With prices and components constantly changing, it’s hard for our previous PC builds to stay up-to-date. For instance at the time of this build, AMD GPU prices were through the roof due to the cryptocurrency mining craze. By now, prices have stabilized and new products have been released, meaning it is once again time for a high-end gaming PC build.
In this $1200 mid-to-high-end gaming & streaming PC, we will be building a computer that maxes-out games at resolutions up to 1440p, has versatility in its uses, and allows for easy upgrades. Oh -- and it’ll be quiet, too. We will also mention some other small improvements or different expansions depending on individual needs.
$1253 DIY High-End Gaming PC Build - May, 2014
OS & Recommended Extras
How to Build a Gaming Computer - Step-by-Step Tutorial
XFX Radeon R9 290 4GB ($380): The R9 290 is competitively priced for gaming, especially when gaming at above 1080p -- that’s where the 290 starts to shine. At 1080p to 1440p, this GPU will provide high-to-ultra performance at around 60 FPS; you’ll start seriously struggling when pushing 4k, but that’s not even a consideration for most current users. With 4GB of VRAM, this GPU has plenty of VRAM for the memory-hungry (and memory-leaky) games of the future, even if used for years past today. XFX’s Double Dissipation cooler features two fans with a large heatsink, providing great cooling capacity for the hot Hawaii GPU. The 290 also supports TrueAudio, Mantle, App Acceleration, AMD ZeroCore, and AMD HD3D technology. This is alongside AMD’s VCE encoding hardware, which is starting to see support by MSI Afterburner and Open Broadcast Software.
Intel Haswell i5 4670k ($240): An unlocked, quad-core CPU that is the sweet spot for gaming. The unlocked multiplier allows for easy overclocking, which can help alleviate rare CPU bottlenecks in games like Planetside 2 and Planetary Annihilation. The four cores the i5 hosts land it as an ideal unit for gaming, benefitting no further from the additional threads a 4770K would offer (though they’d be useful in professional tasks). For those looking to record gameplay effectively, Intel has a built-in “QuickSync” encoder, supported by Open Broadcast Software (OBS) and MSI Afterburner, making the CPU streaming-friendly.
Cooler Master Seidon 120M CLC ($45): This closed-loop liquid cooler keeps thermals down while having fairly low noise levels. Featuring a copper coldplate for better conductivity and a “safe LED” indicator that shines when the Seidon is working properly, this watercooling loop makes for a solid entry-level CLC. Although it won’t break any overclocking records, the Seidon 120M is good enough to sustain a mild overclock.
8GB ADATA XPG Memory ($74): This is a fairly standard kit of 2x4GB 1600MHz RAM. Unfortunately, even with recent price drops, RAM is rather expensive when compared to prices a few years ago; this is sadly the new regular price for RAM. On the plus side, this RAM is 1.5v, CAS 9, and 1600MHz with stable performance, so it’s a certainty that this will be plenty fast for gaming tasks. 8GB is enough for gaming, although if making RAMDisks is something you’re interested in, it may be a good idea to bump-up to the 16GB version of this kit.
MSI Z97-G55 SLI ATX LGA 1150 Motherboard ($130): Supporting new Z97 features -- M.2, up to 3000MHz RAM, 6xSATA III ports, SLI, and an 8-phase VRM -- this motherboard should be more than satisfactory for gamers and enthusiasts. It features 4xDDR3 slots, allowing for a total of 32GB of RAM, 3xPCIe x16 slots (running at x16, x8/x8, or x8/x4/x4), 3xPCIe x1 slots, and 1xPCI slot -- which is unlikely to be used, considering most expansion cards released are PCIe. For audio, you get a standard Realtek ALC892 chipset supporting 8 channels; while it’s not a terrible integrated solution, the built-in amp may be lacking for those accustomed to better audio setups.
The I/O of this board supports 1xPS/2 input, 1xDVI-D slot, 1xD-SUB slot, 1xHDMI slot, 1xRJ45 slot, 6xUSB 3.0 slots, 2xUSB 2.0 slots, and six audio ports. Like many MSI motherboards, the G55 supports OC Genie 4, Click BIOS, Military Class 4 components, and Fast Boot.
Be warned, though: on Newegg, this motherboard is limited 100 per person, so for those of you who need more than 100 motherboards (likely all of you), you may need to change your name multiple times to get enough.
Rosewill Fortress 550 watt ($110): Here at GamersNexus, we know that the power supply is the last item to skimp on -- and this build is no exception. When building a PC that costs in the $1000 range, it’s not worth risking damage due to a cheap power supply. And this power supply is the definitely not cheaping out. Being 80 Plus Platinum certified and supporting Haswell’s ultra-low power states, it’s sure to have stellar power efficiency even when providing its maximum wattage of nearly 550W. Standard power protections -- over current/-voltage/-power and under-voltage / short-circuit protection -- mean that this power supply is probably safer than that nice old lady down the street. Featuring a single 12v rail with 45A, with good voltage regulation and ripple, this power supply will be fine for a single GPU build. Semi-modularity allows for cables to be better hidden.
Looking to go CrossFire later? EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2 ($125): Similar to the previous power supply, EVGA’s SuperNOVA 850 supports over-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, over-power, and short-circuit protection. It also pushes 71A on the 12v rail, allowing for power-hungry GPUs to operate without over-stressing the system, even when overclocking. The disadvantage of this power supply compared to the former is lower efficiency, EVGA’s being 80 Plus Gold.
HDD / SSD
WD 1TB 64MB cache 7200RPM Hard Drive ($58): Hard drives are pretty standard nowadays and it’s no exception in this build. At 7200RPM, WD’s Blue HDD is fast enough to use for games and an OS.
Crucial MX10 256GB SATA 2.5” SSD ($110): The MX100 is Crucial’s most recent drive to be released and is a high-performing SSD at a very reasonable price-point; this tends to make Crucial’s new SSD perfect for PC builds that don’t have unlimited budgets.
Nanoxia Deep Silence 2 ($90): Although not very well-known, the Nanoxia Deep Silence 2 is a solid, silent case using a minimalistic design. With noise-damping foam, three installed fans to ensure silent operation, rubber-mounted hard drives, and rubber pads under the PSU, the Deep Silence 2 remains true to its name. A tool-less installation process ensures quick assembly, further benefitted by plenty of space, allowing for GPUs up to 345mm long and CPU coolers up to 165mm tall.
As always, keep eyes on our PC builds page for systems of varying budget ranges!
- Michael "The Bear" Kerns.