply with 60% efficiency running at full load would draw 1000 W from the mains and would therefore waste 400 W as heat. On the other hand, a 600-watt power supply with 80% efficiency running at full load would draw 750 W from the mains and would therefore waste only 150 W as heat.

Basically, this means that a more efficient power supply will waste less electricity (lower utility bill), output less heat (lower noise and temperatures) and will be more quiet (less heat to exhaust = the fan doesn’t have to spin as fast).

Modular power supply?
A modular power supply is one that allows you to only plug in and only use the power cables that you actually need, instead of being stuck with a bunch of unused power cables that you need to hide somewhere in your case. This results in less of a cable mess, making your life easier when it comes to cable routing to keep your case clean and not have cables block airflow.

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Case:

Tiers 8-9-10-11-12:

Thermaltake Core V71 Extreme 3x200m changeable color LED fans:

- $149.79 at Amazon
- $149.79 at B&H (International Shipping)

You have an Extreme Gaming PC, which means that your case:
– Must compatible with all your components
– Must offer enough airflow to keep your components running at safe operating temperatures
– Is preferably quiet. Powerful doesn’t have to mean noisy.

The Thermaltake Core V71 is the enthusiast’s dream case.

It comes with three large 200mm fans and a 140mm fan. You want large fans. Why? Because a larger fan dimension means that the fan has larger blades which don’t have to spin as quickly to move as much air as a smaller fan, so in the end, a larger fan is less noisy. Same (or more!) airflow, less noise: Win win.

It has been designed with radiators in mind if you want to water-cool your PC.

With two video cards for Tier 8 and 9 and three or four video cards for Tier 10-12, I recommend the Thermaltake Core V71 Extreme, a case that offers a ton of cooling thanks to three large 200mm and one 140mm case fans, support for a lot of radiators (for water-cooling) as well as many other great features!

Cooling wise, this case includes three large 200mm and one 140mm case fans as well, insuring proper cooling for your Extreme Gaming PC.

Core_V71_radiator_support

It’s also great for high-end water cooling with support for a front 360/420mm radiator, a top 360/420mm radiator, a 140mm radiator in the back and a bottom 120/240mm radiator.

Features wise, you get:

  1. 2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0, Audio out, MIC on the top of the case
  2. An hole on the back panel, to easily install after-market CPU Cooler without having to remove the motherboard from the case.
  3. Various holes with rubber grommets and lots of space to route and hide your wires.
  4. Two 2.5″/3.5″ drive bays on the back of the motherboard tray, allowing you to install the SSD and hard drive out of sight.
  5. Fully modular drive cages: If you install the SSD and hard drive on the back of the motherboard tray, you can remove the drive cages to improve the airflow!
  6. Integrated Fan Speed – fan speed & color & Light Control Knob.
  7. Tool-free drive bay installation.
  8. Good user manual makes the installation an easier process.
  9. No problem supporting the biggest aftermarket CPU coolers (max 185mm height).
  10. It includes a 8-pin extension cable for the 8-pin motherboard power connector. Can be useful for better cable management.
  11. Full dust filter coverage. That way your components won’t get covered in dust as fast, which mean that you don’t have to remove the dust from your PC nearly as often.

Want a different case?

Here’s what to check for compatibility

  • For Tier 8 to 11: Pretty much any ATX cases can be used as alternatives. Some may require you to remove the side fan if you use the large Noctua CPU Cooler or may require additional case fans to ensure proper cooling.
  • Tier 10 to 12: Double-check that your alternative case supports a 240mm radiator. If it doesn’t, pick a different case or different CPU Cooler.
  • Tier 12: Tier 12’s motherboard is based on the larger E-ATX standard. Make sure that the case that you pick supports this larger E-ATX standard.

To ensure proper cooling for your particular setup, feel free to double-check with us on the forums if you’re not sure if you need additional case fans.

Alternatives available in the USA: (Scroll down for Internationally available alternatives)
The list is in an alphabetical order.

