High-End 4K AMD Gaming PC Build Guide

Continuing the series I started last week, I thought I would put together a build guide for a High-End 4K AMD Gaming PC. I am classifying a high-end gaming machine as costing above $1500.00 for the main components. You can easily spend significantly more than that if you really want to.

Any desktop machine is going to need these basic components from seven different categories, broken down below.

  • CPU and cooler
  • GPU
  • Motherboard
  • Memory
  • Storage
  • Case
  • Power supply


High-End 4K AMD Gaming PC Build

This is intended to be a high-end mainstream desktop machine that can easily play nearly any modern game at 4K (3840×2160) resolution using very high graphics quality settings in the game at high frame rates. It also has enough CPU/memory capacity and storage performance to handle much more demanding desktop usage scenarios with very good performance. It should be significantly faster than nearly any high-end mainstream desktop machine from years past. Here are the main components:

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8 GHz 12C/24T Processor

This is currently the high-end processor in the mainstream 7nm AMD Ryzen 3000 series line. It has 12C/24T, and has a TDP of 105 watts. Even though the base clock speed is 3.8 GHz, most of those cores will spend most of their time running at a significantly higher clock speed. This is especially true if you do all of the right things to help your CPU boost speeds, such as having the latest BIOS, AMD chipset drivers, and Windows 10 Version 1903.

You also want a case with good thermal performance and possibly an aftermarket CPU cooler. The temperature of your CPU cores is one of the variables that helps determine your max boost clock speed. This processor does come with a Wraith PRISM cooler, which does a good enough job that you probably don’t really need an aftermarket cooler. If you do want an aftermarket cooler, I really like Noctua air coolers. They are reliable and easier to install than most liquid coolers. They also do a better job of cooling the CPU than many AIO water coolers.

If you can wait until November, AMD will release the 16C/32T AMD Ryzen 9 3950X, with a slightly lower base clock speed of 3.5GHz. This will give you more total CPU capacity for non-gaming tasks, but won’t help your gaming performance in most games. One notable exception would be Civilization 6, where turn times are reduced with higher core counts. One downside of this processor is that it so popular that it is hard to find at most retailers.

Noctua NH-D15 SE AM4 CPU Cooler

This is just an example of a higher-end Noctua cooler. Depending on what case you choose, and how tall your RAM is, you might have to choose something different, to make sure that everything fits in the case and over your DIMMs.

ASRock X570 Creator ATX AM4 Motherboard

This is a pretty high-end X570 motherboard that has some additional features that are suitable for a high-end gaming rig and also for workstation usage. These include an onboard AQUANTIA 10G LAN port, Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax, three PCIe 4.0 x16 slots, two M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 ports, and two Thunderbolt 3 Type–C ports. PCIe 4.0 support is nice to have as a future-looking feature, but it is not that useful right now.

Video cards don’t yet actually need the extra bandwidth from PCIe 4.0, and the first generation M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe storage cards are limited by the Phison controller they use to “only” about 5000MB/sec for sequential reads. Sequential read performance is not super important for a gaming PC, but it can be very useful for content creation work.

G.Skill Trident Z Royal 64 GB (4 x 16GB) DDR4-3600 Memory

This is faster memory with tighter timings that helps AMD Ryzen 3000 processors perform better. There are plenty of detailed articles and videos that show that DDR4-3600 memory with tight timings (low CL numbers) are another sweet spot where you get a decent performance boost without spending significantly more money.

To be honest, most games I am aware of don’t need more than 16GB of memory. If you are going to do other work besides gaming, you might want to have more memory depending on your needs and budget. Officially, these processors only support 64GB, but I have seen people running 128GB with four 32GB DIMMs. Luckily, DDR4 RAM is very affordable now compared to a couple of years ago.

Intel Optane 905P Series 960GB PCIe NVMe SSD

Despite the SSD designation, this is not the same as conventional NAND-based flash storage. It uses 3D XPoint technology for non-volatile storage, which has many advantages over NAND-based flash storage. These include higher endurance, much lower latency, higher throughput at low queue depths, and steady performance under a heavy load. You will see noticeably faster performance for many common tasks, like installing software, loading games, booting, and shutdown. These drives are more expensive per GB than NAND-based flash, but they are much faster for many workload types.

