$2,000 Build

Looking to build the best gaming PC around for $2,000? This is it! Quiet, sleek, and most importantly, brutally fast, this build offers the very best balance of CPU power, GPU power, cooling performance, and ease-of-use out of any of the builds we profile. We call it "premium" for a reason! And take note: we aren't skimping on the wheels and chassis just to cram in a "big engine". We're all about long-term thinking here at TBG, and this is a seriously long-term build!

For February 2017, we start with the new Intel Core i7-7700K quad-core processor, released in January, paired up with an equally-new Z270-based motherboard. They provide all the latest features packed into Intel's new Kaby Lake platform, including extraordinary overclocking support (5GHz is a possibility with this system!) and unprecedented connectivity options (such as dual M.2 slots and USB 3.1 Type-C support). On the gaming side, there's no question that you'll want the GeForce GTX 1080 8GB video card, which is incredibly fast. Flip over to our new 4K Gaming Showdown to see how the GTX 1080 does up against some serious competition! Amazingly, despite its stellar performance, the GTX 1080 has dropped in price significantly since it debuted at $700 in May 2016. To round out the system, we're recommending a single ultra-fast Samsung 850 Evo 1TB solid-state drive, a 750W power supply, and the Phanteks Enthoo Pro, the best case you can buy for $100.

We update this build every month - to see how this build compares to past months' components and prices, flip to the $2,000 Build Archive page. To see how it compares to other TBG builds, just flip over to the TBG PC Build Comparison Page, where you can sort through all of our current recommended systems, choosing the one with the parts and price you're looking for. And if you need help building your new PC, you'll want to read through our new-for-2017 Guide to Assembling a High-End PC (2017). By the way, if you're looking for a complete PC setup, also check out our Monitor Buyer's Guide and Peripherals Buyer's Guide for all the best add-ons!

To get inspiration from other TBG readers, visit The Gallery, which profiles a number of unique PC creations submitted by our readers. If you decide to build this system or one like it, let us know and we'll add a profile page for your PC too! Also, feel free to stop by our Reader Forum to share questions or ideas about this build. 

Because we use real-time pricing engines, you'll always see up-to-date U.S. prices in our guide. We also provide direct links to Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Germany for each product, with regional substitutions made where necessary. To help support the continued development of this guide, please use the links we provide if you purchase products we recommend.

The $2,000 Premium Gaming PC - February 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    Released on January 3rd, the Core i7-7700K is the chip every enthusiast wants. It operates at a nominal 4.2GHz with Turboboost to 4.5GHz, features the highly-effective Hyperthreading technology to add four virtual cores, and has excellent overclocking potential (some chips will hit 5GHz!). 

    The Guru's Tip:

    Do take note that this CPU doesn't include a cooler, but with the cooler we recommend later in this guide, you'll be able to push this chip up to at least 4.8GHz without worrying in the least bit about overheating. 

    Motherboard:

    Gigabyte Aorus GA-Z270X-Gaming K5

    As the least expensive member of Gigabyte's new premium Aorus motherboard line, the Gaming K5 packs in all the latest tech, while coming in at a mid-range price. Of course, you're getting the new Z270 chipset, offering enhanced connectivity and better DDR4 overclocking support. You also get the new high-end ALC1220 audio codec, plenty of USB ports, including USB 3.1 Type-C (with Thunderbolt support!), and dual M.2 slots, both of which support either SATA- or PCIe-based SSDs. And with Aorus, you get Gigabyte's advanced RGB lighting and control package.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While Z170-based boards can in theory support the new Core i7-7700K CPU, they require a firmware update, and it's impossible to know whether they'll have the latest firmware out of the box.

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 8GB G1

    The GTX 1080 is the card every serious gamer wants, with performance 30% higher than the previous-gen GTX Titan X, and 35% faster than the 980 Ti, which used to occupy this price point. And this model comes packs in an ultra-capable cooler, a big factory overclock, and a sweet design with LED lighting. We've extensively benchmarked the GTX 1080, including a thorough analysis of its performance in single and dual-card configurations.