  • $169.99 – Antec Twelve Hundred V3 – With three front 120mm, two back 120mm and a top 200mm blue LEDs case fans, the Antec Twelve Hundred offers plenty of airflow. The fans speed can be adjusted with controls on the back of the case. You can add two 120mm case fans: One on the side panel and one inside the case. Not fully tool-less assembly. Average space behind the motherboard tray to hide cables.
  • $349.99 – Cooler Master Cosmos II – Absolutely gorgeous in my opinion. Six USB ports (2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0), E-SATA. Two lockable 3.5″ drive bays located on the front. Handles to help carry it around. Hinged Side Panels. Advanced electronic control panel with 4 channel fan speed control. Five included fans: 3 x 120mm, 1 x 140mm and 1 x 200mm, supports up to ten fans. Fully tool-less, lots of space behind the motherboard tray to hide the cables.
  • $159.99 – Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced Blue LEDs – 2x 140mm and 2x230mm case fans. Six USB ports (2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0), E-SATA. Tool-less, average cable routing.
  • $159.99 – Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced Red LEDs – Same as above but with the fans come equipped with red LEDs instead of blue LEDs.
  • $179.99 – Cooler Master HAF X – Similar to the HAF 932, but even bigger, with larger case fans: 1 x 140mm, 2 x 200mm and 1 x 230mm. Air duct that supports a 120mm x 25/38mm fan to cool video cards. Power supply partition to conceal cables, improved cable management with rubber grommets.
  • $99.99 – Cooler Master HAF XB EVO – Unique rectangular shape. Motherboard tray can be removed to install, remove or swap components. Direct front to back airflow over CPU, motherboard and video cards. Handles on the side to carry it. Two USB 3.0 ports. Relatively affordable
  • $149.99 – Cooler Master Storm Trooper – Two 90 degrees rotatable 4-in-3 HDD modules. Handle on top to carry it. Four case fans: 2x120mm, 1x140mm and 1x200mm. Built in fan controller. Four USB ports (2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0), E-SATA. Space behind the motherboard for cable management with rubber grommets. Utility compartment at the bottom in the front of the case (The CM Storm logo is located on it).
  • $159.99 – Cooler Master Storm Stryker White – Same as above, but in a striking white color. Definitely worth a look!
  • $129.99 – Corsair Carbide Air 540 Silver, White or Black – Unique cube shaped design. Double-check its dimensions: It’s huge. One of the easiest case to build a PC within. Cable management is easy. Three 140mm case fans ensure proper cooling. Dual chamber design, with power supply and drives on one side and the motherboard, CPU, RAM and video cards on the other side. Available in Silver, White or Black.
  • $125.99 – Corsair Graphite 600T Black, Silver or White – You can switch the mesh side panel with a side window. Dual 200mm and one 120mm case fans. Built-in fan controller. Tons of space for cable management, tool-less assembly, easy to work with. Available in Silver, White or Black. I’m a big fan of the white edition.
  • $189.99 – Corsair Graphite 760T White or Black, Semi-Transparent Side Panel – Full panel semi-transparent window. Fully tool-less. Two 140mm case fans. Two modular drive cages. Fan speed toggle switch allows you to set your fans to “silent” or”performance” modes. Available in Black/White with white LEDs fans or in Black with red LEDs fans.
  • $123.98 – Corsair Obsidian 550D – Nice mix of steel and aluminum, simple design. Comes with three 120mm case fans. I’d add at least two 140mm fans to ensure proper cooling: One on the side (intake) and one at the top of the case (exhaust).
  • $143.99 – Corsair Obsidian 650D – Two 200mm and one 120mm case fans. Integrated fan controller. Steel structure with black brushed aluminum faceplate, great looking case. Quick-release side panels are easy to open. Fully tool-less, easy to assemble a PC within it.
  • $154.14 – Corsair Obsidian 750D – Three 140mm case fans. Steel structure with black brushed aluminum faceplate, great looking case. Quick-release side panels are easy to open. Fully tool-less, easy to assemble a PC within it. Adding two 140mm at the top of the case is highly suggested.
  • $119.99 – Corsair Vengeance C70 Black, Army Green or White – Comes with three 120mm case fans. I’d add at least two 140mm fans to ensure proper cooling: One on the side (intake) and one at the top of the case (exhaust). Available in Black, Army Green or White.
  • $169.99 – LIAN LI PC-A75 – Fully made out of aluminum, weighting in only 21lbs. 3 x 140mm and 1 x 120mm case fans. You can add two 120mm fans on top and two 140mm fans on the side.
  • $214.99 – LIAN LI PC-A75WX – Same as above, but with a side window.
  • $229.99 – LIAN LI PC-A76WX – Same as above, but with a front door.
  • $139.99 – NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition – Black – Fan controller (3 speeds), SD Card Reader With SDHC & SDXC Support, modular internal drive bays, two SSD mounts located behind the motherboard tray, tons of space behind the motherboard tray for top-notch cable management. 2 x 200mm + 140mm case fans.
  • $159.99 – NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition – White – Same as above in White
  • $169.99 – NZXT Phantom 630 Windowed Edition – Gunmetal – Same as above with Gunmetal paint
  • $219.99 – NZXT Phantom 820 Black, White or Gunmetal – 3 x 200mm + 1 x 140mm case fans. Integrated HUE lighting for illuminating the exterior/interior of your enclosure with option to turn on/off and allow you to customize the colors. channel digital fan controller with 15 watts per channel and LED indicators that progressively gets brighter on high speeds and dimmer for low settings. Dual USB 3.0, quad USB 2.0, SD card reader. Available in Matte black, White or Gunmetal.
  • $249.99 – Silverstone Fortress FT02B-W-USB3.0 – Unique 90 degree motherboard mounting, 4.5mm aluminum unibody frame, 3 x 180mm fans for top-notch cooling. Not much space behind the motherboard for cable routing.
  • $121.42 – Thermaltake Chaser A71 – 3x200mm + 1x120mm case fans. Tool-less, rubber grommets and space behind the motherboard for cable routing. 2x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0
  • $153.13 – Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 – 200mm x 2 + 1x 140mm case fans. Tool-less, rubber grommets and space behind the motherboard for cable routing. 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 and E-SATA. Fan Speed & Light Control Knob – fan speed & color mode controller.
  • $199.99 – Thermaltake Level 10 GT Black – Unique looks, 3 x 200mm + 1 x 140mm case fans. Hinged side panel. Tool-less, rubber grommets and space behind the motherboard for cable routing. 2x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0. Colorshift fans allow you to set red, blue, green or mixed color modes. Fan controller (two speeds).
  • $199.99 – Thermaltake Level 10 GT Snow Edition – Same as above, but in White.

