High-End Gaming PCs v3.7: Now with International Shipping and Lower Prices!

| May 14, 2014 | (16)

Updated on May 14th 2014

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 a high-end 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.

Thermaltake Core V71

The Thermaltake Core V71, the main recommended case for the High-End Gaming PCs. Mind you, if you don’t like it, I suggest many alternative cases ;)

4 Reasons to choose Hardware Revolution’s High-End Gaming PCs:

1. Unsurpassed Performance!

1. Every single part part is hand-picked to ensure chosen for the best performance possible at a given price.
2. All of the Tiers are equipped with SSDs (Solid State Drives), which makes your PC feel more responsive and make Windows/games/programs launch faster.
3. Equipped with powerful video cards, to let you play pretty much any game maxed out at 1920 x 1080, 2560 x 1600, 3840 x 2160 or even on multiple monitors.

2. Top-notch reliability:

High quality power supply, a case with enough airflow to handle this high-end hardware, a high-end CPU Cooler that keeps temperatures low.
Every single part is hand-picked by a professional with 13 years of experience, to guarantee that this PC is as unlikely to fail as possible. The PCs feature a top-notch dependable electrical power supply, a case with superior ventilation and an excellent CPU Cooler, so that your PC can handle the most demanding workloads and so that it will last you many years.

3. Ready for safe overclocking:

Equipped with a dependable power supply, a motherboard with enhanced power delivery, a case with superior airflow, a high-end CPU Cooler and CPUs with unlocked multiplier, every Tier of the High-End Gaming PCs is ready to be safely be overclocked if you want to.

4. 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, so you can effortlessly customize your PC.

Choose Your PC Performance (Tier):

There are three level of performance (tiers) recommended in this article.
The Tiers are color coded AND indicated by numbers (8, 9 and 10).

Tier 8 (Identified by a Red color): $2576

Tier 8 is our baseline High-End Gaming PC, featuring two Radeon R9 290 video card in Crossfire, an Intel Core i7-4820K Quad-Core CPU and a 500GB SSD. Ideal for 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) or 2560 x 1440/1600 Gaming.

Tier 9 (Identified by a Fuchsia color): $3104

Tier 9 takes performance by a few notches, with the Intel Core i7-4930K six-core CPU, two Radeon R9 290X in Crossfire and a larger 750GB SSD. Perfect if you want a powerful Gaming PC that doubles as a Workstation. Ideal for 3840 x 2160 (4K) Gaming.

Tier 10 (Identified by a Dark Red color): $4999

Our most powerful Gaming PC Tier available, with 3 Geforce GTX 780 Ti in a 3-Way SLI and the fastest consumer CPU from Intel, the Core i7-4960X. With 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. Ideal for a triple 2560 x 1440/1600 monitor or a two 3840 x 2160 monitor setup.

Need a Tier recommendation for a specific video game?

Ask us on the forums: Tell us about the video game, 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 or HDTV that you’ll use.

Recommended Parts Summary:

Main recommendations, upgrades and alternatives:

1. Recommended Components are in Bold, with one or more color(s) for the Tier(s).
2. Suggested Alternatives and Upgrades are in Italic. You can upgrade as many parts as you want to, including parts from higher Tiers.
3. All Parts are interchangeable/compatible with each other.

High-End Gaming PCs Tiers:
Tier 8 (In Red): Intel Quad-Core CPU, 2x Radeon R290, 16GB RAM, 500GB SSD
Tier 9 (In Fuchsia): Intel Six-Core CPU, 2x GTX 780 Ti, 16GB RAM, 750GB SSD
Tier 10 (In Dark Red): Intel Core i7-4960X, 3 x GTX 780 Ti, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD
Click on a component’s name (e.g. CPU) to jump to the detailed section of it.
Price
$2576
$3104
$4999
CPU
Tier 8: Intel Core i7-4820K LGA2011 Quad-Core 10MB L3 3.7-3.9GHz
Tier 9: Intel Core i7-4930K LGA2011 Six-Core 12MB L3 3.4-3.9GHz
Tier 10: Intel Core i7-4960X LGA2011 Six-Core 15MB L3 3.6-4GHz
-
$311
$580
$1050
Motherboard
All Tiers: ASUS X79 DELUXE LGA 2011 Ivy Bridge-E Ready ATX
-
$329
RAM
Tier 8-9: G.Skill 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 2133MHz
Tier 10: G.Skill 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3 2133MHz 1.6v
G.SKILL 64GB (8 x 8GB) DDR3 2133MHz 1.6v
-
$160
$310