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 2 TB M.2-2280 NVMe SSD

This is the largest capacity drive from the 970 EVO Plus line. This would give you enough space quite a few different games and enough space for some video editing work.

I am a big fan of Samsung for consumer storage. Their products consistently do well in benchmarks, and they are not much more expensive than other brands. The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is the latest generation of their budget-friendly EVO line that actually beats the 970 PRO models in some benchmarks, for a lot less money. As always, make sure to get a model that is at least 500GB in size or larger.

Larger capacity NAND flash drives have more NAND channels, so they usually perform much better than smaller capacity drives from the same family. If you are used to SATA flash drives, you will be pleasantly surprised by how much better M.2 PCIe NVMe drives can perform. One weak point of M.2 drives is thermal throttling.

If you do a series of large sequential reads, back-to-back with no breaks, M.2 drives will get hot enough to severely throttle their performance. This is more of a problem in a laptop compared to a desktop, but it can still happen in a desktop machine. Some motherboards come with heatsinks for the M.2 slots, and you can buy aftermarket M.2 heatsinks that usually help.

ASUS GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB ROG Strix OC Video Card

This component is the single most expensive part in this build, which is usually the case for a gaming PC. Once you go to 2K or 4K gaming, your video card becomes your bottleneck for getting high FPS in most games. Once you get below 40-50 FPS, most people tend to notice that the game seems slow. On the other hand, unless you have a good gaming monitor that supports 144 FPS or more (and has G-SYNC or FreeSync), you won’t get the full benefit of extremely high frame rates in your games.

The NVidia RTX 2080 Ti line is the current “top of the line” for gaming performance, with pricing to match. If you want high frame rates at 4K resolution on the latest games, you will want this level of performance. If you are playing at lower resolution with older games that are not as demanding, you can save quite a bit of money with a lower-end video card.

Fractal Design Meshify C ATX Mid Tower Case

I left this case as is from the mid-range gaming build. You can obviously go with a larger, fancier case with more tempered glass and RGB lighting if that is your thing. I would caution you that the thermal performance of a case will become more important with a higher core count CPU and a higher-end video card.

Since this case has a mesh front panel (rather than tempered glass) and lots of ventilation in the rest of the case, it has very good thermal performance. This is very important if you want to avoid thermal throttling from your components. The downside with mesh and lots of ventilation and fans can be increased noise.

You can minimize this by picking components that have better passive cooling features such as heat pipes and heat sinks. You can also add additional case fans and/or replace the stock case fans with better case fans if you so desire. This case has gotten many great reviews from sites that I respect like GamersNexus.

Seasonic PRIME Ultra Titanium 750W 80+ Titanium ATX Power Supply

In my opinion, Seasonic is the Tesla of power supply makers. Their high-end models get great reviews, and Seasonic is the actual OEM for some power supply lines from other brands, such as Corsair. Unless you are running multiple video cards, you probably don’t need an 850W or 1000W model.

This is a quiet, high capacity 80+ Titanium certified power supply that has gotten great reviews. It is fully modular, so you can minimize your cable clutter. This model has two EPS connectors (which are required with some X570 motherboards). I have used this power supply in a couple of my machines, and I have been very happy with the results.

Other considerations

This machine has a total price (as of this writing) of about $5100.00. That does not include sales tax or an operating system. If you live near a Micro Center, and buy all of the parts at one time, you can usually save around $100 with their bundle discounts (which is not as significant at this budget level)!

I’m not saying that you need to spend $5100.00 on a gaming computer, but you certainly can easily spend that much, or even more if you so desire. I think most people would be very satisfied with the level of performance they would get from my Mid-Range 1440P AMD Gaming Build. This guide is just a small window into some upgraded components that you might add to a lower budget build, depending on your workload and budget.

