The Extreme Machine
The Extreme Machine isn't governed by a budget. We pick the best hardware and disregard the associated price premium. If it's 'extreme' enough then you'll find it in this build.
|Processor||Intel Core i9-7900X||$1000|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte X299 Aorus Gaming 9||$499|
|CPU Cooler||Thermaltake Pacific RL360||$380|
|Memory||G.Skill TridentZ RGB 64GB (4 x 16GB) DDR4-2400||$690|
|Graphics||Gigabyte Aorus GTX 1080 Ti 11G SLI||$1440|
|Sound||Creative Sound Blaster ZxR PCIe||$240|
|Storage SSD||Samsung SSD 960 Pro 2TB||$1150|
|Storage HDD||Seagate IronWolf 10TB||$345|
|Power||MasterWatt Maker 1200||$430|
|Case||Phanteks Enthoo Elite||$900|
Core System Total
Motherboard, Processor, Cooler, Memory
If you don't care about value, the Core i9-7900X is the way to go. Its performance is exceptional, you get loads of PCIe lanes, overclocking is an option to some degree (quite a few degrees in fact) and the X299 platform is superior to AMD's X370. At least until Threadripper arrives, this is it for an extreme build.
The Core i9 and Skylake-X platform is pretty new, so we haven't had enough time to test motherboards yet. Having seen the Gigabyte X299 Aorus Gaming 9 first hand at Computex I can comfortably say this is one of the best looking X299 motherboards so far. The entire motherboard is wrapped in a matte black color with RGB highlights pretty much everywhere. There is a set of large 'armor' themed plates that run across the motherboard, protecting a dense array of heatpipes underneath. Expansion slots include five ideally placed PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. Storage connectors on the motherboard comprise of eight SATA 6Gb/s ports and three M.2 slots.
Rather than go with a basic AIO liquid cooler we are recommending the awesome Thermaltake Pacific RL360 hard pipe DIY liquid cooling kit. This will look amazing inside the Phanteks Enthoo Elite.
Instead of spending $2,400 on reference Titan X cards which appear to be next to impossible to purchase anyway, we decided on a pair of the beefy Gigabyte Aorus GTX 1080 Ti 11G graphics cards for SLI. The Premium Pack includes a custom high-bandwidth SLI bridge which looks impressive when connecting two of these monstrous Xtreme Gaming graphics cards.
When it comes to premium sound cards there are two giants: the Creative Sound Blaster ZxR and the Asus Essence STX II. Honestly we could go either way. That said, there is a bit more gear included in the Sound Blaster ZxR package.
We recommend the new Samsung SSD 960 Pro series which delivers insane read and write performance with capacities reaching 2TB. It's an uber-expensive, extreme drive, which our Extreme Machine fully deserves.
Backing it up is the Seagate IronWolf 10TB hard drive, this is the largest capacity this series comes in. Although it's designed for 24/7 use in a NAS, it will make for an excellent secondary storage device in our extreme machine.
Cooler Master’s MasterWatt Maker 1200 power supply delivers enough juice to kick start a small planet. Noteworthy specifications include a 135mm Silencio FP fan, dual 50A +12V rails, 80 Plus Titanium Certified, fanless mode, 16 SATA connectors, 10 PCIe connectors and a whopping seven-year warranty. What's more, the unit features a modular cabling, so you'll be able to keep your system free of unnecessary clutter. If you're an enthusiast PC builder, then only the best case will suffice.
The Extreme Machine has found itself in a few epic cases over the years. First it was the Corsair Obsidian 900D, with the Cooler Master Cosmos II and Phanteks Enthoo Primo getting an honorable mention. Then we moved to the more affordable Be Quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 for the simple fact that we liked it more.
Now we are moving back to something truly extreme and very deserving of housing our build, the Phanteks Enthoo Elite. At $900 it certainly has an extreme price tag, that said take one look at the case and you quickly realize why. I mean, empty it weighs 32 kilograms, need I say more?
When it comes to the best overall monitor available today, it's hard to beat Dell’s UltraSharp UP3216Q. The display is simply a dream to use for 4K lovers who sit in front a screen all day. It's an expensive piece of kit at $1,200 (even more so if you go for two), but worth it. The Dell is ahead of its similar sized 4K rivals when it comes to color spaces. The monitor displays 100 percent of the sRGB gamut and 99.5 percent of the Adobe RGB color space, along with 100 percent of the REC709 standard and 87 percent of the DCI-P3 gamut - two standards that are widely used in content production. It also ships with an average Delta-E < 2 calibration.
Dell’s display also boasts 178 degree vertical and horizontal viewing angles, 1.07 billion colors, and 300 cd/m² typical maximum brightness. There are a wide range connectivity options on offer, too: a single DisplayPort 1.2, mini-DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0, a 6-in-1 media card reader, 4 USB 3.0 ports, and 1 USB 3.0 upstream.
For those after a similarly priced 4K monitor that’s designed with gamers in mind, there’s the 32-inch Acer Predator XB321HK. That 4K IPS screen with G-Sync and a 4ms response is as good as it sounds. Providing you've got the money ($1,400) and an absolute monster of a GPU, you can now buy a display that will take your gaming experience to a whole new level.
Meanwhile, headphones at a reasonable price don't get much better than the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 unless you're going to spend hundreds or thousands more. Frankly, if you require better audio quality than these can provide, you probably already know what you're looking for.
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. We still swear by the Das Keyboard if you want a professional-looking peripheral with mechanical switches. Either the Das 4 or Prime 13 with brown switches are really good choices for most. On the mouse front, we think Logitech's G502 Proteus Core is one of the best gaming mice we've ever used and is only topped (maybe) by the Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum that manages to do so wirelessly.
Our favorite overall mouse remains the Razer Deathadder Elite which is honestly great for $60.
At the TechSpot office we are fans of a number of devices which we end up renewing over and over including the aforementioned Razer Deathadder, Logitech G series mice, MS Natural 4000 and Das Keyboard. Note that if you're looking for a mechanical keyboard, Das is far from your only option: Filco, Razer, Corsair, SteelSeries and others offer respected options. The Code Keyboard is probably the Das' closest competitor. While the best gaming keyboard around might be Corsair's Gaming K95.