$680
Video Card
Tier 8: Two Sapphire Radeon R9 290 4GB Triple Fan in Crossfire
Tier 9: Two Sapphire Radeon R9 290X 4GB Triple Fan in Crossfire
Tier 10: Three EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked 3GB 3-Way SLI
-
$880
$1020
$2160
Storage
SSD (Solid State Drive):
SAMSUNG 840 EVO 250GB SATA III SSD
Tier 8: SAMSUNG 840 EVO 500GB SATA III SSD
Tier 9: SAMSUNG 840 EVO 750GB SATA III SSD
Tier 10: SAMSUNG 840 EVO 1TB SATA III SSD
Hard Drive:
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 5 yrs war. WD1003FZEX
All Tiers: Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 5 yrs war. WD2003FZEX
Western Digital Caviar Black 3TB 5 yrs war. WD3003FZEX
Western Digital Caviar Black 4TB 5 yrs war. WD4003FZEX
-
-
$139
$250
$360
$495
-
$79
$145
$188
$244
Optical Drive
All Tiers: ASUS SATA 24X DVD Burner
LG Black 16X SATA Blu-Ray/CD/DVD Burner
-
$23

$70
Power Supply
Tier 8: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000W P2 80 PLUS Platinum Modular
Tier 9-10: EVGA SuperNOVA 1300W G2 80PLUS Gold Modular
-
$189
$195
Case
All Tiers: Thermaltake Core V71 Extreme 3x200mm+1x140mm case 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
All Tiers: Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 CPU Cooler
Sunbeamtech Fan Controller, 6 Channels, Up to 30W each
-
$70
$28
Sound:
Sound card:
All Tiers: Sound Blaster Omni 5.1 USB Sound Card
Speakers:
2.0 (2 satellites no sub-woofer)
Creative Inspire T12 2.0 18W
Creative Gigaworks T20 Series II 2.0 28W
2.1 (2 satellites + sub-woofer):
Creative A220 2.1 9W
Logitech Z313 2.1 25W
Logitech Z323 2.1 30W
Logitech Z523 2.1 40W
Logitech Z623 2.1 200W
Corsair SP2500 2.1 232W
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
Grado SR-60i
Grado SR-80i
Audio Technica ATH-AD700
Grado SR225i
Sennheiser HD 598
Grado SR325is
Closed Design Headphones:
Koss UR-20
Panasonic RP-HTX7 (Available in Black, Red, White, Pink and Green)
Audio-Technica ATH-M30
Shure SRH440
Audio Technica ATH-A700
Audio Technica ATH-M50S (Straight 10ft Cable)
Audio-Technica ATH-M50 (Coiled Cable)
Sennheiser HD25-1 II
In-Ear Headphones:
Logitech Ultimate Ears 200
Sony MDREX310LP
Etymotic ER-4P
Microphone:
Syba 3.5mm microphone with stand
Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone
Headsets:
Yapster TM-YP100A
Koss SB-45
Corsair Vengeance 1100
Sennheiser PC 151
Razer Moray Plus
ARCTIC Sound P531
SteelSeries Siberia V2
Logitech G35
Creative Sound Blaster Tactic 3D Wrath Wireless
Logitech G930
-
-
$72

-
-
$47
$82
-
$30
$44
$60
$75
$124
$230
-
$85
$340
-
-
$16
$32
$53
$79
$99
$100
$200
$249
$295
-
$17
$36
$37
$90
$130
$114
$119
$200
-
$12
$90
$249
-
$9
$55
-
$16
$31
$37
$48
$58
$50
$90
$90
$120
$98
Network
All Tiers: Dual Ethernet 10/100/1000Mbps on the motherboard
Wireless adapters:
All Tiers: WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 included with motherboard
Wireless Routers:
NETGEAR AC1600 Dual Band Wi-Fi R6250
NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band USB 3.0
-
Free

-
Free
-
$130
$192

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:

Motherboard:

Tier 8, 9 and 10:

ASUS X79 DELUXE LGA 2011 Ivy Bridge-E Ready ATX:

- $329 at Amazon (USA)
- $329 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why did I pick this motherboard for Tiers 8, 9 and 10:

Unfortunately, most older LGA2011 motherboards that were launched with the older LGA2011 Core i7-3xxx series of CPUs require a firmware update before they can work with the new LGA2011 Core i7-4xxx series of CPUs.