Unless you are gaming at 1080P, your main performance bottleneck is going to be your video card (as long as you have a “decent” CPU). If you are doing other work besides gaming, then having more CPU cores, more memory, more PCIe lance and overall storage performance can be very useful.

I think you will want Windows 10 Home or Professional. If you do use Windows 10, make sure to get version 1903 so that you get the AMD scheduler and CPPC improvements. You also want to make sure you get the latest BIOS version and the latest AMD chipset and All-In-One Driver versions.

Please let me know if you are interested in more posts like this. Thanks for reading!


The PCPartPicker parts list for this machine is here.





Mid-Range 1440P AMD Gaming PC Build Guide

Continuing the series I started yesterday, I thought I would put together a build guide for a Mid-Range 1440P AMD Gaming PC. I am classifying a mid-range gaming machine as costing between about $750.00 to $1500.00 for the main components.

Any desktop machine is going to need these basic components from seven different categories, broken down below.

  • CPU and cooler
  • GPU
  • Motherboard
  • Memory
  • Storage
  • Case
  • Power supply

Mid-Range 1440P AMD Gaming PC Build

This is intended to be a relatively affordable machine that can easily play nearly any modern game at 2K (2560×1440) resolution using very high graphics quality settings in the game at high frame rates. It also has enough CPU/memory capacity and storage performance to handle more demanding desktop usage scenarios with very good performance. It should be significantly faster than most older high-end desktop machines from years past. Here are the main components:

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 3.6 GHz 8C/16T Processor

This is currently what I consider to be the sweet spot in the 7nm AMD Ryzen 3000 series line. It has 8C/16T, but only has a TDP of 65 watts. Even though the base clock speed is only 3.6 GHz, most of the cores will spend most of their time running at a significantly higher clock speed. In most benchmarks, the Ryzen 7 3700X is very close to the higher priced Ryzen 7 3800X, close enough so that you won’t notice the difference.

I have one of these in my current gaming machine. Another bonus is that it comes with a Wraith PRISM cooler, which is the same CPU cooler that AMD uses on the 3800X and 3900X. This cooler does a good enough job that you probably don’t really need an aftermarket cooler.

ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming 4 ATX AM4 Motherboard

This is a budget X570 motherboard (so it has PCIe 4.0 support) that still has the basic features and ports to get the job done for a mid-range gaming rig. PCIe 4.0 support is nice to have as a future-looking feature, but it is not that useful right now. Video cards don’t yet actually need the extra bandwidth from PCIe 4.0, and the first generation M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe storage cards are limited by the Phison controller  they use to “only” about 5000MB/sec for sequential reads. Sequential read performance is not super important for a gaming PC, but it can be very useful for content creation work.

G.Skill Trident Z RGB 16 GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3600 Memory

This is somewhat faster memory with tighter timings that helps AMD Ryzen 3000 processors perform better. There are plenty of detailed articles and videos that show that DDR4-3600 memory with tight timings (low CL numbers) are another sweet spot where you get a decent performance boost without spending significantly more money. If you are going to do other work besides gaming, you might want to get two 16GB sticks or four 8GB or 16GB sticks, depending on your needs and budget. Luckily, DDR4 RAM is very affordable now compared to a couple of years ago.

Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1 TB M.2-2280 NVMe SSD

I am a big fan of Samsung for consumer storage. Their products consistently do well in benchmarks, and they are not much more expensive than other brands. The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is the latest generation of their budget-friendly EVO line that actually beats the 970 PRO models in some benchmarks, for a lot less money. As always, make sure to get a model that is at least 500GB in size or larger.

Larger capacity NAND flash drives have more NAND channels, so they usually perform much better than smaller capacity drives from the same family. If you are used to SATA flash drives, you will be pleasantly surprised by how much better M.2 PCIe NVMe drives can perform. One weak point of M.2 drives is thermal throttling.

If you do a series of large sequential reads, back-to-back with no breaks, M.2 drives will get hot enough to severely throttle their performance. This is more of a problem in a laptop compared to a desktop, but it can still happen in a desktop machine. Some motherboards come with heatsinks for the M.2 slots, and you can buy aftermarket M.2 heatsinks.

Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT 8 GB Gaming OC Video Card

This component is the single most expensive part in this build, which is usually the case for a gaming PC. Once you go to 2K or 4K gaming, your video card becomes your bottleneck for getting high FPS in most games. Once you get below 40-50 FPS, most people tend to notice that the game seems slow. On the other hand, unless you have a good gaming monitor that supports 144 FPS or more (and has FreeSync), you won’t get the full benefit of extremely high frame rates in your games.

The 7nm Radeon 5700 XT was released on July 7, 2019 as the higher end version of the Radeon 5700 series. This Gigabyte card uses three fans and a large heat pipe system so that it runs much cooler and generates a lot less noise than the original Radeon 5700 XT cards that used the reference single blower fan design from AMD. It is also mildly overclocked from the factory.

Fractal Design Meshify C ATX Mid Tower Case

Since this case has a mesh front panel (rather than tempered glass) and lots of ventilation in the rest of the case, it has very good thermal performance. This is very important if you want to avoid thermal throttling from your components. The downside with mesh and lots of ventilation and fans can be increased noise.

You can minimize this by picking components that have better passive cooling features such as heat pipes and heat sinks. You can also add additional case fans and/or replace the stock case fans with better case fans if you so desire. This case has gotten many great reviews from sites that I respect like GamersNexus.

Corsair RMx 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply

This is a quiet, high capacity 80+ Gold certified power supply that has gotten great reviews. It is fully modular, so you can minimize your cable clutter. This model has two EPS connectors (which are required with some X570 motherboards). I have used this power supply in a couple of my machine, and I have been very happy with the results.

Other considerations

This machine has a total price (as of this writing) of about $1460.00. That does not include sales tax or an operating system. If you live near a Micro Center, and buy all of the parts at one time, you can usually save around $100 with their bundle discounts.

I think you will want Windows 10 Home or Professional. If you do use Windows 10, make sure to get version 1903 so that you get the AMD scheduler and CPPC improvements. You also want to make sure you get the latest BIOS version and the latest AMD chipset and All-In-One Driver versions.

Depending on your budget, you can add more RAM or storage right off the bat. You also have a very good upgrade path going forward. For example, you could upgrade to a 12C/24T or 16C/32T 7nm AMD Ryzen 3000 series processor using this motherboard. If you really think you are going to get a higher core count AMD Ryzen 3000 series processor later, you might want to get a slightly more expensive motherboard with better VRMs than the one I have recommended at this price point.

You could also get a much more expensive discrete graphics card if you wanted to play games at 4K (3840×2160). You can also go up to 64GB of RAM with this system.

Please let me know if you are interested in more posts like this. Thanks for reading!


The PCPartPicker parts list for this machine is here.


Entry-Level 1080P AMD Gaming PC Build Guide

Since I often get questions and requests related to selecting components for different types of desktop PCs, I thought I would put together a few quick build guides for some different categories of machines at different price points.

Any desktop machine is going to need these basic components from seven different categories, broken down below.

  • CPU and cooler
  • GPU
  • Motherboard
  • Memory
  • Storage
  • Case
  • Power supply

At certain price points, you may be able save some money by getting components that combine extra functionality into a single component. A good example is a CPU with integrated graphics that also has a decent CPU cooler included. Because of ongoing competition between Intel and AMD, combined with falling RAM and NAND SSD prices, you can build a very capable system for a lot less money than you might expect.

Entry-Level 1080P AMD Gaming PC Build

This is intended to be an affordable machine that can easily play eSports type games at 1080P (1920×1080) resolution. It also has enough CPU/memory capacity and storage performance to handle typical desktop usage scenarios with very good performance. Even though it is a budget machine, it may be faster than many older high-end desktop machines from years past. Here are the main components:

AMD Ryzen 5 3400G 3.7 GHz 4C/8T Processor

Despite the 3400 series name, this is actually a 12nm Zen+ processor rather than a 7nm Zen 2 processor. Still, it does have 4 cores plus SMT, so you get eight threads total. It runs at a base clock speed of 3.7 GHz and has a Max Boost Clock of 4.2 GHz. It also has integrated Radeon RX Vega 11 graphics to handle 1080P gaming. It has an AMD Wraith Spire CPU cooler included in the box.

