Nvidia’s new Pascal graphics cards are here so it’s time to update all of our builds once again. This time around anything with at least a $1,000 budget will be geared towards gaming in 1440p. It’s time we raise the standard, and NVIDIA and AMD are making this easier than ever.
The good? Gamers get ultra settings performance above 60FPS for AAA games on the cheap? The bad? It might be finally time to reconsider that low input lag 1080p monitor you’re using in favor of one of the top gaming monitors on our list.
Haswell vs Skylake Processors for the Money
Contents at a Glance
- 1 A Good $1,000 Skylake Z170 Gaming PC Desktop Build for 2017
- 1.1 Best Polaris vs Pascal Graphics Cards in the Under $200 to $400 Price points
- 1.2 Benchmarks for the GTX 1070
- 1.3 Graphics Cards Under or Around $300 – 1060 vs RX 480 Debate
- 1.4 A Good Z170 Motherboard Around $150.
- 1.5 Good Value DDR4 Memory
- 1.6 Power Supplies Under $50
- 1.7 Gaming Cases Under $50
- 1.8 Related
From a practical and performance standpoint, getting a Skylake CPU makes sense as long as it’s in a similar or slightly higher price point than Haswell. When we last updated our $700 to $800 Gaming PC you could save around $150 by going with the Haswell i5-4690k and get similar performance.
The savings came from a less expensive CPU and by going with a cheaper Intel Z97 Motherboards vs a Skylake Z170 1151 motherboard. At that time, DDR3 was still significantly cheaper than DDR4 memory and that savings could be translated into a better GPU and in turn more frames per second.
This is no longer the case. Skylake CPUs, as well as Z170 motherboards and DDR4 memory, are close enough in price that I wouldn’t recommend a Haswell build unless you can get it on the cheap.
A Good $1,000 Skylake Z170 Gaming PC Desktop Build for 2017
Here’s a look at the build as it sits for this quarter. For more information on why each component was chosen additional information can be found below. If this build is out of your price range, also take a look at these affordable gaming computers.
|*$1,000 Build Parts List||Notes|
|Intel Core i5-6600k 3.5GHz Processor||We're going with the i5-6600k here which is meant for overclockers. If you don't care to do that, you could consider using a less expensive board as well as the stock cooler for some additional savings.|
|Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO||A Cheap and quiet cooler which should give you a solid overclock for the i5-6600k.|
|Asus Z170-A Motherboard||Reliable with plenty of features. The Asus Z170-A would be a higher mid-range option while the Hero VIII from Asus would be my choice on the higher-end side.|
|Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB DDR4-3000 Memory||Inexpensive DDR4 ram with all the performance that matters without paying for higher speed prices.|
|Kingston SSDNow V300 120GB Solid State Drive||Spending $80 on a solid state drive for your OS and most important programs is a must for those who you this PC beyond just gaming. It won't increase your FPS, but your PC's overall speed will get a huge boost.|
|Western Digital Caviar Blue 1 TB Hard Drive||Cheap, high capacity, reliable, and 7200RPM. Double Capacity in the Hitachi Deskstar for around $15 more.|
|NVIDIA GTX 1070 Video Card||We're making a bit of a sacrifice to go with the GTX 1070 here and hoping the price goes to the $379 price point that's been promised. If it stays around $449.99, you'll need to make some sacrifices to stick to the $1,000 budget. At $379, we're within the budget and get amazing 1440p performance for under $400.|
|Corsair 200R Mid Tower Case|
|EVGA SuperNova 650 G1 Gold Power Supply||For around $75 you get a power supply here that will not only be efficient, but also last you a long time.|
Best Polaris vs Pascal Graphics Cards in the Under $200 to $400 Price points
Last year when we did this build I was comparing the GTX 980 and the R9 390X. It’s time to wipe the slate clean of all that. Those cards, in my opinion, are now irrelevant at this price. That doesn’t mean they can’t fill a value option once they go down in price, but we’re going for gold here and trying to achieve Ultra settings 1440p AAA gameplay for under $1,000. So, in 2016, it’s ultimately going to come down to the Pascal GTX 1070 (available right now) at the $400 price point and at the $200 price the RX 480 Polaris vs whatever NVIDIA releases to combat it.
Unfortunately, there’s no real competition at the $400 price point, unless you play Ashes of the Singularity exclusively, from AMD so if that’s budget, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase one of the AIB cards.
Benchmarks for the GTX 1070
For benchmarks, take a look at Anandtech’s GPU 2016 comparison. When comparing the R9 Fury X to the GTX 1070, the 1070 wins most of the time at a much lower price point. Digital Foundry also recently put out a video comparing the Fury X vs the Titan X, 1080, and even the 1070.
Graphics Cards Under or Around $300 – 1060 vs RX 480 Debate
With the RX 480 coming in at around $200 and possibly claiming GTX 980-like performance, it’s clear that in the $200 to $300 category there will be a lot of movement over the next couple of months. It’s also possible that NVIDIA responds by releasing something like the GTX 1060.
GTX 970 vs R9 390 for 1080p and 1440p Performance:
In my opinion these cards are fairly similar in 1080p performance. In 1440p, I’d give a slight advantage to the R9 390. For full benchmarks, I recommend this article from Guru3d or JayzTwoCents’ Video showing stock and overclock speeds in a variety of AAA titles. Other than these differences, you’ll find the 970 to be more energy efficient while the R9 390 has more VRAM at 8GB vs. the 4GB (or 3.5GB) of the 970.
With the new GPUs released so far in 2016 expect the price for both of these cards to come down considerably.
A Good Z170 Motherboard Around $150.
We recently did a rundown of which Z170 motherboards we thought were the best for the money. For this build, we’ve reserved around $120 of the overall budget for the motherboard. For a board that is reliable, full of features, and a relatively good overclocker, I recommend the MSI Z170 PC Mate or for a slightly higher mid-range option, the Asus Z170-A.
Other good boards to consider include the Hero Maximus VIII on the high-end as well as the AsRock Z170 Gaming K6 in the $200 to $225 range.
We’re going with cheap and effective solutions for our storage. The Hitachi Deskstar 2TB drive provides amazing value and speed for around $60 while the Samsung 850 EVO 250GB Solid state drive will boost the speed of your OS and most important programs.
Good Value DDR4 Memory
All those flashy speeds don’t amount to much at this point in time. You’re better off going with something cheap and tweaking it rather than overspending. Something like the Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 ram would be ideal. It’s featured in our post on the best DDR4 memory for the money and gets you to that 2400MHz sweet spot without worry. We can afford the 2x4GB kit for this PC build.
Power Supplies Under $50
Even with a $1,000 budget, it seems well worth it to get a good power supply here. Stable power and longevity are just a few of the reasons. Seasonic makes quality options that I put high up on our tier list. With the Seasonic S12G Gold PSU is on sale for around $75 after rebate, it’s a good option here. That being said, you’ll want to find a power supply when you build this PC that is similarly on rebate.
Gaming Cases Under $50
There are any number of cases that would work here, but the one drawing my attention the most this month is the Corsair SPEC-02. At around $50 it gives you a lot of value for the money and has plenty of space for the parts we’ve chosen.
Overall, I feel like our $1,000 build is a good place to start for gamers looking for a Skylake processor that want to maximize performance and value. See the chart below for the entire build as well as some additional thoughts and insights.