4K Gaming PC - January 2017
After a few years in which little happened in the area of PC displays, the 4K revolution is finally taking place. Graphics cards have to render four times as many pixels to drive a 4K display, while the game textures are only getting more detailed. In short: you need real horse power to game in 4K.
A fast processor and especially a graphics card is a must. However, the rest of the configuration needs to be balanced as well. Since many gamers prefer to overclock their PC to improve performance, it is important to choose a motherboard that is suitable for this.
Having the right accessories is equally important. The goal of our 4K Gaming PC is to be able to run virtually all new PC titles on the highest settings. That means high graphics quality settings, a good frame rate, and surround sound. And let’s not forget a good gaming mouse and a decent keyboard with features to enhance your PC gaming experience. Besides that, a nice gaming monitor will also help bring your gaming experience to the next level.
A dedicated 4K gaming PC is pretty expensive, but we try to make sure that our recommended system isn't over-the-top. Do you want to spend less? Check out our Budget 4K Gaming PC advice.
Please note: the PC Buyer’s Guide is compiled based on independent component tests performed by Hardware.Info. If no new, superior products are released that should replace one or more of the components, then the component(s) will remain the same as the previous month.
If you want to know more about how we compile our PC Buying guides, have a look at this article.
A fast processor is a must to game in 4K. Previous year, we proved that the theoretical advantage of having more PCI-Express lanes on the LGA2011 platform, isn't anywhere near noticeable when using two high-end graphics cards. That's why we choose the Core i7 6700K, Intels fastest processor for socket 1151.
Due to the unlocked multiplier, you can easily overclock your CPU. Unfortunately, many games still don't scale to more than four cores, so in the foreseeable future, fast cores remain more important than the amount of cores.
With 16 Gigs of RAM, your system will be future-proof and suitable for gaming related activities such as capturing gameplay, streaming and running a (light) game server. This kit from Corsair has an attractive price, and the high clock speed can sometimes be beneficial in games. Be sure to check out our price comparison engine, because as long as a memory kit is from a known brand, you can't go wrong with it.
The performance of the Scythe Fuma is more than sufficient to keep the chosen processor cool, which even happens nice and quiet. In our review, the Fuma defeated almost all other tested CPU coolers and the Noctuas that sometimes had a little leap, are considerably more expensive. Combined with its reasonable price, it's almost a no-brainer.
If you care about the looks, the Be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 would be a good choice. Many people like the appearance of the Dark Rock Pro 3, with its dark and fully nickel-plated heatsink, top of brushed aluminium and matching black fans. If you are willing to spend a bit more, your PC will look a lot nicer through the case's side window with this CPU cooler.
The Maximus VIII Ranger is the value model in the ROG series. ASUS has saved some money on the looks of the board in comparison to the Hero, with things like the I/O enclosure and on-board lighting missing, but solely looking at the features and functionality, it's a really close call. Most gamers will survive the six SATA600 ports, instead of eight on the Hero variant.
As a gamer, the investment in a bord like the Ranger is worth the investment. The performance is excellent, ASUS clearly has the best audio implementation an you get all the ROG software, while not paying too much for the visual appearance.
Furthermore, the Z170 chipset also offers many advantages above the old Z97 by itself. Due to the higher PCI-Express bandwidth, manufacturers are able to put advanced features like M.2 x4 slots on the board way more easily.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 makes it possible to game at 4K resolution with only one graphics card. In a few instances you should go back from 'ultra' to 'high' settings, but we think it'd be wasted money to place a second GPU. Besides, it's unfortunately a trend for new games to lack proper multi-GPU support.
Gainward offers our favorite GTX 1080, thanks to its big but really efficient Phoenix cooler and high clock speeds.
If you really want to play every game at max settings without thinking, the new Titan X is your only choice, costing over 1300 euros. On the other hand, saving costs is possible too. 4K gaming is certainly possible with a GTX 1070, but you'll have to lower the settings a notch.
Nowadays, the most high-end SSDs use a PCI-Express interface, but such super speedy storage isn't necessary for a Game PC, even if you game in high resolutions.
We choose 'just' a Crucial MX300, which offers a nice balance between performance and price. With half a terabyte of storage, almost everyone will have enough space for his game collection. Nowadays, you don't have to keep all your games locally stored, thanks to cloud services like Steam and Origin.
