$3,500 Build

If you're looking for the ultimate gaming PC, then this build's for you. Sure, you could spend more, but in most games, you simply won't see better performance than what this system can provide. It's a showcase of the very best tech available in PC gaming today. There's no skimping here - this system isn't exactly a bargain, but it delivers flat-out extreme performance.

For June 2017, we bring you a huge upgrade in gaming power thanks to a major reworking of this system. While we stick with the Intel Core i7-6850K Broadwell-E CPU, we upgrade massively from dual GTX 1080 cards in SLI to dual GTX 1080 Ti cards in SLI. After having tested both setups, we found that 1080 Ti nets you a 30% performance boost, which is a difference you can absolutely feel, especially at 4K. Now, to add an extra ~$700 GPU to the budget above and beyond the single 1080 Ti in our $3,000 Elite Gaming Build, we had to do some nipping and tucking, because we only had an extra $500 to work with for this $3,500 system. We managed that simply by dropping one notch down from the very fastest PCIe and SATA solid-state drives (the Samsung 960 Pro and 850 Evo, respectively), which you'll find in the $3,000 build, down to the 960 Evo 500GB and Crucial MX300 1TB. They'll still provide absolutely-stellar performance, and for gaming purposes, you'll never notice a difference. Completing your rig using SilverStone's bold new glass-paneled PM01 RGB case and a fantastic EVGA 1000W Gold-rated power supply, you'll definitely have the Ultimate Gaming system!

Feel free to stop by our Reader Forum to share ideas about this build. And for extra help, follow our step-by-step Guide to Assembling an Ultra-High-End PC, which will walk you through the process of building a system a lot like this one. To see previous Ultimate Gaming PC builds, flip to the $3,500 Archive, and if you want to see how this build compares to all our other builds, check out the new TBG PC Build Comparison Page. By the way, if you're looking for a new 144Hz, ultra-wide, or 4K monitor to go along with your PC, check out our Monitor Buyer's Guide, and if you need some new gaming gear, see our Peripherals Buyer's Guide and Speaker/Headset Buyer's Guide for all the latest and greatest gaming accessories. Because we use real-time pricing engines, you'll always see up-to-date U.S. prices in our guides. We also provide direct links to Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Germany for each product, making regional substitutions when necessary. To help support the continued development of this guide, please use the links we provide if you purchase products we recommend.

The $3,500 Ultimate Gaming PC - June 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-6850K

    There is simply no better ultra-high-end gaming CPU than the Core i7-6850K. Featured six cores running at 3.6GHz, with Turbo to 4.0GHz, this Broadwell-E chip can handle the most demanding tasks, offering performance that's about 8% faster than the previous-gen Core i7-5930K on a clock-for-clock basis, while being much more efficient.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The main difference between the 6850K and the less expensive Core i7-6800K comes down to PCIe lanes. The 6850K enables 40 lanes (x16, x16, x8), versus the 28 lanes (x16, x8, x4) provided by the 6800K. When using one video card, that doesn't matter, but because this system uses two cards, you want as much bandwidth as you can get, as we found in our Z170 vs. X99 SLI comparison. Going with the 6850K also leaves you plenty of PCIe lanes for a high-speed SSD, which we recommend for this build.

    Motherboard:

    AsRock X99 Taichi

    This X99 board from AsRock builds on the success of its X99 line and adds next-gen components worthy of a Broadwell-E system. This includes an onboard M.2 slot, dual-stream 802.11ac wireless networking, and USB 3.1 Type C. It even includes a high-bandwidth SLI bridge right in the box, which will provide an extra 5-7% boost in gaming performance according to our tests.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The Taichi is an absolute bargain when it comes to X99 boards!

    Video Card:

    GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB Founders Edition

    Based on 4K benchmarks we're working on here at TBG, we know that running two GTX 1080 Ti cards in SLI provides up to 80% higher performance than any single card. That includes the Titan X, despite the 1080 Ti SLI combo coming in at a similar price. In fact, it's thanks to a nice price drop on the 1080 Ti Founders Edition that we can now squeeze two of these into the budget!

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you're lucky, you'll be able to push your GTX 1080 Ti cards to over 2000MHz with overclocking!

    Video Card:

    GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB Founders Edition

    To set up SLI, we recommend you install one card first, run through your whole OS and driver installation. Then, once everything is set, shut your system down and install the second card, along with the power cables that come with the power supply and the SLI bridge, and restart your system. Nvidia's drivers should do the rest, but you can always confirm this by opening up the driver control panel and checking to see that SLI is enabled. It sometimes takes a couple tries to get it to engage.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll be using the HB SLI bridge included with the AsRock motherboard to connect your two 1080 Ti cards.

