Why build the best high end gaming PC you can possibly afford? As a gamer, there’s nothing better than being able to play the latest games at maximum settings on a monster PC... but, equally, there’s nothing worse than having a system that doesn’t work properly, or can’t run the newest titles at their best, most solid settings. That’s why we’ve scoured the internet to find the best components and peripherals for a high-end gaming PC system – and then explained precisely why you should use them in your next gaming rig.
Every component in a gaming PC is important, which is why we’ve devoted different sections to highlighting the best products at a variety of prices. No matter the cost, though, you can be sure that you’re getting a component that will help your rig scythe through today’s AAA titles – and tomorrow’s best games, too. And sure, you need a LOT of money to build a PC like this, but even if you're looking to create something slightly less ambitious, this guide will help you find some of the most premium components out there. There's no reason why at least some parts of your PC build can't be the absolute best. And if you're really tight for cash, here's our guide to the best budget gaming PC build. Want to check out the best pre-made rigs? Here are the best gaming PCs in 2018.
High-end gaming PC - how to save money on parts
Building a powerful PC involves spending a shedload of cash, but there are still easy ways to save money. And, crucially, that means you’ve got more to spend on Steam when the system is built. There’s one easy way to reduce costs: buy your components from different retailers. While it’s simpler to buy everything from one outlet, a bit of shopping around can save on each component. If you’re saving $10-20 per part, that’ll add up to a tempting sum to spend on games, or bring more powerful components into your price range. Our guide actually trawls the biggest PC retailers on the internet to make sure you see the lowest prices right now, and we include a range of options per part (again, at the cheapest prices).
It’s possible to save far more money by evaluating whether or not you really need each component. While it’s tempting to buy the range-topping Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, for instance, it’s excessive if you’re not going to play at 4K or on a VR headset. Dropping down to a GTX 1080 or a GTX 1070 Ti can save hundreds of pounds or dollars.
Similarly, stepping down from the Core i7-8700K to the Core i5-8600K can reduce cost by more than £100 or $100, and you can halve your motherboard costs if you forego some features that you may not even use. Big money can be saved by opting for different storage and case options, too.
To that end, we’ve chosen a cheaper part for every recommendation in this article – so you can see exactly where you can cut down the budget while still building a lightning-quick rig. If you use these cheaper parts, you’ll bring the build’s overall cost down by around £1,000 or $1,000, but still have an amazing gaming PC at the end.
High-end gaming PC - The build
Graphics card - GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
The biggest, best graphics card, without doubt
If you want to build a high-end PC then there’s only one graphics card to buy right now. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is the market-leader, and for good reason: it serves up 11GB of dedicated GDDR5X memory, and it has 3,584 stream processors clocked to 1,480MHz.
It’s got enough speed to handle 4K gaming, VR headsets, widescreen panels and intensive streaming. The card’s position as market leader means there’s loads of choice for buyers, and Nvidia’s efficient Pascal architecture delivers lashings of overclocking headroom.
If money is no object, we'd choose a Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB Aorus Extreme Edition for our high-end build. Behind that lengthy name you get a core overclocked to 1,610MHz, loads of customisable RGB LEDs and copper plate cooling with quiet 100mm fans. It’ll set you back £740 or $780.
As ever, though, there are new cards on the horizon. If you’re serious about getting the best bang for your buck, new Nvidia cards will launch later this year. If you want to hang on, that’s great – but, as ever, remember that new cards won’t make your current GPU any slower. And once the Nvidia GeForce 2080 Ti hits... well, that should drive down costs for the 1080 Ti, so you may get a bargain.
Alternative option - The GTX 1070 Ti is perfect for every gaming task below 4K, and it costs £377 or $480 to get your hands on an overclocked model. Here's our guide to the big differences between the 1080 Ti and the 1070 Ti.
CPU - Intel Core i7-8700K
Easily the best to not only run games, but help your PC stay productive
The processor provides the mathematical grunt behind the latest games – and it’ll help your PC handle productivity tasks too. For a high-end gaming build, we recommend the Intel Core i7-8700K. It uses Intel’s latest Coffee Lake architecture, it has six Hyper-Threaded cores, and it has a 3.7GHz clock that Turbo boosts to 4.7GHz.
Those clock speeds are more important for gaming than a high number of cores, and Intel’s speeds outpace AMD’s competing Ryzen 2 2700X– that only peaks at 4.3GHz. AMD’s part does have eight cores, but that only makes it better for content creation, video and productivity tools.
The Intel part has another advantage aside from its clock speed. It’s got the ‘K’ suffix, which means it has an unlocked multiplier – which means, in turn, that it can be overclocked. If you’re confident in your tweaking and your cooling, that’s a quick way to get some extra juice from the chip. Although, as ever, overclocking may void your warranty and shorten the lifespan of your CPU. If these options don't do it for you, here's out guide to the best CPUs for PC gaming.
