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||AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
(Wait? 2nd-gen coming soon)
|Motherboard||Asrock X399 Taichi||$340|
|CPU Cooler||NZXT Kraken X62 AIO||$160|
|Memory||G.SKILL 64GB TridentZ RGB DDR4 2400MHz||$1180|
|Graphics||EVGA GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 11G SLI||$1600|
|Sound||Creative Sound Blaster ZxR PCIe||$230|
|Storage SSD||Samsung 970 Pro 1TB||$498|
|Storage HDD||Seagate IronWolf 10TB||$314|
|Power||Seasonic Prime Titanium SSR-1000TR||$245|
|Case||Phanteks Enthoo Elite||$900|
|Keyboard & Mouse||See below|
Core System Total
Motherboard, Processor, Cooler, Memory
If your goal is great gaming performance and you have $1,000 to spend on a processor, get the $360 Core i7-8700K and pocket the change for the best GPU you can afford. The 8700K is significantly cheaper than workstation-level CPUs and much better suited for gaming.
But gaming clearly isn't the point of Threadripper's 16-core/32 threads. Productivity is what matters here and for serious workloads Threadripper has proven to be a beast. Thousand dollar desktop processors have been around for some time now, but it's been a while since we've been able to recommend one with such pleasure. Perhaps the only reason not to buy Threadripped, is waiting just a few weeks for 2nd-gen Threadripper which will bring even more cores to the equation.
There are also some Core i9 CPUs in town that are blistering fast, more so than Threadripper in certain tasks, but they cost twice as much and we wouldn't buy them unless you had very specific needs where the extra speed would make a difference.
It seems that most people prefer all-in-one liquid coolers these days; they tend to offer better performance over their air-based cousins and are less hassle than custom loops. NZXT’s Kraken X62 offers some of best performance you’ll get from an AIO with a 280mm radiator, but it also looks absolutely stunning. As a side recommendation, the Thermaltake Pacific RL360 hard pipe DIY liquid cooling kit is another way to go.
Even though Titan V cards are out there (selling for about $3,000), we decided on a pair of beefy EVGA GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 11G graphics cards for SLI instead for about half the cost and potentially more gaming performance. With the GTX 1080 Ti being one of only a few truly 4K ready cards on the market, we thought two of them would create the ultimate experience and provide longevity.
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 970 Pro series which delivers insane read and write performance with capacities reaching 1TB. It's an uber-expensive, extreme drive, which our Extreme Machine fully deserves. We wish there was a 2TB model but for some reason only the Evo series is getting that. The only other drive that could make this Extreme machine even faster (not necessarily, will depend on the workload), is Intel's Optane 900p which comes in at nearly $600 for 480GB. The average enthusiast won't be able to spot a difference between these two extreme storage solutions, but that's only because this is the latest and greatest there is.
Backing it up is the Seagate IronWolf 10TB hard drive (there's also a 12TB version if you're interested). Although it's designed for 24/7 use in a NAS, it will make for an excellent secondary storage device in our extreme machine.
Seasonic Prime Titanium SSR-1000TR is a full modular power supply delivering enough juice to kick start a small planet. Noteworthy specifications include micro tolerance load regulation (0.5 %) to keep output voltage within a very tight range, 80 Plus Titanium efficiency, hybrid fan control, and a whopping 12-year warranty.
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?
The ViewSonic VP3268K-4K is a professional monitor, you won't find variable refresh rates or any other gaming features for that matter. What it does offer is a gorgeous IPS LCD panel, a 1300:1 contrast ratio, and excellent color uniformity. And, though it is aimed at professionals, it won't break the bank, coming in at around $800, so please have two.
Viewsonic's display also boasts sRGB support, 350 nits peak brightness, and a true 8-bit panel with support for a 14-bit LUT. There are a wide range of connectivity options on offer, too: a single DisplayPort 1.2, mini-DisplayPort 1.2, 2x HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm audio jacks and a four port USB 3.0 hub.
For gaming, the best ultrawide display currently available is the Dell Alienware AW3418DW, sporting a 34" curved IPS panel, good out of the box calibration, G-Sync (of course), and a maximum 120Hz refresh rate when overclocked (100Hz is the default). Reviewers tend to agree that Dell's high-end monitor is as good as it gets for ultrawide gaming with great response times and zero lag.
For those after a 4K monitor that’s designed with gamers in mind, there’s the 27-inch AOC Agon AG271UG. That 4K IPS screen with G-Sync is as good as it sounds and coming in at just over $500 means it won't break the bank getting three of these if you wanted.
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. Remember we have dedicated buying sections for keyboards and mice in TechSpot's Best Of section.
Of note on the premium segment, we still swear by the Das Keyboard if you want a pro-looking peripheral. Either the Das 4 or Prime 13 with brown switches are really good choices for most. The Code Keyboard is arguably Das' closest competitor, and for a tad less money we'd check out our Enthusiast's PC pick, the Cooler Master MasterKeys L. All things considered, the best gaming keyboard for most is Corsair's K70 RGB Rapidfire with Cherry MX Speed switches.
On the mouse front, our favorite overall mouse remains the Razer Deathadder Elite which is honestly great for $50 - 60. Like the Razer, Logitech's G502 Proteus Core is legend at this point, favored by many for a long time, it's a great gaming mouse. Most recently Logitech has also been promoting the more spartan G Pro and their high-end Logitech G903 that crams the best features on a wireless mouse. Last but not least, one of 2018's new top rated mice comes in the form of the SteelSeries Rival 600.
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, and Das Keyboard. Note that if you're looking for a mechanical keyboard, Das is far from your only option: Filco, Corsair, SteelSeries, and others offer respected options.