Intel Gaming PC - November 2017
This computer system is specifically geared towards gaming at WQHD resolution. That means a PC with a high-end graphics card and a processor that is fast enough to support the GPU, but also a fast monitor to display the rendered frames in the best way.
Because there is much discussion about whether an AMD or an Intel processor should be inside a gaming rig, we split up our system advices. You're now reading the Intel-based advice, the AMD version can be found in a different article.
The rest of the configuration needs to be balanced as well. Since many gamers also enjoy overclocking their PC to improve performance, it is also important to choose a motherboard and memory that is suitable for this. Keep in mind that you will pay extra for that overclocking potential.
Having the right accessories is also important. The goal of our gaming PC is to be able to run virtually all new PC titles on the highest settings. That means high resolution, high graphics quality, 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.
A dedicated gaming PC is pretty expensive, but we try to make sure that our recommended system isn't over-the-top.
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.
For the time being, Intel still offers the best performance in games - of course, that's the main use case for this system. The Core i5 8600K sits right on that gaming sweetspot with its six physical cores, that make this CPU future proof.. Furthermore, you can overclock it thanks to its unlocked multiplier.
The chosen processor requires DDR4 memory. We choose a set with two 8 GB modules, which together form a 16 GB kit. 8 GB tends to be enough for just gaming, but more demanding tasks, running a game server or video editing by example, can use the extra memory. You could possibly save some bucks by installing only one module and buying a second one later.
Since faster memory can sometimes provide better gaming performance, we choose a fast kit from Corsair which is not too expensive. If you want to save some money, getting a simpler DDR4-2400 kit is an easy way to do so.
The Scythe Mugen 5 PCGH Edition offers good cooling performance at a low price. The airflow is provided by two fans, which means that they don't have to run at high speeds and are very silent as a result. At the same time, the Mugen 5 PCGH offers enough headroom to overclock.
For even better cooling, you could take a look at the coolers from Noctua, but those are considerably more expensive.
We need a motherboard with the Intel Z370 chipset for our Coffee Lake processor. The ASRock Z370 Extreme4 is an excellent all-round choice with all features you want as a gamer, like good audio, networking solutions and a very solid PWM. USB 3.1 is supported too and you can also mount a fast M.2 SSD.
There are some alternatives for a bit less, but we like the ASRock the most because it supports DTS Connect, a feature that allows sending 5.1 surround signals through an optical audio output. Also, it offers an excellent power circuit.
The GeForce GTX 1070 is the new best choice for a Gaming PC. Some time will still pass before AMD RX Vega gaming cards are actually available, while CrossFire is a bad alternative for a single faster GPU, in our opinion. With the GTX 1070, you can game at WQHD without any compromises on graphics quality.
Unfortunately, Nvidia graphics cards are running out of stock due to the mining craze. Cards like the 1070 are interesting for miners due to the higher prices of Radeon RX 500 models, while gamers are also looking for Nvidia cards since they can't buy any AMD cards at normal rates.
For now, keep a sharp eye on the stock levels and buy when the indicator turns green.
There isn't much difference in performance between SATA600 SSDs these days. Due to its 'weird' capacity of 525 Gigs, you get more storage for the same price as the competition with the Crucial MX300. That's more than enough for all your software and games.
The 250 GB version offers enough storage for a sizeable game library. With cloud services such as Steam, Origin, Uplay and others you no longer need to keep tons of games installed at the same time. If you don't play more than a few games at the same time, you could even consider leaving the extra harddisk out.
The newest iteration of the Seagate Barracuda is fast, quiet and affordable. We install the 3TB edition, although you could opt for any smaller or bigger model depending on your needs.
Optical drive - None
We're finally at the point we don't think an optical drive is needed anymore. All games are available from online platforms like Steam and Origin.
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.
We don't need many words to describe the performance of the Seasonic Focus Plus Gold: it's excellent. The voltage stability, efficiency, ripple and noise production are all very good. The ripple of the Focus Plus Gold is just a tad higher when compared to the Corsair RMx, but the difference is really small. However, Seasonics offering is considerably cheaper.
550 watts is more than enough for a setup with just one graphics card. If you want to keep the option for Nvidia SLI, you should invest about 20 dollars more for the 750W version.
The Corsair K70 Lux is the newest variant of the famous keyboard from the American manufacturer. It's a sturdy mechanical keyboard with an aluminium frame and full-key rollover. Also, a palm rest and media keys are included. It lacks macro keys, but the availability of models with multiple types of Cherry MX switches is a pro.
The Logitech G403 Prodigy has a sleek and simple design, but uses the same top quality sensor as models that are much more expensive, like the G502 and G900. Its excellent performance on all kinds of mousepad surfaces makes it the ideal mouse for gamers. It doesn't offer many extra buttons - if you want those features, you'll have to opt for another model.
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.
For 3D audio, a headset is the best choice - and gamers overwhelmingly prefer a headset to determine by ear what is going on. It is possible to convert 3D audio to surround audio, but this requires a bigger investment in a Dolby Digital Live or DTS connect capable soundcard, a decoder and 5.1 speakers.
We opt for 2.1 speakers, as a separate subwoofer is an added value in conveying bass-heavy effects and you still can have a 3D audio experience, albeit in a limited size 'sweet spot'.
Our chosen model is Creative's T3250W, which has Bluetooth, enabling you to listen to some tunes from your mobile phone, for example.
The AOC Agon AG271QX is everything you want in a modern gaming monitor. The 27-inch screen has a WQHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and a refresh rate of 144 Hz, which allows the panel to display much more frames per second than what you're used to. The response times are excellent, the color reproduction is very reasonable and in addition, the screen is ergonomically adjustable.
Do you have even more to spend? The ASUS PG279Q is the ultimate WQHD gaming monitor, with a 27 "165Hz IPS panel for even better colors, and it includes support for Nvidia G-Sync.
For a long time, we recommended the Kingston HyperX Cloud. While it continues to be a good choice if you want to do more than gaming, like listening to music, we liked the surround of the new Corsair Void a lot better. The combination with a very good microphone makes it our new first choice.
The Void Surround Hybrid is available in 'gaming red' and with carbon accents, for those who prefer a more neutral look.
|Processors||Intel Core i5 8600K Boxed||$279.89|
|Memory modules||Corsair Vengeance LPX Black 16GB DDR4-3000 CL15 kit||$192.99|
|CPU coolers||Scythe Mugen 5 PCGH Edition||–|
|Motherboards||ASRock Z370 Extreme4||$159.99|
|Graphics cards||MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming X 8GB||$469.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Crucial MX300 525GB||$149.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Seagate BarraCuda New 3TB||$89.99|
|Cases||Phanteks Enthoo Pro||$89.99|
|Power supplies||Seasonic Focus Plus Gold 550W||$79.59|
|Keyboards||Corsair K70 LUX Cherry MX Red||$119.99|
|Mice||Logitech G403 Prodigy Corded||–|
|Mouse pads||SteelSeries QcK||$8.99|
|PC speaker sets||Creative T3250W||–|
|Monitors||AOC Agon AG271QX||–|
|Headsets||Corsair Gaming Void Hybrid Surround Red||–|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||$1,641.40|