By Petar Vukobrat
December 21, 2018
We’ve gone over medium as well as ultra-low-budget builds for esport gaming, but we have yet to build an absolute gaming beast. Building a cheap computer is an art form, and it takes careful budget planning and component selection.
But what if you have a couple thousand dollars to spare? What if you have this really huge pile of cash on your table and it’s taking up too much space? You could try investing it, burning it, or giving it to the poor. Or you could always build a PC! Your financial advisor might tell you to buy a car, or invest it in an apartment, but what you really need is an incredibly powerful computer that’s going to require more wattage than your average power plant.
Jokes aside, let’s take a closer look at a couple high-end configurations you could build. The goal isn’t to spend as much money as possible, but rather to build the strongest possible machine without any budget limitations.
Let’s get started!
First up, we have the option to go for an AMD processor and an AMD-compatible motherboard. Ever since AMD released their Ryzen series of processors, the CPU landscape changed completely. Intel has been playing catch-up over the last two years, and it’s a position they’re not fond of. They’ve never had to play second-fiddle to AMD before, and their recent processors failed to leave a mark on the market, especially when compared to AMD’s Ryzen lineup.
Regardless, Intel is the preferred choice if you want the best gaming results overall, but AMD offers far more value. For a fraction of the price, you’re getting comparable performance, more cores, more threads, and so on. If you’re going to be doing actual work (rather than just gaming), AMD is the best choice for sure.
We’re going with the AMD Ryzen 2700X. It’s a fantastic CPU that packs 8 cores and 16 threads with a max boost frequency of 4.3 GHz. The best part? It’s unlocked from the get-go, and you can easily overclock it and still keep temperatures fairly low, even with the included Wraith Prism box cooler.
It’s also hard to beat when it comes to price — it is on sale for $290 at the time of this writing.
We’re going to pair that Ryzen with the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero X470 motherboard. It is an AM4 socket motherboard, with four RAM slots and integrated 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, not to mention dual NVMe M.2 slots, as well as USB-C and a ton of 3.1 GEN1 USB ports. It has everything you could want from a motherboard.
If you’re going for the absolute best gaming build, it’s hard to beat Intel. Even though AMD stepped up big time over the last two years, Intel still provides better single-core performance, and they’re still at the top when it comes to gaming, although Ryzen isn’t trailing by far.
For our CPU, we’re going with the mighty Intel Core i9 9900K that packs 8 cores and 16 threads. It has a base clock speed of 3.6 GHz, but it can turbo up to a whopping 5 GHz. You’re also getting the integrated UHD 630 graphics, but that’s not that important since we’re going for a dedicated GPU. This beastly processor has a TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 95W, but when under load it can go up to 150W.
This CPU is unlocked out of the box, meaning you’ll be able to overclock it if you so desire, but keep in mind that Intel didn’t do a stellar job when it comes to maintaining stable temperatures when the CPU is overclocked. The option to overclock is fantastic (especially in the long run), but we won’t be focusing on that right now.
This CPU also supports a whopping 128GB of RAM, which, in all fairness is probably overkill. However, if you’re big into future-proofing, you’re probably not complaining.
For our motherboard, we’re going with the ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Z390. And of course, it comes with all the latest and greatest bells and whistles.
We’re going with the NZXT Kraken X62 AIO cooler. The Kraken is visually stunning, with its CPU block being incredibly attractive thanks to multiple lighting rights inside. Since you’re going to get some of the strongest CPUs on the market (Intel or AMD), you absolutely have to get sufficient cooling. Going for an all-in-one cooler will give you the right amount of headroom for overclocking while also creating the least amount of noise.
Regardless of the CPU route you take, the RAM doesn’t change. Our gaming beast is going to need some really fast RAM, so we’re going for the G.Skill TridentZ RGB Series 16GB DDR4 running at 3200Mhz. Now, that’s a dual-channel setup (meaning two sticks of 8GB), and that should yield even better results when it comes to gaming.
Fast DDR4 RAM is integral for Ryzen builds as it scales incredibly well with Ryzen CPUs. When constructing an AMD-focused build, you shouldn’t go for RAM that runs below 3 GHz. Intel builds are a bit different as their CPUs don’t scale that well with fast RAM, but getting fast RAM isn’t going to hurt, regardless.
You could potentially go for 32GB of RAM, but that’s a bit overkill seeing how it won’t give you better results when it comes to gaming, regardless of the title you’re playing.
Finally, if sweet RGB lighting isn’t your thing, you can go for the G.Skill F4-3200C16D-16GSX Sniper X Series 16GB.
