$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! You can check out our recent 4K Showdown to learn what it takes to game at 4K! 

For the May 2017 edition of this guide, custom versions of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB have finally started to arrive in quantity, allowing the beastly 1080 Ti GPU to really stretch its legs. Even in "Founders Edition" form, it was a match for GTX 1070 SLI and even the Titan X Pascal, as we found in our recent hands-on review. Simply put, it's absolutely the card you want in this build. Backing up this GPU is the Core i7-7700K quad-core processor, the fastest quad-core chip ever released, and the first one legitimately capable of punching through the 5GHz barrier with just a little bit of overclocking luck. This system also features 16GB of ultra-fast RAM, the unbeatable Samsung 960 Pro 512GB solid-state drive for your OS and applications drive, and the Samsung 850 Evo 1TB on data duty. The system is housed in our very favorite case, the SilverStone Primera PM01, which provides plenty of style, along with massive airflow to back it up.

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!

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! Also, feel free to stop by our Reader Forum to share thoughts about this build.

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 - May 2017


    Intel Core i7-7700K

    Intel's new 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.


    Asus ROG Strix Z270E Gaming

    This board features plenty of high-end features, despite a mainstream price. It boasts six 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. You even get built-in 802.11ac networking, a very rare feature in this price range.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This board supports dual video cards in an x8/x8 configuration. Asus is even bundling high-bandwidth (HB) SLI bridges with this board, saving you the $40 cost of buying an after-market model in case you decide to upgrade to dual video cards down the line.

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming OC 11GB

    To get playable framerates at 4K, you need a seriously-powerful GPU. And Nvidia has just delivered "the answer." Please welcome the new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB, the most amazing Nvidia release in quite some time. It offers stellar performance, and in fact, it's a bit faster than the Titan X Pascal, despite coming it at $500 less! Released on March 10th, the 1080 Ti is clearly going to be in high demand for a long time. Luckily, this custom-cooled triple-fan model has recently hit the market, allowing the 1080 Ti GPU to really stretch its legs. And the best part: despite the factory overclock and custom cooler, it costs the same as the Founders Edition! To learn more about how well the 1080 Ti performs at 4K, see our full review!

    The Guru's Tip:

    One of the great features of the GeForce lineup is G-Sync, which matches framerates to the frame output on compatible displays for stutter-free gameplay. See all our recommended monitor picks, including 1440p and 4K models, in our Monitor Buyer's Guide.


    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 Black

    This 16GB 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:

    Things have unfortunately gone from bad to worse in the DRAM market, with prices skyrocketing and supply falling short. While we previously recommended a 2x16GB kit, the price just doesn't make sense anymore.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 960 Pro 512GB

    Ready to step up to the best? Then the 960 Pro is the SSD for you! It simply has no rival, which is surprising given that it comes at a very small premium over lesser drives. Using the PCIe interface, the NVMe protocol, and 3D MLC NAND, it's the one you want in your system!

    The Guru's Tip:

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

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 850 Evo 1TB M.2

    With most of the big players leaving the high-end SSD market, Samsung is now alone in selling a big, ultra-fast SSD at a great price, making the 850 Evo 1TB the go-to choice for a secondary drive in this build. With current-gen games requiring 30-40GB of storage, you need a big drive to hold more than a handful of games, and running them off an SSD means boot times are nearly instantaneous!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the motherboard has two M.2 slots, and you'll be using both for this system, but only the lower (longer) slot is compatible with SATA-based drives like the 850 Evo. The top slot is where you'll install the PCIe-based 960-series drive.


    SilverStone Primera PM01

    This case from SilverStone embodies all that is right with ultra-modern case design. Why do we love this case so much? Because it has practically unlimited airflow, courtesy of its fully-meshed front panel, four pre-installed 140mm fans (three with LED lights), and its hidden drive cages. You also get a PSU cover that keeps things nice and neat once your build is complete. Just note that as with many new cases, this one will not fit an optical drive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Want to learn how to build up a system in the SilverStone Primera PM01? Check it out in our step-by-step Ultra-High-End Assembly Guide. Note that we used the white version, perfect if you want to class it up a bit.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova 850 G3

    EVGA simply can't be beat in the power supply market. The G3 is the very best Gold-rated unit on the market, despite a price that competes with far less capable models. Designed for EVGA by SuperFlower, the G3 offers fantastic efficiency (above 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 the 1000W version of the G3.

    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, and would be awful with a dual-GPU setup.

    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!