$2500 Build

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!

Sometimes market conditions force you to reconsider how to best allocate your budget, and for September 2017, we took a long, hard look at what's been happening in the SSD and RAM markets and decided it was time to shake things up a bit. So this month, while we're sticking with the Intel Core i7-7700K, just about everything else changes. We move from a single GTX 1080 Ti GPU to dual GTX 1080 cards in SLI, which on average provides 25% better performance. And we're not just throwing out random numbers here. In fact, we were one of the very first sites on the 'net to showcase 4K gaming performance using single and dual GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti cards - check out our benches here! To make room in the budget for this dynamic duo, we've droppped from 32GB to 16GB of RAM (which saves a ton of money given the skyrocketing price of RAM), and move from a 1TB PCIe-based SSD to a 1TB SATA-based SSD, which will have exactly zero impact on your gaming experience, yet saves nearly $200. To hold all your gear, we suggest the stylish Thermaltake View 31 RGB case, and to support all the high-end gear you'll be running, we go for nothing less than EVGA's market-leading 850W Gold-rated power supply.

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. Note that we now highlight our favorite accessories for this build in the optional components section, including the best high-end peripherals and monitor. If you're looking for more options, feel free to browse our Monitor Buyer's GuidePeripherals Buyer's Guide, and Speaker/Headset Buyer's Guide for all our favorite picks! 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. 

Feel free to stop by our Reader Forum to share thoughts about this build, and 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.

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 - September 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7700K

    Intel's Core i7-7700K, launched in January, 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

    This board 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. This board of course supports dual video cards in an x8/x8 configuration, which is what we now recommend for this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You even get an 802.11ac PCIe networking and Bluetooth with this model, a very rare feature in this price range.

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Windforce 8GB

    To get playable framerates at 4K, you need a seriously-powerful GPU... make that two GPUs! Going with two GTX 1080 video cards in SLI ensures excellent performance across the board. With a big factory overclock and impressive cooling potential, this model is a great candidate for SLI, and running two will easily eclipse even a Titan Xp, which costs over twice as much. To learn how 1080 SLI performs at 4K in both single- and dual-card configurations, see our hands-on benchmarks!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the GTX 1080 is in high demand, and this model sells out often. If you find it in stock, don't hesitate, because it might be gone tomorrow!

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Windforce 8GB

    To set up SLI, we recommend installing just one card to start, setting up your operating system, and then shutting down and installing the second card, attaching the second set of power cables, and affixing the SLI bridge. When you start back up, the Nvidia drivers may automatically enable SLI, but in our experience, you typically have to open the Nvidia control panel and manually engage it.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The motherboard recommended for this build includes the high-bandwidth SLI bridge that will unleash the full potential of dual GTX 1080 cards.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 Black

    This 16GB Corsair Vengeance kit will provide more than enough capacity for any usage scenario. And based on our DDR4 Gaming Benchmarks, we know DDR4-3000 is the best pick for a system like this. Be wary of guides that suggest DDR4-2133 or DDR4-2400, which will seriously handicap the Core i7-7700K processor.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Prices on DDR4 RAM have more than doubled over the past year, and we expect a continued rise throughout 2017. We've therefore moved from 32GB down to 16GB in this system, which saves hundreds of dollars without impacting gaming performance at all.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial MX300 1TB M.2

    This drive offers the very best value in today's M.2 SATA market. With just about every other drive rising in price recently, it basically has no competition at all.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This being an M.2 drive, you'll need a jeweler's-type screwdriver to install it.

    Case:

    Thermaltake View 31 RGB Tempered Glass

    With three pre-installed 140mm fans and a fully-modular interior, this case provides ample airflow for a high-performance PC. You also get built-in fan control and fully-customizable LED lighting thanks to the included Thermaltake Riing RGB controller, which combined with the transparent front panel and dual tempered glass side panels make this case truly stand out.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Want to learn more about this case and how to build it up? Just check out our hands-on review!

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova 850 G3

    EVGA's G3 series leads the pack when it comes to high-end power supplies. Offering 850W of Gold-rated power despite a price that competes with far less capable models, the 850 G3 is a perfect match for this build. In addition to abundant power, it offers a zero fan mode at loads under ~400W, right where this system will operate.

    The Guru's Tip:

    850W is more than enough power to support dual GTX 1080 video cards, which together with the CPU  will only draw about 550W, but the extra headroom ensures the PSU is never stressed, meaning it will run cool and quiet.

    CPU Cooler:

    Corsair Hydro H100i v2 Liquid Cooler

    To overclock a Core i7-7700K to the fullest extent, you need extreme cooling, because you'll be pouring a lot of voltage into that chip. 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. You'll often see builds with the cooler mounted up front, pulling in cool outside air and blowing super-heated through the case. This lowers CPU temps at the expense of the system as a whole.

    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

    The Ultimate Gaming Keyboard:

    Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire Keyboard

    This is our favorite gaming keyboard, offering awesome styling thanks to the per-key programmable RGB lighting and the aluminum faceplate. It also has a removable wrist rest and the ultra-quick Cherry MX Speed mechanical switches.

    The Guru's Tip:

    MX Speed switches are similar to MX Red in terms of resistance, but have a much shorter throw (1.2mm versus 2mm), giving this keyboard its Rapidfire name. In fact, they're so responsive you'll need to retrain yourself to type on them!

    The Ultimate Wireless Mouse:

    Logitech G403 Prodigy Wireless Gaming Mouse

    This is our favorite gaming mouse, bar none. All the responsiveness of a wired model, with none of the drag!

    The Guru's Tip:

    The battery in this mouse lasts about 24 hours before needing to be charged with its included USB cable.

    The 27-inch 4K G-Sync Monitor:

    AOC Agon AG271UG

    Get the most out of your 4K gaming rig with this G-Sync-enabled 27" 4K gaming monitor. Featuring a variable refresh rate between 30Hz and 60Hz, it will keep your gaming smooth and steady even when the going gets tough. It's the perfect match for dual GTX 1080 cards, which according to our benchmarks can typically provide a minimum of 60fps at 4K.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This monitor uses a high-quality IPS panel for vivid colors and excellent off-angle viewing. We don't recommend any serious gamers consider the 4K TN-based models that sell for a bit less.