It’s been a few months since our last PC build--in fact, it was published well before Ryzen was released. For our first post-Ryzen build, we’ve pulled together some of the components we liked best in testing to make an affordable ultrawide gaming machine. As we did in January, we pulled parts out of inventory and actually assembled and tested this PC to back up our recommendations--we’ll try to continue doing this going forward.
This gaming PC build is priced at just over $1000 -- about $1200, depending on rebates -- and is made for UltraWide 3440x1440 gaming. Our goal is to take reasonably affordable parts and show that UltraWide 1440p gaming is feasible, even while retaining high settings, without buying the most expensive GPUs and CPUs on the market. We’re only using parts in this build that we actually have, so that partially dictates cost (yes, you might be able to do some things cheaper -- like the motherboard), but it also means that we’ve had time to build, validate, and use the system in a real environment. In these early days of Ryzen as a new uarch, that’s important. We’ve done the hard work of troubleshooting a functional build. All you’d have to do is assemble it, configure BIOS, and go.
As a note: This build is also readily capable of production workloads. CUDA acceleration on the GTX 1070 will work well for Premiere renders, and the CPU thread-count will assist in CPU acceleration (like for streaming).
With the arrival of Kaby Lake on the microarchitecture roadmap, Intel had effectively signaled the end of their long-established “tick-tock” cadence of manufacturing and design, opting instead for the new “process-architecture-optimize” paradigm. Specifically, the “optimization” step comes by way of a revised fin profile as part of the new process that Intel has dubbed “14nm+.” While the architecture remains largely unchanged from Skylake, the improved fin profile and larger fin pitch affords a less transistor-dense design, making way for MHz headroom in overclocking performance, which can be ascertained by looking at our review of the i7-7700K. Furthermore, readers can learn more about the Kaby Lake architecture, SKUs, and the Intel 200-series chipsets amongst the usual thermal and benchmark performance. To an extent, Kaby Lake can be viewed as the Devil’s Canyon counterpart to Skylake.
The scope of our build today will be dual purpose, so to speak. In its duality, the foremost objective will be leveraging the new Intel i7-7700K in combination with a GeForce GTX 1080, underpinning our second objective: 144Hz & 120Hz based gaming. The build will be ready for resolutions at 1080p or 1440p with higher refresh rates (144 & 120), and will still manage a minimum of 60 FPS with ultra settings. Lowering settings will allow for that 120-144Hz refresh target.
We will also deploy one of the new Z270 motherboards, complimenting the overclocking aptness of the i7-7700K. Speaking of overclocking, the i7-7700K approaches the 5GHz barrier with relative ease. We’ll be relying on a CLC cooling solution with 280mm of radiator space. While it may prove conceivable to approach a 5GHz overclock with active air cooling thanks to a better frequency/voltage curve with Kaby Lake, there are a couple reasons we won’t go that route, detailed below.
Additionally, we will list a 144Hz, G-Sync-capable display as an optional purchase. Find our tutorial on building a gaming PC below, if this is all new. In an interesting deviation from our normal methodology, the team at GamersNexus will be replicating this build and running it through the benchmark gauntlet.
Editor's note: The point was to use only products that we had in our inventory, meaning no purchases or product requests allowed.
With the gaming community migrating towards 1440p as the new resolution sweet spot, and the booming prominence of UltraWide 21:9 displays, we’ve set forth to outline a build guide that caters to both these trends in equal parts. UltraWides eschew the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio in favor of a more horizontal 21:9 aspect ratio, providing additional screen real-estate without consuming all the physical desk space. You can read more on that, alongside some UltraWide benchmarks, over here. As is the norm with PC gaming, UltraWide support deviates across titles, with games scaling differently. To help determine how your game of choice will fare in an UltraWide environment, view this list provided by wsgf.org.
The increased pixel density and pixel throughput at 3440×1440 means a capable GPU is required; especially so if hoping to approach the 60 FPS gold standard. The GTX 1070 specified below is a formidable choice for driving an UltraWide at such resolutions, and fits well given the budget. This build is also able to pull double duty of sorts, as a workstation for light content creation, video editing/rendering, or game streaming. As such, we’ve selected the unlocked i7-6700K featuring Intel’s Skylake architecture, coupled with a 16GB kit of DDR4 memory. The Z170 chipset will serve as our building platform and rounds out the focal points of this build.
This 21:9 gaming PC build is ready for games like Watch Dogs 2, Battlefield 1 at Ultra settings, and can handle YouTube content creation or Twitch streaming. The DIY build list is below, along with a tutorial for how to build a gaming PC.
AMD’s recent GPU release, the RX 480, is in a strong position for 1440p gaming at $200. We’ve decided to detail an ~$1100 gaming PC aimed at 1440p gaming on the cheap. Our full coverage of the RX 480 can be seen here, for those interested, and it’s noteworthy that both the GTX 1060 (review) and RX 470 (review) approach “playability” at 1440p. The industry is clearly changing to a new resolution standard. This PC build is meant for gaming at high settings at 1440p at around 60FPS, while also not costing an arm and a leg.
