$2,000 Build

Looking to build the best gaming PC around for $2,000? This is it! Quiet, sleek, and most importantly, brutally fast, this build offers the very best balance of CPU power, GPU power, cooling performance, and ease-of-use out of any of the builds we profile. We call it "premium" for a reason! And take note: we aren't skimping on the wheels and chassis just to cram in a "big engine". We're all about long-term thinking here at TBG, and this is a seriously long-term build!

For December 2017, we are now recommending the brand-new Intel Core i5-8600K, which equals the last-gen Core i7-7700K in performance at a much lower price. Based on the "Coffee Lake" design, it delivers six true cores, unlocked for overclocking, which delivers simply exceptional gaming and application performance. It will have no trouble feeding the data-hungry GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, which sits at the very top of Nvidia's GeForce lineup. The custom-cooled version that we recommend can pull ahead of even the Titan Xp. In terms of storage, we're recommending builders go with a 500GB SSD, a 2TB hard drive, and 16GB of fast DDR4 RAM. Rounding out the system is the Noctua NH-U14S, our favorite CPU cooler bar none, along with the ultra-high-airflow SilverStone PM01 chassis, available both in standard trim or with glass and RGB effects, as shown here. 

We update this build every month - to see how this build compares to past months' components and prices, flip to the $2,000 Build Archive page. While this guide actually includes our top accesory picks for this build, including our very favorite gaming mouse and gaming monitor, if you want to see all the options, check out our Monitor Buyer's Guide and Peripherals Buyer's Guide! And if you need help building your new PC, you'll want to read through our Guide to Assembling a High-End PC (2017). To get inspiration from other TBG readers, you can visit The Gallery, which profiles a number of unique PC creations submitted by our readers. Also, feel free to stop by our Reader Forum to share questions or ideas about this build. 

Because we use real-time pricing engines, 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 $2,000 Premium Gaming PC - December 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i5-8600K

    The Core i5-8600K breathes new life into the Core i5 lineup, providing performance as good as last-gen Core i7 processors at a much lower price. How does it do that? Simple: by upping the core count! You now get 6 true cores, rather that 4 cores plus Hyperthreading, which in our testing typically replicated a 6-core CPU in ideal conditions. Now you don't need to worry about the reliability of Hyperthreading, because you're running on real silicon! Even better, you'll have a good chance at hitting at least 5GHz when overclocking, using the potent cooler we recommend later in this guide. It's simply the best pure gaming CPU on the market, and thanks to a drop down to its original MSRP for Black Friday week, it's a steal!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU is a member of Intel's new "Coffee Lake" generation of CPUs, and while it uses the same socket 1151 as previous-gen Skylake and Kaby Lake chips, it cannot use their motherboards. It requires a new Z370 chipset.

    Motherboard:

    MSI Z370 SLI Plus

    This Z370 board features the Realtek ALC1220 audio codec (the best available), dual M.2 SSD slots that supports either PCIe or SATA drives, Intel Gigabit LAN, and eight USB ports (including USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports). This board will even support dual video cards running in SLI, giving you plenty of room to upgrade down the line.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Remember, you need a Z370-based motherboard to support the Core i5-8600K chip. Older Z270 boards cannot be updated to support it.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2

    The GTX 1080 Ti is such a big deal in the gaming world that we recently reworked this build from the ground up to fit it into the budget. Offering speed that's nearly 30% higher than the GTX 1080, the 1080 Ti simply shattered expectations of the performance that gamers could enjoy at this pricepoint. To learn more, see our full benchmark review.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the GTX 1080 Ti has been in short supply for months, so you might need to backorder one to ensure you can get one at a good price.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance RGB DDR4-3200

    In our Gamer's Bench article exploring Gaming on DDR4, we found that recent CPUs can benefit from all the memory bandwidth you can throw at them. That's why we're recommending that you go for Corsair's fast, RGB-lit 2x8GB DDR4-3200 kit, which offers the best combination of speed and style on the market.

    The Guru's Tip:

    RAM prices are going up on a weekly basis, so don't wait around for them to drop - it's not going to happen for a long time! As stock gets replenished, it comes in at a higher price, which is why typically low-volume gear like this ultra-high-end kit is currently cheaper than just about anything else! Trust us - it won't be this price for long!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 3D 500GB M.2

    This brand-new drive is now the value leader among high-performance SATA drives, undercutting every competitor in price, despite keeping up with the very fastest SATA drives ever released. It uses high-end 3D TLC NAND developed by SanDisk, which is now part of Western Digital.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll need a jeweler's-type screwdriver to install this drive.

