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Best $2,000 Custom Gaming PC 2016 - Builder's Guide

With a budget of $2,000 we'll focus on good quality parts while reaching for NVIDIA's GTX 1080.
With a budget of $2,000 we'll focus on good quality parts while reaching for NVIDIA's GTX 1080.

If you're building a PC for around $2,000, you're looking for something that maxes out today's games in 1440p and does a good job in 4k.

Today's gamers aren't just looking for a standard 1080p experience. They can get that on a console. Rather, we're looking for the next level of gaming experience. You'll get that on this PC.

If you're looking for advice on the parts you should choose, here are two $2,000 builds, for the end of 2016, that optimize performance while maintaining the quality you expect from a high-end custom computer build.

Broadwell-e vs Skylake and Kaby Lake

For processor you have a couple of good options here. You could go with the i7-6700k and get the additional hyperthreading or go with the i5-6600k for a less expensive processor that will give you all the CPU performance that you need for most scenarios. Going with a Kaby Lake CPU is also a good idea if it doesn't cost too much more.

A third option would be to go for the Broadwell-e i7-6800k. As I mentioned in my photo editing PC build, the i7-6800k offers max value for editors and streamers because of its six core performance and hyperthreading.

An i5 is No Longer All You Need:

Over the last year, I've seen the 4-core i5 bottleneck GPUs in several different titles. A year ago, this certainly wasn't the case. While an overclocked i5-6600k will certainly be enough for almost any scenario, I could see a potential for additional issues in the years to come.

That being said, keep in mind that as you go up higher in resolution, it's the GPU ,rather than the CPU, that ends up having more issues. So, if you're reaching for 4k here, don't just assume that a higher-end processor is going to solve your FPS woes.

Intel Boxed Core i7-6800K Processor (15M Cache, up to 3.60 GHz) FC-LGA14A 3.4 6 BX80671I76800K
Intel Boxed Core i7-6800K Processor (15M Cache, up to 3.60 GHz) FC-LGA14A 3.4 6 BX80671I76800K

You can go with the i7-6700k here or the i7-6800k. However, if it's me, I'm sticking to the i7-6800k. The build all priced out only ends up being around $100 more. Those extra 2 cores, for most enthusiasts, are worth it.

 

Best Performance Graphics Card Setup Under $600

If you're going for max FPS, 1070s in SLI is what you want. Still, I'd prefer a single 1080 here. Better performance for games that aren't optimized is too good to pass up.
If you're going for max FPS, 1070s in SLI is what you want. Still, I'd prefer a single 1080 here. Better performance for games that aren't optimized is too good to pass up.

Like our $1500 gaming desktop we're going to focus on max performance. Therefore, you can go with a dual GTX 1070 configuration or a single GTX 1080. As not all games are properly optimized for SLI, I typically prefer a single, better performing, card.

In my post on the best gaming graphics cards for the money I explain the difference between the two and show some real world numbers. For those on the fence, this comparison should mean a lot.

ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8GB ROG STRIX Graphics Card (STRIX-GTX1080-A8G-GAMING)
ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8GB ROG STRIX Graphics Card (STRIX-GTX1080-A8G-GAMING)

The Asus Strix GTX 1080 is a good performer, relatively inexpensive compared to other 1080's, and even on rebate as of the date of this article. It's the GTX 1080 I'd recommend right now.

 

A Good Broadwell-e X99 or Skylake Z170 Motherboard

Here's a look at the Maximus VIII Hero along with the 750 G2 Power Supply from EVGA.
Here's a look at the Maximus VIII Hero along with the 750 G2 Power Supply from EVGA.

When I'm building a PC this nice, I like to have a lot of options and a pretty good motherboard full of features and ready for overclocking. If you don't plan on overclocking, you could probably save a lot of money here by going with a less expensive 1151 motherboard and the i7-6700.

I've recommended the Asus Maximus VIII Hero here for the Skylake or Kaby Lake build and the Asus X99-A II LGA 2011 board for the Broadwell-e build. Either of these should have plenty of features for most power users.

Boards in the $150 range would be more than fine here as well for the Skylake build. I typically go with something like the Asus Z170-A.

Whatever you do, try and find a rebate. Getting a motherboard on rebate should save you up to 20% of the total cost here that you can put towards other components, a monitor, or peripherals.

The Corsair Hydro series gives you one of the best bangs for your buck for liquid CPU cooling.
The Corsair Hydro series gives you one of the best bangs for your buck for liquid CPU cooling.

CPU Cooler Under or Around $100

If you're looking for a solid quality liquid cooling option, then I'd recommend either the NZXT Kraken or Corsair Hydro series. For our $2,000 PC we're recommending the Hydro Series H100i v2 from Corsair.