The ASUS X79 Deluxe doesn’t have that problem, it’s compatible with the Core i7-3xxx and 4xxx CPUs out of the box.

Features:

  1. Support for up to three video cards in SLI or Crossfire, with 16x/16x or 16x/8x/8x PCI-Express 16x 3.0 bandwidth.
  2. Eight RAM slots, for a maximum of 64GB (8x8GB) of RAM.
  3. Top-notch onboard audio with Realtek high-end ALC1150 audio chipset. 7.1 support and S/PDIF out.
  4. WiFi support: Latest generation 802.11 ac
  5. Bluetooth
  6. Two LAN ports. Ideal for additional networking needs, such as using a NAS (Network Attached Storage) Unit.
  7. 8x SATA 6Gbps ports and 4x SATA 3Gbps ports, for a total of twelve SATA ports.
  8. 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.
  9. Two E-SATA ports.
  10. Power and Reset buttons on the motherboard, allowing you to easily test 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 six fan connectors (Six 4 pins).
  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: 4x USB 2.0, 6x USB 3.0 (Two more on the front of the case with the USB 3.0 header), 2x E-SATA, 2x 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ-45 LAN, Wifi, 5 audi0 ports (for 7.1 sound) and Optical S/PDIF Out.
  • Expansion slots: Three PCI-Express 3.0 16x slots (16x/16x or 16x/8x/8x), one PCI-Express 16x 3.0 slot (runs at 4x) and two PCI-Express 1x slots.
  • Other connectors/features on the motherboard: Six fan connectors (Two 4 pins, four 3 pins), eight SATA 6.0Gb/s, four SATA 3.0Gb/s, power and reset buttons, USB 3.0 header (to be used with included bracket), two USB 2.0 headers (for up to four USB 2.0 ports coming from the headers in total).
  • Included in the box: Motherboard, ten SATA cables, two-way and three-way SLI dongles, WiFi Adapter, I/O backplate, ASUS Q connectors, manual and CD.

Click here to go back up to parts summary

CPU:

Tier 8

Intel Core i7-4820K LGA2011 Quad-Core 10MB L3 3.7-3.9GHz:

- $310.99 at Amazon (USA)
- $355.95 at B&H (International Shipping)

The Core i7-4820K is the quad-core variant of the LGA2011 Ivy Bridge-E architecture.

Those who take their overclocking seriously will be better served with a Core i7-4820K. Compared to the Core i7-4770K (Haswell), it very slightly slower clock-per-clock, and consume more power, but it offers more overclocking potential and it runs cooler when overclocked.

It also offers quad-channel RAM support, a larger L3 cache and support for PCI-Express 3.0 16x/16x thus offering more bandwidth to video cards in Crossfire or SLI.

Do note that the Core i7-4820K does not include an Intel stock CPU Cooler, which doesn’t matter mind you, since I recommend an after-market CPU Cooler, for low-noise and overclocking potential.

Tier 9:

Intel Core i7-4930K LGA2011 Six-Core 12MB L3 3.4-3.9GHz:

- $579.99 at Amazon (USA)
- $623.95 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why am I recommending the Core i7-4930K over the Core i7-4820K for Tier 9?
Gaming performance wise, the Core i7-3770k usually has a slight edge (5-10%) over the Core i7-3930K, thanks to the Ivy Bridge CPu architecture improvements, although some games run just as well on the Core i7-3930K, if not even better in a few cases.

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 i7-4930K offer substantially more performance over the Core i7-4820K in many applications, 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 i7-4930K is an excellent choice and a great upgrade if you are using Tier 8 as the basis of your build. It’s also an excellent lower-cost alternative to Tier 10′s CPU, offering nearly as much performance for far less money.

Do note that the Core i7-4930K also does not include an Intel stock CPU Cooler, which doesn’t matter mind you, since I recommend an after-market CPU Cooler, for low-noise and overclocking potential.

Click here to go back up to parts summary

Tier 10:

Intel Core i7-4960X LGA2011 Six-Core 15MB L3 3.6-4GHz:

- $1,049.99 at Amazon (USA)
- $1,111.95 at B&H (International Shipping)

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

The Intel Core i7-4960X 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.

