So it’s Strike Season in South Africa and the Rand is in the crapper, our government couldn’t govern autonomous bacteria growth in a damp, warm room and the rest of the world is busy trying to convince itself that the worst of the financial crisis is over when really, it probably isn’t. It’s not really a good time, then, to be building a super-expensive gaming PC, but we have to make ourselves feel better about this world somehow and this is one of my favourite ways to do it: by dreaming big.
And so that’s what I did. This is an absolute monster of a gaming PC, created from an assemblage of the most cutting-edge parts I could find at local e-tail outlets, and I believe the end result to be a gaming machine unlike any other. So, how did I do it? Read on, dear reader!
Let’s get the foundation components out the way up front. I opted for Corsair’s absolutely gorgeous and incredibly well-made 600T Graphite Series chassis for this build, as I own this particular case myself and I am in love with it. It’s huge, it has all the space needed to fit the other components I have in mind, plus it has several built-in fans that create the kind of airflow a PC like this is going to need, and the speed they spin at is controllable by a handy dial that’s easily accessible on the front of the case. I could have gone with CoolerMaster’s more impressive-looking Cosmos case, but I’m not a fan of those big, ugly handles so I didn’t.
The motherboard I chose is Gigabyte’s impressive GA-Z87X-OC, as it has four PCI Express lanes that are designed specifically for AMD graphics cards in CrossFire mode, which are required for the screen setup I have in mind: an EyeFinity configuration made up of FIVE MONITORS with an overall resolution of 9600 x 1080. Shopping around for the right monitors for the task proved tough, but eventually I settled on five of Samsung’s S27B550V monitors, 27-inch screens with a refresh rate of just 2ms that’s perfect for gaming. An alternative is to buy five 40-inch TVs instead for a bigger overall screen, but you’ll miss out on the low 2ms refresh rate offered by Samsung’s monitors, which will lead to slight ghosting in fast-moving scenes.
On the graphics side, I could have chosen three of NVIDIA’s Titan cards, but I figured four 3GB HD7970s and the five-screen Eyefinity setup they allowed was more spectacular, plus it worked out cheaper as well. If you’re wondering why five screens, and not the six that Eyefinity is capable of on paper, that’s because six screens arranged in a 3 x 2 or 6 x 1 grid would mean the very centre of the screen would have a bezel in the way, and since that’s where most games position their reticles, that’s a big no-no. Instead, with five screens, the middle monitor provides an unobstructed view of the centre of the action. Check out the video at the end of the article for a demonstration of just how awesome this kind of setup is.
To keep the system from shutting down or rebooting due to excessive power consumption, I opted for a 1500W power supply from CoolerMaster that should have enough headroom to power four HD7970s if they’re all drinking the juice at their maximum draw of 270W each, with a bit of room to spare to run the rest of the system.
The heart and brains of the machine are made up of Intel’s latest and fastest desktop processor, the Core i7-4770k, 32GB of DDR3-2166 RAM and three SSDs in RAID 1+0 mode, which offers mirroring and striping that provides redundancy and incredible read speeds. I also added in a 1TB Western Digital Velociraptor drive for data as it offers the fastest speeds in a desktop hard drive along with a decent amount of storage.
RAM has a proven benefit of speeding up SSDs while also extending their life (source: Tomshardware.com) as they don’t have to do as many reads and writes as on systems with less RAM, so I threw in 32GB of Corsair’s super-fast DDR3-2133 Vengeance DIMMs. The Haswell processor is also overclockable (as indicated by the “k” in its name), giving the system some headroom for even better performance if you’re inclined to pursue it.
Of course, a gaming PC is not a gaming PC without the right keyboard, mouse and sound system, and I could think of no better way to round this machine off than with Logitech’s excellent Z906 5.1 surround speakers attached to Asus’s awesome Republic of Gamers Xonar Phoebus sound card, Logitech’s popular and super-comfortable G500 gaming mouse and Corsair’s Vengeance K90 “Performance” keyboard. Asus’s Xonar sound card provides incredible environmental effects in games that are enhanced further by the Z906’s 5.1 speakers. With lifelike sound coming at you from all directions, you will be as immersed in your games as you can be without actually being there in person.
Lastly, I have opted for a 14x Blu-ray writer from LG. I could have just gone with a DVD writer, but it’s cool to have a Blu-ray writer just in case you need to back something up, or you want to watch a Blu-ray movie you’ve rented/bought.
And that’s it. Tallying everything up, I’ve come up with a grand total of just over R100k, which is actually a lot less than I thought it would be.
I’m sure there are other components out there that will make for an even more mind-blowing gaming PC, so please feel free to suggest your own in the comments. Me, I’m going back to daydreaming of basking in the glory of Epic’s incredible Unreal Engine 4 ‘Elemental’ demo running at 9600 x 1080 at a watchable frame rate.
Intel Core i7-4770k
32GB DDR3-2133 Corsair Vengeance
Primary Hard Drive:
3x OCZ Vertex 4 512GB MLC SATA in RAID 0
R5077.56 x 3 = R15232.68
Secondary Hard Drive:
Western Digital Velociraptor 1TB
Sapphire VaporX-OC Edition Radeon HD7970 3GB x 4
R7318 x 4 = R29272
Samsung S27B550V 27-inch 2ms Gaming Monitor
R4720.64 x 5 = R23603.20
CoolerMaster Silent Pro 2 Modular PSU
Windows 8 Pro Multi-language 64-bit
Corsair 600T Graphite Case (No PSU)
Corsair Vengeance K90 Performance Keyboard
Logitech G500 Gaming Mouse
Logitech Z906 5.1 Speakers
Asus Republic of Gamers Xonar Phoebus
Lite-on iHBS312 Blu-ray Writer
Grand Total: R100025.40