You’ve climbed up pretty far in the ranks. With the best gaming PC build under $1500, which we’ve affectionately named the Fifteenth-Hour Superpower, you’ll enjoy the highest end of gaming, productivity and content production.
Let’s jump in.
Our Requirements For The $1500 Gaming PC
Since we’re building a PC at such a high price range, it’s important that we don’t compromise on any form of power. This build is made to provide the best possible gaming, streaming, rendering and encoding experience at this price range.
The Fifteenth-Hour Superpower was made with the following requirements in mind:
Incredible streaming/rendering performance. Now that you’re finally in this price range, you can start investing in incredible PCs that can do anything you throw at them. While i5s offer acceptable streaming and rendering performances for hobbyists, true enthusiasts and professionals need the high-end hardware capable of managing raw video and other productivity tasks as fast as possible.
Best-in-class gaming performance. You can get some of the best gaming performance on the market at lower price ranges, to be fair, but once you’re spending this much there’s no excuse not to have the best hardware on the market.
Fortunately, we managed to fit it all in. The i7-7700k won’t cause CPU bottlenecking in any modern titles, while the GTX 1080 is the second-best GPU on the market, beat only by its recent successor the GTX 1080 Ti.
The GTX 1080’s level of performance is the best of our builds so far. Offering up to 60 FPS at 4K and easily maxing out games at 1440p/1080p with even higher framerates, this card is a powerhouse in every sense of the word.
The extra muscle ensures that it’s perfect for VR gaming, too. It operates well below the minimum spec developers target and therefore minimizes stutters, a known cause of nausea in VR gaming.
Room to step into an even higher echelon. While you’re on the high end, you aren’t quite at the top of the top tier yet. You still have some climbing to do. These steps up include the 1080 Ti, liquid cooling, VR headsets, and more...
Components of The Fifteenth-Hour Superpower Update:
Corsair Hydro H75 Liquid Cooler
An easy-to-use liquid cpu cooler that’ll allow you to make the most of your CPU.
ADATA SU800 M.2 256 GB SSD
A great Solid-state drive that’ll hold your operating system and ensure you have amazing loading times and user experience.
Hitachi Ultrastar 7K3000 2TB 7200RPM HDD
This 2TB hard drive will be more than enough to hold all the games and media you need, but won’t be as fast as your SSD.
Corsair CSM 750W 80+ Gold-Certified Semi-Modular PSU
A great high-end power supply from our friends at Corsair.
MSI Z270-A PRO ATX Motherboard
A Z270 motherboard that unlocks overclocking capabilities and has plenty of extra features on top of it.
NZXT Phantom 240
A great white case with plenty of room to build, great airflow and a sleek aesthetic.
Estimated $1472.55 at Amazon
(Price are accurate as of February 9, 2018)
The Fifteenth-Hour Superpower was designed to bring out all the computing power you’ll conceivably need to beast out games at the highest resolutions and provide silky-smooth streaming/rendering performance.
This is the best 1500 dollar gaming desktop that you can get right now, and we’re going to walk you through every component we selected and why.
The Intel i7-7700K offers the biggest upgrade over the previous builds, thanks to its hyperthreaded cores. While it won’t offer much in the way of extra gaming performance, it will thrash streaming and rendering in a way that its younger brother (the i5) could simply never hope to.
If you’re serious about video production, game streaming and other high-end productivity tasks, the i7 is too good to go without.
The Corsair Hydro H75 is a great closed-loop liquid cpu cooler and should give you plenty of room to overclock your CPU. It’s very easy to use and setup, and is a fine introduction to liquid cooling for your CPU. If you think you’re ready for something a bit more intensive, you can also opt for a liquid cooler with a larger radiator (trust me, the case has plenty of room for that), but that will raise the price of the build.
The GTX 1080 in this build can finally push 4K 60FPS in the right games, with 1440p, 1080p and VR all falling to their knees in front of this king of graphics cards. While there is an even higher level of graphical performance out there, the GeForce GTX 1080 will likely destroy anything you throw at it in the foreseeable future.
Additionally, Gigabyte makes GPUs with great overall build quality and has pretty good customer service. That, combined with the pricing of this particular 1080, makes it a great pick.
