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Extreme gaming PC build 2021

Various high-end pc components in front of a lime green background with a PC Gamer badge that says ridiculous power in the top right corner.
Pull out all the stops with an extreme gaming PC build. (Image credit: Future)

This extreme gaming PC build puts all other gaming rigs to shame. Its carefully selected components will devour AAA games, at 4k or even 8k, with settings maxed out. This is a future-proof build that'll last you a good while, but it wont to be cheap. It harbours the best CPU for gaming, along with the best graphics card, and components performance out of both.

This $4000 extreme gaming PC build will give you freakishly high performance. If you're simply looking for an above-average build that gives the best frames per dollar value, check out our high-end PC build guide instead. And you can always consider a smaller SSD or slower RAM. 

The final price here doesn't include accessories or peripherals, so take into account how much you're going to spend there. In particular, consider nabbing a good gaming monitor as you'll need one to make the most of this build. No point picking a fancy new graphics card if your monitor can't support the frame rate or the high resolution that's being cranked out.

After rigorous testing across the board, this list brings together all the best PC gaming components we could get our hands on, with zero regards to expense. Here's our shamelessly powerful gaming PC design.

Best gaming monitor | Best gaming mouse | Best gaming keyboard
Best gaming headset | Best gaming router | Best gaming chair

Extreme gaming PC build

CPU

CPU: Intel Core i9 10900K (Image credit: Intel)

Intel Core i9 10900K

Nearly the world's fastest gaming processor

Specifications
Cores: 10
Threads: 20
Base Clock: 3.7GHz
Turbo Clock: 5.3GHz
Overclocking: Yes
L3 Cache: 20MB
TDP: 125W
PCIe 3.0 lanes: 16
Reasons to buy
+Fastest gaming CPU around+Great overclocking potential
Reasons to avoid
-Top performance requires power

The Intel Core i9 10900K is no longer the world's fastest gaming processor, but the newer Core i9 11900K is not one we would recommend to anyone looking to build an extreme gaming PC. You could argue that the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is more deserving of a place in an extreme PC build thanks to its 16 cores and 32 threads of processing power, but it can still be tricky to find in the wild so Intel's top CPU is still your best option.

Intel's historic gaming performance lead is still intact, if only just, and the 10900K, with its 5.3GHz all-core overclocking chops, is still the king when it comes to pure frame rates. You'll need a decent motherboard, some serious cooling, and a powerful PSU to get the most from it, but that's what this build is all about. 

Here are the best CPUs for gaming right now.

Motherboard

Motherboard: Asus ROG Maximus XII Extreme (Image credit: Asus)

Asus ROG Maximus XII Extreme

An extreme motherboard for an extreme build

Specifications
Chipset: Z490
Memory: 4x DIMM, 128GB, DDR4-4800
Expansion slots: 2x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8), 1x PCIe 3.0 x4
Video ports: 2x mini DisplayPort
USB ports: 12x rear IO, 6x internal
Storage: 4x M.2, 8x SATA
Network: 10Gbps Ethernet, Intel Wi-Fi 6
Lighting: 2x Aura RGB, 2x Aura addressable Gen 2
Reasons to buy
+Great CPU and memory overclocking  +Not too expensive for a top-tier board  
Reasons to avoid
-Odd shape limits case options

If the CPU is your new PC's brain, the motherboard is the nervous system and other vital organs that keep things running smoothly. Skimp on a motherboard at your peril.

The Asus ROG Maximus XII Extreme employs the Z490 chipset, which means it's primed to handle Intel's 10th gen processors. There are no less than four M.2 slots for you to play around with, two on its ingenious DIMM.2 riser board, and it also offers up support for Thunderbolt 3 on another add-in card with two mini DisplayPort connectors.

On top of that, you get access to cutting-edge networking goodness, too, including 10Gbps and 2.5Gbps Ethernet as well as Wi-Fi 6 (aka 802.11ax) wireless connectivity. There are tons of USB ports, and, of course, its RGB lighting works with a bunch of Aura Sync compatible peripherals. 

If you want more options, then check out our list of the best gaming motherboards.

Graphics Card

Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti (Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti

The fastest graphics card for gaming on the cutting edge

Specifications
GPU Cores: 10,240
Boost Clock: 1,665 MHz
Memory: 12GB GDDR6X
Memory speed: 19 Gbps
Memory Bandwidth: 912 GB/s
Reasons to buy
+More or less an RTX 3090 in games+Breezy 4K performance+Minimises ray tracing impact
Reasons to avoid
-Slimmer VRAM than RTX 3090-Significantly pricier than an RTX 3080-Thirsty for power

The GeForce RTX 3080 Ti essentially offers the same gaming performance as the RTX 3090 but costs $300 less. Even here, with our extreme build, we can't help but keep a vague eye on value for money, and with the release of the 3080 Ti, Nvidia has basically retired the RTX 3090 when it comes to gaming. The RTX 3080 Ti is still a $1,200 graphics card, and that's if you net the Founder's Edition and not a pricier third-party job. It's hardly a budget option.

