Christmas special: Ultimate PC - December 2016
The Ultimate PC is a PC Advice from the past, but we still get regularly requests to publish an ultimate system. Just like past year, we gathered the most ultimate components for this Christmas special.
With an unlimited budget, the fantasy of one will stop far earlier than that of another, so there are many different options. This is the Ultimate PC that the editors of Hardware.Info would like the most to find under the Christmas tree.
The only thing we allow ourselves to stop by is that the component choices must remain sensible - we don't spend thousands of euros extra for a few percent performance gain or build a RAID setup of dozens of SSDs, but otherwise we take the term 'sensible' quite broad.
Maybe next year it'll finally be different, but for now Intel still offers the fastest CPU on the market. The Core i7 6950X has a whopping ten cores at a clock frequency of 3 GHz (turbo up to 3.5 GHz), but when combined with the other components in this advice, you'll be able to achieve an excellent overclock too.
An Ultimate PC requires only the best components. That's why we chose the NZXT Kraken X61, one of the best ready-to-use water cooling kits available, as we've seen in our review. The 280mm kit can always be found at the top of our graphs and is fully controlable through the free CAM software from its manufacturer. Its successor, the Kraken X62, is not available yet, but we hope to be able to test it in the near future.
The chosen processor has a quad-channel DDR4 memory controller, which means that we have to fill at least four slots for the best performance. We use a kit from G.Skill's high-end Trident Z series for this. You have no less then 64 Gigs of memory available, but in case that's not ultimate enough anymore at some point in the future, you'll be able to double the capacity by buying an extra set.
ASUS is still the manufacturer of the most ultimate mainboard for Intels high-end platform. With the Rampage V Edition 10, it celebrates the ten-year anniversary of the Republic of Gamers brand. In fact it's a fusion of the stylish Formula with its RGB lighting and the Extreme with all of its overclocking features. Whatever you'll be using your system for, with the Edition 10 you won't ever fall short in capabilities. The Edition 10 is the obvious choice for the Ultimate PC.
Previous year, we opted for three graphics cards in SLI. With its Pascal generation GPUs, Nvidia limited SLI to a maximum of two videocards. That makes the choice for this Ultimate PC a clear one: two Titan X's in SLI it is. If you want the fastest graphics card available, you have no other choice.
With a SLI configuration of two Titan X's, you don't have to worry anymore about gaming at the highest possible settings, was the conclusion of our review. Some new games don't support multiple GPUs as good as we would have wanted, but even in those cases a single Titan X Pascal will be fast enough for an excellent game experience with minimal adjustments to the graphics.
Nvidia only sells the Titan X Pascal through its own website. You'll also need a high-bandwidth SLI bridge for the best performance. Altogether, add up around 2660 euros / 2270 pounds to the price of this system as displayed below.
Samsung delivers the fastest SSD to date with its 960 Pro. It's topping all of the graphs and thanks to the terabyte of storage, you'll be able to run your OS and all other software from the fastest storage medium in this PC. Because we use the X99 platform, we don't have to worry about the four PCIe lanes the 960 Pro requires.
Data storage on mechanical harddisks? Please go back to 2015 ;-). The Crucial MX300 offers a really low price per GB, which makes us fully switch to fast SSD storage for the Ultimate PC. That has more advantages than just speed - SSDs consume less power, typically die less quickly and don't produce any noise.
If you don't have enough with of five terabytes of storage in total, you could grab a few big hard drives - but a NAS might be a better option in this case.
For the Ultimate PC, we choose an internal Blu-ray drive, so you can read and write all courant optical media. The LG BH16 reads and burns almost all discs, including blu-rays.
If you also want to include a card reader, the Kingston FCR-HS4 will be the best option.
The Be quiet! Dark Base Pro is one of the most impressive cases that passed our test lab in 2016. The enclosure combines good cooling performance with silent operation, quite unique for high-end cases. It's really flexible too: you can remove an HDD cage for more airflow, by exempla.