Crucial is a pretty good RAM manufacturer, and their Ballistix series doesn’t break that trend. The16GB memory kit featured in this build will offer more RAM than you would ever need for multitasking, streaming and productivity.
It comes in at a nice 2666 Mhz clock, too, for performance junkies. It won’t make a huge difference in games, but it may help in streaming and productivity scenarios.
The ADATA SU800 M.2 SSD is a pretty great offering, due to both storage and sheer speed. With 256 GB of solid-state storage, you’ll have all the room you need to hold your operating system, favorite programs and a few of your favorite games. The Solid state drive will make your loading times practically non-existent, which is great for both launching your PC and getting into your games faster than ever.
Hitachi makes some pretty solid hard drives, and this 2TB drive is no different. It’ll give you plenty of supplemental storage in addition to your SSD- we recommend storing all of your media and most of your single-player titles on this drive, while leaving your multiplayer games on your SSD.
The Corsair CSM 750W 80+ Gold-Certified Semi-Modular PSU will offer all of the power you need for this build and more. Plus, due to its Gold certification, it’ll have great power efficiency and hopefully save you a little bit on your electricity. The Semi-Modularity will also contribute to a much easier building experience and cable management.
The motherboard is also one of those components that you don’t want to skimp out on, for risk of starting a fire or bricking your PC.
In this case, we also have to opt for a high-quality Z270 motherboard to unlock the ability to overclock in the i7-7700K CPU and use higher memory frequencies. MSI makes very solid, feature-rich motherboards on top of that.
The MSI Z270-A PRO ATX Motherboard is a fine choice for this reason, key features and price tag.
NZXT makes some incredibly well-built, aesthetically pleasing cases. For this reason, the NZXT Phantom 240 is a favorite for many builders and should provide all the style, airflow and expandability you’ll ever need inside your PC. Plus, the generous side window will give a pretty nice look at your components!
We mentioned in the requirements section that you could climb to an even higher tier with this build. Here are our recommended upgrades if you want to take the Fifteenth-Hour Superpower to the next level!
Note: These will raise the price of the build!
From the same series as the SSD included in the original build, the Crucial MX300 1TB SSD offers the same great performance with nearly half the storage space. This is mainly for you folks who want a lot of your games to have great loading times and aren’t satisfied by only 500GB or so of fast storage.
Even with this, though, we highly recommend against storing media files on this drive, since you won’t get much returns from those. Raw video and other media files are also less ideal on SSDs, too, since they take up a lot more space and may wear down the drive faster.
The GTX 1080 Ti is, by all accounts, overkill. It can push most games at 4K/60 FPS without breaking a sweat, and when playing other titles at lower resolutions, it can go well over.
Effectively, you’re looking at a 20 FPS boost in most titles from the 1080 Ti to the 1080.
If you want to go a bit above the best gaming PC build under $1500 and future-proof a bit, the 1080 Ti may be the answer you’re looking for. Just keep in mind that performance bump comes at quite the price premium.
NOTE: This card was review-brigaded on Amazon by people upset about its price. No verified purchasers have complained about the card, and its price is now in line with other 1080 Tis. Don’t fret!
If you’re overclocking your CPU or GPU, you’ll definitely want a better PSU. This 1000W PSU goes well over the power demands of this rig, and offers you plenty of flex room for upgrades in the future.
Additionally, its nature as a gold-certified EVGA PSU means you’ll enjoy great build quality, customer service, and a lower electric bill!
Don’t overclock without the extra PSU punch, though- that’s risking your whole rig.
VR capabilities have been a part of our builds for quite a while leading up this price point, but now they go from “capabilities” to “afterthoughts”.
No VR title will stand a chance against your i7/GTX 1080 combo. If you opt to invest in a VR headset, you can enjoy the smoothest, most immersive gaming experiences the world has to offer.
OS Options and Recommended Peripherals
Since you’re buying the best $1500 PC build, you might already have your OS and peripherals from your old PC. If you don’t, however, we’ve written up this section to help point you toward what you need.
The Fifteenth-Hour Superpower is beyond powerful. It’s one of the most powerful builds we offer here on The Great Setup and, for most users, it goes well beyond any sort of practicality.
Consoles weep at the mention of it. Your old PC is already jealous.
However, before the Fifteenth-Hour Superpower can show its worth, it needs an operating system. For the best gaming and general compatibility, you’ll need to buy Windows 10.
