What was once a simple Google search is now a PC worth thousands with the power to deliver incredible visuals at high frame rates. I am talking about my latest PC build for those who have not been following the discussions here on The Gamer Access. A machine powered by NVIDIA’s GTX 980 (soon to be SLI with two 980s) and Intel’s i7-5820K, has been born to take on the reality of 4K gaming and pushing titles such as the upcoming The Witcher 3 to incredible performance. If you have not already, I encourage you all to check out my review of MSI’s GTX 980 Gaming 4G card which is currently powering the graphics of my machine, but I also wanted to cover the many other components involved in making this experience a reality.
When building this machine, I wanted to make sure that I was adopting the latest iteration of processor technology, Intel’s X99 chipset. What I quickly found out was that transitioning to X99 was going to require the latest RAM technology known as DDR4. Prior, I was planning to just use the 16gb of DDR3 RAM I was already using, but they “go big or go home” right? The machine I have built is running 32gbs of Kingston’s latest HyperX FURY DDR4 memory that handles speeds of up to 2666MHz. Optimized for Intel’s X99 chipset, Kingston’s HyperX FURY DDR4 RAM scream high-end gaming from the moment you take the modules out of the packaging. Featuring heat spreaders with a hardcore styling, this line of RAM expands Kingston’s high performance line, HyperX and does so quite impressively. Out of the box, the memory runs at a speed of 2400MHz with an XMP profile set for up to 2666MHz for basic overclocking. With DDR4 RAM being the latest in RAM technology, many may consider 32gbs complete overkill for gaming purposes and while that may be the case now, if you are looking to build a PC for 4K gaming that is built for the future, 32gbs would not be a bad option.
The main mission I set out on when building my latest machine was speed and power. The two often go hand in hand, but one component that offers a substantial speed boost outside of the power department is the storage drive. I knew from the get go that I was going to utilize SSD technology. With the amount of data that was going to be used for high-end gaming, SSD was the only route worth considering and I wanted to make sure that I had enough storage to last me for a while. This lead to the integration of Kingston’s 960GB V310 Drive into my machine. Rated at 450MB/s sequential read and write speeds for compressible data, Kingston’s 960GB V310 Drive isn’t at the top in terms of speed, but as far as value, it’s quite hard to beat. Available at various online retailers for just a tad over $500, Kingston’s 960GB V310 offers incredible performance when it comes to price/performance for the dollar. I hate to use another cliché, but once you go SSD, there is really no going back. It truly enhances the gaming experience by a solid margin as when loading screens take no more than 2-3 seconds vs. 9-12 with a standard hard drive, the investment in SSD really does pay off. If you are building a new PC at any point from this moment forward, SSD is the way to go, even if you have to start with a lower sized drive such as 256GB.
One aspect of putting together a high-end PC gaming setup that I know a large majority of users don’t put much focus on is cabling. Most gamers will run to their local retailer or head online and purchase the most affordable HDMI cable they can possibly find. The problem with doing this with high performance gaming in 4K is while the picture will still reach your display and still look great, the amount of data involved in transmitting 4K from a PC to a display is quite intense. After much research, I decided on the route of the trusted cable brand, Monster. I am currently using their latest Black Platinum Ultimate High Speed technology, which even includes performance indicators on the ends of the cable that display the resolution being transmitted to your display. Rated at 27Gbps, this line of HDMI cables surpasses the need for current high-end 4K PC gaming, but also prepares for the future at such a high rated speed. These cables also come with Monster’s Cable for Life program so if technology ever outpaces the technology, Monster will replace the cable, free of charge. It’s an investment, but also ensures the full quality of video is transmitted from your PC to your display with no loss.
Continuing on the hardware involved to make all of this happen, as many of you know, we have been more active on Twitch streaming not only console titles, but also PC releases. Because of this I wanted to make sure that I found a headset that was budget friendly, but also delivered great audio not only for me, but provided a great mic for when I’m broadcasting live on Twitch. I came across Kingston HyperX Cloud II headset targeted specifically at gamers. Available at many retailers just under the $100 price point at $99.99, I was amazed by the quality and clarity of audio at such a bargain price. Of course the headset isn’t wireless and doesn’t deliver the highs and lows of a headset 3x-4x its price, but for under $100, this may be the best gaming headset I’ve ever used. It’s extremely comfortable, has external headphone and mic controls, and delivers great audio quality in both its speakers and microphone. If you have $300-$400 to spend on a gaming headset, there are certainly better performers out there, but if you have a budget, I would highly recommend the Kingston HyperX Cloud II headset.
So this is just a taste of what’s been involved in making this 4K gaming experience a reality. This is really only the beginning, as I will be purchasing a large 4K television during the summer and really take my gaming experience to the next level then, but many components are to thank for making this happen. As mentioned at the beginning, if you have not already, please check out my review of MSI’s GTX 980 Gaming 4G where I dig deep into the video performance and overall build of the card powering my machine. Thank you all for reading and expect more coverage of my 4K gaming experience, when the television comes into play!