Alternative option - To slot an i7-8700K into your machine you’ll have to spend £316 or $347. It’s not exactly a chip bit of silicon. If that’s a little pricey, look to the Intel Core i5-8600K. It has the same Coffee Lake architecture as the i7-8700K, and it still has six cores. Its stock speed of 3.6GHz boosts independently to 4.3GHz, and it’s still unlocked for overclocking. It’s not Hyper-Threaded and it doesn’t have as much cache as the Core i7 chip, but it won’t hold you up in any games – and it costs £215 or $255.
Motherboard - Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 5
One of the most versatile boards out there
Picking the right motherboard is vital. It doesn’t just house your CPU and GPU and connect other components – it has important features in its own right. If you want to add storage, upgrade your graphics or tweak your system’s internals, it’s best to get a board that supports those ambitions. We’ve chosen the Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 5 because it ticks virtually every box without breaking the bank – its price of £193 or $180 is high, but not stratospheric.
It’s an ATX board that’s packed with RGB LEDs that can be synchronised with the rest of your PC, and it has full support for multi-GPU and high-speed DDR4 memory. It has the top-tier Intel Z370 chipset, three M.2 connectors, and loads of SATA ports – so you’re sorted for future upgrades. The board serves up loads of USB 3 ports, wireless internet, beefed-up audio circuits and an on-board POST display for diagnosing problems.
Alternative option - If you want to spend a little less, check out the Gigabyte Z370XP SLI. It’s still got dual-GPU support, the Z370 chipset and two M.2 connectors alongside ample USB connectivity, four memory slots and loads of upgrade routes. And, with a price of £112 or $128, it can form the backbone of a more affordable system.
Memory - 16GB G-Skill Trident Z RGB
Because you really, really need 16GB
When you’re building a gaming PC, the memory situation is mercifully quite simple. To build a capable, future-proofed gaming PC you’ll want 16GB of DDR4. And, while you do get diminishing returns with higher speeds, you should still buy the fastest memory you can afford.
That’s why we’ve recommended G-Skill’s Trident Z RGB kit, which costs £300 or $300. It serves up the 16GB of memory required in the desired dual-channel specification, and it rattles along at 4,266MHz. That’s fast enough to avoid any games bottlenecks. It looks good, too, with impressive RGB LEDs.
If this doesn't do it for you, here's our guide to the best DDR RAM for PC gaming in 2018.
Alternative option - If you’re looking to save cash, you can drop down to 16GB of 2,400MHz memory without taking too much of a performance hit. If that’s appealing, we’d recommend the Team Group Vulcan kit, which costs £135 or $140.
Storage - Samsung 970 EVO 500GB SSD
You really need to go solid state drive for a high-end PC
Samsung is king of the SSDs, so it’s no surprise that we’d recommend one of the firm’s solid-state drives to use for a gaming PC. Specifically, we’d recommend a Samsung 970 EVO 500GB for a high-end build. It doesn’t quite have the same speed as the range-topping 970 PRO, but the difference between the two is so small that you won’t notice. And we’ve picked the 500GB model for a reason: it has enough space for key games and applications while also retaining great value. It’ll cost you £148 or $200.
We’d pair the SSD with a traditional hard disk for the rest of your game and media collection. It’s an easy choice here: the Seagate Barracuda offers solid SATA speed and 2TB of space for £52 or $58.
Alternative option - If you’re trying to economise, we’d simple switch to the 250GB version of the Samsung 970 EVO. This smaller drive still has room for games, and it costs £86 or $108.
Case - Corsair Crystal 570X
Because the PC actually needs to look amazing too
The Corsair Crystal 570X is a stunning enclosure that offers a keen balance of design and features, which is why we’d recommend it for a high-end build. It’ll set you back £155 or $160. It certainly looks the part. Its key panels are all made from strong tempered glass, and the front panel is illuminated by a trio of RGB-equipped fans – so you get good looks and ample airflow.
There’s room inside for water-cooling, and the PSU shroud, cable-routing paths and included Velcro strips make it easy to create a tidy interior. It’s got pairs of 3.5in and 2.5in drive bays for storage, and USB 3 ports at the front.
Alternative option - the Phanteks Eclipse P400S is a mid-range tower that costs a more affordable £72 or $90. It doesn’t have the tempered glass panels or the RGB LEDs of the pricier Corsair, but it does have a neat window, plenty of space and good options for cable-routing and storage.
Cooling - Corsair Hydro H115i Pro
The best water-cooling for your monster PC
It’s easier than ever to get water-cooling inside a high-end PC. You don’t have to fiddle with pipes, coolants and fixtures – instead, you just have to buy an all-in-one device.