Those are just a few of the possible alternatives. Visit Amazon for over 500 possible choices.

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Alternatives available Internationally:

The list is in an alphabetical order.

  • $89.50 – Cooler Master HAF XB EVO – Unique rectangular shape. Motherboard tray can be removed to install, remove or swap components. Direct front to back airflow over CPU, motherboard and video cards. Handles on the side to carry it. Two USB 3.0 ports. Relatively affordable
  • $159.99 – Cooler Master Storm Trooper – Two 90 degrees rotatable 4-in-3 HDD modules. Handle on top to carry it. Four case fans: 2x120mm, 1x140mm and 1x200mm. Built in fan controller. Four USB ports (2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0), E-SATA. Space behind the motherboard for cable management with rubber grommets. Utility compartment at the bottom in the front of the case (The CM Storm logo is located on it).
  • $149.99 – Corsair Obsidian 750D – Three 140mm case fans. Steel structure with black brushed aluminum faceplate, great looking case. Quick-release side panels are easy to open. Fully tool-less, easy to assemble a PC within it. Adding two 140mm at the top of the case is highly suggested.
  • $123.95 – Thermaltake Chaser A71 – 3x200mm + 1x120mm case fans. Tool-less, rubber grommets and space behind the motherboard for cable routing. 2x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0

There are 275 other case alternatives available from B&H, take a look.

Cooling:

CPU Cooler:

Tiers 8-9

Noctua NH-D15

$95.30 at Amazon

  • Inexpensive? Nope.
  • Light? Nope.
  • Small? Nope.

So why am I recommending a big, heavy and relatively expensive CPU cooler?

