John's Feedback:

I wanted to game at 4k res on ultra graphics settings without compromise. Started out with the $1,500 high end gaming PC build and took it from there. After reading and gaining inspiration from almost every article on TBG I settled on this build.

Built: May 2017

Inside Look

As John mentioned, he started out his build with TBG's $1,500 High-End Gaming PC Buyer's Guide, as of April 2017, but what he ended up with was way more powerful. He souped it up massively with an extreme cooler, an extreme power supply, and a second GPU, along with some nice accessories!

Here's his complete build list:

  1. CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
  2. Motherboard: Gigabyte Z270XP-SLI
  3. Video Card #1: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 G1 8GB
  4. Video Card #2: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 G1 8GB
  5. HB SLI Bridge: Gigabyte High Bandwidth Extreme 1-Slot
  6. RAM: Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 Black 
  7. Solid-State Drive: Crucial MX300 525GB M.2
  8. Hard Drive: Western Digital Blue 1TB
  9. Case: SilverStone RL05BR-W
  10. Case Fans: Thermaltake Riing Red 120mm / Riing Red 140mm
  11. Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 850 P2
  12. CPU Cooler: Thermaltake Water 3.0 Dual Riing RGB
  13. Optical Drive: LG 24x DVD Burner
  14. Operating System: Windows 10

Ultimately, what John did was take a very capable $1,500 gaming PC, and then upgrade it to the equivalent of a $2,500 gaming PC by adding three key ingredients: more GPU power, more cooling power, and more power, period! Adding GPU power is simple when running an SLI-capable motherboard: just add a second card, along with the high-bandwidth bridge that lets two card communicate at maximum speed. But he knew that adding this extra card would increase internal temperatures, so he added a high-capacity liquid-based cooler, which frees up lots of breathing room inside the case, and of course brings the CPU temperature way, way down. And to make sure his system wouldn't run out of steam in the midst of a firefight, he went with an ultra-premium power supply, the Platinum-rated EVGA Supernova 850W unit. This PSU is actually strong enough to support two GTX 1080 GPUs, let alone the dual GTX 1070 GPUs he used, so it provides plenty of headroom for this PC.

GPU

In the photo to the left, you can see the system mid-build, with a single GPU installed, along with the Thermaltake Riing fans. We're big fans of Thermaltake's patented Riing fans, as they look great, and just as importantly, are amazingly quiet. Note that in this case, John wisely picked a 120mm fan for the rear and a 140mm fan for the top, maxing out the mounting space in both locations.

Alas, dropping all this high-end gear into a relatively-compact mid-range case can cause some complications. John has a few words of wisdom for anyone looking to set up a similarly souped-up system:

I love my case, but it wasn't until after I ordered it and most of my components that I realized I had made a rookie mistake. Although the specs of the case stated a 240mm radiator would fit on the top of the case I didn't take the Mother Board clearance into account. Luckily I was able to disassemble the case and remove the front mounted case fans in order to mount my radiator.

This is an issue that's quite pervasive in the industry, as case manufacturers tend to provide specifications for coolers that would fit absent any other gear in the system. Of course, that's not how things work in the real world, which makes the installation of liquid coolers somewhat complicated. The issue is that a radiator plus fan assembly can end up being quite thick, and even if you have enough vent space, the cooler may intrude upon other components in the case. Top-mounted coolers most often have issues with clearance around RAM sticks, which is ironically the issue that many builders move from air coolers to liquid coolers specifically to avoid! Luckily, there's usually more than one way to mount a liquid cooler, especially in a modern case like the SilverStone RL05, so John was able to get his full system up and running as shown below.

Complete

Now that's a nice setup. Thanks so much, John, for sharing this successful project with the TBG community!