    Hard Drive:

    Seagate Barracuda 2TB

    For mass storage, we recommend the proven Barracuda from Seagate, which spins at 7200RPM to provide great performance.

    The Guru's Tip:

    After another recent price cut, this drive is now just a few dollars more than competing 1TB drives, making it an exceptional bargain.

    Case:

    SilverStone PM01CR-W Matte Black

    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. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    Thanks to a nice discount, we're now recommending this case is our favorite color, matte black, but it's available in a wide variety of finishes, including glossy white with blue LEDs and glossy black with red LEDs, as well as with tempered glass, which is listed later in this guide as an optional upgrade.

    Power Supply:

    Seasonic SSR-750FX

    With power supply prices rising across the board, it's hard to find value anywhere. Luckily, Seasonic's brand-new FX line has recently hit the market, and at its current price, it's the obvious choice for this system. Offering 750W of Gold-rated power, fully-modular cables, and a quiet semi-passive design, it can't be beat. It even has a 10-year warranty! The only problem: it's selling so fast that it often sells out entirely!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this build will draw about 400W at load, meaning you'll be right in the sweetspot of this PSU's 90% efficiency curve.

    CPU Cooler:

    Noctua NH-U14S

    The incredible Noctua NH-U14S is among the very finest air coolers ever released. Noctua has been in the game for a long time, and its premium designs command respect - they set the benchmark against which all other air coolers must be judged. To learn more about what makes the NH-U14S so amazing, see our 140mm CPU Cooler shootout review pitting the NH-U14S against a number of serious competitors.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While every cooler comes with thermal paste, it's always nice to know you're getting premium quality, and this cooler comes with a tube of the ultra-premium Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste right in the box.

    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!

Optional Components

    Case (Optional):

    SilverStone Primera PM01C-RGB Matte Black (Opt.)

    SilverStone takes style to the next level with its upgraded RGB version of the PM01 case. Featuring a tempered glass side panel, built-in RGB lighting, and RGB fan grills, it's truly stunning. And among several color choices, matte black is definitely our favorite. In fact, this is the best-looking case we've ever seen, and we've seen a lot! It also comes with an RGB control box and a PWM fan header, both worth around $20 on their own!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Of course, if you want to stick with the white theme of this build, just go for the PM01 RGB in glossy white!

    Fan:

    Noctua NF-A14 PWM chromax.black.swap

    While the SilverStone PM01 case has class-leading airflow out of the box, to truly maximize its cooling potential, you can add two of these excellent 140mm fans to the roof of the case. Heat will have nowhere to go but out! And take note: while Noctua has been the market leader in high-end fans for years thanks to its trademarke beige fans, this brand-new "blacked-out" version is going to take the market by storm!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We've specifically chosen a non-LED fan here, as the case has its own lighting system.

    The Ultimate Business Keyboard:

    Corsair Strafe MX Silent

    For a truly premium PC experience, you have to go with a mechanical keyboard. But most such keyboards are quite loud, and will turn a lot of people off, especially when you're not gaming. So for the Premium Gaming PC, we suggest Corsair's Strafe MX Silent, the only gaming keyboard available with Cherry's patented MX Silent keys. Using rubber dampers to control impact noise, this keyboard gives you the weighty feel of true mechanical switches without the racket.

    The Guru's Tip:

    For gamers who aren't concerned about typing noise, the Corsair K70 Lux MX Red is another great option.

    The Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse:

    Logitech G703 Lightspeed

    We've tested a lot of mice, and we have one absolute favorite: the G403 Wireless. It's as responsive as any wired mouse, and yet frees you from the constraints of a cable.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The G703's "PowerPlay" technology allows it to be charged wirelessly via a powered mouse surface. The setup isn't cheap, but it is most definitely awesome!

    The Gamer's Dream Monitor:

    Acer XB271HU

    This one's easy - if you want the perfect monitor to complement this build, you want the XB271HU from Acer. Offering a big 27" IPS panel with a 2560 x 1440 resolution, this monitor has the colors and the viewing angles that no cheaper TN-based monitor can muster. But more importantly, it's imbued with Nvidia's G-Sync technology, which will help get the very most out of the high framerates that the GTX 1080 Ti video card can deliver. By matching those framerates to the refresh rate (you'll typically be at around 100fps at this resolution), you get ultra-smooth gaming without lag or tearing. It really is a revolution in gaming technology.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Be careful - Acer sells an identical-looking model with a TN panel - it even goes by the same name: the XB271HU. We suggest you avoid it, as it's vastly inferior.