$1,500 Build

Now updated with Intel's brand-new Kaby Lake platform!

Want to build the very best high-end gaming PC possible for $1,500? This guide will show you how! The system we profile here offers the perfect balance of CPU and GPU power, along with high-end yet cost-effective parts in every other category. The goal: maximum frames per dollar! And while you can certainly find plenty of other "PC part picks" all over the Internet, we actually buy and test just about every mainstream CPU, GPU, and RAM configuration on the market to make sure you're getting the absolute best combination of gear. Feel free to browse the many benchmarking articles in our Gamer's Bench section to learn more about the specific components we're recommending in this guide.

For our January 2017 build, there's still just one video card to consider: the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB. Despite having no competition in its price class, it's actually dropped around $50 over the past few months, making it a true bargain in the high-end space. It offers incredible performance at both 1920 x 1080 and 2560 x 1440 resolutions, while using very little power, meaning you can go easy on case cooling and power supply wattage. In the CPU department, we go with Intel's brand-new Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz quad-core processor, which boosts all the way up to 4.5GHz and can be overclocked far higher. Backing it up is a new motherboard featuring the cutting-edge Z270 chipset, offering unmatched compatibility with the latest standards. Also on the build list is a 500GB-class solid-state drive, which offers great performance for the OS and all your favorite apps and games. To hold your gear, our case of choice is the fabulous the Phanteks Enthoo Pro M, which will ensure that you've got both the best-performing and best-looking $1,500 PC on the planet!

Want to know how this system compares to all our other builds? Just check out our TBG PC Build Comparison Page. Need help building your system? Have no fear, because our step-by-step Guide to Assembling a High-End PC will help you put your new system together. If you still have questions, just post them in our Reader Forum. By the way, if you'd like to have your system featured in The Gallery once it's up and running, just let us know! 

We update this build monthly, as prices and components in this market change quite frequently, and a few dollars here or there could buy you a lot of performance. To see our past builds and prices, just flip over to the $1,500 Build Archive page. And if you're looking to outfit a whole new setup, see our Monitor Buyer's Guide and our Peripherals Buyer's Guide for recommendations in the monitor, keyboard, and mouse categories. 

We use Amazon's real-time pricing engine to give you the most up-to-date U.S. prices available, and we also include links to Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, and Amazon Germany, with regional substitutions made when necessary. Your use of these links ensures that we can continue to update this guide regularly.

The $1,500 High-End Gaming PC - January 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    Released on January 3rd, the Core i7-7700K based on the Kaby Lake architecture is now the best gaming CPU on the market. It offers a high 4.2GHz base clock, along with Turboboost to 4.4GHz with a full quad-core load, far higher than its predecessor the Core i7-6700K. And as with all Core i7 processors, it features Hyperthreading to accelerate modern well-threaded games. To see for yourself how much of a difference this makes, check out our Gaming CPU Shootout, pitting two Hyperthreaded processors against a standard non-Hyperthreaded quad-core.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Important note: while the 7700K can run on Z170 motherboards, they require a firmware update. As there's no way to guarantee that you're getting a Z170 board with the latest firmware, we cannot recommend these boards to buyers of the 7700K.

    Motherboard:

    Gigabyte GA-Z270XP-SLI

    Packed with great features at an amazingly-low price, this board is a perfect match for this build. Based on the brand-new Z270 chipset with all of Intel's latest updates, this board doesn't skimp on connectors. It has eight USB ports (including USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C varieties), a full array of PCIe slots, and a single M.2 slot supporting both standard SATA and high-end PCIe x4 SSDs. And of course, this board supports the Core i7-7700K out of the box, unlike many Z170 boards.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This is the lowest-cost Z270 board on the market that supports dual video cards in an SLI configuration, in case a massive GPU upgrade is in your future! To learn how dual GTX 1070 cards perform, see our hands-on benchmarks!

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 G1 8GB

    These are exciting times for gamers, as the GeForce GTX 1070 provides awesome gaming performance at a very reasonable price. It offers 25% higher performance than previous-gen cards at the same pricepoint. And with 8GB of onboard VRAM, it's equipped for the future of gaming, not just the present.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To learn how the GTX 1070 performs, check out our in-depth analysis of 4K Performance on the 1070 in single and dual-card SLI configurations!

