$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 March 2017, it's a whole new world, thanks to AMD's amazing Ryzen line of processors. We specifically recommend the Ryzen 7 1700X, as it offers all the best features in the Ryzen lineup along with a fantastic price. It will handily outperform the Intel Core i7-6850K Broadwell-E CPU, yet costs significantly less. That opens up room in the budget to equip this system with dual liquid-cooled GTX 1080 video cards, for the ultimate in gaming performance. Don't think SLI is for you? Well, then you owe it to yourself to check out our recent Gamer's Bench article, pitting the GTX 1080 in SLI against the Titan X Pascal! There's just no question that 1080 SLI delivers far better performance! In terms of storage, we go with the Samsung 960 Evo 500GB PCIe-based solid-state drive, which matches the discontinued Samsung 950 Pro 512GB in terms of speed at a much lower price. Paired with the still-potent 850 Evo 1TB SATA-based SSD, you're getting 1.5TB of combined solid-state storage. Of course, if you need more than 1TB of total storage, we suggest an optional 4TB hard drive you can add as well. Pack the system into Corsair's awesome 750D Airflow case, back it up with 1000W of Platinum-rated power, and you'll be in Ultimate Gaming wonderland!

Feel free to stop by our Reader Forum to share ideas about this build. 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, and if you want to see how this build compares to all our other builds, check out the new TBG PC Build Comparison Page. By the way, if you're looking for a new 144Hz, ultra-wide, or 4K monitor to go along with your PC, check out our Monitor Buyer's Guide, and if you need some new gaming gear, see our Peripherals Buyer's Guide and Speaker/Headset Buyer's Guide for all the latest and greatest gaming accessories. 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 - March 2017

    CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 7 1700X

    There is simply no better ultra-high-end CPU value than the new Ryzen 7 1700X. Featuring eight cores running at 3.4GHz, with Turbo to 3.8GHz, this chip can handle the most demanding tasks, offering performance that's better than Intel's ~$600 Core i7-6850K for 2/3 the price, and 2/3 the power use too. Note that the "X" in the model name signifies that this chip has XFR technology, which will auto-overclock if it detects sufficient cooling. So, of course we suggest an awesome liquid cooler later in this guide.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Ryzen (as in a new "Horizon") has fundamentally reset the CPU market, and in the process made almost every CPU in Intel's High-Performance Desktop line obsolete.

    Motherboard:

    Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero X370 AM4

    This new X370 release from Asus brings you the very best features you'll find in an AM4 socket board. This includes an M.2 slot with support for either PCIe or SATA M.2 drives, a high-bandwidth SLI bridge, along with an amazing 14 USB ports, including a USB 3.1 Type C port. It also features Asus Aura, a controllable RGB onboard lighting system. And this board delivers in the sound department too, with SupremeFX Audio and premium Japanese capacitors.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this board does not have video outputs, but that's because Asus expects you to use it with a high-performance Ryzen processor, not a budget AMD APU, which has built-in graphics. Ryzen CPUs are all about performance, and therefore have no built-in graphics.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW HYBRID

    Based on our latest in-depth benchmarks testing a wide array of games at 4K, running two GTX 1080 cards in SLI provides nearly 30% higher performance than the $1,200 Titan X Pascal, despite the similar price. And this liquid-cooled model will propel the GTX 1080 to the highest speeds possible, because the Pascal architecture is extremely sensitive to temperature. With video this card, there will be no throttling, period!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Expect to hit around 2100MHz on this GPU with manual overclocking.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW HYBRID

    Two 1080s in SLI is what will help you achieve gaming nirvana! 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 open up the driver control panel and checking to see that SLI is enabled.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the High-Bandwidth SLI bridge included with the X370 motherboard will allow the dual GTX 1080 cards to operate at their fastest possible speed!

    Memory:

    Corsair 4x8GB Vengeance LED 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 timings at 1.35V, providing you quad-channel operation for mind-blowing bandwidth. This is the fastest kit recommended for use with Ryzen processors, and its white LED lighting will add a bit more bling to your tricked-out system.

    The Guru's Tip:

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

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 960 Evo 500GB PCIe NVMe M.2

    The brand-new 960 Evo offers amazing performance, matching the previous king, the discontinued 950 Pro 512GB, in terms of performance, but coming in at a much lower price. The 960 Evo uses Samsung's 3D V-NAND design, the advanced PCIe interface for unmatched throughput, and the NVMe protocol for minimum overhead. In other words, it's ultra-fast!

    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 Stanley screwdriver kit!

    Solid-State Drive:

    Samsung 850 Evo 1TB

    On data duty, we recommend the 850 Evo 1TB. While it can't come close to matching the 960 Evo in sequential operations, for typical usage scenarios, it will perform very similarly, and offers quite a bit more capacity per dollar.

    The Guru's Tip:

    By the way, if you don't need more than 1TB of capacity, just go for a single Samsung 960 Evo 1TB. Having a single drive makes file management easier, and endows all your apps with the same massive PCIe speed boost.

    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.

    Case:

    Corsair Obsidian 750D Airflow Edition

    The 750D offers a huge interior, sleek styling, and quiet operation, along with tons of airflow (hence the name). You simply cannot find a case that's a better fit for an extreme gaming rig. This case comes equipped with three 140mm case fans, the front two directly in line with the CPU and video cards. With its brushed metal exterior, the 750D Airflow Edition looks as good as it works!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We've found that cases with fully-meshed front panels are critical to keeping two high-powered video cards cool, which is why the Airflow Edition is the only case we recommend for this build.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova PS 1000W

    An overclocked eight-core processor paired with two overclocked GTX 1080 cards will draw about 500-600W, which actually isn't all that much considering the power these components pack in. You can thank big efficiency gains achieved by both AMD and Nvidia in their latest chips. While that means you could get by with an 850W or even a 750W PSU in this system, they'd really be running at the ragged edge under load. Instead, we suggest this Platinum-rated fully-modular 1000W unit designed for EVGA by Seasonic. It offers fanless operation under almost all loads, along with amazing efficiency, peaking at above 92% with a 50% load (right around where this system will be running!).

    The Guru's Tip:

    This is the very unit we chose for our Ultra-High-End Benchmarking PC!

    CPU Cooler:

    Corsair Hydro H110i Liquid Cooler

    While most liquid coolers on the market do not yet include mounting hardware for the Ryzen AM4 socket, the Hydro H110i does - that's because it was designed for an older retention system that AMD has incorporated into the new AM4 system. It will provide the best cooling possible for a hot-clocked Ryzen CPU.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To get every last bit of performance out of this cooler, we recommend you remove its stock thermal paste with rubbing alcohol and apply Noctua NT-H1.

    Wireless Card (Optional):

    TP-LINK Archer T6E AC1300

    Because a lot of our readers want their ultra-high-end systems to have wireless Internet, we're listing this optional 802.11ac PCIe card. Of course, if you don't need wireless Internet, you can just leave this out - it isn't included in the total price for the build.

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you have a triple-stream 802.11ac router (i.e., at least 3 x 433Mbps on the 5GHz AC band), step up to the TP-Link Archer T9E.

    Optical Drive:

    LG 24x DVD Burner GH24NSC0B

    It's cheap and high quality, and makes the OS and other software installtion a whole lot easier!

    The Guru's Tip:

    After the departure of Sony and Samsung, LG is the last big company left in the optical drive business.

    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. And Windows has just released its "Anniversary Update", with a host of new features.

    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!