With the release of Intel’s Sandy Bridge E series CPUs, I can now take my Ultra Gaming build dreaming to the next level. Previously I have presented realistic gaming builds, in the ‘mid-range’ and ‘budget’ level categories – these have been based on developing systems of value that will allow you to play video games for many years while staying within a specific budget. In this article, I’m skipping over the ‘high-budget’ build and going straight for the Ultra Dream system.
There is no reasonableness in this build. If you want a build that gets you the best performance value for your money, check out the mid-range budget build. This Ultra Build here is simply an incredibly awesome system, made with the most powerful hardware available. It takes advantage of the increased memory and video bandwidth using all four slots of quad channel ram, and using both 16x/16x SLI video slots. I suppose I could go all out with 4 video cards, but then I wouldn’t have room for the PCIe based SSD, and the unnecessary, but still surprisingly appealing Killer gaming NIC.
I would take it a step further and go all out with custom liquid cooling, but I honestly don’t have the experience with extreme custom liquid cooled systems. I’ve always used air cooling, because unless you are overclocking to the extreme, or using a system like this, air cooling is fine. In this system, I will be using a liquid cooling block for the CPU only. In the near future, I plan on writing up an article on custom liquid cooling, as I started researching it for this article.
- CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X 3.3 1 LGA 2011 Processor – BX80619I73960X
- Motherboard: ASUS P9X79 DELUXE – LGA2011 – X79 – 8x DIMM – PCIe 3.0 Motherboards
- RAM: Corsair 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3 2133 MHz (PC3 17000) Quad Channel Memory Kitx2
- GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 580 3072 MB GDDR5x2
- PSU: Corsair Professional Series Gold 1200-Watt 80 Plus Gold Certified Power Supply
- SSD: OCZ Technology Revo Drive 3 Series 240GB PCI Express 8 GB-s Slim – RVD3-FHPX4-240G
- HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TBx2
- NIC: VisionTek Killer Xeno Pro 128 MB PCI Express Card 900296
- Sound: PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series
- Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H100 Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler (CWCH100)
- Case: Thermaltake Level 10 GT Snow Edition
- Monitor: HP ZR30w 30-inch S-IPS LCD Monitor
The CPU choice is obvious – the i7-3960X is the most powerful. It’s also over $1,000 for the processor alone – but here we aren’t worried about that. The CPU will be cooled by the excellent Corsair H100 As previously mentioned, Asus provides yet again another superb quality motherboard. For the RAM, I chose the Corsair Dominator because of the higher speed (DDR 2133 vs DDR 1600) – also we don’t NEED 32 GB RAM, but we CAN use 32 GB ram, so we take 2 packs of 4.
For the GPU – as it is the ULTRA system, one could easily plug in two GTX 590s for the set. There are two main reasons I am not going with the 590. First, the 590 runs hot – or at least there were problems with this at the release of the card. The performance of the 590 is undeniable, but two 580s is absolutely amazing. If I were going to go with two 590s, I would only do so with a custom liquid cooled system – I wouldn’t want to do so with air. I also chose the 3GB memory version of the 580 vs the 1.5, as we are going for a large 30″ monitor – possibly two.
The SSD you might find odd. First off, I’ve always loved the Revodrive concept – it’s basically an SSD slotted via x4 PCIe into the system. The result is you end up with twice the read/write as a normal SSD. The downside is price. I picked the 240GB for operating system and games/programs, with a set of RAID HDDs in the background for storage. I have on the list 2 1TB WD Black Hard Drives to be set in RAID – I would actually go with 5 1TB drives set up in RAID 5, giving the perfect combination of speed AND security. Hard Drives are expensive right now though, so starting with 2 is fine.
The Killer NIC is something that a lot of people might call a way to throw away money. While I wouldn’t recommend the NIC to someone building a “regular” gaming system – benchmarking has shown that Killer’s NICs do have an effect on lowering latency. If I were a hardcore gamer, or “pro” gamer, I would probably look at adding one to a mid-range or high-range gaming build – every little bit helps.
The case I chose because I always wanted the Thermaltake Level 10 – which runs in the $800 range, is difficult to work with, and doesn’t have amazing cooling – but my oh my does it look sweet. The Thermaltake Level 10GT has a lot of improvements. It’s lighter, cheaper, and has excellent cooling. It also can easily fit the Corsair H100 CPU radiator block. It also looks awesome. Check out the Gaming Case article for some other options.
The Monitor is the 30” I selected on my Gaming Monitors article. You could also go with two 30”, or two 27”, or three 27” – remember this setup has 2 GTX 580s in x16/x16 SLI. Super.
That about wraps up this splurge of an article. I surely do love dreaming about systems like this. The total for the above listed is $5000 without the monitor and $6200 with it, so if that looks like spare change to you, then you should definitely indulge. In the future after I put together the liquid cooling article, I’ll likely revisit this and update for full liquid cooling.