If you'd rather not go with a liquid cooling option, then the Noctua 6 will also give you similar performance in an air cooler or if you want to do a slight overclock the inexpensive Hyper 212 EVO is also a good option.

If you don't plan on overclocking at all, use the stock CPU cooler or the 212 Evo here.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Corsair 750D has a massive side panel for viewing all of your hardware.The 750D can handle just about all the cables you can throw at it.
The Corsair 750D has a massive side panel for viewing all of your hardware.
The Corsair 750D has a massive side panel for viewing all of your hardware.
The 750D can handle just about all the cables you can throw at it.
The 750D can handle just about all the cables you can throw at it.

A Couple Good Case Options

We're going for a mid-range full tower case here for around $130 to $150. If you're not picky, there are plenty of good cases in the $50 to $100 range that would be good enough.

For Around $100:

The case I'd recommend in that price range would be the Phanteks Enthoo Pro. It's a fantastic value full tower case that comes in at just under $100.

For Under $150:

However, I think for most gamers the look and feel of their case as well as the noise of it mean a lot. For that reason, we're stepping up and going with the Corsair Obsidian 750D here. It's a massive aluminum brushed and steel case with plenty of cooling options, a design made for airflow, and an extremely large side window to show off all of your hardware.

For Specs, the 750D has 9 expansion slots, full compatibility with Mini, Micro, ATX, E-ATX, and XL-ATX motherboards, 2 x USB 3.0 (front), 2 x USB 2.0 (front), side mounted SSD trays, and full dust filters on all the intakes. Fans that come with the case include 2 140mm front fans and a single 140mm rear fan.

For installation, the 750D makes it a breeze. Tool-less drive bays as well as a plethora of cable management option make the installation simple and the build look sleek and clean. Of course is the H100i above isn't enough, there are plenty of custom liquid cooling options you could do with this case.

Both of these cases are easy-to-use, look great, have great airflow, and really give you a lot of flexibility for what you pay for. If you'd rather go with something else, then check out my posts on full tower and mid tower cases to see a list of my favorites for each of these categories.

Power Supply

As a power supply I rate in the top tier I highly recommend EVGA's SuperNOVA series. I've been using them for all of my builds lately.

For the money, I feel like it gives you the best value overall. It's gold rated for efficiency and comes with a fantastic ten year warranty from EVGA. Other than just quality, the G2 looks great. The cables are braided and it's fully modular. Modular cables are a must for a beast build like this one.

Power Output

I've gone ahead and calculated the power usage for both the Skylake / Kaby Lake build and the Broadwell-e. The Broadwell-e comes in at a maximum of 469 watts here while the other build comes in at 420w. That includes all the components I've listed below.

As you'll probably want to keep it safe for all of your expansion needs, I'd recommend the 650W or 750W version of the SuperNova here. Plan accordingly if you're a heavy power user or want to add an additional graphics card later. For those who need this type of wattage, the EVGA SuperNova G2 goes up to 1600W.

i7-6700k Skylake Budget Build vs Broadwell-e i7-6800k

Part
Broadwell-e
Skylake or Kaby Lake
CPU
i7-6800k
i7-6700k
Graphics Card
2 x GTX 1070 or 1 x GTX 1080
2 x GTX 1070 or 1 x GTX 1080
Case
Corsair 750D
Corsair 750D
Ram
2x8GB 3000MHz Corsair LPX
2x8GB 3000MHz Corsair LPX
PSU
EVGA Supernova 750
EVGA Supernova 750
SSD
Samsung 850 EVO 500GB
Samsung 850 EVO 500GB
CPU Cooler
Corsair H100i
Corsair Hydro H110
HDD
2 x HGST Deskstar 2TB
HGST Deskstar 2TB
Motherboard
ASUS X99-A II
Asus Maximus VIII Hero
DVDRW
LG WH16NS40 Blu-Ray
LG WH16NS40 Blu-Ray
Current Pricing
$1,896.46
$1,785.68

Which PC would you rather build right now?

  • Broadwell-e
  • Skylake or Kaby Lake
  • Wait for AMD Zen
See results without voting

$2000 Custom Built PC - Other Parts and Hardware

Blu-Ray: Admittedly, I rarely use a DVD or Blu-Ray drive anymore. So, you'll have to decide whether you need it or not. If you watch movies on your PC, I'd recommend the LG WH16NS40 Drive. It's inexpensive and has good quality.

Hard Drive: We're going with 2 2TB Hitachi Deskstar hard drives. They are fast, have a ton of capacity for the money you spend, and very reliable. You can keep all your long-term storage here and your most important games and OS on the solid state drive.

