$1,500 Gaming Rig

CPU – Intel Core i5-4670K – $219.99

Cooler – Phanteks PH-TC12DX_BL – $49.99

Motherboard – Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD3H ATX  – $158.98

RAM – Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory – $62.95

Storage – Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5″ 7200 RPM HDD – $79.99

GPUs – Asus Radeon R9 280X 3GB x 2 – $346.84 + $346.84

Case – Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower  – $135.62

Case Fan – Phanteks 140mm 600- 1300RPM UFB Bearing Cooler Fan – Blue (PH-F140HP_BL) – $22.98

PSU – Rosewill Hive 750W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX  – $89.63

Total Price – $1,513.81 (+ shipping for the GPU) – pcpartpicker link

Now this is an awesome build. And we were even able to do a ton of color matching without straying from optimal parts, although the case doesn’t have a window for us to appreciate the way things look. We’ll get into that detailing below.

Since we’re working with a larger budget here, we had a few choices to make on where the extra money went. We could have gone with SLI’d 770’s (instead of 280x’s), a single 780Ti, an SSD, more aesthetics, or a few other different options. Since the theme and focus on these builds are all gaming, I decided to bump up the processor to a K series chip so we could overclock. The 4670 is already a monster chip, but once you throw an overclock onto it it becomes an unstoppable gaming processor. Even though it does the job well enough without an OC added to it, bumping up the clock speed does gain us some real world performance in a lot of games. [1] This is our first build that we’re going to throw an aftermarket cooler onto as well. This Phanteks cooler is at a great price/performance ratio and it will definitely let us hit as high a clock speed on this chip as any other CLC or high quality air cooler will. [2] [3] [4]

This build called for some overclocking, so this time we upgraded to a kick ass motherboard. I don’t have to say much about this board, it’s reputation speaks for itself. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] This motherboard will definitely let us push this chip as far as we can get it without resorting to more extravagant cooling methods, such as LNor phase cooling. It also provides plenty of SATA ports and other features if you want to build out your rig more.

At this price point, a lot of people would be tempted to get some beefier RAM; perhaps throw some more RAM into the build to make it 16GB, or maybe add some faster RAM to help with your games. Well, firstly, most people don’t need more than 8GB of RAM in their rig. If you’re unsure whether or not you need 16, you don’t. If you’re going to need more than 8, you will already know it, trust me. Secondly, faster RAM or tighter timings won’t help you with gaming performance. [10] [11] And, for a third time, I’ll reiterate that dual channel RAM won’t give us any tangible benefits to gaming performance, so there’s no harm in simply picking up one stick. [12]

The 2TB Seagate Barracuda drive will still give us a good amount of storage to work with. [13] At this budget, some people might want to throw in an SSD, and if you want to, that’s awesome, go for it. The only reason I didn’t add one here is because I like to couple SSD’s with platter-based drives for media storage and there wasn’t enough money left over to do so.

Now for the GPU’s! The 280x is one of the (if not the) strongest cards on the market at this price point when you consider the performance vs the price. [14] [15] It stands to reason that two of them in crossfire will deliver you almost unbeatable performance, then. The price range matches them vs a 780 Ti, and there’s no way a single Ti would outperform a crossfire’d pair of 280x’s. It’s hard to find specific benches of crossfire’d 280x’s against a Ti, but you can see it annihilating a 780 in these reviews, and the Ti isn’t that much better than a 780. [16] This GPU set-up will also definitely hold its own at 1440p for most games. [17]

I absolutely love the Define R4. It’s an amazing case, everyone loves it, it’s quiet, it gives great performance, it looks beautiful and it’s easy to work with. [18] [19] [20] This case will keep our build quiet, cool and looking nice, while providing a area on the case panel to install a 140mm fan to keep our 280x’s nice and cool. That’s where our 140mm Phanteks fan comes in. The fan put on the side here just ensure that we’re bringing in enough cool air to make sure neither of our 280x’s throttle themselves for heat. This fan definitely has the performance we need to keep these cards under 80C. [21] [22] [23]

I promise I’m not a Rosewill fanboy, but their PSUs are built strong and the 750W PSU is absolutely perfect for this price range. [24]

This build will destroy anything at 1080p you throw at it, and it will hold its own against most 1440p games as well. I think it’ll look slick, too, especially if you spend a bit more to match the RAM color with the rest of the build.