$1,500 Build

Do you want to buy the very best high-end gaming pc possible for $1,500? This guide will get you up and running! The system we profile here offers the perfect balance of CPU and GPU power, along with high-end yet cost-effective parts in every other category. The goal: maximum frames per dollar! Feel free to browse the many benchmarking articles in our Gamer's Bench section to learn more about how component picks affect gaming performance.

Note that for February 2018, we are officially making a pre-built PC from iBuyPower our pick at $1,500, as there's simply no way you can build your own gaming PC at this point. Video cards are sold out around the world, and RAM prices are sky high. As much as we love building PCs, if you actually want to game today, you need to get a pre-built, and this one is simply incredible for the price. It  all starts with the best gaming CPU ever released, namely the Core i7-8700K six-core, twelve-thread wonder from Intel. Add in the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GPU, 16GB of high-speed RAM, a 250GB-class solid-state drive, and a 1TB hard drive, and you're set up for years of high-end gaming. If you really want to get the most out of this system, pair it with the G-Sync monitor we recommend later in this guide.

We update this build monthly, as prices and components in this market change quite frequently, and a few dollars here or there could buy you a lot of performance. To see our past builds and prices, just flip over to the $1,500 Build Archive page. One look and you'll see why this month's PC pick makes so much sense!

We use Amazon's real-time pricing engine to give you the most up-to-date U.S. prices available, and we also include links to Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, and Amazon Germany, with regional substitutions made when necessary. Your use of these links ensures that we can continue to update this guide regularly.

The $1,500 High-End Gaming PC - February 2018

The Pre-Built Option

    The High-End Gaming PC:

    iBUYPOWER 9200 Desktop Gaming PC

    Because you can't buy a video card at this point due to cryptocurrency mining, going for a pre-built system is the only way to get into gaming today. And luckily, iBuyPower has an awesome build that offers a ton of value for the money. This incredible new model sports a liquid-cooled Intel Core i7-8700K six-core CPU, a GeForce GTX 1070 8GB video card (which can easily handle resolutions up to 1440p), 16GB of RAM, a 240GB solid-state drive for lighting-fast boot times, and a 1TB hard drive for game storage. It even has RGB effects and a stylish tempered glass side panel to show them off!

    The Guru's Tip:

    To be frank, even before the mining crisis, you couldn't build this PC for anywhere near this price, and now, it's simply impossible to source the GTX 1070, period.

Optional Components

    The 27-inch G-Sync Gaming Monitor:

    Dell Gaming S2716DG

    In our opinion, there's no single component that's more important to determining the quality of your gaming experience than your monitor. Sure, you need the right video card, but without the right monitor, you might end up burning GPU power and getting nothing for it. With this monitor, you get a 2560 x 1440 TN panel capable of a 144Hz refresh rate, and more importantly, G-Sync, which will work in tandem with the GTX 1070 in this system to provide absolutely lag-free gaming without the slightest hint of tearing.

    The Guru's Tip:

    As a rule of thumb, we think you should spend about 1/3 of your PC's cost on your monitor. So, for a $750 PC, that's $250, for a $1,500 PC, that's $500, for a $3,000, it would be $1,000.

The Build-Your-Own Option

    CPU:

    Intel Core i5-8600K

    Offering by far the best gaming performance you can get in a sub-$300 CPU today, the Core i5-8600K, based on Intel's new "Coffee Lake" design, is the current king of the high-end gaming landscape. It's the first mainstream six-core chip Intel has ever offered, and with its 3.6GHz base clock and 4.3GHz Turbo mode, it has processing power to spare. That being said, it has a good chance of hitting 5GHz with overclocking, and the cooler we recommend later in this guide will take you there!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the 8600K can only be used in a Z370-based motherboard.