For our GPU, we’re going for the bleeding edge in technology — Asus GeForce RTX2080 Ti, a GPU that’s able to deliver outstanding results, even in 4K.
Now, Nvidia created a lot of buzz around their next generation GPUs and, to be quite frank, it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. Is it a noticeable upgrade over its predecessor? Not really. Ray Tracing is a completely new rendering technique, and while it might be the future, it’s still years away from becoming the norm.
What it is, in short, is a more realistic way to render things like light sources and so on. As an example, if you’re running through a forest, you’re going to see highly realistic reflections of the trees in the water puddles beneath your legs. If you’re in the middle of a shootout in Battlefield V and something blows up, you’re going to see an incredibly realistic reflection of that explosion (and fire) on your gun, as well as other in-game models.
So it’s basically an additional layer of rendering that should provide you with an even better in-game experience; it’s more immersive. But in reality, ray tracing is far from optimized, and when you’re in the middle of an action-packed scene, you’re not going to notice these things, at least not that often.
Regardless, the RTX2080 Ti is an absolute beast of a GPU. Does it justify its price? Absolutely not. You could get a 1080 Ti and still get very comparable benchmarks. The 2080 is future-proof, and it’ll remain at the top for years and years to come.
Nvidia boasts that the RTX 2080 Ti is years ahead of the competition when it comes to performance and technology, and they’re not lying.
Ray Tracing is a fascinating effect (although pretty negligible in fast-paced games), but almost no games are actually optimized for it. Over time it’ll become bigger and better, we’re basically buying it for the future, rather than the present.
With 11GB of GDDR6 memory, this GPU will plow through any game you throw at it, and it’s the perfect companion to our gaming beast.
So we have a couple of amazing components, and now we just have to find a beautiful case that will house your gaming beast.
This is an endlessly exciting part of the PC-building journey, and there’s an incredibly extensive selection of cases to pick and choose from. Do you want something dark and subdued? Or perhaps a stunning all-white frame with some LED lights? Do you want an old-school metal case that just sits on the floor or do you want to showcase your internals through a tempered glass side panel?
Finding a case can be a never-ending journey, mainly because companies like NZXT, CoolerMaster, Lian Li, Corsair, and Phanteks have so much to offer. Regardless of taste or wallet thickness, you can find an enclosure and fall in love with it fairly easily.
The only important thing to be mindful of is the form factor. If you’re buying a full ATX motherboard, a MicroATX case won’t be a good fit. But other than that, you’re good to go.
Giving any concrete recommendation would (by default) be fairly subjective, so it’s best to go online yourself and get immersed in the vast sea of cases the internet has to offer.
That said, there are some top-notch cases like the Fractal Design R6 and the NZXT H700i. They offer everything you might need when it comes to cable management, airflow, I/O ports, expansions slots, drive bays, and both radiator and fan support.
That’s as good as it gets.
Next up, we need some exceptionally fast storage and lots of it.
In order to achieve the fastest speeds, we’re going with a Samsung 960 Pro EVO Series – 1TB PCIe NVMe in an M.2 format, meaning it’s going to be attached directly to the motherboard. It offers read speeds up 3500 MB per second, as well as write speeds up to 2100 MB per second. This SSD offers insane speeds, and it’ll impact not just your loading times, but overall system responsiveness as well.
Since it’s one terabyte, you’re not going to be scrapping for storage. If you need additional storage for photos, videos, music, and the like, you can always pick up a multi-terabyte hard disk drive. Something like the Western Digital Black 2TB 7200rpm is a great pick for around $110.
Because we have some seriously power-hungry components, we need a capable power supply. Because of this, we’re going for the EVGA SuperNOVA T2 1000W 80+ Titanium Certified PSU, that’s also fully-modular. You won’t have unnecessary cables throughout your PC enclosure, which should result in a clean and aesthetically pleasing end result.
While you might not need a whole kilowatt, you’re going to get pretty close with this build. Especially considering the fact that your GPU will need up to 300W when under full load.
If you want a gaming beast but you’re not into huge, full tower computers, you can always build a smaller ITX system.
Fortunately, technology has advanced to such a point that you’re no longer losing any power by going for smaller form-factors, but you are sacrificing certain options that you may or may not need, depending on your needs. As an example, an ITX board only has a single PCIe slot so you can only have a single-GPU setup.
Other than that, you’re good to go. They support the same RAM, the same processors, and the same graphics cards, so you’re not losing out on anything by building a smaller computer.