When money is not a barrier, an extreme PC configuration is the best way to enjoy gaming. A rig like this can run games like Elden Ring at 4K without flinching. There’s almost nothing that stands in the way of the best gaming CPU and best graphics card combined in one rig. You’ll be future-proofed and equipped to play any game available today, and you should be prepared for the games of the future, too. How much is this gigantic computer going to cost? Well, about $4,000. Prudent PC gamers looking for a cheaper model, designed around value for money, can check out our standard PC build guide . On the other hand, for those who do not care about money, this is the configuration they need. If you’re looking for ways to save, though, a smaller SSD or slightly slower RAM can cut the cost by a few hundred dollars.
The final price also doesn’t include any accessories or peripherals, so if you’re going to be gaming in 4K, you should buy a quality gaming monitor that takes full advantage of your GPU. Don’t let your high-powered components get bogged down with a very outdated gaming monitor. We’ve tested an inordinate number of components over the years, and we’ve rounded up the best of them here. This is a true monster of a gaming PC where cost matters little to nothing. It really is the PC of our dreams.
The best components to assemble an extreme PC gamer in 2023:
Processor: Intel Core i9 12900K
- Cores: 8+8
- Threads: 24
- Base frequency: 3.2GHz P-core, 2.4GHz E-core
- Maximum frequency: 5.2 GHz P-core, 3.9 GHz E-core
- Overclocking: Yes
- L3 cache (smart): 30MB
- L2 Cache: 14MB MTP: 241W
- PCIe 5.0 lanes: 16
The Core i9 12900K offers the best of Intel’s 12th generation desktop processors, and is the fastest processor currently available. Its hybrid Core architecture, characterized by Intel’s addition of Performance Cores (P-Cores) and Efficient Cores (E-Cores), gives it a huge advantage, with P-Cores being the most influential in gaming.
It ranks third on our best gaming processors list only because it’s a bit overkill, and because of that it can get quite expensive, making it the perfect recommendation for an advanced setup like this. You’ll need a decent motherboard, good cooling, and a powerful power supply to get the most out of it, but that’s what this build is all about. All in all, if you’re building a high-end PC not just for 4K gaming, but for more serious activities like 3D rendering and video editing, this is the processor you need.
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro
- Chipset: Z690
- Memory: 4x DIMMs, 128GB, DDR5-6200 (OC)
- Expansion Slots: 4x M.2 PCIe, 2x PCIe 3.0 x4, 1x PCIe 5.0 x16, 6x SATA 6GB/s
- Video ports: 1x DisplayPort 1.4
- USB ports: 20x
- Storage: 4x M.2; 6x SATA
- Network: Intel Wi-Fi 6; Intel i225V 2.5G LAN
- Illumination: 2x aRGB (3-pin), 2x RGB (4-pin)
With support for DDR5, and space for up to four NVMe SSDs, the Gigabyte Z690 Aorus Pro motherboard is perfect for extreme building. It leaves hardly anything to be desired, with 13 rear USB ports and a powerful VRM to deliver clean, consistent power to your components.
And by limiting it to Wi-Fi 6 and Intel 2.5G wired network connections, as well as avoiding unnecessary frills like Thunderbolt 4 or another M.2 slot, Gigabyte has managed to keep the price at least relatively sensible. Overall, it’s a great performer, offering system and gaming performance easily on par with much more expensive boards we’ve also tested.
CPU cooler: NZXT Kraken X63
- Size: 280mm
- Fan speed: 1,800rpm
- Airflow: 98.17 CFM
- Noise level: 21dB(A)
- Dimensions: 143 x 315 x 30mm
- Socket support: LGA1700, LGA115x, LGA2011, LGA2066, AM2, AM3, AM4
This rig has a killer CPU, and yes, it does need some overclocking. Liquid cooling is highly recommended when it comes to getting the most out of Intel’s unlocked enthusiast processors, and 12th-gen Core i9 processors require it. The NZXT Kraken X63 is an impressive piece of equipment and works with all major platforms. It’s reasonably easy to install and features a large 280mm radiator with a pair of 140mm fans. Once everything is installed, having a small water block on your CPU instead of a huge air sink makes things look much cleaner. Naturally, you will need a large box capable of housing the radiator, but more on that later.
But even with the X63, you can run into thermal limitations. If you’re serious about pushing the i9 12900K to its limits, you’ll need to consider using a fully custom liquid cooling loop. That’s beyond the scope of this buying guide, but you should know that even a good AIO cooler probably won’t allow the i9 12900K to fully overclock.
Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
- GPU cores: 10,240
- Maximum frequency: 1,665 MHz
- Memory: 12GB GDDR6X
- Memory speed: 19Gbps
- Memory Bandwidth: 912GB/s
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti offers essentially the same gaming performance as the RTX 3090 but costs $300 less. Even here, with our extreme build, we can’t help but focus on value for money, and with the release of the 3080 Ti, Nvidia has basically retired the RTX 3090 when it comes to gaming. The RTX 3080 Ti is still a $1,200 graphics card, and that’s if you buy the Founder’s Edition and not a more expensive third-party product. It is not a cheap option.
The only reason you might want to keep looking at an RTX 3090 is if you want to pair your graphics cards, as at least for Nvidia Ampere, the RTX 3090 is your only option for dual-GPU combo. Even with it installed, you still have to worry about whether the games you play will use both GPUs. By the way, most don’t, and compatibility gets lower and lower as time goes by. Another alternative is the RTX 3090 Ti, which costs even more and makes even less sense for regular gaming, though if you’re into more professional workloads, you might be able to justify buying it.
RAM: G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5-6000
- Capacity: 32GB (2x 16GB)
- Speed: 6000MHz
- Times: 36-36-36-96
- Voltage: 1.35V
You could put more memory in this build (up to 64GB), but two 16GB DDR5-6000 RAM modules are more than enough for gaming. There are plenty of memory options, and speed is more a matter of bragging rights than actual performance, however we love the look of G.Skill’s Trident Z5 RGB memory.
It is true that DDR5 is tremendously fast compared to the standard of yesteryear, but more importantly, its designs do not forgo beautiful lighting. In addition to G.Skill, we recommend Corsair, Kingston, HyperX, Crucial, Adata, and Team as safe options. RAM has reached a point where most modules work just fine, so it’s often a matter of price and color, if that’s your thing rather than minuscule performance differences.