[How To is a recurring feature in which we demonstrate techniques designed to improve your game, and make your skill set more than a bit awesome. This time out, we’ll help you build a beast gaming PC]
Hello, interwebs. It’s been awhile since we showed you how to build an entry-level gaming PC for under $600 and defined the components you’d need. Hopefully, it was a great introduction. But what if you’re looking for a more powerful build — a dream machine, even? Maybe you’re interested in a high-end build and cash isn’t an issue. Maybe you just love drooling over specs. Regardless, this setup will let you run games on maximum settings without hiccup.
This beast has enough muscle to chew up and spit out intense, non-gaming tasks, too. If you dabble in hi-res digital art work, or edit photos or video, this build will let you plow through workloads. This PC is future-proofed, so major upgrades won’t be an issue, either. Without further adieu, lets jump into 2D-X’s dream build.
This build will use either Windows 7 or Windows 8 as they are the operating system that host the most video games. Some say that Windows 8 is flawed, but after five months I haven’t had an issue. Windows 7 is also viable for the time being, but also remember Windows 7 won’t support future DirectX releases.
Case: Cooler Master Cosmos II – Ultra Tower Computer Case with Aluminum and Steel Body (RC-1200-KKN1) – ($332.68)
First up, we need a case to hold all of our components while also providing the coolest and most efficient environment. Nothing is worse than burning out your components due to insufficient airflow. The case should be a mid- or full-ATX tower to fit an XL-ATX motherboard. Why go all out on a build and have a case without multiple drive bays, besides how else will you hold the terabytes of games you’ll surely amass. This larger tower also allows for graphics cards longer than twelve inches.
The Cooler Master Cosmos II ultra tower easily meets all of these requirements. You usually hear gimmicky sell lines like “airflow-optimized design.” It’s not a gimmick with the Cosmos II. The case supports up to 10 fans for maximum airflow, and has an advanced control panel that includes four-channel fan speed control. If you’re interested in high-speed external USB devices the case has two USB 3.0 ports, and four USB 2.0 ports. The case is large enough to support four-way Nvidia SLI or four-way AMD Cross Fire with a maximum length of 15.15 inches for each card. If you never want to worry about storage space this case does the job with support for up 13 HDDs (both 3.5” and 2.5”). The downside? This case roars as loud as the beastly components in it, and becomes a bit heavy (at over 30lbs.) easily when fully equipped.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3930K Hexa-Core Processor 3.2 Ghz 12 MB Cache LGA 2011 – BX80619I73930K – ($567.68)
Now to fill this case with beautiful silicon and machine soldered boards. For this dream gaming rig, the six-core Intel Core i7-3930k Hexa-Core 3.2-GHz processor with 12MB cache will fit the bill. It’s comparable to the Core i7-3970X Hexa-Core 3.5-GHz processor with 15MB cache, but costs almost $500 less. The mere difference in bus speeds doesn’t justify spending an extra 500 dollars; instead we’ll use our savings for a beefier motherboard and cooling system. With the right cooling system you’ll be able to push your CPU a bit harder (at your own risk). The 3930k is a great way to future-proof your CPU needs without spending over $1,000.
Motherboard: EVGA X79 FTW (LGA2011) SandyBridgeE/ATX/3-Way SLI+PhysX or CrossFireX Intel DDR3 2133MHz Ready Motherboard (151-SE-E777-K2) – ($259.99)
You’ll need a decent sized motherboard with a compatible socket for your CPU — thankfully, EVGA has you covered. The EVGA X79 is a full-featured motherboard that will easily quench your thirst for computer power. It supports 32GBs of DDR3 quad-channel RAM. And don’t worry about high-speed external devices not being supported; you’ll have access to eight USB 3.0 slots and two USB 2.0 slots. The EVGA X79 also has five PCI express 3.0 slots that support four graphics card.
This mobo supports 12 storage devices including four SATA 3Gb/s drives and two SATA 6Gb/s drives. It also has four SATA 3Gb/s and two SATA 6Gb/s RAID storage support. There are probably more expensive motherboards out there, but this will do the trick without any hiccups.
