If you've got your heart set on an extreme gaming PC build that can handle anything you care to throw at it—and you're prepared to sacrifice cash to the god of PC hardware—you've come to the right place. This machine uses the best graphics card as well as the best CPU for gaming, and rewards you by squeezing every last frame out of your set-up. Building a PC from the ground up can be intimidating, especially when you're handling expensive, high-end components. If you've never attempted a build of your own before, it's worthwhile taking notes from our guide on how to build a gaming PC before you get started.
Don't want to build?
The extreme gaming PC build that we have in mind has more than enough power to take on any modern game on high settings, and will allow you to stream and do pretty much anything else you want it to do. But PC components won't stay viable forever, and we're all familiar with the ticking clock that starts as soon as you open the box.. To help counteract this, we've left some room at the top of the curve for improvement, but the most awkward components to swap out—usually the motherboard, power supply, and case—have been picked with the aim of giving us the room we'll need for when, and if, we choose to upgrade.
One thing you should be aware of when building any PC is feeling like you can spend even more money than is necessary or sensible. Investing in extra RAM or doubling up on one of the best graphics cards is tempting and, of course, you're not here because you're looking to cut corners or save cash. But there does come a point where the cost can far outweigh the gains. Despite that, we are building an extreme gaming PC so we've pulled out all the stops with components that can push a solid 60fps and exceed that at 1440p. All in all, this build will cost you just over the $3,000 mark and if that seems a bit too extreme for your bank balance, check out our high-end PC build guide.
It's also worth noting that the $3,000 we've put aside for this build doesn't include anything that's not inside the case, so your OS, monitor, speakers, or any other peripherals will need to be factored into the overall cost. If your wallet is already groaning under the pressure, you could opt for slower RAM or a smaller SSD, both of which shouldn't unduly affect the overall performance, and they're easy to upgrade later on when you have the extra cash to spare.
The fastest consumer CPU
Cores: 8 | Threads: 16 | Base Clock: 4.0GHz | Turbo Clock: 5.0GHz | Overclocking: Yes, 4.9-5.0GHz typical | L3 Cache: 16MB | TDP: 127W | PCIe 3.0 lanes: 16
The 9900KS is the current front runner in terms of performance when it comes to the best CPUs for gaming, the only reason it doesn't currently occupy our top slot is the cost. It does, in fact, achieve 5Ghz on all cores, making it the fastest LGA1151 platform CPU, but ultimately is only about 300MHz faster than the 9900K.
While we wouldn't necessarily recommend the 9900KS at its current price point, our extreme gaming PC build isn't about to pull any punches. It costs about $90 more than it's closest competitor, the 9900K, but only offers a slight improvement in terms of performance. While it is indeed the superior processor, it's a difficult recommendation for all but the most decadent of gaming rigs.
Asus Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi
The board that does it all
Chipset: Z390 | Memory: (4) DIMM, 64GB, DDR4-4400 | PCIe slots: (2) x16 (x16 or dual x8), x16 (x4), (3) x1 | Video ports: HDMI, DisplayPort | USB ports: USB ports: (8) rear IO, (7) internal | Storage: (2) M.2, (6) SATA | Network: Ethernet, 866Mbps 802.11ac | Lighting: Heatsink RGB, (2) Aura RGB, (2) addressable Aura
If the CPU is the brains of your new PC, the motherboard is the nervous system and other vital organs that actually keeps things running smoothly. Skimp on a motherboard at your own peril—especially when using multiple graphics cards.
The Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi comes with a Z390 chipset, which means it's primed to handle Intel's 8th and 9th gen cores. Its redesigned 5-way optimization overclocks based on thermal telemetry. It also has 802.11ac 2x2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi so you won't have to buy a separate card. There are tons of USB slots and, of course, its RGB lighting works with a bunch of Aura Sync compatible peripherals. The only thing missing is a third M.2 slot.
There are other Asus motherboard models that are a step up from this one, but not enough to justify the jump in cost. The Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi sits at a stable $280 at the moment, but you can give yourself a small discount if you purchase the same motherboard sans Wi-Fi.
Here are the best gaming motherboards in 2019.
The fastest graphics card for 4K, ray tracing, and everything else
GPU Cores: 4,352 | Base Clock: 1,350MHz | Boost Clock: 1,545MHz | GFLOPS: 13,448 | Memory: 11GB GDDR6 | Memory Clock: 14GT/s | Memory Bandwidth: 616GB/s
More than anything else in an extreme gaming PC, the graphics card—or cards—matter. In sticking with our 'not entirely insane' mantra, we've elected to go with a single RTX 2080 Ti rather than two, because one will get the job done just fine. If you really want two RTX 2080 Tis, you'll need an NVLink bridge, and the only thing to worry about here is whether the games you play support SLI.