The only reason you might want to track down an RTX 3090 still is if you want to pair up your graphics cards, as at least for Nvidia Ampere, the RTX 3090 is your only option for dual-GPU action. Even with that installed, you'll still have to worry about whether the games you play will use both GPUs. Hint: most don't, and support is only dwindling further as time marches on. 

Comparisons to the RTX 3090 aside, the key consideration for the RTX 3080 Ti is that it is a supremely capable card for 4K gaming. Even ray tracing is on the table, especially if you're happy to turn on the modern magic that is DLSS 2.0—framerates are smooth, and the final image quality stands up to scrutiny without issue.

Here are the best graphics cards you can buy right now.

Memory: G.Skill 32GB TridentZ DDR4-3200 RGB (4x8GB)

Memory

G.Skill 32GB TridentZ DDR4-3200 RGB (4x8GB)

Gobs of RAM for video editing, gaming, and more

Specifications
Capacity: 4x 8GB
Speed: 3200 MT/s
Timings: 16-18-18-38
Voltage: 1.35 V
Reasons to buy
+Never worry if you have enough RAM+Double down and make a RAM drive
Reasons to avoid
-RGB lighting isn't for everyone

You could put more memory into this build (up to 64GB), but 4x 8GB DDR4-3200 is more than sufficient for gaming. There are many memory options, and speed is more about bragging rights than actual performance, but we love the look of G.Skill's TridentZ RGB sticks. RAM prices have been dropping lately, which means a 32GB kit can be had for well under $200.

Besides G.Skill, we recommend Corsair, Kingston, HyperX, Crucial, Adata, and Team as safe picks. RAM has reached the point where most modules work well, so it's often a question of price—and color, if that's your thing—rather than minuscule performance differences. Higher clocked DDR4 might add a percentage to the overall performance, but the money is usually better spent on a faster CPU or GPU or a larger SSD. Unless you're going for record overclocks, in which case, go nuts on the fastest DDR4 you can find.

Need other options? Here's the best RAM for gaming in 2021.

Storage

Stick of Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB SSD in front of a gray background.

Primary Storage: Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB (Image credit: Sabrent)

Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB

A tiny SSD with a whole lot of speedy storage space

Specifications
Capacity: 4,096 GB
Interface: M.2 PCIe 3.0
Sequential read/write speed: 3,200 MB/s / 3,000 MB/s
Random IOPS: 550K read / 680K write
Reasons to buy
+Huge capacity+Genuine speed+Almost affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Last-gen PCIe 3.0 throughput

We've been pretty scathing about QLC SSDs in the past, even recently with Samsung's 870 QVO, but it seems that if you match the cheapest, slowest form of SSD memory with a high capacity and an M.2 interface, some magic happens. The Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB drive packs a huge amount of storage into an SSD the size of a stick of gum and still maintains performance on par with MLC drives. 

The Sabrent is not quite as bandwidth-friendly as some other PCIe 4.0 drives, but without platform-wide PCIe 4.0 support on our chosen combination of CPU and motherboard, that speed would only go to waste.

The Sabrent's speed and capacity mean you can have a fast, capacious SSD boot drive without having to pick a slower option for data storage. If you're capturing a lot of footage or want to have all your games installed at any one point, the Sabrent Rocket Q is a genuinely impressive drive.

And if you want to go all out, there's the similarly spectacular Sabrent Rocket Q 8TB drive too. Though that is around $1,400 for the privilege...

These are the best SSD for gaming options right now. 

Power Supply

Power Supply: EVGA SuperNova 1000 G5 (Image credit: EVGA)

EVGA SuperNova 1000 G5

Enough power for overclocking and then some

Specifications
Output: 1,000W
Efficiency: 80 Plus Gold
Connectors: 1x 24-Pin ATX, 2x 8-Pin (4+4) EPS12V, 8x 8-Pin (6+2) PCIe, 12x SATA, 4x Molex, 1x Floppy
Modular: Fully
Reasons to buy
+Gold efficiency+Connectors to spare+10 year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Noisy-Increased Vampire Power-Poor transient response

A wise man once told us never to underestimate the power of the dark supply. Or something like that. The point is, you don't want a crappy PSU taking down the rest of your rig, and when you're putting together the best PC possible, that means getting an equally bodacious power supply. 

The EVGA SuperNova 1000 G5 is a great option to build an extreme rig around when it comes to power supplies. If the name hasn't given it away already, this sucker offers up 1000W of power for your extreme build to turn into super-smooth gaming experiences. And you'll need most of that, as the i9 10900K and Z490 motherboard can draw a hell of a lot of power under load, and the RTX 3080 Ti is no wallflower either—and power draw only goes up if you run the CPU and GPU overclocked, which is the point of an extreme build.