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 i7-4960X also does not include an Intel stock CPU Cooler, which doesn’t matter mind you, since I recommend an after-market CPU Cooler, for low-noise and overclocking potential.

Click here to go back up to parts summary

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).
  • 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 connectors for your video cards.

Tier 8:

At Amazon (USA): $880 – Two Sapphire Radeon R9 290 4GB Triple Fan in Crossfire
At B&H (International Shipping): $860 – Two XFX Radeon R9 290 4GB Dual Fan in Crossfire

Upside: Performance, no more Crossfire bridge, no more micro-shuttering
Offering far higher performance overall than the fastest single-GPU video card, the $700+ Geforce GTX 780 Ti, two Radeon R9 290 in Crossfire are a force to be reckoned with.

  1. Crossfire bridges are a thing of the past with the R9 290, as it uses the PCI-Express 16x port to communicate with the other card(s).
  2. Micro-shuttering issues that are plaguing older generation of Radeon cards (7970, 7950, etc.) running in Crossfire were fixed with hardware frame pacing with the R9 290, so this is not an issue for newer cards.
  3. Thanks to an efficient triple-fan cooling system, noise and temperatures are kept at relatively reasonables level.

The downside: Power consumption
Two Radeon R9 290 in Crossfire will consume a lot of power, but that’s the price to pay for a powerful configuration. Rest assured that the power supply and the rest of PC can easily handle the high power consumption.

What settings can this setup handle?
Two R9 290 in Crossfire will have no problem running the latest games maxed out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) or 2560 x 1440/1600. You might have to slightly lower settings at 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD/4K) or with a triple 1080p monitor setup.

Tier 9:

At Amazon (USA): $1020 – Two Sapphire Radeon R9 290X 4GB Triple Fan in Crossfire
At B&H (International Shipping): $1134 – Two XFX Radeon R9 290X 4GB Dual Fan in Crossfire

For version 3.7 of the High-End Gaming PCs, I’m replacing the two Geforce GTX 780 Ti in SLI with the two Radeon R9 290X in Crossfire.

Why?
Because the two R9 290X in Crossfire offers similar performance to two Geforce GTX 780 Ti in SLI, while costing $265 less ($1115 vs $1380)!

Wait, isn’t the Geforce GTX 780 Ti faster than the Radeon R9 290X?
A single Geforce GTX 780 Ti is indeed slightly faster than the Radeon R9 290X. However, when it comes to multiple cards performance, they trade blows, due to AMD’s better performance scaling with multiple cards.

What settings can this setup handle?
Two Radeon R9 290X in Crossfire will have no problem running the latest games maxed out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), 2560 x 1440/1600. 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 might require you to slightly lower settings.

For a triple 2560 x 1440/1600 monitor setup (11.1/12.3 Megapixels) or two 3840 x 2160 monitor setup (16.6MP), I highly recommend upgrading to a three Geforce GTX 780 Ti in a Three-Way SLI setup as recommended for Tier 10.

Tier 10:

At Amazon (USA): $2154 – Three EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked 3GB in a Three-Way SLI
At B&H (International Shipping): $2099.85 – Three EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB in a Three-Way SLI

If you want the best performance possible, without consideration for price nor power consumption, three Geforce GTX 780 Ti in Three-Way SLI are the way to go.

For a triple 2560 x 1440/1600 monitor setup (11.1/12.3 Megapixels) or a two 3840 x 2160 monitor setup (16.6MP), this is what I recommend.

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.

Why not get three Radeon R9 290 in Crossfire?
While in theory performance would be similar to three EVGA Geforce GTX 780 Ti in a Three-Way SLI and the price would be lower, three air-cooled R9 290 are too likely to overheat due to the nature of their open air coolers that exhaust the hot air inside of the case. The Geforce GTX 780 Ti, with its blower cooler, exhausts the hot air outside of the case, so it doesn’t have that problem.

What settings can this setup handle?
Three Geforce GTX 780 Ti in a Three-Way SLI will easily run the latest games maxed out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) or 2560 x 1440/1600, same with games at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD/4K) and a triple 1080p monitor setup (6.2MP).