Because it’s the best at what it does:
It offers outstanding cooling performance, it’s pretty much the best air CPU Cooler and it offers cooling performance that’s close to the best all-in-one water cooling systems from Corsair and the like.

It offers that level of performance while being quiet, making less noise than all-in-one water cooling systems.

It’s also backed by a 6 years warranty. The fans that come with this CPU Cooler are of the highest quality, these are no cheap sleeve bearing fans. This CPU Cooler will last you a long time.

It other words, in my professional opinion, it strikes the perfect balance between performance and noise levels, while offering high reliability. This is why I recommend it to you.

It’s compatible with both the LGA1150 and LGA2011 socket. However, I don’t recommend it for Tier 10, 11 and 12, because it’s so large and would prevent you from installing the video card that goes in the top PCI-Express 16x slot.

Alternative for Tier 8-9 that’s available internationally:
The $79.99 – ZALMAN CNPS12X Triple-Fan Blue LEDs is an excellent alternative that’s available from B&H with International Shipping.

You could also upgrade to the Corsair H105 recommended for Tier 10 to 12.

You want to overclock your CPU?

Go for it. The Noctua NH-D15 can handle it all but the most extreme CPU overclocking.

If you’re into extreme overclocking and want to squeeze every bit of performance possible out of your PC, then consider a custom water cooling system, the recommended case for Tier 8-9-10-11-12 can handle most radiators and you can add the video cards to your loop for even more overclocking and higher performance.

Tier 10-11-12:

Corsair Hydro H105 240mm All-in-One Liquid Cooling System

- $109.99 at Amazon
- $109.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why recommend water-cooling the CPU when you recommend air cooling for Tier 8 and 9?
It’s simple: The Noctua NH-D15 is so big that it blocks the first expansion slot. On the motherboard for Tier 8 and 9, this isn’t a problem: the first slot is a PCI-Express 1x slot that you won’t use anyway.

However, for Tier 10 to 12, the first slot is a PCI-Express 16x slot that you’ll need for your first video card. So the Noctua NH-D15 isn’t compatible with Tier 10-12.

Why the Corsair H105?
Because it offers great cooling performance while being more quiet than the waste majority of All-in-One cooling system. It’s also easy to install, comes with PWM fans and a 5 years warranty.

Where should I install the radiator?
Install it at the top of the case. That way it can exhaust the heat outside of the case, keeping your case running cool.

Do NOT install it in the front of the case. Why? Because you’d have to remove the front fans which is crucial for cooling the video cards and because the radiator will exhaust the heat inside the case, towards your video cards. You definitely don’t want that.

You want to overclock your CPU?

Go for it. The Corsair H105 can handle it all but the most extreme CPU overclocking.

If you’re into extreme overclocking and want to squeeze every bit of performance possible out of your PC, then consider a custom water cooling system, the recommended case for Tier 8-9-10-11-12 can handle most radiators and you can add the video cards to your loop for even more overclocking and higher performance.

If you pick a different case:
Make sure that it supports a 240mm radiator. Otherwise, get a setup with a radiator size that will fit in your case. Just leave a comment at the end of the article if you aren’t sure if everything is compatible.

Thermal Compound

All the recommended and alternative CPU Coolers comes with high-quality and high-performance thermal compound, so you don’t need to buy any thermal compound separately.

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Fan Controller:
Only if you pick a different case.

NZXT Sentry 3 Fan Controller

- $30.99 at Amazon
$34.58 at B&H (International Shipping)

IF you pick a different case that doesn’t come with an integrated fan controller, the NZXT Technologies Sentry 3 will allow you to control up to five fans as well as monitor the temperatures(with temperatures probes that you can attach where you want), all of this on its touchscreen.

NZXT has clearly improved the quality control on the version 3 of the Sentry fan controller compared to the first two versions, which were subject to a lot of failures or issues.

This fan controller is capable of handling five channels, with 15 Watt (1.25 Amp, 12 Volt) available per channel. You can daisy-chain many fans on a channel, as long as they do not pull more than 15W together.

