The Best $2500 Extreme 4K/VR Gaming PC Build – May 2022

By Ari Altman | Published April 20, 2022 | Updated May 9, 2022

Phanteks P500A BlackGame to the Extreme!

If you’re looking to play all the latest games on a 4K or ultra-wide monitor, you’re going to need extreme processing power. And that’s what the $2,500 Gaming PC Build delivers – every component has been selected with one and only one goal in mind: maximum high-resolution performance for $2,500, with a healthy dose of style thrown in!

This Month’s Build, Powered by Intel and Nvidia!

For May 2022, the $2,500 Gaming PC Build is powered by Intel’s amazing Core i7-12700KF, a 12-core, 20-thread hybrid masterpiece, which hauls through games and everything else. It’s backing up a powerhouse of a GPU, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 12GB, which is now selling for way under MSRP, a price unimaginable just a few months ago!

But this build is about more than just a fancy CPU and GPU. It also includes 16GB of DDR4-3600 RAM, a fast 1TB PCIe solid-state drive, the sweet P500A mesh case from Phanteks, a huge liquid CPU cooler, and a potent 850W Gold-rated power supply. In other words, it’s great in every way!

Parting Thoughts

We highlight our favorite accessories for this build in the optional components section at the end of this guide, 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!

Throughout this guide, we provide direct links to Amazon or Newegg in the US, and our Amazon links will auto-convert for readers in other regions, including Canada, the UK, and parts of the EU, with 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 Pre-Built Option

  • The Ultra-High-End Gaming PC

    ABS Gladiator Corsair 12700KF/RTX 3080 @Newegg

    $2600

    ULTRA-HOT! This system from Newegg’s ABS division is an awesome ultra-high-end build, ready to go out of the box! It’s equipped with Intel’s incredible Core i7-12700KF 12-core, 20-thread CPU, a Corsair 280mm Capellix AIO liquid cooler, and a GeForce RTX 3080 GPU! Also on the build list is 32GB of Corsair DDR4-3200 RAM, a 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD, and a Corsair RM850x Gold-rated PSU. Making this truly gamer-grade is the elite Corsair 5000X chassis!

    The Guru’s Tip

    Thanks to a recent price cut, this pre-built machine is a tempting alternative to the DIY build we spec out below!

The DIY Build

  • CPU

    Intel Core i7-12700KF

    $351

    Intel reclaims the gaming lead with its 12th-Gen “Alder Lake” CPUs, and the 12700KF is the CPU to get for extreme performance without going overboard on cost. It handily beats the Ryzen 7 5800X and Ryzen 9 5900X, and is nearly as fast as Intel’s top-end 12900K!

    The Guru’s Tip

    This CPU doesn't come with a cooler, but the high-powered model we list later in this guide will keep it nicely chilled!

  • Motherboard

    MSI Z690 Tomahawk WiFi DDR4

    $270

    This sweet Socket 1700 board is a perfect match for Intel’s latest CPUs. MSI’s Tomahawk line has always defined the sweet spot for performance boards, and this one is no different. It features a potent 16-phase VRM with 70A power stages, four PCIe Gen 4 M.2 slots, a PCIe Gen 5 video card slot, eight USB ports (including a Type-C port), and integrated WiFi 6E plus 2.5Gbs LAN. Note that it conforms to the DDR4 RAM standard, allowing the use of less expensive memory while maintaining similar performance to DDR5-based systems.

    The Guru’s Tip

    We're going with a DDR4-based board to drastically reduce platform costs. DDR4 costs half as much as DDR5 at similar performance levels.

  • Video Card

    MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming Z Trio 12G LHR

    $1000

    Nvidia has truly one-upped AMD with the release of the RTX 3080 12GB. With performance that beats the Radeon RX 6900 XT and nearly matches the much more expensive RTX 3080 Ti 12GB, it’s simply the best card available in its price range. And this version from MSI uses a hugely-effective triple-fan cooler to ensure great performance!

    The Guru’s Tip

    The price on this card is far below that of many 3080 10GB models, despite far higher performance!

  • Memory

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance RGB Pro DDR4-3600 C16

    $103

    We go for slick, ultra-fast RAM for this build. At 3600MHz with 16-19-19-39 timings, this kit provides incredible speed in addition to its capacity. Of course, it also looks the part, with the best RGB lighting on the market!

    The Guru’s Tip

    This RAM will make the most out of Alder Lake's DDR4 compatibility.

  • Solid-State Drive

    WD_Black SN850 1TB NVMe

    $150

    The fastest M.2 drive on the planet…. that title has been held by many drives, but for now, the WD_Black holds it. Powered by amazingly-fast NAND flash, and maxing out the PCIe Gen 4 bus, it’s the one you want!

    The Guru’s Tip

    While gaming PCs don't need a Gen 4 drive to perform well, this drive has dropped enough in price to make top-tier performance affordable!

  • Case

    Phanteks Eclipse P500A Digital RGB

    $160

    Phanteks cases are simply exquisite; no other manufacturer can quite match the great blend of quality materials, attention to detail, and high performance, especially for the price. And the P500A may be Phanteks’ crowning achievement: an ultra-high performance ATX case with killer looks! A few of the very cool touches on this case include the hinged glass door on the left side and the integrated RGB light pipe on the PSU shroud. No one does it better!