    Motherboard:

    MSI Z370-A Pro

    As the least expensive Z370 board currently available, this model provides a great starting point for a Coffee Lake-based gaming system Remember, you need a Z370 board to support the 8600K. Z270 boards will not work, despite the same socket number (1151). Likewise, the 7700K and other 7th-gen CPUs won't work in this Z370 board.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this board will not support dual video cards running in SLI; for that, you'll need to step up to the Z370-SLI Plus.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC

    Note that as of today, you cannot buy video cards at anywhere near reasonable prices, so we're just llisting this as a placeholder.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We expect the GPU shortage to last through at least the end of Q1'18.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 White

    Because games and other applications can take serious advantage of RAM speed on Intel's latest platform, we're spec'ing an ultra-fast DDR4-3000 kit. Need more convincing that this is the right move? See our DDR4 gaming benchmark analysis! And we strongly recommend 16GB of RAM, as we've found many games released over the past few years take up nearly 8GB on their own.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Due to a serious supply shortage, RAM prices are spiraling out of control, and this kit is now over $200, despite selling for $70 in mid-2016. Trust us, prices are just going to keep going up through mid-2018, so pull the trigger now!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 3D 250GB M.2

    This brand-new drive from Western Digital is shaking up the budget SSD market. Using 3D TLC NAND, it offers top-end speed and an ultra-competitive price. In fact, it's the least expensive 250GB SSD you can in the sleek M.2 form factor. Running this drive alongside a hard drive gives you the ultimate combination of speed and capacity for the price!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that to affix any M.2 drive to the motherboard, you'll need a jeweler's-type screwdriver set.

    Hard Drive:

    Seagate Barracuda 2TB

    For bulk storage, we recommend the budget-priced Barracuda 2TB drive from Seagate. With its fast 7200RPM rotational speed and quiet operation, its a great place to store any large game collection, and thanks to a recent price drop, it's an incredible value, selling for just a few dollars more than most 1TB drives!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Remember, you'll be installing your operating system on this PC's solid-state drive, which will provide amazing responsiveness in all applications.

    Case:

    Silverstone RL05BR-W ATX Case

    Featuring great style at a great price, this case also happens to offer mind-blowing cooling capability. That's thanks to its two front-mounted 140mm (with red LEDs) and a big vent up top, which can be fitted with additional fans if you so choose. Even better, it has the headroom for big 140mm tower coolers, and you'll see our recommended pick later in this guide. Note that this case is also available with "blacked-out" trim.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Take note: most of the RL05's competitor's in the case market do not have room for the potent 140mm CPU cooler we recommend. Please don't substitute any other mid-range case for the RL05 before ensuring it has 165mm of cooler clearance.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA 650 BQ

    This unit is among the best Bronze-rated PSUs on the market, despite coming in at an exceptionally-low price. Of course, you get fully-modular cables for ease of installation, quiet operation (thanks to a large 140mm fan), and a 5-year warranty.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This 650W unit is more than sufficient for this system as configured, which will only draw about 300W at load.

    CPU Cooler:

    Cryorig H7

    The Cryorig H7 is by far the best cooler anywhere near its price. It's also incredibly easy to install, thanks to coming pre-assembled! Learn more about it in our budget 120mm cooler shootout!

    The Guru's Tip:

    A lot of our readers still buy the ancient Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo, but trust us on this one... the H7 is superior in every way!

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Download

    A lot of "PC build guides" on the Internet neglect to include a copy of Windows in their price lists, simply to make the system seem cheaper than it really is. You know what kind of gaming PC you'll have without Windows 10? One that won't boot! So we give you the honest pricing on a PC build that includes Windows 10, the only OS you should consider if you're planning to game.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This is the downloadable version of Windows, so you might want to pick up a USB 3.0 thumb drive if you don't have any spares laying around.

    Fan (Optional):

    Arctic F12 PWM 120mm Fan (Opt.)

    To improve your system's cooling potential, we recommend you install this fan in the open rear fan mount of the SilverStone case.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You can also install fans in the top of the case for even more airflow, so feel free to pick up two or even three of these fans if you want to "max out" your airflow.