Solid State Drive: Kingston HyperX 120GB Upgrade Kit SATA III 2.5-Inch 6.0 Gb/s Solid State Drive with SandForce Technology SH100S3B/120G – ($129.49)
Conventional hard disk drives are much slower than solid state drives. HDDs have moving mechanical parts, which produce heat, access data slowly, and are prone to failure. Solid state drives are the complete opposite. They contain no moving parts, produce less heat, and have significantly faster read and write speeds. Speed is essential in computing. A ten second boot-up time will obviously be more beneficial than a minute boot-up time. Applications open faster, and load times in games will dramatically be reduced. However. SSD’s tend to be expensive and are sold in lower storage capacities than a standard drive. Since SSDs have limited storage space it’s important that you use the space wisely. Installing an OS on a SSD will dramatically improve the boot-up speed. The same goes for essential applications like Adobe Creative Suite, Steam, and games.
For this build, we’re going with Kingston’s HyperX 3K 120GB Upgrade Kit. You can choose to buy a larger drive, but they significantly increase in price as the capacity increases. What sets Kingston’s drive apart from the rest is the easy upgrade kit. If you own a laptop or an older PC,the upgrade kit makes it super simple to clone your old drive and move the data over to the SSD. Kingston provides everything you need. You simply have to insert the SSD into the included external enclosure. Then you’ll install the software on the old machine and sit back for a few minutes. There’s a handy magnetic screwdriver that’s included, too. You can use this to mount the drive onto your new tower. Kingston even provides a SATA cable to connect the drive to your new motherboard. It truly makes the once complicated cloning and installation simple. With reading speeds of up to 555MB/s and write speeds of 510MB/s you’ll rarely have to wait for things to load or files to copy over.
Hard Disk Drive: WD Blue 1 TB Desktop Hard Drive: 3.5 Inch, 7200 RPM, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64 MB Cache – WD10EZEX – ($66.99)
If you plan on purchasing a ton of PC games, I recommend having a high capacity hard drive. 500 GB is suitable, but you wan’t to future proof your gaming rig, you have to go with a larger drive as some recent titles are 10GB+ in size. Western Digital has an excellent line of hard drives with the Caviar series (Caviar Black, Caviar Blue, and Caviar Green). I recommend the 1TB Caviar Black. It’s the company’s fastest and best performing drive. But remember, faster moving parts equals more heat and noise. This also means that the drive will fail sooner than more conventional everyday drives. Fortunately, Western Digital gives users a five year warranty. If you’re looking for a high capacity everyday drive stick with the 1TB Caviar Blue. The blue is slower than the black, but it produces less heat, it’s quiet, and power efficient. A Caviar Green is the eco-friendly model. Your load times will dramatically decrease with this drive, but they’re better suited as backup devices due to their low transfer speeds.
(Note: I’m only recommending two hard drives,but you can purchase more at a later date. You’ll have a decent sized SSD and a very high capacity 1TB. I have over 30 games and have yet to fill my 1TB Caviar Blue drive. And with my applications I still have over 70GB’s on my Kingston SSD.)
RAM: Kingston Technology HyperX Genesis 10th Anniversary Series 16GB Kit (4x4GB) DDR3 2133MHz PC3-17000 CL11 DIMM XMP Memory KHX21C11X3K4/16X – ($169.99)
Purchasing RAM is pretty tricky. There are hundreds of manufacturers, and all sorts of different details you have to keep in mind such as speed and reliability. With the RAM I choose to go with Kingstons HyperX tenth anniversary edition ram. In ten short years Kingston has made major strides with it’s RAM. Kingston’s done it all, from consumer RAM, to server RAM. Kingston even has liquid-cooled RAM. Truthfully, you won’t need more than 8GBs for gaming, but we want to future-proof this build as much as possible. With the HyperX Tenth Anniversary, you get high-speed 2400MHz RAM. It also features a life time warranty, just in case anything goes wrong.