    The Guru's Tip:

    One of the many great features of the GeForce lineup is Nvidia's G-Sync technology, which matches frame output to monitor refresh rate for ultra-smooth gaming. See our Monitor Buyer's Guide for suggestions on the best G-Sync monitors on the market.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LED DDR4-3200 White

    In our Gamer's Bench article exploring Gaming on DDR4, we found that recent CPUs can benefit from all the memory bandwidth you can throw at them. That's why we're recommending that you go for nothing less than Corsair's ultra-fast 2x8GB DDR4-3200 kit, complete with LED lighting!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Keep in mind that DDR4 RAM will default to 2133MHz when the system is first booted - enter the UEFI to enable the XMP profile, which will push the RAM speed to its rated speed.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 850 Evo 1TB M.2

    A few months back, we switched this build over from a small SSD and large hard drive combo to one large SSD, which is much smoother and quieter than a system with a spinning hard drive in it. And you simply cannot go wrong with Samsung's 850 Evo 1TB, which offers exceptional performance and a very competitive price. This M.2 model slots right into the motherboard, meaning no cables are to mess with!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll need a jeweler's screwdriver to install this or any other M.2-style drive. If you want the ultimate in drive performance, step up to the ultra-high-end PCIe-based Samsung 960 Evo M.2 1TB, which offers sequential speeds up to 5x faster than the 850 Evo. 

    Case:

    Phanteks Enthoo Pro

    Phanteks has revolutionized the case market, bringing ultra-modern interior layouts, improved cooling, and premium build quality and materials down to very reasonable pricepoints. The Enthoo Pro case may not have flashy looks, but its traditional shape doesn't mean it's not packed with cutting-edge features. These include a large multi-panel side window, a 200mm front intake fan and a rear 140mm exhaust fan, plus a fan controller. That means the case will run cool and quiet! It's even available in white!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Phanteks has taken the PC case market by storm, and is now the benchmark for all other manufacturers, including big names like Corsair and Cooler Master.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova G2 750W

    EVGA's awesome Supernova 750 G2 packs in all the latest tech, including zero fan operation at loads under ~400W, Gold-rated efficiency, and fully-modular cables. It's backed by EVGA's amazing 10-year warranty, and designed by Superflower, one of the top names in the power supply market. We use EVGA Supernovas in all our builds... there's simply no reason to run your high-end system off anything else! Note that we previously recommended the 750 P2 Platinum unit, but it's a bit more expensive, and the G2 offers the same level of quality.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this build will only draw about 350W at load, meaning you'll be right in the sweetspot of this PSU's 90% efficiency curve. This also means you'll have plenty of headroom to add a second GTX 1080 down the line without coming close to exceeding the PSU's capabilities.

    CPU Cooler:

    Noctua NH-U14S

    The incredible Noctua NH-U14S is among the very finest air coolers ever released, and will actually run far quieter than any liquid cooler on the market. Noctua has been in the game for a long time, and its premium designs command respect - they set the benchmark against which all other air coolers must be judged. To learn more about what makes the NH-U14S so amazing, see our 140mm CPU Cooler shootout review pitting the NH-U14S against a number of serious competitors.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While every cooler comes with thermal paste, it's always nice to know you're getting premium quality, and this cooler comes with a tube of the ultra-premium Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste right in the box.

    Optical Drive:

    LG 24x DVD Burner GH24NSC0B

    It's cheap, it's easy to use, and it makes the OS installation easy. Enough said!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Interestingly, both Sony and Samsung have stopped manufacturing DVD burners, leaving LG as the last remaining major optical drive manufacturer.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    In Windows 10, Microsoft delivered a follow-up to the immensely-popular Windows 7 that enthusiasts can get behind. It features a fully-functional Start Menu along with numerous other usability and performance enhancements, making Windows 10 a big step up from Windows 8.1.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Using this Flash Drive version is the beginning of your "Premium PC" experience, as it installs in just 5 minutes due to the speed of the USB 3.0 interface!