Compatibility Notes

  1. It fits in a 5.25″ drive bay, so make sure your case has at least one (if you don’t plan on using an internal 5.25″ optical drive) or two (if you DO plan on using an internal 5.25″ optical drive) available 5.25″ drive bays.
  2. Note that the recommended case for Tier 8,9,10, 11 and 12 has an integrated fan controller and large fans, hence why I don’t recommend this fan controller unless you get a different case that doesn’t come with an integrated fan controller.

More powerful fan controller alternative:

Some large (200mm+) fans might pull more than 15W, so the NZXT Sentry 3 not the best choice for cases that have such large fans.

For those cases or if you just want a more powerful fan controller, check out the Lamptron fan controllers from frozencpu.com. I’ve been recommending Lamptron fan controllers for years to enthusiasts, because they are powerful and are reliable. I’ve ordered from frozencpu.com many times in the past and highly recommend them for anything that has to do with PC cooling.

Sound Card:

All Tiers:
ASUS Xonar U7 7.1 114dB SNR 192kHz/24-bit USB Sound Card

- $87.24 at Amazon
- $87.24 at B&H (International Shipping)

While integrated audio has improved a lot over the years, it’s still no match for the sound quality of a dedicated sound card, especially when you use good headphones and/or speakers.

In order to ensure maximum airflow to the multiple video cards and to ensure compatibility with all tiers with either a large CPU Cooler and/or multiple video cards, I recommend a USB sound card.

About the ASUS Xonar U7:

The Xonar U7 is a fairly new model from ASUS. With a 114dB SNR and 192kHz/24-bit output and a built-in headphone amplifier, you can expect high-quality sound.

Ports wise, you get 1 x 3.5mm – (Line-in/ Mic-in combo), 1 x S/PDIF Digital Audio Out – Coaxial 2 x RCA Jack Audio Line In – 4 x 3.5mm Audio Line Out – (Headphone out /Side out/Center-Subwoofer out/Rear out)

You also get a dedicated volume and microphone control.

Considering that audio is a big part of your Gaming PC experience, I believe that $85, or a small % of your total budget, is entirely worth it to improve your PC audio quality, whether it’s for gaming, music, movies, TV or other entertainment purposes.

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Speakers:

While I do not include speakers in the Tiers budgets, seeing as you may already own some or simply do not want any, here are some recommendations for great speakers at various price points:

Note that the power output is in RMS Watts, a more accurate measurement.

2.0 speakers: 2 satellites and no sub-woofer:

2.1 speakers: 2 satellites and a sub-woofer:

5.1 speakers: 5 satellites and a sub-woofer:

Headphones/Earphones

I do not include headphones nor earphones in the Tiers budgets, seeing as you may already own a pair or simply do not want any.

Also keep in mind that sound quality is subjective, so while these are some great recommendations, in my opinion, at their respective price points, those recommendations are based on my own research, not yours. I do recommend that you do your own research, to figure out the best headphones for your needs, based on the type of music that you listen to and the games that you play.

There are various types of headphones and earphones, take the time to consider which one would be the best for you.

Double-check the cable length, it might be too short for your needs. Consider that you might need an extension cable. You’ll want a female to male 3.5mm audio cable. This is an analog cable, so this is where spending a bit more for a quality cable will make a difference in quality.

Open Design Headphones:
As the name implies, an open hear headphone means that it doesn’t cover or seal off the ear from hearing outside noises.

Pros: Enough airflow to keep your ears cool. On average lighter than closed design headphones. Resonance is significantly reduced providing better audio quality and a better audio experience.
Cons: You hear outside noises, so they can’t be used in noisy environments. They leak out sound, so they provide no privacy (people can hear what you’re listening to) and this can bother people that are close to you.

Closed Design Headphones:
These are the opposite of open design headphones. These headsets usually have larger ear cups that isolate the user’s ears from his surroundings and its design is typically meant to block out outside sounds.

Pros: 1- Closed ear cups that seal off the ear from the outside world so you can expect sounds not to leak in (cuts out external sound)
2- Doesn’t leak sound: You can enjoy exclusive audio entertainment particularly in a typically noisy environment, without bothering anyone.