Graphics Card: EVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan - ($999.99)
Nvidia has created a monster with its Geforce GTX Titan. This card is nothing short of a beast. It’s has 6GB of GDDR5 memory and is SLI compatible. It has one HDMI port, one Displayport, and two DVI ports. It has four monitor support. If you’re really ambitious, you can install four Titans in your rig. But you don’t need four; half a Titan would allow you to run any game in existence at the highest graphical settings. This is easily one of the best graphics cards in the world. They’re also quite expensive starting at $999.99, yet surprisingly they’ve been selling out even at this price point.
PSU: Thermaltake Power Supply 240-Pin 1275 Power Supply TPX-1275M – ($279.99)
With these high quality components, you’re going to need a heavy duty power supply that will easily support every part in this build. Thermaltakes Power Supply TPX-1275M supports up to 1275W. Thermaltake is known for its heavy duty power supplies that are also efficient. The TPX-1275M is rated 80 plus platinum in efficiency the second highest rating. It’s one con is that it is a bit bulky, which is a minor complaint considering how powerful it is.
Monitor: BenQ High Performance Gaming XL2720T 27-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor – ($515.54)
With all this glorious power, you need a display that will display graphics vividly. Upon first look, this 27-inch display looks like any other. After using it for a few hours, I can assure you it’s not. BenQ has put time effort into crafting a monitor perfect for gaming. The company has taken advice from professional gamers to ensure that this monitor meets a higher standard for gaming. There’s a 1ms response time, so there’s no blurriness. You’ll also enjoy all your gaming in high-definition with a maximum resolution of 1920×1080. But what sets this elegant monitor apart from all others is its gaming related features. If you want to see what the pros see you can download different presets used by professional gamers all over the world (for titles like League of Legends, Counter Strike, and Call of Duty). You can also set game-specific configurations that can easily be changed with the included controller. The monitor can also be adjusted to lay flat on a table or flipped vertically. You can also adjust the height. The XL2720 takes full advantage of 3D-ready Nvidia graphics card as it supports 3D gaming.
Mouse: Razer Taipan Expert Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse (RZ01-00780100-R3U1) – ($73.30)
The one thing that can be said about console controllers is that both right and left handed players have an easy time using them. I wish the said can be said about all gaming mice. Luckily the Taipan will fit in any player’s hand. This state-of-the-art mouse also features some nifty tech. It has 8200 dpi dual sensors. When properly adjusted, a subtle twitch means the mouse flies across the screen, giving players that pin point accuracy that’s so hard to find with console controllers. Its laser and optical sensor combo adjust to any surface you set it on, be it a tabletop or a rug. It’s also quite comfortable to use over extended gaming sessions.
Keyboards:Logitech G19 Programmable Gaming Keyboard with Color Display – ($137.79)
This keyboard caught my eye back at Pax East 2013 and I’m absolutely in love with it. It has all the flash gamers love, but also provides the useful information gamers want via the game panel LCD. It gives you relevant information like system info (CPU, and temperatures) slideshows, and video playback. It even supports information for certain games like World of Warcraft.
So before tax, your grand total comes to 3,533.43. Luckily most of these parts are eligible for free shipping. And buying from one place usually grants you a discount.
With a build like this you’ll need some essential applications to get you going. Below are suggestions that can be used on any computer build.
- Open Office
- 7 Zip
These are good starter applications. Steam has amazing game deals and will consolidate your library to one place, keeping things organized. Open Office is also a great free alternative to Microsoft Office. VLC is crucial because it has many video codecs not found in Windows Media Player (you’ll be able to watch MKV files, WMP, and even DivX). XBMC is a great way to set up a convenient media server that can be controlled from iOS or Android devices. Dropbox is great for sharing large files with friends you can setup a free account which gives access to 2GB’s of storage. 7 Zip will open those tough files, like rar and zip. For convenience, head over to ninite.com for an all in one installer.
This wraps up our dream build. Remember this is a DREAM build! I can’t stress that enough. For $600-700 dollars you can build an impressive PC that you won’t have to upgrade for years. This is an enthusiasts build which consists of the best parts around. If you can pony up the dough, by all means go for it.