One of the things we pride ourselves with here at TBG is testing out lots of different PC build configurations. And there's a reason for that: we want to give our readers insights on all the latest in PC tech, but also want to make sure that when they go to build a PC that new tech doesn't get in the way of compatibility or ease of use. So while we have a wide variety of step-by-step assembly guides in our How-To Guides section, we won't rest on our laurels. As new platforms and components arrive on the market, we'll be updating each of our guides to make sure you, our readers, have the freshest information.
Not to belabor the point, but there's an important reason to keep up on tech and not just go with what's popular. We know popular consensus seems like a logical way to go about selecting components, but it doesn't always get you the best products. If you go to Newegg and sort cases by "Best Rating," for example, you'll end up with the "most popular" case, which is the Antec 900 from 2006. It's been rated at the top for at least five years. The Antec 900 is a case we first tested in 2008, and you know what... it wasn't that great back then. That's why we strive to go hands-on with as many new products as possible, because once in a while, we come upon a "must have" new product that really does make the PC building experience a whole lot better.
And that's why we're re-inventing the wheel with this High-End PC Assembly Guide, which will officially replace our 2014 Edition as the go-to step-by-step guide for anyone looking to put together a PC in the $1,500 to $2,000 price range. Three of the critical pieces of tech that we're using here are ones that have only become mainstream in the past year or so: M.2 solid-state drives, fully-modular cases, and 140mm case fans and coolers. Each of these is so far and away superior to what's come before that we think you really have to consider them if you're building a new high-end PC.
We've combined some of our favorite parts from a number of our high-end and ultra-high-end buyer's guides to give you exposure to what's available on the market today. As you can see below, this isn't an overly-complicated build, but it is fairly cutting-edge:
Here are components seen above:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K
- Motherboard: Asus Z170-A (thanks to Newegg and Asus for providing this review sample)
- Memory: G.Skill 4x8GB Ripjaws 4 DDR4-3000
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 980 FTW 4GB
- Solid-State Drive #1: Samsung 850 Evo 500GB M.2
- Solid-State Drive #2: Crucial MX200 1TB
- Case: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX
- Power Supply: EVGA Supernova 850 GS
- CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S (thanks to Noctua for providing this review sample)
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home Download
This system is based on Intel's Skylake platform, introduced in August 2015. It's not necessarily revolutionary, but it did introduce a few new standards to the mainstream PC audience: DDR4 memory and full-speed M.2 solid-state drive slots. For this build, we'll be filling all four of our motherboard's DDR4 slots, and we'll also be using the M.2 SSD slot, although as we'll explain, we haven't chosen the absolute fastest SSD to pair with it. Ironically, one of the oldest components in this build is the video card; the GeForce GTX 980 was originally introduced in September 2014, and we've been at the cusp of the next-gen for quite some time, and we'll still be at the cusp for many months after this article has been published. Eventually, there will be something like a GTX 1080 to replace it, but that will have to wait until our next guide in late 2016! The very newest product in our component list is the stellar Enthoo Evolv ATX case. It's fairly expensive as mid-size cases go (retailing for about $180), but wow, is it worth it! Remember the Antec 900 we mentioned in the introduction? Yeah, this case will put that one to shame in just about every possible way!
All right, now that you've heard why we built this PC, and what components went into it, it's time to see how it actually all came together!