    The Guru’s Tip

    This case's ARGB fans can be sync'd with the 3-pin ARGB header on the motherboard we recommend. You'll also have full access to the case's front Type-C port thanks to the motherboard's Type-C header.

  • ARGB Fan

    ARCTIC P12 PWM PST A-RGB

    $17

    Arctic started with its proven P12 design and made it even better with the ARGB version. It adds not only very slick ARGB effects, but also a stabilizer ring at the blade edges, rubber bumpers on the corners, and a 0dB mode, allowing it to spin smoothly down to zero with a low PWM signal. In our shootout, this fan performed amazingly well, beating even the P12! Basically, if you’re looking for the best all-around ARGB fan on the market, whether for heatsink, radiator, or case fan applications, this is the one!

    The Guru’s Tip

    While it may seem like a small change, adding this case to the back of this build's case will dramatically improve cooling performance!

  • Power Supply

    Phanteks Revolt Pro 850W

    $140

    The Revolt 850W from Phanteks offers exceptional performance at a great price. It features 850W of Gold-rated power, fully-modular cables, a low-noise fan design with zero-fan mode, and classy styling that really sets it apart from the competition!

    The Guru’s Tip

    This PSU will easily handle the CPU and GPU in this system, which together will draw around 600W at max load.

  • CPU Cooler

    Arctic Liquid Freezer II 280 ARGB

    $120

    To run a high-wattage CPU, you need extreme cooling, and we suggest you go straight for this awesome 280mm liquid cooler, which offers the best performance of any 280mm AIO on the market! That comes down to its big 38mm-thick radiator, effective pump, and the best ARGB fans on the market, the Arctic P14 A-RGB models. They provide both great looks and superior performance at low noise levels.

    The Guru’s Tip

    This cooler will have no trouble keeping the power-hungry CPU cool, and will fit perfect at the top of the large case we recommend.

  • Adapter

    ARCTIC Intel LGA1700 Upgrade Kit for Liquid Freezer II Series

    $7

    This adapter guarantees compatibility with Intel Socket 1700 CPUs and motherboards.

    The Guru’s Tip

    While Arctic will eventually ship all LFII coolers with this adapter, to ensure you're ready to build on day one, we recommend you buy this adapter kit in addition to the cooler.

  • Operating System

    Windows 11 Home USB

    $139

    Windows 11 take everything people loved about Windows 10, and then takes it to 11! It adds significant under-the-hood changes to make it faster and more secure, and of course, the interface is sleek too!

    The Guru’s Tip

    Microsoft took its sweet time launching Win11 at retail after making it available as an update for existing W10 users, but it's finally here and it's what you want on a new system!

Optional Products

  • The 32" 4K 144Hz Gamer's Dream Monitor

    Gigabyte M32U

    $760

    It took seemingly forever for the elusive 32″ 4K 144Hz panels that gamers had dreamed of for years to finally hit the market, and surprisingly Gigabyte was first out of the gate with one widely available at retail. Known for its high-end video cards and motherboards, Gigabyte has quickly made a name for itself in the gaming monitor market, and the M32U simply astounds with its features. Get a load of these specs: a 31.5″ 3840 x 2160 4K IPS panel, 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms (GTG) response time, FreeSync, 10-bit color,  90% DCI-P3  and 123% sRGB color space, and VESA DisplayHDR 400. It even has a built-in KVM switch, allowing you to use it on multiple systems with the push of a button!

    The Guru’s Tip

    There's no better way to show off what your 4K gaming rig than with this awesome, value-packed 4K monitor!

  • The Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

    Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 Rapidfire

    $133
    The Corsair K70 set the standard for mechanical gaming keyboards and is still the benchmark by which all others are judged. With its solid aluminum construction and detachable wrist rest, it’s a truly premium option. And for the very fastest gameplay, there’s nothing better than the Rapidfire version, which uses Cherry’s unbeaten MX Speed switches. The short throws give you amazing response and feel.
    The Guru’s Tip

    Once you try a mechanical board, you'll never go back!

  • The Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse

    Logitech G502 Lightspeed Wireless

    $120

    Logitech designed the G502 Lightspeed Wireless to be the ultimate technological tour de force in the gaming mouse industry. Featuring a mesmerizing 25K Hero sensor, tunable weights, RGB lighting, and the best wireless connectivity, it is impossible to beat. And you can even upgrade it to ultra-elite status with the optional PowerPlay charging mat, which allows you to use it forever without stopping to charge thanks to the exclusive wireless charging capability!

    The Guru’s Tip

    We've been using this mouse since the day it launched and we absolutely love it!

  • The Deluxe PC Headset

    Corsair Virtuoso Wireless Headset

    $180
    Combining ultra-high-end performance with incredible comfort, this wireless headset from Corsair is the ideal all-day companion for listening to the latest market news. This headset also has an audiophile-grade microphone, perfect for teleconferencing. Free free to check out our full review right here!
    The Guru’s Tip

    We use this headset everyday, and it's a solid as the day we took it out of the box!

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