$2500 Build

If you're looking to play all the latest games at 4K, you're going to need some serious processing power. And that's what this build delivers - every component has been selected with one and only one goal in mind: maximum high-resolution performance for $2,500! And here at The Tech Buyer's Guru, we buy the hardware first and then run the benchmarks to make sure you'll have the best possible experience. We're not just throwing together parts lists like a lot of other sites. In fact, we were one of the very first sites on the 'net to showcase 4K gaming performance using single and dual GTX 1080 Ti cards - check out our benches here

The July 2017 edition of this guide gets a major upgrade in the form of EVGA's brand-new liquid-cooled GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Hybrid SC 11GB. It provides exceptional performance that can't be matched by any air-cooled card, as it will never hit temperatures that would lead to thermal throttling. It's backed up by the Core i7-7700K quad-core processor, the fastest quad-core chip ever released, and the only CPU legitimately capable of punching through the 5GHz barrier with just a little bit of overclocking luck (and a great liquid cooler, which of course we recommend in this guide!). This system also features 32GB of high-speed RAM, up from 16GB in previous months, along with an ultra-fast PCIe-based 1TB solid-state drive. Given the recent price increases on older, slower SATA-based drives, going with one high-capacity PCIe-based drive is the only approach we can recommend. To hold all your gear, we suggest the Thermaltake F31, which has plenty of space for the elaborate liquid cooling setup used in this build.

As always, to see our previous part picks and prices, just flip to the $2,500 Build Archive, or see our TBG PC Build Comparison Page to compare this system to all our other builds, spec-for-spec. By the way, if you'd like to see what this system looks like built up, we strongly encourage you to check out our 2016 Guide to Assembling an Ultra-High-End PC, which will walk you the process of building a system a lot like this one. And if you're looking to pick up a 1440p or 4K monitor to complete your high-end gaming setup, check out our Monitor Buyer's Guide for the best picks. You might also like our Peripherals Buyer's Guide and Speaker/Headset Buyer's Guide if you need to pick up a gaming keyboard, mouse, or surround sound speakers!

Feel free to stop by our Reader Forum to share thoughts about this build, and if you decide to build this system or one like it, feel free to let us know so we can add a profile page for your PC in The Gallery - your build will surely inspire others looking to put together a similar system.

Because we use real-time pricing engines for our links, 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 $2,500 Extreme 4K Gaming PC - July 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    Intel's Core i7-7700K, launched in January, is the perfect CPU to power a high-end gaming system, as well as the bang-for-the-buck pick to run at 4K. It's clocked at 4.2GHz, and has headroom to be overclocked way beyond that, perhaps even hitting 5GHz. Of course, that will generate some serious heat, which is why we suggest nothing less than a 240mm liquid CPU cooler, listed later in this guide.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The 7700K actually runs at 4.4GHz with a quad-core load thanks to its aggressive Turboboost. The older Core i7-6700K only ran at 4GHz under identical conditions.

    Motherboard:

    MSI Z270 Gaming M6 AC

    This board features plenty of high-end features, despite a mainstream price. It boasts seven USB ports (including a cutting-edge USB 3.1 Type-C connector, the future of I/O connectivity), dual M.2 slots for high-speed SSDs, and ultra-high-end audio. This board of course supports dual video cards in an x8/x8 configuration, in case you want to upgrade down the line.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You even get an 802.11ac PCIe networking card with this model, a very rare feature in this price range.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 Hybrid 11GB

    To get playable framerates at 4K, you need a seriously-powerful GPU. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU is the starting point, but EVGA's Hybrid SC2 version is the real answer. With a huge factory overclock and massive cooling potential, this card will run at higher boost levels than any other card on the market, and will easily eclipse the much more expensive Titan Xp. To learn how the 1080 Ti performs at 4K in both single- and dual-card configurations, see our hands-on benchmarks!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We recently tested EVGA's Hybrid liquid cooler on the GTX 1080 Ti, and found that it kept temps well below 60C, which is simply incredible!

    Memory:

    Corsair 4x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 White

    This 32GB Corsair Vengeance kit will provide more than enough capacity for any usage scenario. And based on our DDR4 Gaming Benchmarks, we know DDR4-3200 is the best pick for a system like this. Be wary of guides that suggest DDR4-2133 or DDR4-2400, which will seriously handicap the Core i7-7700K processor.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Prices have jumped significantly on DDR4 RAM over the past six months or so, and we expect a continued rise throughout 2017.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 960 Evo 1TB PCIe NVMe

    The Samsung 960 Evo 1TB uses the PCIe interface, the NVMe protocol, and high-quality TLC 3D V-NAND, meaning it's the one you want in your system! Note that while we used to recommend SATA-based drives in this system, the recent price increases on such drives make much faster PCIe-based models like this a lot more compelling.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This being an M.2 drive, you'll need a jeweler's-type screwdriver to install it.

    Case:

    Thermaltake Suppressor F31 Tempered Glass Edition

    Thermaltake has been around a long time, and it knows how to make an exceptional chassis. The new F31 Suppressor Tempered Glass Edition builds on the success of the original F31, but adds a lot more style. You still get premium build quality and noise-dampening materials, but this edition offers a beautiful 4mm glass side panel, along with a rear-mounted 140mm "Riing" blue LED fan, which features a patented circular lighting effect. To keep air moving through the case, you also get a 140mm fan up front. Note that because the liquid-cooled video card's radiator will be mounted in back, you'll want to move that rear fan to the front, giving you two intake fans.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To learn how to build up a system in this case, check out our full review of the similar Thermaltake View 31.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova G3 750W

    EVGA simply can't be beat in the power supply market. The G3 is the best Gold-rated unit on the market, despite a price that competes with far less capable models. Designed for EVGA by SuperFlower, it offers fantastic efficiency (over 90% at 50% load), along with unmatched voltage regulation. In addition to abundant power, it offers a zero fan mode at loads under ~400W, right where this system will operate.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that if you'd like the option to add a second GTX 1080 Ti video card to your system in the future, we strongly recommend you go with a 1000W Supernova unit.

    CPU Cooler:

    Corsair Hydro H100i v2 Liquid Cooler

    To overclock a Core i7-7700K to the fullest extent, you need extreme cooling, because you'll be pouring a lot of voltage into that chip. We therefore recommend Corsair's Hydro H100i V2 240mm liquid cooler, which we reviewed here. It features a higher-efficiency radiator and quieter fans than most other liquid coolers, along with unbeatable performance.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The optimal setup is to have your radiator mounted to the top of the case, with fans blowing through the radiator and out of the case. You'll often see builds with the cooler mounted up front, pulling in cool outside air and blowing super-heated through the case. This lowers CPU temps at the expense of the system as a whole.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 10 represents a huge leap forward from Windows 8.1, and you will definitely want W10 for gaming. It includes the cutting-edge DX12 low-level API, which provides higher performance and better graphics in PC games.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Windows will install in around 5 minutes thanks to the incredibly-fast USB 3.0 interface!

    Optical Drive (Optional):

    LG 24x DVD Burner (Opt.)

    While optical drives are becoming a thing of the past, this system has space for one, so you definitely have the option to add one. It makes installation of motherboard drivers a bit easier, although with the flash-based version of Windows we recommend, it's most definitely not required.

    The Guru's Tip:

    LG is the last remaining big-name manufacturer still producing optical drives.