If you want a lot of storage for a friendly price, the Seagate Desktop HDD 4TB is a good choice, as our big comparison test showed us. Although all your games will probably fit on the SSD, you can store all your game captures, back-ups of your save games and other data on this hard disk.
If you rather have a Western Digital drive, the WD Desk Blue 4 TB is a good, but somewhat more expensive alternative.
Optical drive -
We can finally say you probably don't need an optical drive anymore. All games are available through online platforms like Steam and Origin. However, if you still want a DVD drive in your PC, you could take a look at the LG GH24NSD1.
A card reader is also a viable option. Not only cameras use memory cards, but also many smartphones are upgradeable with microSD. We recently tested a number of cardreaders, of which the Kingston FCR-HS4 turned out to be the fastest, while not even being expensive. It's an external model, but we think that's nothing more than handy.
We were very excited about the Phanteks Enthoo Pro in our review. The case offers features which we usually only see in enclosures that cost way more, while the build quality and finish are simply excellent. Due to its good cooling, the fan noise became a bit high on full speed, but that's easy to fix by setting up some fan profiles. Phanteks managed to dethrone the CM 690 and all its successores: if you are a gamer, the Enthoo Pro is the case you want to have.
By the way, a version with a side window also exists. If you prefer a silent pc most of all, you should take a look at the Fractal Design Define R5.
The RMx series from Corsair are an excellent choice and they were tested very well, with a good efficiency, an unprecedented low ripple, almost no noise and a long warranty period of seven years. You have to search very deeply to even spot a con.
We choose the RM550x, which can deliver enough power for the chosen configuration. Though, if you want to add a second card in SLI, you'll need four PEG connectors. For example the RM650x offers that.
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 Logitech G502 is one of the most popular gaming mouses in our price comparison engine. After our test, we know why: the buttons are extremely easy to press and very well-positioned. The scroll wheel can be used as a flywheel for fast movements, but also for low-sense usage with clear steps. Logitech's Gaming-software is very comprehensive and you can change the weight of the mouse by using the supplied weights. If you want to spend some more on an advanced wireless version, you could also look into the G900.
The Zowie FK2 could be an alternative if you are looking for a mouse with less frills.
Not only should you get a quality mouse for a gaming PC, but the mousepad matters as well. Everyone has different preferences in material choice, so you should really try a few pads both in a store. The SteelSeries QcK is one of the candidates for your shortlist and a really popular store.
4K gaming doesn't have to be extremely expensive. This G-Master Gold Phoenix - a marketing name for the Iiyama GB2888UHSU-B1 monitor - offers all the display outputs you could need, with DisplayPort as well as HDMI 2.0. If you want, you can easily mount the display to a desk or wall mount thanks to its Vesa lay-out. The TN panel may not be the best for work where color accuracy is really important, but as a gamer you'll be happy with the quick response times it offers.
If you want to do more with your system than gaming, photo and video editing by example, the investment in a display with an IPS panel may be worth the extra money. The LG 27UD68P-B surprised us with its good viewing angles and its color deviations are so small, that the human eye won't notice them. However, the response times are a bit higher than with the Iiyama monitor, and the price is a bit higher too.
G-Sync is very expensive in this segment, but the Iiyama as well as the LG both support Freesync. For the time being, we have to conclude that AMD (sadly) offers no real competition for the chosen Nvidia card.
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.
Wanna spend less on a headset? The Kingston HyperX Cloud makes that possible. If you are looking for an excellent PC speakerset instead, the Edifier S760D is a very solid choice in our opinion.
|Processors||Intel Core i7 6700K Boxed||$329.89|
|Memory modules||Corsair Vengeance LPX Black 16GB DDR4-3000 CL15 kit||$139.99|
|CPU coolers||Scythe Fuma||–|
|Motherboards||ASUS Maximus VIII Ranger||–|
|Graphics cards||Gainward GeForce GTX 1080 Phoenix GLH 8GB||–|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Crucial MX300 525GB||$149.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Seagate Desktop HDD 4TB||$133.99|
|Cases||Phanteks Enthoo Pro||$99.99|
|Power supplies||Corsair RM550x||–|
|Keyboards||SteelSeries Apex M800 Black||$199.99|
|Mice||Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum||–|
|Mouse pads||SteelSeries QcK||$10.92|
|Monitors||Iiyama G-Master Gold Phoenix GB2888UHSU-B1||–|
|Headsets||Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum||–|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||$1,064.76|