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Extreme gaming PC build 2020

PC Gamer extreme gaming PC build guide
(Image credit: Future)

This extreme gaming PC build will give you a machine with the power to take on any modern game, on the highest graphical settings, with no compromises. I mean Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 can still bring any machine to its knees, but this is a still a gaming PC for the ages. You probably don't need to be told that this build is going to cost a pretty penny—it takes the best CPU for gaming as well as the best graphics card and squeezes the best possible performance out of both. 

Handling those high-end components might seem a little daunting if this is your first build, so you might want to have a look at our guide on how to build a gaming PC before you go any further.

Don't want to build?

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

This extreme gaming PC build aims to squeeze every last drop of performance out of your set-up and will allow you to stream, record, and edit your gameplay without compromise. This is the machine that will let you play your favorite games in 4K, heck even 8K, with all your settings cranked up.

But we all know that even the most expensive PC components won't remain viable indefinitely. Because of this, we've left a little bit of room for improvement, and you can rest assured that the case, power supply, and motherboard—generally the most difficult components to swap out—have been chosen specifically to allow room for future upgrades. 

It's often tempting to just throw money at a prebuilt, especially if you're going for something high-end. Picking up an extra graphics card or adding more RAM is undoubtedly an option, but there does come the point where the added cost will far outweigh the gains. We are building an extreme gaming PC, and as it is, this build will cost you over $4,500, but it will produce some incredible frame rates, even at 4K. If that price seems a little too extreme for your budget, you might want to take a look at our high-end PC build guide instead.

You should also note, the mentioned above $4,500 we quoted doesn't include any peripherals or accessories. If you need to cut costs to pick up a monitor or a fancy gaming headset, you can always go for a smaller SSD or slower RAM, which can be easily upgraded down the road.

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

CPU

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

Intel Core i9 10900K

The world's fastest gaming processor.

Cores: 10 | Threads: 20 | Base Clock: 3.7GHz | Turbo Clock: 5.3GHz | Overclocking: Yes | L3 Cache: 20MB | TDP: 125W | PCIe 3.0 lanes: 16

Fastest gaming CPU around
Great overclocking potential

The Intel Core i9 10900K is the world's fastest gaming processor, and when it comes to building an extreme gaming PC that's all you need to know. You could argue that the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is more deserving of a place in an extreme PC build thanks to its 16 cores and 32 threads of processing power, but it ain't no gaming chip.

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.

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

Great CPU and memory overclocking  
Not too expensive for a top-tier board  

If the CPU is the brains of your new PC, 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 new Z490 chipset, which means it's primed to handle Intel's 10th gen (and potentially 11th 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 slots, and, of course, its RGB lighting works with a bunch of Aura Sync compatible peripherals. 

If you prefer options then check out our list of the best gaming motherboards in 2020.

Graphics Card

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 (Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

The fastest graphics card for 8K, ray tracing, and everything else.

GPU Cores: 10,496 | Boost Clock: 1,695MHz | Memory: 24GB GDDR6 | Memory speed: 19.5Gbps | Memory Bandwidth: 936GB/s

Fastest graphics card around
More than enough for gaming
Memory galore

While a little less extreme than dual RTX 3090s, we felt one would be enough for even the most performance-hungry gamers and maintains some semblance of sense from a monetary perspective. Some semblance. This is still a $1,499 graphics card, and that's if you net the Founder's Edition and not a pricier third-party job. 

If you want two graphics cards, at least for Nvidia Ampere, the RTX 3090 is your only option. It's the only RTX 30-series card fitted with the required connection for an NVLink bridge, but even with that installed you'll still have to worry about whether the games you play support SLI. Hint: most kind of don't, and that support is only dwindling further as time marches on.

There are a few key considerations you'll need to make alongside the RTX 3090 to make good use of it. For one, it's sold on the promise of 8K gaming, with a little help from Nvidia's AI super sampling tech, DLSS. However, to do that you'll want one of the few 8K gaming tellies with HDMI 2.1, VRR support, and high refresh rates. LG's lineup is a good place to start.

The other consideration is more of a technical one, in the name of stability. The RTX 3090 is a power-hungry card, and when combined with the Core i9 10900K outlined above, you really want to ensure your PSU is up to the job. We would recommend a PSU capacity upwards of 850 Watts, if not 1000W or more, and one from a highly acclaimed manufacturer that can also offer high operational efficiency.

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.

Capacity: 4x 8GB | Speed: 3200MT/s | Timings: 16-18-18-38 | Voltage: 1.35V

Never worry if you have enough RAM
Double down and make a RAM drive

You could put more memory into this build (up to 64GB), but for gaming, 4x 8GB DDR4-3200 is more than sufficient. 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 are also coming down, and have been steadily dropping throughout 2020. That means a 32GB kit can be had for well under $200 again. If you prefer some other brand, there are many options.

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 point 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 2020.

Storage

Primary Storage: Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB

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

Sabrent Rocket Q 4TB

A tiny SSD with a whole lot of speedy storage space.

Capacity: 4,096GB | Interface: M.2 PCIe 3.0 | Sequential read/write speed: 3,200MB/s / 3,000MB/s | Random IOPS: 550K read / 680K write

Huge capacity
Genuine speed
Almost affordable

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 speed and capacity of the Sabrent means 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 just 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.

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

Gold efficiency
Connectors to spare
10 year warranty

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 equally bodacious power supply. 

When it comes to power supplies, the EVGA SuperNova 1000 G5 is a great option to build an extreme rig around. 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  3090 is no wallflower either—and power draw only goes up if you run the CPU and GPU overclocked, which is sort of the point of an extreme build.

If you only plan to run a single 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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Corsair Obsidian 1000D

The best high-end PC case.

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 693mm) | Weight: 65lb (29.5kg) | Radiator Support: 120mm; 140mm; 240mm; 280mm; 360mm; 420mm; 480mm | 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

Supports just about any crazy build
Can house an E-ATX and Mini-ITX build at the same time
Supports dual 480mm front radiators

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", this "super-tower" features enough space to house 18 fans and up to four massive radiators installed simultaneously.

In addition to the stellar cooling support, the 1000D features a unique triple-chamber design with convenient French-door-styled storage compartments and telescoping radiator trays for easy installation. Because it is 2020, 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

NZXT Kraken X62

Substantial cooling for your Core i9 processor.

Size: 280mm | Fan speed: 1,200rpm | Airflow: 55.4 CFM | Noise level: 20.4 dB(A) | Dimensions: 315x143x29mm | Socket support: LGA115x, LGA2011, LGA2066, AM2, AM3, AM4

Good cooling and software
Quieter than previous revision

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 new 10th Gen Core i9 processors require it.

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 the scope of this buying guide, but know that even a good AIO cooler likely won't allow maximum overclock with the i9 10900K.

Extreme Gaming PC - the full build

Dave has been obsessed with gaming since the days of Zaxxon 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. Thankfully it's a lot easier to build a gaming rig now there are no motherboard jumper switches, though he has been breaking technology ever since… at least he gets paid for it now.