These coolers are extremely effective. The Corsair Hydro H115i Pro has a 280mm radiator that is chilled with two 140mm fans, and its simple waterblock clamps neatly on top of the processor. It costs £115 or $140, and can be installed into the roof of the Corsair chassis without impeding the motherboard. It’ll handle the Core i7 processor, even when it’s overclocked.
Alternative option - If you don’t want to overclock and do want to save some cash, check out the Corsair Hydro H60. This cooler is cheaper, at £55 or $70, and it’s smaller, with a 120mm radiator. That does restrict its cooling ability, but it’s still easily capable of chilling some Core i5 silicon.
PSU - EVGA SuperNOVA G3 750W
You need a top-end PSU to handle all those components
Your PC won’t work if it doesn’t have enough electricity. We’ve chosen an EVGA SuperNOVA G3 750W power supply for this build. Its 750W power output is ample for a build right now and has enough headroom to allow for a second graphics card in the future. Its design is fully modular – which means you can add and remove cables when necessary, which makes for a cleaner build. It has an 80Plus Gold rating, which ensures a high level of efficiency and reliability. The SuperNOVA costs £100 or $98.
Alternative option - Our cheaper option eschews a fully modular design, but the Corsair CX550m still has plenty of power and an 80Plus Bronze efficiency rating. It’ll cost you £66 or $50.
Monitor - Asus ROG Swift PG279Q
The best monitor to display your 4K visuals
There is a vast amount of choice when it comes to monitors. You can choose a huge 4K or widescreen panel that prizes physical size over other attributes, or you could lower the resolution in order to buy a screen with a higher refresh rate for smoother gameplay.
We’ve pick an Asus ROG Swift PG279Q monitor for our high-end build. It’s a stunning monitor that ticks almost all of the boxes: it stretches a high 2,560 x 1,440 resolution across a 27in diagonal to deliver great density levels, and it uses Nvidia G-Sync to deliver butter-smooth gaming at a record-breaking refresh rate of 165Hz. Crucially, the GTX 1080 Ti has the grunt to play games at the frame-rates that G-Sync requires.
It looks smart, has an IPS panel that delivers stunning colour accuracy, and an extremely narrow bezel. It costs a mighty £686 or $683, but it justifies the price with fantastic performance. If you want the full range, here is our guide to the best gaming monitors.
Alternative option - If you want a 4K screen or want to spend a bit less, you may have to eschew Nvidia G-Sync. If that’s the case, we recommend the Samsung U28D590D, which serves up 3,840 x 2,160 pixels across a 28in diagonal. It’ll cost you £299 or $317.
Keyboard - Razer Black Widow Chroma V2
The best gaming keyboard out there
If you’re building the ultimate gaming rig, then you’ll need a high-end keyboard. There aren’t many better than the £159/$156 Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2. It uses Razer’s mechanical switches to deliver a keen balance of comfort, precision and speed. Elsewhere, it has a soft, comfortable wrist-rest, RGB LEDs, a long lifespan and both audio and USB ports.
If you need something else, then check out our best gaming keyboards feature.
Alternative option - Thankfully, you don’t have to spend that much to get a high-end gaming peripheral. For budget buyers we’d recommend the Thermaltake Poseidon Z. It’s got RGB LEDs, custom lighting effects and Thermaltake’s own mechanical switches. It’ll see you safely through every kind of game, and it costs a reasonable £85 or $84.
Mouse - Steelseries Rival 700
One of the most precise mice out there
The SteelSeries Rival 700 is our pick for a high-end gaming mouse. It’s an impressive gaming rodent that packs in every important feature: a customizable OLED display, on-the-fly sensitivity changes, tactile alerts that respond to in-game events and two sets of cables. On the inside, the SteelSeries has a precise optical sensor, a keen sense of balance in the hand, reinforced switches and customisable buttons. It’ll cost you £80 or $104, but it’s worth it.
If this isn't for you, check out our guide to the best gaming mouse options in 2018.
Alternative option - The Logitech G300S is an effective and more affordable alternative. This £29/$20 mouse is ambidextrous, arrives with nine programmable buttons, customisable lighting and on-board memory profiles. The sensitivity level can be changed on-the-fly, too.
Overall - how much will it all cost?
It’s worth taking a bit of extra time to research components before building your next gaming PC. After all, you won’t just save money at the checkout – your games will look better and run more smoothly for longer, and you’ll have even more cash to spend if you shop around for the best deals.
Our guide picks out the best parts to build a high-end gaming rig, complete with peripherals – and our alternative suggestions are perfect for retaining rock-solid performance while saving a bit of cash. There’s nothing left to do but get buying and get building. And then, when that’s done, fire up your favorite games – and enjoy them like you never have before.
High-end rig overall price, UK: £2,999.34
High-end rig overall price, US: $3,186.75
Affordable rig overall price, UK: £1,669.98
Affordable rig overall price, US: $2,199.84
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