Note: This guide is now out-of-date and has been replaced by our Guide to Assembling a High-End PC (2016) - check it out for a brand-new Skylake-based build!
This is one in a series of Tech Buyer's Guru step-by-step builder’s guides, and this particular guide is aimed at the experienced PC builder looking to build a high-end gaming or overclocking PC. If you're a beginner, check out our Basic PC assembly guide, or if you need a refresher on building a mainstream PC, check out our Mid-Range PC assembly guide. The High-End PC guide takes the process to the next level, showing you how to build yourself a high-end gaming PC with all the fixings. If you haven’t built a PC before, you should read the other guides first, which go into a bit more detail on each step of the building process. This guide provides more insights into special considerations regarding high-end component compatibility and how to achieve a "pro" setup.
So, the first step as always is to determine exactly what your needs are. With this system, we were aiming to build a high-end gaming PC with lots of room and flexibility, as it will be used as the new benchmarking system for The Tech Buyer’s Guru. That means this system will be seeing lots of parts swaps, so ease of access and high levels of component compatibility were critical, while low noise and compactness were secondary. The system we settled on was based on our $2,000 Premium Gaming PC Build Guide as of June 2014, with a few tweaks based on components we had purchased previously or received as review samples. As with all of our buyer's guides, the $2,000 Premium Gaming PC is updated regularly, so definitely check it out for insights on the very best parts currently available in this price range.
What did we end up with? Well, hopefully a system that will support benchmarking of the latest games and applications for several years, with a new video card or two along the way. Here’s the component lineup, which you’ll get to know in great detail as you flip through the detailed photos in this guide:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K
- Motherboard: ASRock Z97 Extreme4 (thanks to ASRock and Newegg for providing this review sample)
- Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X 4GB
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2x4GB DDR3-1866
- Solid-State Drive: Crucial M4 256GB (this drive has been discontinued, and as of our latest update, the current model is the MX200)
- Hard Drive: Seagate 1TB Solid-State Hybrid Drive (thanks to Seagate and Newegg for providing this review sample)
- Case: Corsair Carbide 500R
- Power Supply: EVGA Supernova G2 850W
- Optical Drive: LG 24x DVD Burner
- CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro H100i
- Thermal Interface Material: Arctic MX-4
- Operating System: Windows 8.1
Below you’ll see just about all of these components displayed before we’ve even pried open the boxes:
Looks pretty neat, huh? Well, things are going to get a whole lot messier before this is all over! But to help keep our sanity, we need to prep our work space. We actually decided to build this system on the floor, rather than a table, due primarily to the large size of the Corsair Carbide case. For smaller systems, a table is probably more comfortable. Either way, you’ll want to put a towel down to make sure you don’t scratch your new case as you build. Below is a photo of the 500R right out of the box – ain’t she a beauty?
And here are some of the more photogenic components in our build today – the ASRock Z97 Extreme4 motherboard, the Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X 4GB video card, the EVGA Supernova G2 850W power supply, and the Corsair Hydro H100i CPU cooler.
OK, now that you've checked out the parts we'll be using, it's time to get building!