If you're planning to use custom watercooling, Be quiet! has got your back. It fits even the thickest radiators by making it possible to adjust the height of your motherboard. All accessoires you'll need are bundled in the package.
That's still not everything, because there almost seems to be no end to the list of extra's. Be quiet! includes a side panel of luxurious tempered glass, a built-in Qi charger, a feature-rich controller for fans and the two bundled RGB LED strips - you'll absolutely have nothing to wish for left. The Dark Base Pro 900 is a worthy base for this years' Ultimate PC.
We want to have enough room left for a hefty overclock, but you don't need an extreme power supply with 'just' two graphics cards. The Be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 850W is an excellent option that excels on all fronts: outstanding effiency, a whisper quiet fan and very low ripple. It's fully modular, except for the 24 pins ATX connector - but you'll need that cable anyway.
We had to make a choice in the end, but we didn't want to leave unmentioned that Corsair, EVGA, Seasonic and Super Flower have excellent products in this segment, too.
The popularity of ultrawide monitors really took off in 2016. A 21:9 aspect ratio provides an immersive gaming experience, while it can also replace two monitors for productivity work.
In our opinion, ASUS ROG Swift PG348Q is the ultimate monitor. It offers an UWQHD resolution, a refresh rate of 100 Hz, Nvidia G-Sync support: do we need to go on? Oh, and the final feature: an astronomical pricetag.
We give the LG 38UC99-W an honorable mention. It's missing some features for gamers, but the 3840 by 1600 pixels resolution make it even more suitable for productivity.
The market for PC speakers is unfortunately characterized by cheap products, but the Edifier S760D is the exception that proves the rule. This PC speakerset forms a class of its own, well above the Logitech Z906 by example. Furthermore, it offers a lot of connections (like three optical inputs) and a wireless as well as a wired remote.
If you can't blast your speakers during late-night gaming sessions, a good headset should be part of your setup. For the gamer with a bigger budget, the Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum is the best choice. The earcups of this wireless headset contain a replaceable battery, the USB-receiver and a retractable microphone. On the outside, you'll find a few programmable buttons. Thanks to the Dolby support in the Logitech Gaming software, it's possible to simulate 7.1 surround sound.
The SteelSeries Apex M800 offers almost everything you could aspect from a high-end mechanical keyboard. The QS1 switches in the Apex M800 are radically different from almost all mechanical switches we've seen in the past and really shine when you compare their stability. The throw/travel of these switches is relatively short, so that could give you an edge while gaming. On top of all that, they're very silent for mechanical switches. If you want to spend some money on your keyboard, the Apex M800 is the way to go.
If you want a so-called tenkeyless keyboard, we would recommend the CM Storm NovaTouch TKL. If you want to spend a bit less on a mechanical keyboard, the Orion Spark G910 from Logitech is a nice option, which shares its software suite with the recommended headset.
The ultimate gaming mouse is without doubt the Logitecj G900 Chaos Spectrum. It's the first wireless mouse which can even be used by pro gamers, thanks to the absence of any lag. The used sensor and the implementation therof are simply excellent. You can synchronize the RGB lighting with keyboards and headsets from the same brand.
The Zowie FK2 could be an alternative if you are looking for a mouse with less frills.
|Processors||Intel Core i7 6950X Boxed||$1,649.99|
|CPU coolers||NZXT Kraken X61||$119.99|
|Memory modules||G.Skill Trident Z 64GB DDR4-3200 CL14 quad kit||–|
|Motherboards||ASUS Rampage V Edition 10||$544.99|
|3D chips||2x Nvidia Titan X (Pascal)||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Samsung 960 Pro 1TB||$629.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||2x Crucial MX300 2TB||$1,099.98|
|Optical drives||LG BH16NS55||–|
|Cases||Be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 Orange||$219.99|
|Power supplies||Be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 850W||–|
|Monitors||ASUS ROG Swift PG348Q||$1,199.90|
|PC speaker sets||Edifier S760D||–|
|Headsets||Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum||–|
|Keyboards||SteelSeries Apex M800 Black||$196.99|
|Mice||Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum||–|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||$5,661.82|