We've intentionally left the specific model of GTX 2080 Ti up to the user, because all of the 2080 Ti cards fall within a narrow performance spectrum. For an SLI build, some people prefer blower coolers that vent heat out of the case, while others are fine with large open air coolers, and still others like liquid cooling and will want a hybrid card. All of those are viable options, though the larger open air coolers often keep temps and noise lower than blowers (provided you have a large case with other fans helping out).
Overclocking is definitely possible with any of the 2080 Ti cards, and if nothing else you should use EVGA's Precision X OC software or MSI's Afterburner to increase the power limit of your GPU to the maximum—it's a quick and easy way to add an extra 5-10 percent to gaming performance over stock.
Here are the best graphics cards you can buy right now.
G.Skill 32GB TridentZ DDR4-3200 RGB (4x8GB)
Gobs of RAM for video editing, gaming, and more
Capacity: 4x8GB | Speed: 3200MT/s | Timings: 16-18-18-38 | Voltage: 1.35V
You could definitely put more memory into this build (up to 64GB), but for gaming 4x8GB 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 through 2019. That means a 32GB kit can be had for under $300 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 miniscule 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 2019.
WD Black SN750 2TB NVMe SSD with Heatsink
Incredibly fast storage and performance
Capacity: 2,048GB | Interface: M.2 PCIe | Sequential IO: 3,400/2,900MB/s read/write | Random IO: 480K/550K IOPS read/write
An extreme build is going to require the fastest NVMe SSD you can get, and maximum capacity when you need it. The WD Black SN750 2TB is a powerhouse with a custom heatsink that's designed for sustained usage, to keep it from running hot. It's also available in 2TB, which the equally fast Samsung Pro 970 is not (that only comes in 1TB, currently).
The included software allows a Gaming Mode that'll keep the SSD from entering into low-power mode assuring you never get a dip in performance. This means you'll massively cut down load times in games which is important for the impatient gamer. It costs close to $500, sure, but you're getting one hell of a storage drive for that price.
These are the best SSD for gaming options right now.
Samsung 860 Evo 4TB SATA
Tons of speedy space for your games, movies, and more
Capacity: 4,096GB | Interface: SATA | Sequential IO: 550/520MB/s read/write | Random IO: 98K/90K IOPS read/write
Yeah, only 4TB of SATA storage for the secondary drive. We were trying to be somewhat reasonable, but you could always double down (or even go with four drives) and run the drives in a RAID set. Treat yourself.
In testing, the 860 Evo 4TB is as fast as it gets for SATA storage. You could always add a few 10TB HDDs as well, but we'd personally recommend a good NAS with 10GbE rather than adding HDDs to your main PC—because spinning disks are the opposite of extreme performance.
Enough power for overclocking and then some
Output: 1,500W | Efficiency: 80 Plus Titanium | Connectors: (1) 24-Pin ATX, (2) 8-Pin (4+4) EPS12V, (10) 8-Pin (6+2) PCIe, (20) SATA, (12) Molex, (2) Floppy | Modular: Fully
A wise man once told us to never 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 top of the heap is 80 Plus Titanium, and it may be some time before we see anything more efficient.
When it comes to power supplies, the Corsair AX1500i is one of the best around, with a fully digitally controlled design and monitoring software as a bonus. But that's not the main selling point, which is the 1500W of clean power at up to 94 percent efficiency. And you'll need most of that, as the i9-7900X and motherboard can draw around 400W under load, and each GTX 1080 Ti is 250W—more 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 i7-7800X), 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 really isn't the objective here.
Need more? Here are our best power supply units for PC.
be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900
A big and beautiful case to show off your build
Form Factor: Full tower | Motherboard Support: E-ATX, XL-ATX, ATX, M-ATX, Mini-ITX | Dimensions: 577 x 243 x 586 mm | Weight: 14.39 kg | Radiator Support: 120mm; 140mm; 240mm; 280mm; 360mm; 420mm | I/O Ports: 1 x Audio/Mic, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C, Qi Wireless Charger | Drive Bays: 2.5”: 10, 3.5”: 5
One of be Quiet!'s newer cases, the Dark Base Pro 900 remains one of our most highly recommended full towers thanks to its sleek design and enthusiast-friendly interior. One of the most modular cases we've ever seen, just about every single panel can be removed, making this case a modder's dream. There's also a whole lot of customization available, with options for an inverted motherboard layout and even some nifty features like wireless qi charging for your cellphone and preinstalled LED lighting.
The Dark Base Pro 900 is large enough to support the biggest motherboards and radiators up to 420mm in size. It's a very large full tower that can support just about any custom cooling you can dream up. It also looks very sleek with a few color options to spice things up and enough bells and whistles to make it worth the outlay.
Here are the best PC cases in 2019, for more options.
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
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 9th Gen Core i9 processors basically 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 waterblock 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 i9-9900K 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 overclocks with the i9-9900K.
You'll need one, so here are the best CPU coolers in 2019.