You should also be able to max out or run at high settings with games on a triple 2560 x 1440/1600 monitor setup (11.1/12.3 Megapixels) and with slightly lower settings (lower AA/AF) for a two 3840 x 2160 monitor setup (16.6MP).

Click here to go back up to parts summary

RAM:

Tiers 8-9:

At Newegg (USA): $159.99 – G.Skill 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 2133MHz
At B&H (International Shipping): $195.95 – Patriot 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 2133MHz

Tier 8, 9 and 10 feature a quad-channel RAM motherboard, so for maximum performance, I’m recommending a quad-channel kit with four RAM sticks. Note that you’ll have four free RAM slots on your motherboard, so you can add 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.

Want more RAM? Scroll down for our recommendations.

Tier 10:

At Newegg (USA): $309.99 – G.Skill 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3 2133MHz 1.6v
At B&H (International Shipping): $339.95 – Patriot 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3 2133MHz 1.5v

For our most powerful Gaming PC Tier, we recommend 32GB of RAM, so that it can handle anything that you want to throw at it, for many years, without slowing down.

Maximum amount of RAM:
The LGA2011 motherboard in this guide supports eight sticks of RAM, for a maximum of 64GB (8x8GB) of RAM.

Upgrades:

If you want to max out your memory with 64GB of RAM on eight RAM sticks, get the following kit: $679.99 – G.SKILL 64GB (8 x 8GB) DDR3 2133MHz 1.6v

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 from other manufacturers:
I recommend high-performance RAM from reliable brands at the best price possible. If the recommendations are out of stock or not available to you, look for alternatives from Corsair, Crucial, G.Skill, Kingston, Mushkin or Patriot. Here’s what you need to make sure that it’s compatible: DDR3, 2133MHz (Frequency), Four or Eight sticks of RAM (avoid dual-channel kits with two sticks, as performance will drop) so 4x4GB, 4x8GB or 8x8GB.

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Storage:

  • Quick tip #1: Get the most performance out of your SSD, by selecting AHCI in your BIOS/UEFI options. Unless you use multiple SSD or HDD in RAID that is, in which case you want to select RAID.
  • Quick tip #2: Save storage capacity on your SSD by moving your documents default location to your hard drive. See this tutorial on the forums for instructions on how to do so. It’s pretty simple.

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 840 EVO 500GB SATA III SSD:

- $249.95 at Amazon (USA)
- $269.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Why am I recommending the Samsung 840 EVO SSD?

  1. Samsung SSD’s reliability is unmatched. (according to hardware.fr, according to a French e-tailer as of May 2014)
  2. Samsung 840 EVO SSDs offer top-notch performance. While not the fastest SSD on the market, they consistently rank amongst the best.
  3. The lowest price per GB for a high-performance SSD, at $0.50/GB for the 500GB model, $0.48/GB for the 750GB model and $0.49/GB for the 1TB model!

Simply put, the Samsung 840 EVO offers high performance, unmatched reliability at unbeatable prices and capacities up to 1TB.

Less expensive alternative:
If you don’t need 500GB of storage capacity on your SSD, the $139 – SAMSUNG 840 EVO 250GB SATA III SSD costs quite a bit less than the 500GB model.

Tier 9:

SAMSUNG 840 EVO 750GB SATA III SSD

- $360 at B&H (International Shipping)

For Tier 9, we’re bumping the SSD storage capacity to 750GB.

A mere $0.48 per GB.

Tier 10:

SAMSUNG 840 EVO 1TB SATA III SSD

- $494.99 at Amazon (USA)
- $494.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

For Tier 10, we’re bumping the total SSD storage capacity to 1TB.

A mere $0.49 per GB.

With 1TB to play with on your SSD and 2TB on the hard drive, I doubt that you’ll run out of space anytime soon. ;)

Hard Drives:

All Tiers:

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 5 years warranty WD2003FZEX

- $144.99 at Amazon (USA)
- $146.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Western Digital launched an update to their Black line-up of hard drive, 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, 750GB or 1TB SSD to store the OS and programs/games that need the extra performance.

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

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

- 1TB (WD1003FZEX): $79.24 at Amazon (USA) or $79.99 at B&H (International Shipping)
- 3TB (WD3003FZEX): $187.99 at Amazon (USA) or $187.99 at B&H (International Shipping)
- 4TB (WD4003FZEX): $243.99 at Amazon (USA) or $245.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

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 motherboard in this guide includes ten SATA cables, so for the vast majority of you, that will be enough. You’ll need one SATA cable for your optical drive, one for the hard drive and one for your SSD.
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Optical Drive:

All Tiers:

ASUS SATA 24X DVD Burner

- $22.79 at Amazon (USA)
- $26.95 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.