Cons: 1- Due to the closed ear design, airflow is greatly minimized or prevented, producing more resonance and this can negatively affect the quality of sound.
2- Due to how they isolate you from outside noise, it makes you more vulnerable to accidents.

  1. Koss UR-20: $14.56 (Amazon) or $19 (Amazon)
  2. Panasonic RP-HTX7 (In Black, Blue, Red, White, Cream, Pink or Green): $31.48 (Amazon) or $39.99 (B&H – International Shipping)
  3. Audio-Technica ATH-M30x: $64.99 (Amazon) or $69 (B&H – International Shipping)
  4. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x: $96.99 (Amazon) or $99.99 (B&H – International Shipping)
  5. Audio Technica ATH-A700: $118.00 (Amazon) or $179.00 (B&H – International Shipping)
  6. Audio Technica ATH-M50x Black, Brown or White: $129.95 (Amazon) or $169.00 (B&H – International Shipping)
  7. Sennheiser HD25-1 II: $249.95 (Amazon) or $249.95 (B&H – International Shipping)

In-Ear Headphones:
Simply put, these are headphones that you insert straight into your ear, to create a seal between the headphones and your ears.

Some come with an integrated microphone that is often compatible with smartphones.

Important:
Make sure to take your time to properly test the different size of included tips, to find the ones that best fit your ears. This will make all the difference between a poor sounding pair and a good sounding one.

  1. $6.42 – Panasonic RPHJE120K Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Red, Silver or Violet
  2. Panasonic RPTCM125K Black, Blue, Pink, Purple or White: $10.99 (Amazon) or $10.99 (B&H – International Shipping)
  3. $25 – Symphonized NRG Premium with Mic (Wood + White)
  4. $25 – Symphonized NRG Premium with Mic (Red + Black)
  5. Bose SoundTrue: $89.95 (Amazon) or $116.95 (B&H – International Shipping)
  6. Yamaha EPH-100SL: $105.96 (Amazon) or $149.95 (B&H – International Shipping)
  7. Shure SE315-K (Black or White): $199.00 (Amazon) or $199.00 (B&H – International Shipping)
  8. Shure SE315-K (Black or White) with Mic & Remote Cable Kit: $242.99 (B&H – International Shipping)
  9. Bose QuietComfort 20i: $249.00 (Amazon) or $249.00 (B&H – International Shipping)
  10. Shure SE535-V (Bronze, Clear or Red): $494.00 (Amazon) or $499.00 (B&H – International Shipping)
  11. Shure SE535-V (Bronze) with Mic & Remote Cable Kit: $542.99 (B&H – International Shipping)

Microphone:

Personally, I recommend going for a pair of headphone with this dedicated microphone versus going with a headset that has a microphone, for two reasons:
1- The sound quality, for both the headphone part and the microphone part, is on average superior with a dedicated pair of headphones and a dedicated microphone vs a headset at comparable price points.
2- If the microphone on the headset breaks down (and they do more often than not, with years of usage), you’ll be stuck without your headset if you get it replaced, or either getting a new headset ($$) or a separated microphone. If either the headphones or the microphone breaks down, you still have the other part that you don’t have to replace.

You can also walk outside with a pair of headphones. A headset? You’ll look odd (in my opinion anyway).

If you want a dedicated microphone, to talk to your teammates online or for any other purpose, I recommend the Zalman Zm-Mic1 Microphone: $9.85 (Amazon) / $9.75 (B&H – International Shipping) which is an excellent low-cost option with perfectly fine audio quality and build quality. Three mini clips on the microphone cable help you latch the cable onto the headphone cable.

Want a higher quality USB desktop microphone for talking online, for recording broadcasts such as podcasts, or to record music? I recommend the Snowball USB Microphone: $64.99 (Amazon) / $64.99 (B&H – International Shipping) which offers excellent sound quality and is available in many colors.

Headsets:

Headsets are basically headphones with an integrated microphone.

If you go with an headset, make sure to check them all out, since they vary considerably in design.

