$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 August 2017, this build continues to feature the brand-new Intel Core i7-7800X six-core CPU, which is so popular that you'll almost certainly have to backorder it to get your hands on one. Based on the latest Skylake-X archiecture, it runs at a 3.5GHz base clock, and can easily overclock to well over 4GHz (4.6Ghz is not unheard of!). But where you'll get your real gaming firepower is in this system's dual GTX 1080 Ti video cards running in SLI. To learn more about how this setup performs, check out our in-depth 4K Benchmarks featuring a GTX 1080 Ti SLI combo! Even with this huge video subsystem, you'll still have room in the budget for an ultra-fast 1TB PCIe-based SSD. Complete your rig using Corsair's 750D case and a fantastic 1200W Gold-rated power supply, and you'll definitely have the Ultimate Gaming system!

New this month, we've added an "Optional Components" section of the guide to provide the very best products to round out your system, from optional hard drives to our favorite peripherals to the very best monitor you can buy for this system. To browse all the options, check out our Monitor Buyer's Guide, Peripherals Buyer's Guide and Speaker/Headset Buyer's Guide, which provide our picks for the best accesories at every pricepoint. 

If you have questions about this build, feel free to post in our Reader Forum. 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.

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 - August 2017


    Intel Core i7-7800X

    The brand-new Core i7-7800X, based on Intel's advanced Skylake-X architecture, is the high-end CPU to beat. Combining the per-core efficiency of the mainstream Core i7-7700K quad-core CPU, but with six cores on board, it's an amazing value among high-end processors. It comes clocked at 3.5GHz, but should be able to overclock past 4.2GHz with the cooler we recommend later in this guide. Keep in mind that because it's so new, you'll likely need to backorder it.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the Core i7-7820X eight-core processor is also a great option for an extra $200 or so, but its main benefit is for content creators - for gamers, it offers little benefit.


    MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

    This new X299 board from MSI is an awesome high-end pick at a mid-range price. You get dual M.2 slots (both front-mounted and capable of supporting PCIe or SATA drives), nine USB ports including USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, MSI's Mystic Light RGB lighting and controller, and the premium ALC1220 audio codec. To round out the package, you get dual-stream 802.11ac networking and Bluetooth built in.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This board 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.

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming OC 11GB

    Based on our recent 4K benchmarks featuring the GTX 1080 Ti in SLI, we know that running two GTX 1080 Ti cards in SLI provides up to 70% higher performance than any single card. That includes the Titan X, despite the 1080 Ti SLI combo coming in at a similar price.

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you're lucky, you'll actually be able to grab a couple GTX 1080 Ti cards at the retail price. They nearly sold out worldwide during the most recent cryptocurrency mining craze, which is thankfully coming to an end.

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming OC 11GB

    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 motherboard to connect your two 1080 Ti cards.


    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. Just note that this kit will default to DDR4-2133 until the XMP profile is selected in the UEFI.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Unfortunately, RAM prices continue their relentless rise, resulting from insufficient DRAM production to meet demand. In fact, this very kit has increased in price $75 since the beginning of the year, and yet is still the best-priced 3200MHz kit available. Reports suggest that RAM will continue to rise in price through at least the end of 2017, so don't hold your breath waiting for a better deal!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 960 Evo 1TB PCIe NVMe

    The Samsung 960 Evo 1TB is the drive to beat for ultra-high-end system. Harnessing the PCIe interface, the NVMe protocol, and high-quality TLC 3D V-NAND, it's incredibly fast, and among the very few 1TB PCIe drives that can nearly saturate the PCIe 3.0 interface!

    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 screwdriver kit.


    Corsair Obsidian 750D Airflow Edition

    The 750D is stylish in an understated way, provides unbeatable airflow, and offers plenty of room to build a high-end system. It includes three 140mm fans and uses a meshed front panel for unrestricted cooling.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that if you're not using 3.5" hard drives, you can remove the internal drive cage, and just use the rear-mounted sleds for any additional SSDs you add.

    Power Supply:

    Seasonic SSR-1200GD

    An overclocked Core i7-7800X paired with two overclocked GTX 1080 Ti cards will draw about 750-800W at peak load when fully overclocked. While that means you could get by with an 1000W PSU in this system, we instead suggest this Gold-rated fully-modular 1200W 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:

    Seasonic is the most respected name in the PSU business, and after retreating from the limelight for a few years, it's come back swinging with its new Prime series of PSUs.

    CPU Cooler:

    Corsair Hydro H115i Liquid Cooler

    To get the maximum possible overclock out of the hot-running Core i7-7800K, you want extreme liquid cooling. With dual 140mm fans, the H115i 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!

Optional Components

    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.

    The Ultimate Wireless Mouse:

    Logitech G403 Prodigy Wireless Gaming Mouse

    We'd been waiting years for "The One" to arrive, and it did so in September 2016, in the form of the Logitech G403. Offering responsiveness that matches or beats every wired mouse on the market, this wireless model allows you to game without the tether, which is just so much more better than being tied to your desk!

    The Guru's Tip:

    No, this doesn't have the best-looking RGB effects, but if you're after performance and feel, the G403 is unbeatable.

    The Ultimate Gaming Keyboard:

    Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire Keyboard

    For the very fastest gameplay, the K70 RGB Rapidfire has no equal. Harnessing Cherry's unique MX Speed switches with an ultra-short 1.2mm throw, you can't possibly miss a keystroke with the board.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The only drawback to the responsiveness of the K70 Rapidfire is that you may need to retrain yourself to type a bit to avoid double-typing letters.

    The 34-inch Gaming Monitor:

    Acer Predator X34

    Yes, we know that "4K gaming" is what everyone's talking about, but for a truly exceptional gaming experience, enthusiasts in the know are picking up ultra-wides. Featuring a resolution of 3440 x 1440, this monitor provides an awesomely-wide view on your gaming environment. And the big benefit it offers over every 4K monitor currently on the market is a refresh rate of 100Hz, which translates to far smoother gaming than the 60Hz that 4K monitors are limited to. And with its G-Sync technology, this monitor can actually vary its refresh rate when framerates drop below 100fps to makes sure there's no tearing or lag.

    The Guru's Tip:

    As a rule of thumb, we recommend you spend 1/3 as much on your monitor as you do on your gaming PC. So in this case, that would translate to around $1,150 or so, and the X34 thankfully dips in just below that, as of our most recent update.