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.

The motherboard includes ten SATA cables, of which one will be used for the hard drive, one for the SSD and one for this DVD Burner, so there’s no need to worry about cables.

Upgrades:
If you want the ability to burn Blu-Ray disks, then the $69 – LG Black 16X SATA Blu-Ray/CD/DVD Burner is what you want.

Software required for Blu-Ray playback:

As far as I know, you still require a specific software to playback Blu-Ray disks on a PC, it is not natively supported by Windows.

Based on various reviews and feedback on various forums, PowerDVD 14 Ultra 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.

It is fully compatible with Windows 7/8/8.1 and shouldn’t give you any problems.
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Case:

All Tiers

Thermaltake Core V71 Extreme:

- $149.99 at Newegg (USA)
- $136.77 at B&H (International Shipping)

With two video cards for Tier 8 and 9 and three video cards for Tier 10, 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, as well as many great features!

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

- 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. Fan Speed & Light Control Knob – fan speed & color mode controller.
  7. Tool-free drive bay installation.
  8. Good user manual makes installation easier.
  9. No problem supporting large aftermarket CPU coolers (max 185mm height).
  10. Included 8-pin extension cable.
  11. Full dust filter coverage.
  12. It’s also great for high-end water cooling with support for a front 360/420mm radiator, a top 360/420mm radiator and a bottom 120/240mm radiator.

Alternatives available in the USA: (Scroll down for Internationally available alternatives)
Pretty much any of these 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.

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.

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.

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Alternatives Internationally:
Pretty much any of these 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.

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.

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
  • $136.78 – Thermaltake Core V71 – 3 x 200mm +1x140mm case fans. Tool-less, rubber grommets and space behind the motherboard for cable routing. 2x USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0. Fan Speed & Light Control Knob – fan speed & color mode controller.

Power Supply:

Tier 8:

EVGA SuperNOVA 1000W P2 80PLUS Platinum Modular

- $188.99 at Amazon (USA)
- $188.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

This power supply is capable of delivering up to 1000W, 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 83.3A on the 12V line, the most important factor when it comes to choosing a power supply for a gaming computer.

It is 80 Plus Platinum 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.

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!

80 PLUS?
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

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, that are resulting in less of a cable mess.

Tier 9 and 10:

EVGA SuperNOVA 1300W G2 80PLUS Gold Modular

- $194.49 at Amazon (USA)
- $204.95 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.

Power Consumption:

How to calculate power consumption:
I recommend using the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator. Here are the settings that I used:

      • For Tier 8: Core i7-4820K overclocked to 4.5GHz, 1.3v Vcore voltage, 90% TDP
      • For Tier 9: Core i7-4930K overclocked to 4.3GHz, 1.3v Vcore voltage, 90% TDP
      • For Tier 10: Core i7-4960X 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 8 sticks, add 15W)
      • One regular SATA hard drives + 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)

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 personnal experience (over 13 years) and some additional research on my own to verify these numbers. This is why you may notice that the numbers that I give below may or may not match what the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator gives you. When in doubt, stick with my numbers or ask us on the forums.

Give your power supply some overhead:
While you can match a 650W PSU with a 630W requirement, it is good practice to add at least 100W of overhead, so that your PSU doesn’t run at full capacity all the time, as that will reduce its lifespan, increase its chance of failure, reduce its efficiency, increase its heat output and its noise output.

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. 870W/1000W with the Core i7 4820K (4.5GHz/1.30v) and two Radeon R9 290 in Crossfire (Tier 8)
      2. 985W/1100W with the Core i7 4930K (4.3GHz/1.30v) and two Radeon R9 290X in Crossfire. (Tier 9)
      3. 1100W/1200W with the Core i7 4960X (4.3GHz/1.30v) and three Geforce GTX 780 Ti in a Three-Way SLI. (Tier 10)

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Cooling:

CPU Cooler:

All Tiers:

Noctua 6 Dual Heatpipe with 140mm/120mm Dual SSO Bearing Fans CPU Cooler NH-D14 - Retail$70 – Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 CPU Cooler

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

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

Because it excels at one thing:
It offers outstanding cooling performance, while making not much noise.