Ram: I recommend you go with at least 16GB of ram here in order to future proof your rig. Right now you'd probably be ok with 8GB, but it's easier to go ahead and purchase your kit altogether now than try to upgrade later.

For model, I recommend Corsair's LPX series. You can get the 3000MHz speed ram for just about as cheap as the 2400MHz. So, if you've got a choice, be sure to go with the faster one. A 2x8GB configuration is more than fine for games.

Solid State Drive: I like the Samsung 850 EVO series here for price, speed, and capacity. We're going with a 500GB model so you've got plenty of room for your most important files and programs.

Final Impression

This PC is a beast, but is heavily focused on overclocking and getting the most performance out of your rig. Admittedly it's not for everyone, but if you want something that will slice through games and give you extreme options, then this one is for you.

What would you change if anything? Participate in the active discussion below by letting us know what you'd change with this build.

More by this Author


High-End $2,000 Gaming PC Build Discussion 12 comments

Brendan 16 months ago

Don't just get an SSD because it doesn't have enough storage. If you try to add multiple SSD's u can break your PC. So having an HDD is actually a smart idea!!!


Cory 2 years ago

This is a joke. for $2,000 and not even recommend an SSD? and the Samsung 840 non-EVO is not great. The EVO version is actually legit. I'd not waste my time on an i7, as all it does is incorporate hyperthreading, which is worthless in gaming, and get an i5-4670k. Get an nVidia 780 TI, as this IS about gaming, and it is the best benchmarked graphics card nVidia offers, even over the Titan (3GB vs 6GB in GDDR5 ram). Also, SLI is a waste of money for having a budget, as SLI reduces the efficiency of the 2nd graphics card. Get the cooler master 212 EVO, some good thermal paste, and any decent 2x4GB dual-channel ram. More than 8GB is not used, and I question the true computer knowledge of someone if they say that 16GB is ever used besides for virtual computing/servers.

Just saying for $2k, I could get a cheap well-built case, nice air cooling, and a non-hyperthreading CPU to save money - and invest in the GPU and an SSD drive (why would anyone EVER get an HDD when SSDs are 10x the performance...especially for a $2k budget?!?).


toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 3 years ago from The Game Author

I agree with you to some degree... but as PC gamers people simply want to push the envelope. Keep in mind that I've had a comment on here saying you shouldn't get an i7 processor at this point - so everyone has a differing opinion.


ok 3 years ago

Theres no point going with two 770s I have one 780 and can max out pretty much any game at less of a cost, then in say 2 or three years I can just buy another 780 and do the sli then.


Waste 3 years ago

*For $2000 I can do way better!

-Don't need an i7 for GAMING.

-Mushkin Redline 16gb *1866ghz cost for about $15 less but offer better price-performance than those Corsair one.

-Forget about cheap ass water cooling, no performance difference from the h100i over the noctua nh d14 that can justify the extra $25 cost. Custom loop is the only option if you want the most performance.

-For those little hardware no need a full tower case. Go with Fractal Design Define r4 or Arc Midi r2(they are made of steel, even the small details like the HDD trays and PCI Slots Cover are no exception - great VALUE for your money). I challenge you to find any other cases in this price tag that can beat these cases in features and build quality . They are always on sale for $60-$90. I have the Arc Midi r2 myself and love it to death.

-So, you would be able to save at least $150. Use that money to buy a SSD for your OS or a better graphic solution maybe.


toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 3 years ago from The Game Author

WoW doesn't need a graphics card this intense... again this is my $2,000 build so it's mainly for graphically intense games; however, if you want to use it for WoW it'll definitely do a good job.


Greg 3 years ago

I pay world of warcraft a lot im looking to have the best possible computer you would this build be good im not great buying computer stuff sorry -_-


toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 3 years ago from The Game Author

If you have a USB headset, then definitely not. Also, the sound card that comes integrated with the motherboard is good enough so you're good there either way. Also, the CPU cooler isn't necessary unless you plan on overclocking. I would, however, still recommend something like the Hyper 212 Evo from Cooler Master just to keep it cool.. not 100% necessary, but still nice. Also if you're not overclocking, then a 650+ PSU is fine for this PC.


Brandon 3 years ago

I'll just be buying one GTX 770 in my budget, do you think I'll still need the liquid cooling and the 800W power supply? Also, will I need a sound card or anything to separately use a headset with microphone, and left and right speakers?


toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 3 years ago from The Game Author

I'd SLI 2 770s or go for the 780 or 690.


Ryan 3 years ago

Did ever consider the GTX Titan for the GPU?


Asteria 3 years ago

I've saved up 2.5k to build my first proper gaming desktop. Would you guys suggest using this model or your $1500 version??

Thanks!

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