$2500 Build

Updated to the latest 7th-Gen Intel Kaby Lake platform!

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!

For January 2017, we bring big changes to this system. First, we're welcoming the brand-new Core i7-7700K quad-core processor, the fastest chip ever released. Then we have a new Z270-based motherboard, with the latest in connectivity options, LED lighting, and of course built-in support for the 7700K. We pair this gear up with dual GeForce GTX 1070 8GB video cards in SLI. Anyone can throw together a parts list, publish it somewhere on the Internet, and tell you it's what you need for 4K gaming. But 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. To see how GTX 1070 SLI performs, just check out our recent 4K Showdown!

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 - January 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    Intel's brand-new Core i7-7700K, launched on January 3rd, 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:

    Asus ROG Strix Z270E Gaming

    Hot off the assembly line, this model 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. And, of course, it supports SLI'd video cards in an x8/x8 configuration, which you'll be running in this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Asus is now bundling high-bandwidth (HB) SLI bridges with its Z270 boards, saving you the $40 cost of buying an after-market model. Amazing! Our in-depth SLI benchmarks show that the dual links provided by the HB SLI bridge increase performance by up to 7%!

    Video Card:

    MSI GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Gaming X

    To get playable framerates at 4K, you need a seriously-powerful GPU. Well, make that two GPUs! In our new 4K Gaming Showdown, we ran five configuration through its paces, including GTX 1070, 1070 SLI, GTX 1080, 1080 SLI, and Titan X Pascal. We concluded that 1070 SLI provides an awesome 4K experience for the lowest possible cost. In fact, it's a bit faster than the Titan X Pascal, despite coming it at hundreds of dollars less!

    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.

    Video Card:

    MSI GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Gaming X

    Adding a second GTX 1070 is what makes this system a serious 4K gaming machine! Note that we're recommending a model with oversized 100mm fans. That's because when running two open-air cards in SLI, the top card definitely runs hotter and requires as much cooling as it can get!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We recommend you set up Windows with just one card inserted, and then once all drivers are installed, shut down the system, insert the second card and the SLI bridges, and then boot up the system. You'll likely need to enter the Nvidia control panel to enable SLI. It may require a reboot before it takes effect.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x16GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 Black

    We go big here, choosing an awesome 32GB kit from Corsair, the Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200. You'll never need more RAM than this, but if you do, you'll still have two free RAM slots to fill! Based on our in-house DDR4 Gaming Benchmarks, we know DDR4-3200 is absolutely the way to go with a system like this. Be wary of guides that suggest DDR4-2133 or DDR4-2400, which will seriously handicap the 6700K processor.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While 32GB isn't required to run games, we've found that running 16GB or less on SLI systems can lead to excessive page file use, which burdens the system. That's why we strongly recommend 32GB for this dual-GPU PC. By the way, don't forget to engage the XMP profile in the motherboard UEFI to hit the rated 3200MHz speed - these sticks will default to 2133MHz, just like all DDR4 RAM.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 850 Evo 1TB

    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 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:

    This drive has been selling out regularly over the past month, and continues to offer the best value among high-end drives.

    Hard Drive:

    Toshiba P300 3TB

    Hard drives are pretty utilitarian at this point, but for a system of this caliber, we want a big, high-quality drive. Therefore, we recommend Toshiba's 3TB model, as it offers an excellent balance of speed, capacity, and reliability.

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you don't foresee having a need for more than 1TB of storage in the near future, we'd strongly recommend just skipping the hard drive for now. There simply is no comparison between a hard drive and an SSD in terms of speed. The only reason we'd go with this drive is for media storage, such as music, photos, and videos.

    Case:

    SilverStone Primera PM01

    This new 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 P2 750W

    We've been recommending (and using!) EVGA's Supernova line since it was released, and it appears in a number of our other build guides in various sizes. This model, designed for EVGA by SuperFlower, offers 750W of Platinum-rated power for around the same price as other less-impressive models. In addition to abundant power, it offers zero fan operation at loads under ~400W and fully-modular cables. Plus, it's backed by EVGA's market-leading 10-year warranty!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Our in-house 6700K/1070SLI system draws less than 400W once fully overclocked. While we previously recommend the Supernova P2 850W for this build, we know for a fact that a 750W unit is more than powerful enough to quietly and efficiently run this system, so we've reallocated the funds to other components. You simply do not need more power.

    CPU Cooler:

    Corsair Hydro H100i v2 Liquid Cooler

    To keep a dual-GPU system running optimally, you need a CPU cooler capable of moving a lot of waste heat out of your system as quickly as possible. 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. This, by the way, is not what Corsair recommends, but that's because it's trying to "juice" the numbers by having you pull cold air from outside the case and blow super-heated air in. 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 Download

    Windows 10 represents a huge leap forward from Windows 8.1, and now that Microsoft has released the Anniversary Update, it's better than ever. And you will definitely want W10 for gaming, as it includes the new, cutting-edge DX12 low-level API, which provides higher performance and better graphics in PC games, as seen in such hit titles as Rise of the Tomb Raider and Battlefield 1, as well as the DX12-only title Gears of War 4.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While you can load this Windows 10 download onto any 4GB or larger flash drive you have available, we recommend using a fast drive, like this Transcend 8GB USB 3.1 model.