  1. $19.53 – Yapster TM-YP100A
  2. Koss SB-45: $24.45 (Amazon) or $24.45 (B&H – International Shipping)
  3. Sennheiser PC 151: $51.97 (Amazon) / $51.49 (B&H – International Shipping)
  4. SteelSeries Siberia V2 Available in 9 colors: $49.99 (Amazon) or $79.50 (B&H – International Shipping)
  5. $80.69 at Amazon: Logitech 7.1 Surround G35
  6. $89.99 at Amazon: Logitech Wireless 7.1 Surround G930
  7. $225.30 at Amazon: Audio Technica ATHADG1 Open-Back Gaming Headset – $299.00 at Amazon

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Network:

- Tiers 8-9:
Dual Ethernet RJ-45 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN: Integrated on the motherboard

- Tier 10, 11 and 12:
Ethernet RJ-45 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN: Integrated on the motherboard

Integrated with the motherboard, this(those) network adapter(s) will allow you to access your local network and Internet, by connecting a Cat5-e cable from your modem/router to your PC.

If you need a cable, or a longer cable than what you have, to connect your PC to your modem, measure the distance between the modem/router and your PC. Consider that you may want to move your equipment at some point in the future. Order whichever length you need of CAT-5e cable. Don’t waste your money on a CAT6 cable, it will make no difference in speed.

Wireless Networking:
Tier 12: WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 integrated on the motherboard

Tier 12 motherboard comes with a WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac wireless and bluetooth adapter.

Need a WiFi adapter, router or Bluetooth adapter for another Tier?

See our article on The Best WiFi Routers, Best WiFi Adapters and Bluetooth Adapters.

Recommended operating systems:

The operating system cost, if there’s one, is not included in the total cost. The two reasons for this are:

  • The budget only considers hardware.
  • You may be able re-use a previous license, upgrade from a previous version of Windows or go with an open-source OS such as Linux.

Note that you’ll need a 64-bit version OS, as 32-bit is limited to 4GB of memory for the entire system, which is not enough now, nor in the future if you decide to upgrade. Remember that you’ll have 4GB of RAM or more, along with a dedicated video that also has memory (1GB or 2GB). 64-bit drivers are widely available for pretty much any devices nowadays.

Windows 8.1

Released two years and a half ago, Windows 8 was Microsoft’s latest version of the popular Windows operating system. While it uses the same core as Windows Vista and Windows 7, visually it is a departure from these two OS, using colorful tiles and a look often referred to as “Metro”.

Windows 8 has been updated to 8.1, which gives you the option to boot to the classic desktop look by default and brings back the “start” button, although it only brings you to the metro live tiles start screen. It is also possible to bring back the “classic” start button and menu by installing third parties apps. Search has also been improved.

The vast majority of applications that ran on Windows Vista and 7 should have no problem running on Windows 8.1. Most programs that runs on XP should work on Windows 8.1 too, but there are some exceptions.

For more information on Windows 8.1, there are countless reviews of it available online that will do a better job than I can at fully describing what’s new.

Let’s address the obvious question: Should you use Windows 8.1 or 7 for your gaming PC?

Windows 8.1 is the best option

While some might not like change, Windows 8.1 is no where as bad as Windows 8 was. Sure, it forces you to re-learn how to do some things, but if you give yourself some time to learn the new functions, new shortcuts and such, you’ll feel at home sooner than later.

Windows 8.1 boots and shutdowns faster than Windows 7.
File transfers are also quicker.
Windows 8.1 also uses less resources than Windows 7.

From a performance point of view, Windows 8.1 is easy to recommend. You will get higher performance in games from Windows 8.1.

From an usability point of view, it is a departure from the previous versions of Windows and I understand that not everyone is comfortable with learning how to use a new OS. If you’re willing to put in some time to learn how to use Windows 8.1, it can certainly be a worthwhile experience. If not, Windows 7 is a perfectly fine alternative that will run smoothly on your PC.

If you’re interested in Windows 8.1, there are two versions that are available. For most of you, the standard, non-pro version will do the job.

Recommended Windows 8.1 books
If you’re going to use Windows 8.1 for the first time, you may feel a bit lost at first. Here are two books to help you navigate and use Windows 8.1 to its full potential.

