$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.

We rolled out our November 2017 build early to add some great new components, as well as to respond to ever-changing market conditions. One thing that hasn't changed since last month is Intel's blazing-fast Core i7-7820X eight-core CPU. Based on the latest Skylake-X archiecture, it runs at a 3.6GHz base clock, and can easily overclock to well over 4GHz (4.5Ghz is not unheard of!). It has plenty of processing power to support any game on the market today (or in the foreseeable future), and it will keep this system's dual GTX 1080 Ti video cards fed with data. To learn more about how this SLI setup performs, check out our in-depth 4K Benchmarks featuring a GTX 1080 Ti SLI combo! Even with this incredible video subsystem, you'll still have room in the budget for a fast 1TB SSD and 32GB of DDR4-3466 RAM. Complete your rig using Thermaltake's awesome new ultra-high-airflow Core 71, power it up with a fantastic 1200W Gold-rated power supply from the great minds at Seasonic, and you'll definitely have the Ultimate Gaming system! Alas, due to massive memory chip shortages that are adversely affecting both RAM prices and video card prices, this build is now well above its $3,500 target price, but we felt that rather than downgrade the system, we'd just let it float up a bit in price.

Note that we recently added an "Optional Components" section of the guide to provide the very best products to round out your system, from optional hard drives and cases, to our favorite peripherals, to the very best monitor you can buy for this system. To browse even more 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 - November 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i7-7820X

    The Core i7-7820X, based on Intel's advanced Skylake-X architecture, is the high-end CPU to beat. Combining the per-core efficiency of Intel's mainstream CPUs, but with eight cores on board, it's an amazing value among high-end processors. It comes clocked at 3.6GHz, but can easily overclock past 4.2GHz with the cooler we recommend later in this guide.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The high-end 7820X maintains a significant advantage over Intel's mainstream offerings, even its newest six-core modles, in terms of overall processing power.

    Motherboard:

    MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

    This X299 board from is an awesome high-end pick at a mid-range price. You get dual M.2 slots, nine USB ports including USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, the MSI Mystic Light RGB controller, the premium ALC1220 audio codec, and high-end 802.11ac wireless networking built right 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:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2

    Based on our 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. Our sources tell us that in addition to the pricing pressure from cryptocurrency mining, the tremendous memory chip shortage is going to continue driving prices upwards for the rest of the year.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2

    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.

    Memory:

    Corsair 4x8GB Vengeance LED DDR4-3466 Red

    For the Ultimate Gaming machine, we go big time, with an ultra-high-end 32GB DDR4-3466 kit. It features four sticks running with CAS 16 timings at 1.35V, which teamed up with this platform's quad-channel operation translates to absolutely 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:

    This kit offers LED lighting and an ultra-high-speed rating at a price that's lower than most standard DDR4-3200 kits! Catch it while you can - all RAM is going up in price on a weekly basis due to chronic chip shortages that will only get worse in 2018!

    Solid-State Drive:

    SanDisk Ultra 3D 1TB

    The brand-new SanDisk Ultra 3D 1TB is now the SATA drive to beat for an ultra-high-end system. Harnessing high-quality TLC 3D V-NAND, it's incredibly fast, and among the very few high-end SATA drives on the market.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While adding the letters "3D" to a product's name often amounts to just a bunch of marketing, the Ultra 3D is in a completely different class than the original SanDisk Ultra, and offers more real-world performance per dollar than any other drive on the market.

    Case:

    Thermaltake Core V71 Tempered Glass

    We've been recommending the Corsair Obsidian 750D for quite some time in this guide, but it's time to move on, as the competition has finally leapfrogged Corsair in terms of both design and functionality. Thermaltake's new Core V71 offers far better airflow thanks to its fully-meshed front and top panels along with its massive dual 200mm front fans, 200mm top fan, and 140mm rear fan, all controllable with top-mounted switches. It also wins in the aesthetics department, with blue LED lighting and a tempered glass side panel, all for around the same price. We think that anyone investing this much money in a case really must get tempered glass at this point, as acrylic windows are very prone to damage.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that to set up this build, you may actually end up removing some of the modular components in this case. First, you'll can take out the 3.5" hard drives cages, as you can just use the trays behind the motherboard panel. Second, you might want to remove the top fan depending on how you'd like to install the CPU cooler.

    Power Supply:

    Seasonic SSR-1200GD

    An overclocked Core i7-7820X paired with two overclocked GTX 1080 Ti cards will draw about 800W at peak load when fully overclocked. That means a 1000W PSU would be working well outside its comfort range, and 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:

    Thermaltake Floe Dual Riing RGB 280

    To get the maximum possible overclock out of the hot-running Core i7-7820X, you want extreme liquid cooling. With dual 140mm fans, the brand-new Floe 280 from Thermaltake is more than a match, and it might just let you hit a serious 4.4GHz overclock on your CPU! It also offers great customization options using its included fan speed and lighting controller.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This cooler comes with thermal paste pre-applied, but if you'd like to upgrade it or just want some spare paste on hand, we recommend Noctua NT-H1. To remove pre-existing paste, 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 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 Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse:

    Logitech G703 Lightspeed

    If you want the very best gaming mouse available, this is it. 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:

    One of the very cool features of the G703 is Logitech's "PowerPlay," which when combined with its forthcoming wireless charging mat, allows the G703 to be continuously charged while in use, without ever need to plug it in!

    The 35-inch Widescreen Monitor:

    Acer Predator Z35P

    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 120Hz, 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 X35 thankfully dips in just below that, as of our most recent update.