The Noctua NH-D14 is considered one of the, if not THE best CPU Cooler on the market, outside of $250+ custom water-cooling setups.

Why not go with a liquid-cooling CPU Cooler, such as the Corsair H100?
There are a few reasons not to go with a liquid-cooling CPU Cooler:
- Similar or slightly better cooling performance, but with a much higher noise level, compared to high-end air CPU coolers.
- Higher cost ($100+ vs ~$75 for high-end air CPU Cooler)
- More possible points of failure (pump, tubing and fans vs only fans)
- Risk of a leak, which can damage many other components!

In the end, a high-end air CPU Cooler is less likely to fail, cannot possibly leak liquid/damage other components, offers similar cooling performance with less noise and costs less.

Internationally available alternative:
The $66.95 – ZALMAN CNPS10X Extreme offers nearly as good performance as the Noctua NH-D14 and is available from B&H with International Shipping.

Thermal Compound

The recommended 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:

SUNBEAMTECH PL-RS-6 RHEOSMART 6 FAN CONTROLLER$28 – Sunbeamtech 5.25″ Fan Controller, 6 Channels, Up to 30W each

If you pick a case without an integrated fan controller, the $28 – Sunbeamtech Fan Controller, 6 Channels, Up to 30W each will allow you to control up to six fans by default or even more if you use y-splitters and the like.

This fan controller is capable of handling six channels (with several fans by channel if you daisy-chain them), with 30W (2.5A at 12V) available per channel.

It fits in a 5.25″ drive bay.

Note that the recommended case has an integrated fan controller.

If you want an alternative that’s available outside the USA, the $17.95 Thermaltake COMMANDER F5 is a decent alternative that’s available from B&H with International Shipping.

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Sound Card:

All Tiers:
Sound Blaster Omni 5.1 USB Sound Card

- $72.19 at Amazon (USA)
- $79.99 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 Tier 10 and its three video cards, I recommend a USB sound card.

The Sound Blaster Omni is a fairly new model from Creative, with built-in dual microphone array, customizable SBX Pro Studio audio technologies, and a studio-grade 600 ohm headphone amplifier.

Ports wise, you get gold plated Line-In, Mic In, Headphone/Speaker as well as RCA left/right, Rear and Center/Sub. You also get an optical 5.1 out if you want to connect your home theater sound system with an optical cable.

Of course, I’m sure that you saw the big red volume knob ;)

Considering that audio is a big part of your Gaming PC experience, I believe that $70, or a small % of your total budget, is entirely worth it to improve your PC audio quality, whether it’s for gaming, music 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 and that how much you are willing to spend on your speakers is up to you, 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.

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 and 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 and out of the headphones.
2- You can enjoy exclusive audio entertainment particularly in a typically noisy environment.

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.

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.

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.

Microphone:

Note that the sound card has a built-in dual microphone array.

If you still want a dedicated microphone, to talk to your teammates online or for any other purpose, I recommend the $9 – Syba 3.5mm microphone with stand, which is an excellent low-cost option with perfectly fine audio quality and build quality (Well, unless you have an habit of throwing your microphone around after losing a game… :D ).

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 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…), 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 that you don’t have to replace.

However, if you do high quality broadcasts such as podcasts, or you record music I recommend the $55 – Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone which gives excellent sound quality for only $55.

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.

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Network:

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

You have two Ethernet ports that are integrated on the motherboard, one from Intel and one from Realtek.

The Ethernet RJ-45 network adapters will allow you to access your local network, Internet, a NAS, etc., using a standard LAN cable.

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

Note that the recommended motherboard has an integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac 867Mbps wireless adapter.

You also get Bluetooth 4.0.

Recommended wireless routers:
Need a wireless router too? No problem. Here are my recommendations, in an ascending order of performance and price:

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 one year ago, Windows 8 is 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 colourful tiles and a look often referred to as “Metro”.

Windows 8 was recently 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?

While some might not like change, Windows 8.1 is no where as bad as it may seem. 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.

Windows 8 has been out for a year and 8.1 just came out, meaning that most bugs have been fixed by now.

From a performance point of view, Windows 8.1 is easy to recommend. 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 three versions that are available:

Highly recommended: Windows 8 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 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.