If you only plan to run a more modest GPU, or a lower-tier CPU (like the i7 10700K), EVGA's SuperNOVA 850 T2 is a great alternative that will save some money. If you want to save even more, the SuperNOVA 850 P2 costs about $50 (£50) less and is every bit as good. But saving money isn't the objective here.

Need more? Here are our best power supply units for PC.

Case

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Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D

Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D (Image credit: newegg)
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Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D

Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D (Image credit: Newegg)
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Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D

Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D (Image credit: Newegg)
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Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D

Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D (Image credit: Newegg)
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Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D

Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D (Image credit: Newegg)
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Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D

Case: Corsair Obsidian 1000D (Image credit: Newegg)

Corsair Obsidian 1000D

The best high-end PC case

Specifications
Form Factor: Super-tower
Motherboard Support: ATX, Extended ATX, Mini-ITX, SSI EEB, microATX
Dimensions: 27.4 x 12.1 x 27.3 inches (697 x 307 x 693 mm)
Weight: 65 lb (29.5 kg)
Radiator Support: 120 mm; 140 mm; 240 mm; 280 mm; 360 mm; 420 mm; 480 mm
I/O Ports: 1x Audio/Mic, 4x USB 3.0, 2x USB 3.1 Type-C
Drive Bays: 6x 2.5-inch, 5x 3.5-inch
Reasons to buy
+Supports just about any crazy build+Can house an E-ATX and Mini-ITX build at the same time+Supports dual 480mm front radiators
Reasons to avoid
-No Fans-No power supply

The Corsair Obsidian Series 1000D is a behemoth of a PC case ready to house the biggest and baddest systems. Standing tall at a staggering 27.3-inches, this "super-tower" boasts enough space to house 18 fans and up to four massive radiators installed simultaneously.

The 1000D features a unique triple-chamber design with convenient French-door-styled storage compartments and telescoping radiator trays for easy installation in addition to the stellar cooling support. Because it is 2021, of course, there is also an RGB lit front panel I/O with built-in smart lighting and fan control courtesy of Corsair's integrated Commander Pro controller. 

The Obsidian 900D has long been a top choice for massive, over-the-top builds, and it only fits that the 1000D was designed to knock it off its throne.

CPU Cooling

CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken X62 (Image credit: NZXT)

NZXT Kraken X62

Substantial cooling for your Core i9 processor

Specifications
Size: 280 mm
Fan speed: 1,200rpm
Airflow: 55.4 CFM
Noise level: 20.4 dB(A)
Dimensions: 315 x 143 x 29 mm
Socket support: LGA115x, LGA2011, LGA2066, AM2, AM3, AM4
Reasons to buy
+Good cooling and software+Quieter than previous revision
Reasons to avoid
- Not much more powerful than the Kraken X52

This rig has a beastly CPU, and yes, it needs overclocking. Liquid cooling is highly recommended when you're trying to get the most out of Intel's unlocked enthusiast chips, and the 10th Gen Core i9 processors require it.

Don't want to build?

If PC building isn't part of your skillset, look at our guides for the best gaming PCs and best gaming laptops that can give you the most bang for your buck and save you a headache. 

The NZXT Kraken X62 is an impressive piece of kit and works with all major platforms. It's reasonably easy to install and features a large 280mm radiator with a pair of 140mm fans. Once everything is installed, having a small water block on your CPU instead of a massive air cooler makes things look much cleaner. You'll need a large case capable of housing the radiator, naturally, which we already took care of above.

But even with the X62, you may run into thermal limitations. If you're serious about pushing the i9 10900K to its limits, you'll want to consider going with a fully custom liquid cooling loop. That's beyond this buying guide's scope, but know that even a good AIO cooler likely won't allow maximum overclock with the i9 10900K.

Extreme Gaming PC - the full build

Extreme gaming PC build FAQ

Should I build my own extreme gaming PC?

One thing to consider: With the component supply chain in shambles at the moment, CPU and graphics card stocks are sparse. You might want to consider picking up a pre-built system if you're after the best gear. Otherwise, if you're determined to build it yourself, and manage to spot some available stock of a like-for-like product, go for it.

Handling the high-end components of an extreme gaming PC can be daunting, especially if this is your first PC build. Have a look at our guide on how to build a gaming PC before you jump in to ease your worries.

Is it cheaper/better to build my own gaming PC?

Generally, manufacturers of pre-built gaming PCs will add an extra service charge on top of the cost of the components, but it's possible to find a good deal every now and then. Just make sure you double check, don't take their word that it's a good deal.

We recommend building your own, though, for that feeling of ultimate satisfaction when the fans whirr to life and the splash screen seems to whisper "Good job, mate. You didn't mess it up."

Of course, if you rush or botch the job, building your own PC could result in some expensive mishaps. Handle your components carefully, and it's sure to be a much more rewarding, intimate experience than just buying one someone else has put together. And you'll probably save some dollar, too.

Dave James

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.