Whether you’re an avid PC hardware enthusiast or a beginner just getting into the world of custom PC building, you’ve likely fantasized about building a PC that pulls out all the stops when it comes to performance and design, a machine whose limits are only matched by those of your own imagination.
This article collects three such machines, each of which go above and beyond when measured against different metrics: Price, quality of setup, and performance, respectively.
Machines like these can serve as points of inspiration, North Stars to guide your own ambitions. These expensive gaming PCs aren’t afraid to dream big and you shouldn’t be either.
Who knows — maybe, one day, you’ll find yourself building a system that younger builders look to for inspiration.1 2 3
Price: Overclockers UK’s* OrionX2*
A list featuring expensive gaming PCs would be remiss to ignore the OrionX2*, designed by Overclockers UK’s* Ian “8Pack” Parry, the OrionX2* is a machine that was built to impress.
The thing about the OrionX2* is that it actually houses two systems — a workstation system and a gaming system. This makes it particularly well-suited to multitasking. If you’re a streamer, for instance, asking a single system to run a game while both encoding and broadcasting your live feed to a streaming platform can be incredibly taxing on your machine. Splitting the workload between two systems, however, gives them both more breathing room.
Overclockers UK* had high standards for the components they chose to include in both systems. True to their name, they prioritized reliable overclockability when selecting CPUs for the system. The process of binning batches of CPUs for high overclockability is both extensive and expensive, but it allows Overclockers UK* to ensure that their systems can perform at the level they desire. The primary system houses an 18-core, 36-thread Intel® Core™ i9-7980XE processor that’s overclocked to 4.6 GHz, while the secondary system can be configured to carry an Intel® Core™ i9-9900K processor that can be overclocked to at least 5.0 GHz.
The system also utilizes a custom water-cooling system that consists of three separate cooling loops. For a machine whose bowels are this crowded, conventional air-cooling methods would have likely been an inadequate solution for cooling so many heat-emitting components at once, especially if some of them are overclocked. The water cooling setup makes efficient use of limited space, using a combination of hard tubing and a custom-made distribution plate to route liquid to the externally facing radiators and fans at the back of the system, allowing for an effective displacement of heat.
The cooling system is also where the OrionX2* really delivers on an aesthetic level: Custom acrylic plates not only impress visually but help economize on space, while the three separate cooling loops allow the case to contain a trio of different coolant colors (red, silver, and gray). It’s a remarkably quiet system that grants the OrionX2’s* design an especially masterful touch.
To give you an idea of how over-the-top this machine is, it would set you back as much as $45,000 if you wanted to purchase one yourself.4 The price tag says it all: This is a machine about overkill.
- Intel® Core™ i9-7980XE processor
- ASUS ROG* Rampage VI Extreme Omega
- NVIDIA TITAN RTX* (x2, connected via NV-link) or NVIDIA® TITAN RTX™ (x3, running independently)
- 2TB Samsung* 970 EVO* M.2 NVMe* SSD (x2)
- 64GB DDR4 3600 MHz RAM or 128GB DDR4 3200 MHz RAM
- 14TB Seagate Ironwolf* Pro HDD
Setup: Unbox Therapy’s* Xidax* Limited Edition X-10
The setup featured in Unbox Therapy’s* video “The ULTIMATE $30,000 Gaming PC Setup” might just be one of the most decadent battle stations ever constructed. It’s not all bells and whistles, either; at the heart of the setup is a limited edition Xidax* X-10* custom-built for Unbox Therapy*, which alone accounts for about $20,000 of the price of the entire rig.5
Firstly, the setup takes the concept of an adjustable gaming chair to a whole new level. The setup’s three monitors are mounted on the end of an arch that extends from the back of the chair, fully enclosing the user inside the vessel. This arch and the tray that supports the keyboard and mouse come away at the press of a button, allowing the user to step into the enclosure (think the doors of the Delorean* from Back to the Future*).