For beginners, I recommend Windows 8.1 For Dummies.

For more advanced users, I recommend Windows 8.1 Inside Out.

Windows 7

Windows 7 will be supported (read: updated) by Microsoft until 2020, so if you prefer to avoid/skip Windows 8.1, Windows 7 is a perfectly acceptable alternative.

Tier 9, 10, 11 and 12:

Avoid Windows 7 Home Premium: It only supports up to 16GB of RAM, which is NOT enough for Tier 9 to 12.

Three Available Versions:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium: The basic edition, limited to a maximum of 16GB of RAM.
  • Windows 7 Professional: If you want the virtual XP mode, you’ll need at least the Professional edition. Also required if you want to backup to a network, using the built-in backup mode in Windows. Also good to know: You’ll need at least the pro version to take advantage of Remote Desktop Connection.
  • Windows 7 Ultimate: To help protect data on your PC and portable storage devices against loss or theft with BitLocker and to work and switch between 35 languages.

OEM Versions:

Important note regarding compatibility:
Note that to boot to Windows 7, you need to disable secure boot in the BIOS/UEFI menu, as secure boot is only supported by Windows 8/8.1.

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Linux

Linux is gaining more and more support as a Gaming OS and while many games still only run on Windows, there are a growing selection of titles that are available for Linux or that can run on Linux with some work.

There are nearly 1000 titles available on the Steam platform and The Humble Indie Bundle has helped a lot to push gaming on Linux.

That said, unfortunately SLI and Crossfire support under Linux is poor at best.

For the best gaming performance, you’re better off avoiding Linux and going with Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.

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Conclusion

What do you think of the latest version of the Extreme Gaming PCs?

Let me know if you have any suggestion to improve this article and let me know your opinion by leaving a comment below.

Don’t agree with my choices? Have a better idea?

Feel free to leave a comment. There’s always place for improvement and after some research I may change the part according to your suggestion.

Building this PC?

If you build this system, I invite you to share your experience on how well it runs: What applications do you use, what type of work do you do, how well does this PC performs, is there anything that slows it down? Your feedback will help other people make an informed decision on what to buy for their own needs.

Do you need a guide on how to build a computer, need help or do you have some questions?

 

Build your Gaming PC today!

Why should you?
For the same price, you’ll get more performance out of your custom PC, or you’ll save money while getting the same performance compared to a retail PC. Not to mention that retail PCs come with tons of bloatware and limited warranties. Why settle for less?

Stop relying on HP, Dell and other companies:
Build your own custom PC today.
It’s easier than you think!

This Build includes all the parts/cables that you need and it was double-checked to ensure compatibility. Simply order your parts, set aside some time, grab a screwdriver and build your own personal PC. No worries, I’ll be there to assist you if you have questions or need help.

Then you’ll be able to say, “See that computer over there? Yeah, I built that.” Talk about being proud of a job well done.

Want or need a less expensive Gaming PC? No problem.

If you’re looking for a Gaming PC that costs less than these Extreme Gaming PCs and that can still handle most of the latest video games at a 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution at or close to their maximum graphic settings, head over to our Mid-range / high performance Gaming PCs article.

If you’re looking for a Gaming PC on a tight budget, head over to our Budget Gaming PCs article.

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Category: Gaming PC

About Mathieu Bourgie: HR Founder - Computer expert with over 14 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying PCs. Over the years, I’ve developed a passion for PC hardware and now I enjoy helping others build their own PCs! In April 2008, I launched Hardware Revolution and ... Read more at my about page .

  • Curtis Schneider

    Is there a Tier 12 motherboard that’s compatible with the Noctua NH-D15 CPU cooler? I think I’m looking for something that has a PCIe 1x in the first PCIe space but can still support a 16x/8x/8x/8x setup for the video cards. Or something that has the first PCIe 16x slot far enough away from the CPU socket. I’ve done a bit of looking myself but can’t seem to find a motherboard to fit those specs.

    • https://www.facebook.com/Mathieu.HR MathieuB

      There’s simply no X99 motherboard that exists that fits those specs, as far as I know.