Three Available Versions:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium: The basic edition, with all the looks, most of the functionality and DirectX 11.
  • 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 secure boot:
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.

Wine is an application that allows you to run Windows programs on Linux, including games of course. The Wine Application Database has a list of the games that run smoothly or with minimal/minor issues through Wine.

Crossover: Run the most popular Windows games/programs on Linux

Crossover allows you to play popular games, such as WoW, Diablo III, Starcraft II, Skyrim, Civ 5, Guild Wars, Portal 2, Rift, Team Fortress 2 and more on Linux.

Open source games and source ports are also a good way to play games on Linux.

Steam is more Linux friendly than ever, with many games that have been or will be ported to run on Linux.

There are a large variety of distributions (variants) of Linux, each with its pros and cons. Ubuntu is the most popular and arguably the most supported. For more information on other distribution of Linux and their latest version, visit Distrowatch.com,

If you need assistance with Linux, LinuxQuestions.org is a good place to start.

While Linux does not offer the wide compatibility of Windows with video games, gaming on Linux is still possible, through projects such as Wine, . For more on the topic of Linux Gaming, I invite you to read this excellent article from AnandTech: Linux Gaming: Are we there yet?

What about Word processing, Excel and other Windows-based programs that you need? Linux, being an open platform, has many free alternatives for you. For Word/Excel and such, try LibreOffice.
Cost: Free

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Conclusion

What do you think of the latest version of the High-End 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?

Join us on our forums!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article, feel free to leave a comment below and remember, you can join us on our forums to discuss with everyone else the build that you’re planning to build, ask your questions and join our helpful community!

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, we’ll (the HR community) 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 High-End 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 Mainstream 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 13 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 .

  • Ram

    you are the best ..great post no one shared like this

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

      Cheers, thank you for your kind words, that’s always fun to hear.

      Indeed, sharing and word of mouth is the best way to thank me for the articles!

  • Anonym

    why you dont use gtx titan black or titan z for graphic card?? cause they are better than gtx 780 ti

    • Anonym

      i mean like 3 titan black…

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

        Titan Black is barely if not at all faster in video games and costs a lot more. You’re basically wasting your money.

        Titan Z is a dual-GPU video card running at lower frequencies. Meaning that a single Titan Z is slower than two Geforce GTX 780 Ti.

        SLI doesn’t scale well beyond three cards, meaning that two Titan Z (four GPUs) will not necessarily outperform three Geforce GTX 780 Ti in a Three-Way SLI, it most likely will end up being slower. Oh yeah, did I mention the cost or lack of availability?

        • Anonym

          thanks for your information…

          you mention both :P

  • Anonym

    and the hard drive… seagate already launch a 6tb hdd… maybe you can add it as an option…

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

      Good idea. Thanks.

  • Matt K

    One observation: For RAM you suggest sticks that are 2133 Mhz, but the default of the MB is to operate them at 1600 Mhz. So are you implying that anyone following this guideline know how and/or will overclock the RAM or is it a case of RAM running at 1600 is better on 2133 sticks and not 1600mhz sticks? I built something between your Tier 9 and Tier 10 recommendations, and use the G Skill RAM (8x8G 2400Mhz)…..

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

      Matt,

      The motherboard supports RAM frequency up to 2800MHz and the RAM has been certified to be able to run at 2133MHz.

      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 frequency.

      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.

      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. – See more at:
      http://www.hardware-revolution.com/high-end-gaming-pc-international-shipping/#disqus_thread

  • Mackenzie

    Do you recommend Asus x79 deluxe over the Rampage Black? Why?
    If you are going for a 3 monitor setup what monitor would you suggest?

  • HairyMilkshakes

    Mathieu, will you update the list of hardware for the fall? I am expecting a price drop as most manufacturers prepare for new rollouts towards the end of the year.

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

      Yes, I will.

  • Thiago Davoodifar

    I’ve done this kind of extensive research when building a computer in the past, thanks so much for saving me the effort this time around! This has convinced me to not cross over to the iMac out of laziness!

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

      Happy to hear that my article helped you out. If you want to thank me, feel free to share it with people that may be interested or leave a donation :)

  • Thatguy777

    Looking Forward to the new fall list. I am actually building my very first high end gaming pc based off of all your specs. I just got my coolmaster stomr stryker case 2 days ago and very excited to begin building.