If you can’t afford Windows 10, however, you may need to go with a free Linux distribution until you can. As far as those go, we recommend Ubuntu or Mint as the most well-supported and easy-to-use Linux distros.
These will still be very hard to use and setup for most Windows-adjusted users, though.
Once you’ve chosen your OS, you’ll want to install it via USB. We’ll dive more into that in a later section.
When someone says “peripherals”, these are the first that come to mind. They’re your main form of input, and you need them to use your PC!
Most will have at least a few laying around the house, but here are a few recommendations in case you don’t.
For Starters: ($15)
For an affordable choice, go with the Logitech MK120 Kit. It’ll do everything you need it to do as a basic mouse and keyboard.
Buying this, however, can mean missing out on the benefits of high-end hardware.
Only go with these if you don’t have any other option. To be honest, you may want to consider going to one of our lower-priced builds if you’re struggling to afford your peripherals and display.
For Advanced Users: ($100)
The Logitech G502 is one of the highest-rated gaming mice on the market, and for a good reason. Even now, years after its initial release, it has one of the best optical sensors on the market!
In addition to raw sensory capabilities, the G502 has excellent build quality and can be customized through either its included weights or Logitech mouse software. For a truly high-end mouse, look no further.
The Redragon K551 has a lot to prove. It’s a cheap mechanical keyboard from a lesser-known manufacturer, which would normally indicate low quality.
However, the K551 proves its naysayers wrong by offering a genuinely great mechanical keyboard for around half the price of what you would pay for other big names. For this reason, we highly recommend this one.
If you have an unused monitor or HDTV laying around, you can probably use that first. If you don’t have any displays, though, here’s our recommendations for some great 1080p displays!
For Starters: ($100)
The Asus VH238H is the cheapest 1080p monitor we’re willing to recommend with a gaming build. Fortunately, it can offer all the prettiness one would expect from an HD display and a respectable 23-inch size.
Although it has a low response time, it is still perfectly suitable for gaming…but we really recommend getting a better monitor to suit your build.
For Advanced Users: ($180+)
Since you’ll be pushing games well above 60fps at max settings with this build, we recommend you don’t buy anything less than a 144hz monitor or a 4K display. There’s no point in pushing all of those extra frames if you don’t have the extra resolution or refresh rate to justify the GPU power.
The Acer GN246HL offers entry-level 144Hz at a respectable price point. Use this if you want to enjoy 144Hz without any compromises on quality.
Acer XF240H is priced a little higher, but includes extra comfort/adjustment features for the trouble. This is a great 144hz monitor, too, and should serve you well alongside your Fifteenth-Hour Superpower.
Sound design is a huge part of gaming. Failing to invest in good sound hardware can leave you at both a tactical and entertainment disadvantage.
Don’t use crappy monitor speakers or earbuds- buy one or both of these for your PC audio!
The Logitech Z130 Speakers is a cheap set of speakers that gives you all you really need to get started. While paying for surround sound or a subwoofer may cost you extra, this is a fine starting point for those of you who don’t want to spend too much for a set of speakers.
If you’re serious about competitive gaming and streaming, don’t settle for anything less than this 25-foot ethernet cable from Amazon. Ethernet cables offer the best performance and reliability for gaming and other network-intensive, latency-sensitive tasks.
If you haven’t built a PC before, here are a few tips for assembling the Fifteenth-Hour Superpower.
Invest In Antistatic Equipment
To prevent static discharge from ruining your components, an anti-static wristband is an absolute must. You can also use an anti-static mat to rest your components on before you mount them. By properly setting up anti-static equipment, you don’t need to worry about zapping your stuff.
Watch Building Guides
This video guide will walk you step-by-step through the PC building process. Supplement it with the instruction manuals included with your components, and you should be fine.
Install OS Via USB
If you have a 4GB+ USB stick laying around, congratulations: you can save some money and space by just installing your OS via USB. Use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to create a Windows installation USB stick. UNetbootin or Rufus can be used to do the same with a Linux distribution.
The Fifteenth-Hour Superpower is our best gaming PC build under $1500.
Games at the highest of frames and resolutions, streaming, rendering and encoding without a breaking a sweat- with the power inside it, nothing can stand in your way.
It’s all in your hands now.