The Luxury System
Every component in the Luxury System guide is thoroughly vetted to ensure you get the most horsepower for your greenback. If a component's premium price can't be justified, it simply doesn't make the cut. In nearly all of our selections, we chose hardware that's either the best available or just a notch below, forcing less of an emphasis on value and more on screaming-edge performance.
|Motherboard||Asrock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer/3.1||$170|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4790K||$340|
|CPU Cooler||Corsair Hydro Series H100i||$100|
|Memory||G.Skill Sniper Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2400||$120|
|Graphics||Gigabyte GTX 980 Gaming G1||$550|
|Sound||Creative Sound Blaster Zx||$130|
|Storage SSD||Samsung SSD 850 Pro 512GB||$260|
|Storage HDD||Western Digital Black 4TB||$215|
|Optical||LG Blu-ray Burner WH16NS40||$60|
|Power||Silverstone Strider Gold S 850W||$160|
|Case||Corsair Obsidian Series 900D||$340|
|Monitor||Dell UltraSharp U3014 30"||$1120|
|Speakers||Creative T4 Wireless||$300|
|Keyboard||Aorus Thunder K7||$140|
|Mouse||Logitech G502 Proteus Core Tunable||$60|
Core System Total
Core System + Monitor and Peripherals
Motherboard, Processor, Cooler, Memory
Intel's recent Haswell refresh saw the Core i7-4770K replaced by the i7-4790K and like we found with the Core i5 series, it's somewhat of a pointless update. The Core i7-4790K is physically different to the i7-4770K but the upgrades largely go unnoticed. Anyway, with pricing remaining the same, the Core i7-4790K is worth buying at $340.
If you're undecided between Haswell and Ivy Bridge-E, the former should be faster for anyone who doesn't need more than eight threads, it uses less power and it's much cheaper, while the latter is technically the fastest, most feature-packed platform available if you're willing to pay for it.
There are tons of high-end Z97 boards available and unless you're hunting for a particular feature, you'll probably be equally satisfied with anything you pick. We've had great luck with the Asrock Z97 Extreme6 and Z97 Extreme9 series, though this time we are going with the Fatal1ty Z97X Killer/3.1.
With so many great Z97 motherboards from the likes of Asus, MSI and Gigabyte for example it's not easy to pick the right motherboard. We found the Fatal1ty Z97X Killer/3.1 particularly appealing at $170. All the latest features can be found including USB 3.1 so there is no way you'll be left asking for more.
Noctua's NH-D15 heatsink and fan combo is hard to beat and is one of the best if not the best air-cooler money can buy, offering the best combination of cooling capacity, noise levels and platform compatibility. That said at $100 it is well within closed-loop liquid cooling territory and for $100 we much prefer the Corsair Hydro Series H100i so if you are willing to go the liquid route then we highly recommend this Corsair cooler.
Having 8GB of RAM is the current base for heavy gamers and power users, but if you're building with Haswell, you might as well go to town with double that (two 8GB modules -- preferably in a single kit), considering we're talking about a fraction of the total system cost. The G.Skill Sniper Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-2400 is a resonable afforddable kit at $110 and offers 16GB of DDR3-2400 memory.
If you're shopping for a $500+ graphics card, we can only assume you're after one of the fastest cards available. As of writing, that's Nvidia's $1000+ GTX Titan X and we wouldn't fault you for buying one, or three for that matter if you have a particularly high-resolution monitor setup, such as triple 2560x1600 displays (or if you plan to go 4K in the near future).
When dealing with a single 2560x1600 display, the much more affordable GTX 980 has no trouble running modern games at solid frame rates, though neither does the $250 Radeon R9 290 (our Enthusiast's PC pick), even if that includes playing Battlefield 4 at more than 60fps on ultra, and the Radeon is a much better value than Nvidia's top-tier offerings.
Previously we went with the Asus Xonar Essence STX for our Luxury System though at $190 it's rather extreme. Having been so surprised by the Sound Blaster Z we opted for the Creative Sound Blaster Zx which costs $130. The extra $30 buys you an audio control module with a beamforming microphone built-in. It is a nifty little feature but if you don't require the control module then you might as well just buy the standard Sound Blaster Z.
Samsung's SSD 850 Pro is arguably the best SSD you can buy right now, especially when you consider the company's reputation for delivering quick and stable drives. Alternatively, if additional flash is a concern, Samsung's 850 Evo 1TB is one of the quickest and most affordable high-end drives around at just $0.38/GB or less courtesy of its TLC NAND storage and SLC/DRAM caches.
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.
Silverstone's Strider Gold S 850W PSU ought to supply your dream PC with enough juice. Noteworthy specifications include a 120mm silent 18dBA fan, 70A on a single +12V rail, 80 Plus Gold Certified, and lengthy cables with connectors for 8 SATA drives, four PCIe graphics cards, and 6 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.
When it comes to luxury builds go big or go home we say which is why we went for the Corsair Obsidian Series 900D or Cooler Master Cosmos II. These jumbo-sized chassis are well worth their asking price for hardcore system builders.
Other worthwhile aggressive or unique looking chassis include the Lian Li D8000 (full HPTX double tower), the In Win D-Frame Limited Edition or Cooler Master's Silencio 650, 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 remains among the most unique (and expensive) PC cases available. Folks aiming for a small footprint might want to consider the barebones Asrock M8 Mini-ITX gaming PC, which we found to be a fantastic small-form-factor platform, albeit a poor value, though that ought to be less of a concern with your budget.
Your monitor choice will probably vary depending on how much of a "luxury" budget you're truly working with. If money isn't a concern, we'd buy two or maybe even three of Dell's latest 30" UltraSharp. At half that price, it becomes a toss up between two high-res 27" IPS displays and a single 30" UltraSharp. We'd opt for the former, but we're admittedly at the point where there's no turning back from having at least dual monitors.
If all of the above are too pricey, we'd recommend considering the pick for our Enthusiast's PC (a budget-minded 27" 2560x1440 IPS display). Conversely, it doesn't get much bigger than Dell's 32" 4K UHD display, though it's quite expensive and unfortunately that sum doesn't buy a flawless experience with software DPI scaling, graphics drivers and other technologies playing catch-up.
There aren't as many 5.1 computer speaker systems as there used to be. We were big fans of Logitech's Z-5500 but it has been phased out by the company's new Z906, which appear to be nearly as popular, though audiophiles may be more interested in refined 2-speaker systems like Bowers & Wilkins' MM-1 or Audioengine's 5+ speakers.
As 5.1 computer speak systems are becoming less popular we went with the Creative T4 Wireless which has been well received scoring an average of 8/10 in the TechSpot Product Finder.
The wireless support means less cables and greater flexibility allowing users to also enjoy the big audio of the T4 Wireless with their portable devices as well such as a laptop, tablet or even phone.
Mouse & Keyboard
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 G502 Proteus Core Tunable mouse as its one of the best gaming mice we have ever used.
The Aorus Thunder K7 is a solid contender in the keyboard market space featuring a customizable physical layout, Cherry MX switches, macro engine, back lighting and dynamic volume & backlit illumination control.
At the TechSpot office we are fans of a number of devices which we end up renewing over and over including the Razer Deathadder, Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 and Das Keyboard. If you're looking for a mechanical keyboard, the Das is far from your only option: Filco, Leopold, Razer, Corsair and SteelSeries offer respected options, while WASD Keyboards provides customizable mechanical packages. Be sure to read up on the difference between each key switch before making a purchase. Geekhack.org offers a fantastic resource on the subject if you're interested.