ASRock B450M PRO4 Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard

This is a relatively modest but still capable B450 chipset motherboard that has four RAM slots. It has four SATA3 ports along with one Ultra M.2 PCIe NVMe slot and one M.2 SATA3 slot. It also has a decent amount of USB 3.1 Gen2 and Gen1 ports and a Realtek Gigabit LAN port. A B450 motherboard can support most current and past generation AMD AM4 socket Ryzen desktop processors, so you have an upgrade path. You will need to have BIOS version 3.30 or later in order to use the latest AMD Ryzen processors.

G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16 GB (2 x8 GB) DDR4-3000 Memory

Most games run perfectly well with 16GB of RAM, and I consider 16GB of RAM to be the bare minimum that you should have for general desktop usage. You also want to have at least two sticks of RAM so that you will be running in dual-channel mode. Since this B450 motherboard has four memory slots, you can add more memory later if you need it without having to replace your current memory.

AMD Ryzen processors are relatively sensitive to memory speed and performance, and this is especially true of Ryzen processors with integrated graphics that use system memory. G.Skill has a good reputation and seems to work pretty well with AMD Ryzen processors.

Samsung 860 Evo 500GB SATA3 Solid State Drive

I believe that a 500GB SATA SSD is pretty much the bare minimum you should consider in terms of capacity and performance when it comes to a boot drive. For NAND-based SSDs, you should avoid getting a drive that is smaller than 500GB, since you will give up a lot of performance while only saving a very small amount of money.

An entry-level system may get along just fine with a single 500GB drive, but you can always add additional drives or go to a larger size if you need more space. You can also step up to an M.2 PCIe 3.0 NVMe drive for more performance. Personally, I really like Samsung NAND-based SSDs, since they are just a known good product that I have a lot of experience with. The 860 EVO series gives nearly the same performance as the higher-priced 860 PRO series. The free Samsung Magician software is an added bonus that makes it easier to manage your drives and install firmware updates.

Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 5 ATX Mid Tower Case

The selection of a case can be fairly subjective. People often have quite strong opinions about the sort of aesthetic they are looking for. Depending on your preferences for thermal performance and noise, you have a huge number of cases to choose from.

The case I picked here is very affordable, and is relatively low key as far the stock appearance. It is possible to add some color to this case with RGB case fans. Adding additional case fans would also be a good idea if you want better thermal performance, since this case only comes with one 120mm rear case fan.

Seasonic 520W 80+ Bronze Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply

Your power supply is not a good place to cut corners on. A good power supply is going to make your system last longer and use less electricity. I really like fully modular power supplies, so that I have less cable clutter inside the case (because you only install the cables that you actually need). SeaSonic is one of the best power supply makers out there, even though this is a lower-end model.

Having a lower watt capacity power supply for a system like this will actually save on electrical usage compared to a much higher watt capacity power supply, since efficiency is higher when the power supply has a slightly higher percentage of its rated output. A 520 watt power supply will still have some extra headroom so you will be able to add a mid-range discrete graphics card later.


Other considerations

This machine has a total price (as of this writing) of about $450.00. That does not include sales tax or an operating system. I think you will want Windows 10 Home or Professional. If you do use Windows 10, make sure to get version 1903 so that you get the AMD scheduler and CPPC improvements. You also want to make sure you get the latest BIOS version and the latest AMD chipset and All-In-One Driver versions.

Depending on your budget, you can add more RAM or storage right off the bat. You also have a very good upgrade path going forward. For example, you could upgrade to a 6C/12T or 8C/16T 7nm AMD Ryzen 3000 series processor using this motherboard. If you did that, you would have to get a discrete graphics card. You can also go up to 64GB of RAM with this system.

Please let me know if you are interested in more posts like this. Thanks for reading!


The PCPartPicker parts list for this machine is here.