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 White

    Because games and other applications can take serious advantage of RAM speed on Intel's latest platform, we're spec'ing an ultra-fast DDR4-3200 kit. Need more convincing that this is the right move? See our DDR4 gaming benchmark analysis! And we're now recommending 16GB of RAM, as we've found several games released in recent months taking up nearly 8GB on their own.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Due to a serious NAND chip shortage that's forcing production lines to switch away from DRAM used in PCs, RAM prices and supplies have been very much in flux, and are generally heading upwards. We're constantly updating this guide to find the best in-stock kit available at the best price.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial MX300 525GB M.2

    Solid-state drives are the future, and the future is here! SSDs make every aspect of using a computer better, from their silent operation, much faster boot times, and near-instant game loading times. This drive is among the best SATA-based drives on the market. Note that this M.2 version is super-easy to install, but does require that you have a jeweler's-type screwdriver.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The huge NAND chip shortage that has caused RAM prices to spike is doing the same thing to SSDs. We are constantly updating this build to make sure that the products we recommend still offer our readers a great value.

    Hard Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 1TB

    To provide bulk storage, we recommend the fast, quiet, and ultra-reliable Blue drive from WD.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Need even more space? Go with the Toshiba 3TB drive, which provides among the best capacity per dollar ratios of any drive on the market.

    Case:

    Phanteks Enthoo Pro M Acrylic Anthracite

    The Enthoo Pro M Acrylic offers fantastic features for the price, including dual 140mm fans (one in front, one in the rear), great craftmanship, and plenty of space for big video cards and CPU coolers, making it perfect for a serious gaming machine. And being a Phanteks, it offers an ultra-sleek exterior and interor design! We really like Phanteks' innovative modular approach to case design, which allows you to add optional hard drive trays only if you need them, keeping the case uncluttered if you don't. As shipped, the Pro M can hold one 2.5" drive plus two more 2.5"/3.5" drives, along with one optical drive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Want even more style? Well, Phanteks delivers it in the form of the brand-new Enthoo Pro M Tempered Glass Edition, which offers all the same features as the Acrylic Edition, but replaces the plastic panel with a solid glass panel.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova 550 GS

    EVGA has an absolute lock on the power supply market. Every member of the Supernova family beats the competition in terms of both performance and price, which has transformed EVGA into the market's leading power supply manufacturer in the matter of months. With the Supernova GS, you get top-rated efficiency, a fully-modular cable design for ease of installation, ultra-quiet operation (with a hybrid fan mode that only runs at load), along with a 5-year warranty. As with all EVGA products, it also comes backed by the best customer support in the business, bar none.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This 550W unit is more than sufficient for this system as configured, which will only draw about 250W at load based on our extensive testing of this exact setup!

    CPU Cooler:

    Thermalright Macho Rev. B

    If you want the best bang for the buck in a 140mm cooler, you want a Thermalright. And the Macho is among the very best models in the Thermalright lineup, able to vastly outperform 120mm-based coolers that sell for just a few dollars less.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To learn why we love it so much, check out how it did in our 140mm Cooler Shootout!

    Optical Drive:

    LG 24x DVD Burner GH24NSC0B

    This inexpensive drive from LG is a great addition to any build. Even if you don't use DVDs for backups anymore, having a DVD drive guarantees you can run software installer discs, rip your old CDs, and share large files with family and friends.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You'll need to pick up an extra cable to connect this DVD drive. The motherboard comes with two cables, enough for the SSD and hard drive. 

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10

    Windows 10 kept the stability and performance improvements of Windows 8, but totally revamped the user interface, returning much of what users loved about Windows 7. We think it's without a doubt the best Windows ever!

    The Guru's Tip:

    As we found in our in-depth benchmark analysis, Windows 10 has already improved game performance due to a more efficient driver stack. But it promises far greater improvements with new games harnessing the power of DirectX 12, the most revolutionary update to Microsoft's graphics programming interface in decades! Some examples include the Fall 2016 releases Battlefield 1 and Gears of War 4, the latter which is DX12-only!