Intel Gaming PC - May 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.
Intel still offers the best gaming performance with its Core i7 7700K. This CPU is part of the new Kaby Lake generation and offers a nice 10% performance boost without costing a buck more than its predecessor.
Many gamers will upgrade the graphics card during the lifetime of their pc, but with a nice overclock, you probably won't have to upgrade your CPU in the future. If you are sure you won't overclock, you can also go with a cheaper processor and a B250 motherboard.
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.
The SLI Plus is a Z270 motherboard with an excellent price-to-performance ratio from MSI. Of course it supports SLI, but also speedy interfaces like M.2 for SSDs and USB 3.1 are present.
We don't have anything to complain about the VRMs and the network controller. The audio codec is high-quality and well implemented, but an optical output is missing. That makes it more difficult to connect a surround speakerset. Not a problem for anyone who doesn't use it, but if you do, you could spend around 15 bucks extra on the ASUS Prime Z270-A.
The GeForce GTX 1070 is the new best choice for a Gaming PC. AMD doesn't a GPU with this kind of performance for now, 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.
Although really bad GTX 1070s are hard to find, we surely have a favorite. The Superclocked version from EVGA has a friendly price and combines good performance with whisper quiet cooling. Due to the silent cooling, you almost won't hear the graphics card, even under full load. If you don't like the color scheme, you can also get this card in black. higher clocked and has a custom PCB.
In cases with little airflow, the VRMs of the EVGA cards could overheat. EVGA released new BIOS'es that make the fans rotate faster. We retested the 1070 SC, and while the card makes a little more noise than before, the effect is limited and doesn't affect our verdict. New cards have extra cooling pads, that fix the problem.
The GeForce GTX 1080 has recently fallen in price and is a more interesting alternative now than before. If you don't need the system right now, it could be a good choice to wait for the AMD Vega graphics cards, which will be launched in a few months.
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.
The Corsair RMx series is an excellent choice in every respect, as our review has proved us. We also tested the 550W model since then and again, it offers an attractive mix of performance, silence and price. The Cooler Master V-Series is a good alternative, but a bit more expensive at the moment.
If you want to keep a future SLI configuration possible, a heavier power supply is needed. The RM750x is a good choice in such a case.
The Steelseries Apex M500 is a mechanical keyboard with a good typing experience, while being suitable for gaming too. Its price is relatively low, since the manufacturer left all unnecessary features out: no RGB lighting, no palm rest, no macro keys. If you don't need those extra features, the savings are very welcome.
The Corsair K70 however, is an excellent alternative. It's a sturdy mechanical keyboard with an aluminium frame and full-key rollover. It lacks macro keys, the availability of models with multiple types of Cherry MX-switches is a pro.
If you want a so-called tenkeyless keyboard, we would recommend the CM Storm NovaTouch TKL.
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.
As a gamer, you want a fast display, so you will end up with a TN panel. The ASUS MG278Q (144 Hz) surprised us with its good color accuracy for this panel type and its fast response times. Those make this monitor an excellent choice for gaming. The high WQHD resolution offers a sharp image while gaming and leaves you with a lot of desktop space for doing other stuff. ASUS packed the MG278Q with a lot of features, like a built-in USB 3.0 hub and a Vesa mount, although the standard stand already has ergonomical customization.
If you're willing to spend 100 euros more, the ASUS MG279Q enters the arena. It combines a better quality IPS panel with the high 144 Hz refresh rate.
Are response times and refresh rates less important to you, and do you care more about the image quality? We've got you covered with the Dell UltraSharp U2515H, a good but cheaper alternative.
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 i7 7700K Boxed||£308.90|
|Memory modules||Corsair Vengeance LPX Black 16GB DDR4-3000 CL15 kit||£188.23|
|CPU coolers||Scythe Mugen 5 PCGH Edition||£62.41|
|Motherboards||MSI Z270 SLI Plus||£130.34|
|Graphics cards||EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC ACX 3.0 8GB||£467.99|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Crucial MX300 525GB||£133.26|
|Hard disks/SSDs||Seagate BarraCuda New 3TB||£76.79|
|Cases||Phanteks Enthoo Pro||£87.95|
|Power supplies||Corsair RM550x||£84.47|
|Keyboards||SteelSeries Apex M500||£103.59|
|Mice||Logitech G403 Prodigy Corded||£47.98|
|Mouse pads||SteelSeries QcK||£6.99|
|PC speaker sets||Creative T3250W||–|
|Headsets||Corsair Gaming Void Hybrid Surround Red||£68.34|
|Save as your own wish list||Average total price:||£2,246.49|