Furthermore, the chair’s armrest controls also allow the chair to enter a “zero gravity” posture that reclines the battle station, monitors and all, at a 128° angle. As if that wasn’t enough, the chair also includes massage functions and extendable footrests. “This is where you want to be in life in most moments,” Unbox Therapy’s* Lewis Hilsenteger says.
The display area of the setup consists of a mounted 42.5”, UHD 4K monitor flanked by two separate monitors that are in portrait orientation and curved at a slight angle towards the user. Hilsenteger notes that, in this configuration, the flanking monitors can be used to not extend a game’s field of view but to multitask if they’re set to display other information. Complete with a DisplayPort input and a number of HDMI 2.0 inputs, the monitors are remarkably flexible, and can be used for a wide range of purposes.
Unbox Therapy* tops off the entire setup with a snack cart and cooler filled with drinks, both within arms’ reach of the chair. Nanoleaf* panels light up the arch at the back of the chair, and the whole setup, from PC to frame to peripherals, glows with RGB lighting.
The limited edition X-10*, however, is truly the centerpiece of the whole rig. It comes equipped with an Intel® Core™ i9-7980XE processor that’s overclocked to 4.6 GHz. The PC also contains an Intel® Optane™ SSD 900P 450GB PCIe*, providing low-latency storage and allowing for fast booting times and game loading.
While Unbox Therapy* demonstrated that the machine is more than capable of running Fortnite* at upwards of 130 FPS with maxed-out settings and an ultra-wide resolution of 3440 x 1440, this custom X-10 would definitely excel as a workstation.6 The overclockable Intel® Core™ i9-7980XE processor is coupled with two ASUS ROG Strix* GeForce RTX 1080 TIs and 128 GB’s worth of G.Skill DDR4 RAM.
Performance: Linus Tech Tips* In Search of the “Fastest Gaming PC Money Can Buy”
In one of their videos, the Linus Tech Tips* team embarks on a special project: To build the fastest-ever gaming PC that money can buy. The team had a specific goal: To achieve a score in the highest percentile offered by 3DMark, which is a computer benchmarking tool. They planned to do this using the most suitable components at their disposal, including an Intel® Core™ i9-9900K processor, dual ASUS ROG Strix* GeForce* RTX 2080 TIs, and an MSI MEG* Z390 Godlike motherboard.
Since the Linus Tech Tips* team intends to overclock every component to the best of their ability, they make sure there’s ample room between both graphics cards to breathe. They also choose to forego installing an additional hard drive cage in between the fans and the graphics cards in order to allow for maximal airflow between them, instead opting to install the hard drive close to the base of this system. This is incredibly important given that the system is completely air-cooled and overclocked graphics cards can get incredibly hot.
In pursuit of the greatest speeds these components can afford, they also go into the system’s BIOS and enable both XMP profiles and the SATA drive’s RAID/Optane mode. The former allows the user to defy the system’s standard specifications and enable the system’s RAM to reach higher clock speeds, while the latter increases data access speeds by storing frequently used data in a more accessible Optane Memory module.
Though the team doesn’t quite hit the score they were targeting on 3DMark, they also decide to test the performance of Shadow of the Tomb Raider* on “ultra” settings and at 4K resolution (though with no motion blur). At one point, the machine breaks 200 FPS and later reaches an average of 128 FPS over the course of their demo.7 8 9 Though they might not have broken the record they intended, they still managed to make a machine that demonstrates incredibly high performance.
Of course, the real joy in this video is watching Linus Sebastian enjoy the small details, like the ¼-inch audio jack on the motherboard or the chrome finish on the G.Skill Trident Z* Royal RAM sticks. Linus Tech Tips’* enthusiasm for piecing components together and troubleshooting problems is palpable, and it comes through in this build.
Whether they’re building expensive gaming PCs or pursuing more modest builds, the Linus Tech Tips* team approaches every project with the same amount of vigor — truly an attitude to admire and aspire to.
- Intel® Core™ i9-9900K processor
- MSI MEG* Z390 Godlike
- ASUS ROG* Strix* GeForce RTX 2080 TI (x2)
- 32GB G.Skill Trident Z* Royal RAM