    Memory:

    Corsair 4x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 White

    For the Ultimate Gaming machine, we go big time, with a high-end 32GB DDR4-3200 kit. It features four sticks running with 16-18-18-36 timings at 1.35V, providing you quad-channel operation for mind-blowing bandwidth. Based on our testing of the Broadwell-E platform, we've found that DDR4-3200 is the best fit for this build. This was not true for previous Haswell-E CPUs, which couldn't support this high speed quite as reliably.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this kit will default to DDR4-2133 until the XMP profile is selected in the UEFI. By the way, we strongly discourage you from using DDR4-2800 or DDR4-3000 with this system, as it requires an odd memory ratio that throws off CPU overclocking.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 960 Evo 500GB PCIe NVMe M.2

    The 960 Evo offers amazing performance, nearly matching the performane of the previous king, the discontinued 950 Pro 512GB, but coming in at a much lower price. The 960 Evo uses Samsung's 3D V-NAND design, the advanced PCIe interface for unmatched throughput, and the NVMe protocol for minimum overhead. In other words, it's ultra-fast!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that to install this drive, you'll need a jeweler's screwdriver. If you don't have one handy, pick up this Stanley screwdriver kit!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial MX300 1TB

    On data duty, we recommend the MX300 1TB. While it can't come close to matching the 960 series in sequential operations, for typical usage scenarios, it will perform very similarly, and offers quite a bit more capacity per dollar.

    The Guru's Tip:

    By the way, if you don't need more than 1TB of capacity, just go for a single Samsung 960 Evo 1TB, which comes in quite a bit under the price of the 960 Evo 500GB / MX300 1TB combo. Having a single drive makes file management easier, and endows all your apps with the same massive PCIe speed boost.

    Hard Drive (Optional):

    HGST Deskstar 4TB (Opt.)

    If you have serious media or data storage needs, you'll probably need to add a mechanical hard drive to your system. We recommend HGST's huge 4TB server-grade Deskstar model, which offers a market-leading combination of speed, capacity, and reliability.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We recommend using a hard drive only for data and media. Loading games off of a hard drive is much slower than loading them off of an SSD. That's why we recommend that most users equip this system with dual SSDs.

    Case:

    SilverStone Primera PM01B-RGB

    The PM01 is our favorite high-end case, bar none. It's stylish, provides absolutely unbeatable airflow, and in this new tempered glass version, offers up awesome lighting effects and a sweet glass side panel. Note that it comes in three colors (glossy black, which we're linking to here, plus matte black and glossy white). We provided significant input to SilverStone on the original PM01 design, which we reviewed here, and lo and behold, SilverStone listened! It added pass-throughs to allow dual fans to be mounted in the top portion of the case, and it also has a PWM fan controller built in. These improvements over the original could justify the price increase on their own, but you're also getting fully-controllable RGB front fan guards, accents ports, and internal RGB light strips, plus a tempered glass side panel, making this case a must-have!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this case is not available in all countries, so we've linked to the original PM01 for Canadian readers.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 G3

    An overclocked Core i7-6850K paired with two overclocked GTX 1080 Ti cards will draw about 700-750W, based on our in-house testing of a 1080 Ti SLI setup. While that means you could get by with an 850W PSU in this system, it would be running at the ragged edge under load. Instead, we suggest this Gold-rated fully-modular 1000W unit. It offers fanless operation under almost all loads, along with amazing efficiency, peaking at above 90% with a 50% load (right around where this system will be running!).

    The Guru's Tip:

    We previously recommended a Platinum-rated unit for this build, but to make room in the budget for the dual GTX 1080 Ti video cards, we've gone Gold here, which sacrifices nothing in terms of capacity or longevity.

    CPU Cooler:

    Corsair Hydro H100i v2 Liquid Cooler

    For a fire-breathing processor like the i7-6850K, you want extreme liquid cooling. With dual 120mm fans, the H100i v2 is more than a match, and offers great customization options through the CorsairLink software package. It might just let you hit a serious 4.4GHz overclock on your CPU!

    The Guru's Tip:

    While every Corsair cooler comes with thermal paste pre-applied, it's always a good idea to use the best product available for something you won't be changing often. We recommend Noctua NT-H1. To remove pre-existing paste, just use a paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 10 has so many improvements versus both Windows 7 and Windows 8 that it alone will make your system feel more up-to-date. We particularly like the return of the Start Menu, the broader settings options, and the fact that it packs in DX12, which is already unleashing next-gen games with far greater complexity and performance.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Windows 10 will install in around 5 minutes, thanks to the speed of the USB 3.0 flash drive it ships on!