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|Motherboard||Asus Sabertooth Z77||$240|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-3770K||$315|
|Memory||4x4GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 1600MHz||$130|
|Graphics||GeForce GTX 680||$470|
|Sound||Asus Xonar Essence STX||$190|
|Storage||OCZ Vector 256GB + Western Digital Black 4TB||$270 + $300|
|Optical||Lite-On iHAS124-04 + LG WH14NS40||$18 + $80|
|Power||Corsair HX Series 850W||$170|
|Case||Cooler Master Cosmos II||$350|
|Monitor||Dell UltraSharp U3011 30"||$1,400|
|Speakers / Headset||Logitech Z906 / Audio-Technica ATH-M50||$320 / $120|
|Peripherals||Logitech G500 + G19||$55 + $150|
|Core System Total||$2,533|
|Core System + Monitor and Peripherals||$4,358|
Motherboard, Processor, Memory
With Ivy Bridge, Kepler and Southern Islands fresh on the menu, it's a great time to start a new build. In our review of Intel's latest architecutre, the Core i7-3770K proved to be 17% faster than the last-gen Core i7-2600K (with the biggest gains in encoding) while consuming 11% less power -- mostly what everyone expected. Ivy Bridge ranked high in our graphs, taking second only to the $1,040 Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E chip in most tests.
There are various high-end Z77 boards available and unless you're hunting for a particular feature (such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 on the Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe), you'll probably be equally satisfied with anything you pick. It currently seems like a toss up between the $230 ASRock Z77 Professional and the Asus Sabertooth Z77. The former has more USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s ports, the latter touts a lengthier warranty, an extra eSATA port and, debatably, superior aesthetics courtesy of Asus' "Thermal Armor."
Most people won't tap 4GB during standard use, but if you're looking to spend over $3,000 on a desktop PC, you probably aren't a "standard" user. Having 8GB of RAM is likely the current "ideal" for heavy gamers and power users, but if you're building with Ivy Bridge, you might as well go to town with 16GB (four 4GB modules -- preferably in a single kit), considering we're talking about a fraction of the total system cost.
If you're shopping for a $500+ graphics card, we can only assume you're after the best-performing product available. As of writing, that's Nvidia's GTX Titan... but we can't recommend it as the base choice for this build. Again, despite being a "luxury" machine, we're still aiming for some degree of value and the GTX 680 well outranks the Titan in that department. Opting for the Titan (or even several of them) makes sense if you have a particularly high-resolution monitor setup, such as three 2560x1600 displays. Naturally, the HD 7970 is also a viable option for additional savings, though you'll sacrifice a little performance in many cases.
Although the Crucial m4, Intel 520 Series, Kingston's HyperX 3K and Samsung 830/840 Pro Series remain viable options, OCZ's Vector is our current pick. In our recent review, the Indilinx Barefoot 3-powered drive delivered top notch performance across the board and offers competitive pricing to boot, exceeding the value of OCZ's previous flagship SSD, the Vertex 3.
This wouldn't be much of a Luxury computer without a Blu-ray burner, and at under $100 the LG drive we've chosen is among the most affordable you'll find.
Corsair's HX Series 850W PSU ought to supply your dream PC with enough juice. Noteworthy specifications include a 140mm thermally-controlled fan, 70A on a single +12V rail, 80 Plus Silver Certified, and lengthy cables with connectors for 12 SATA drives, six PCI-E graphics cards, and 12 peripheral devices. What's more, the unit features a modular cable design, so you'll be able to keep your system free of unnecessary clutter.
Although the HAF 932, HAF X and CM Storm Trooper are fully capable of housing top-notch hardware (all three have served in our Luxury System guide at some point), we think the throne rightfully belongs to Cooler Master's Cosmos II. We're still waiting on a review unit, but based on everything we've seen, the jumbo-sized chassis is well worth its $350 asking price for hardcore system builders.
Other worthwhile aggressive looking chassis include the Antec's Twelve Hundred and Lanboy Air, while a sleeker and more subtle enclosure can be had with Corsair's Obsidian 800D. Meanwhile, if money is no object, the Thermaltake Level 10 is among the most unique (and expensive) PC cases available.
Monitor, Speakers, Peripherals
At 30-inches, the Dell UltraSharp U3011 is nothing short of excellence. Displaying 1.07 billion colors at a native resolution of 2560x1600, it has a contrast ratio of 1000:1, 370 cd/m2 brightness, 7ms gray-to-gray response time, .2505mm pixel pitch, viewing angles of 178/178-degrees and is backed by Dell's premium panel guarantee. It also has five USB ports, along with two HDMI, two DVI, one VGA, one DisplayPort, component connectors, a 7-in-1 card reader, and sits atop an adjustable base (height, swivel and tilt).
As sweet as the U3011 is, $1,500 is a lot of bacon to drop on one monitor, though it shouldn't be too difficult to snag one for $1,300 or less if you're patient as Dell runs semi-frequent sales. We realize 30" monitors aren't for everyone, and there are countless worthy alternatives in the 24" to 27" ($200 to $600) range. If you have the cash, we'd suggest opting for a display that boasts an IPS panel such as HP's LP2475w or Dell's U2410.
There aren't many 5.1 computer speaker systems around and although Logitech's Z-5500 has been a favorite among gamers for years, the set is being rapidly phased out by the company's new Z906. Unfortunately, the Z906 has received has received a lukewarm response from consumers, but the audiophiles over at Soundnews.ro has given the set two thumbs up for movies and gaming. Meanwhile, headsets don't get much better than Audio Technica's ATH-M50 unless you're going to spend hundreds or thousands more. Frankly, if you require better audio quality than the ATH-M50s can provide, you probably already know what you're looking for.
Between the number of possible keyboard and mouse combinations in the high-end price range, and the various uses you could be making of this system it's virtually impossible to recommend a single component. That said, we think Logitech's G500 mouse and G19 keyboard are suitable for just about any build, but if you prefer something more sleek, the Logitech diNovo Edge or the Logitech MX Air Silver mouse may be worth investigating. Other popular keyboards include the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 and Logitech's recently launched G510.
If you're looking for a mechanical keyboard, Filco, Das, Leopold, Deck, XArmor, Razer, Corsair and SteelSeries offer respected options, while WASD Keyboards provides customizable mechanical packages. Be sure to read up on the difference between each keyswitch before making a purchase. Geekhack.org offers a fantastic resource on the subject if you're interested.