This ~$1102 1440p PC gaming build uses an Intel i5 6600K paired with AMD’s new RX 480 4GB. We have also included a 144Hz 1440p FreeSync monitor (with 1ms response time) in the optional extras, for those seeking a monitor to pair with the system.
The Dark Souls series is known for challenge and development of player skill, but it is also infamous for its poor PC ports (read our review on this here). On the PC, the Dark Souls games have suffered from sub-par controls, FPS locks, and generally disappointing optimization -- but the third game in the series has improved things for PC. With the recent Dark Souls III launch, we decided to throw-together a $1037 gaming PC for Dark Souls III (and other higher-end gaming).
Today’s $1037 gaming PC build uses an i7-6700K with an EVGA GTX 970 to produce a solid gaming experience for most games, including Dark Souls III.
With CES just past, there’s a move in the market to introduce new computer hardware through Q1 and Q2, making for a prime buying time of existing stock.
For this PC build, we’ve chosen the price point of $1500 as it allows for the inclusion of a high-end GPU, CPU, and SSD without costing an arm, leg, and kidney. Then again, no one needs two kidneys when they have a high-end gaming PC, and arms are of negligible value as VR iterates.
This PC is primarily meant for high and ultra graphics at 1080p and 1440p, and should even be usable for low-load games at high and medium settings at 4K. The PC build uses the latest Intel Skylake i5, the i5-6600K, along with a GTX 980 Ti GPU. This combination allows for high-end performance and overclocking to push the system into the future.
This $1560 gaming PC is meant to play most games at high and ultra settings on 1080p and 1440p. The high-end gaming PC build offers long staying power through future game launch cycles, but it’s also got the ability to run rendering operations for streamers and YouTube content creators. The 980 Ti and i5-6600K enable playability of The Witcher 3 on ultra settings (1440p) at 60FPS+, leaving plenty of headroom for 1080p gamers; some upcoming titles, like Fallout 4 and Battleborn, will be playable at 1440p through 4K, given their relatively low requirements.
Today’s ~$1500 DIY system build uses an Intel i5-6600K -- the new Skylake CPU -- alongside an nVidia GTX 980 Ti. The two in tandem offer one of the most powerful combinations for a gaming PC right now, short of entering the ultra high-end enthusiast range (which is largely unnecessary).
NVidia's aggressive $650 price-point for the new GTX 980 Ti ensures that a build centered around it is more of a reasonable goal rather than a pipe dream.
This $1747 GTX 980 Ti gaming PC build is versatile, with the ability to tackle a variety of high-end gaming experiences. It's useful to think of the build in terms of what monitor will be paired with it, as both 1080p and 1440p G-Sync up to 120Hz are functional pairings. 1080p at Ultra settings and 1440p at High or Ultra (depending on the game) are both achievable on the 980 Ti; as we learned recently, the 980 Ti performs almost as well as the Titan X for a significantly lower price. This build aims to take advantage of that price with a system that does such a powerful card justice while looking badass.
This PC build will easily play The Witcher 3, GTA V, and other modern, high-graphics quality games.
Now that tax season is upon us, many of you may have some extra money to put towards upgrading or building a new PC. Let's put that extra cash to good work.
Since our last $511 Budget HTPC Build focused on getting the best SFF system for the least amount of money, this time around we decided to put together an SFF build with a lot more to offer. With an i5 processor and GTX 970, this build will be able to play most games out at ultra settings and will make for a great video editing and rendering rig.
At just over $1000, this mid-range gaming PC build plays Battlefield: Hardline at near-max settings (1080p) while offering room for growth. The system is built for use in living room environments (small form factor, optional controller) and is capable of editing and rendering videos. At its heart, that makes this build a versatile beast for YouTubers and high-end gamers who seek portability.
We've had a great year here at GamersNexus, having officially launched our brand new website and “look.” While we have grown considerably, we still consider ourselves dedicated to our readers and to PC gaming culture in general. It's time to look ahead to the new year.
This year has seen the rise of many new technologies arise, from affordable SSDs to small form factor PCs, but we also have bid farewell to a few older technologies. Even though they are still in general use, the optical disk drive and pretty much anything AM3+ is quickly becoming obsolete. With this build, we wanted to welcome the new year with new tech. We decided to post a ~$2000 enthusiast gaming PC build that not only includes the newest CPU from Intel, but also DDR4 memory, a Maxwell GPU, and much more. This gaming PC will work flawlessly for live streaming, video rendering, YouTube content creation, and playing games on ultra / near-max settings. The GTX 980 ensures a high FPS for most games on a 1440p monitor and very high FPS for 1080 displays.