Building a PC with the GTX 1080

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Get ready for the GTX 1080 era. The GIGABYTE GTX 1080 G1 is just one of many GTX 1080 models.

NVIDIA’s GTX 1080 is the most powerful graphics card currently on the market.

A single GTX 1080 is capable of achieving smooth game play on highest settings even at 4K resolution. When two cards are paired in SLI, even the most demanding games hit 60 frames at this resolution.

However, this raw power comes at a cost. The first round of 1080s were released as the “Founder’s Edition,” selling for $699 or more.

Now, we are finally starting to see aftermarket GTX 1080s coming out. They are expected to eventually hit the $599 range, once supply catches up with demand.

In anticipation of aftermarket GTX 1080s coming down to their suggested price, we’ve made a few example builds that will get the most out of their incredible power.

The Monstrous SLI Build ($4,050)

This build is based on our Monstrous tier. This places two of NVIDIA’s flagship GPUs in SLI and strives to achieve the maximum gaming performance money can buy. But this is not simply a gaming rig. This beast is capable of handling nearly any workload thrown at it.

GPU: 2x GIGABYTE GTX 1080 G1 ($650 each, or $1,300 for two in SLI)

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The GTX 1080 Founders Edition, with its $699 premium price, originally launched as the only GTX 1080 available. But we are slowly seeing more aftermarket versions released. Once supply is able to catch up with the crazy high demand, we expect these aftermarket models to sell for around $599. In terms of popularity and quality, the GIGABYTE G1 appears to be taking the early lead among aftermarket 1080s.

There is no way to achieve more graphical power for gaming than this configuration. Putting two in SLI allows for 60+ FPS at 4K resolution in nearly any game available today.

CPU: Intel i7-5960X ($1,000)

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With eight hyper-threaded cores and a standard clock speed of 3.0 GHz, this CPU has multi-threaded applications covered. It is astoundingly efficient and runs relatively cool, making it an easy chip to overclock. Overclocking the i7-5960X brings performance up to the i7-6700K in lightly threaded applications like modern games. In heavily threaded applications, only the 10 core i7-6950X offers more performance on a consumer platform.

As an alternative, there is the newer i7-6900K. But while it has a higher base clock of 3.2GHz, the 6900K suffers from poor efficiency and very little overclocking headroom compared to the 5960X. If you don’t plan to overclock very much, the 6900K is the better option.

HSF: Noctua NH-D15S ($85) or Corsair H115i ($110)

NH D15S   H115i

Noctua’s latest heatsink+fan is a juggernaut, both in size and in cooling capability. This HSF retains the exceptional build quality and the instantly recognizable (and slightly controversial) colour scheme pf the NH-D15 before it, but adds better memory and expansion slot clearance. If you prefer water-cooling, the Corsair H115i is a superb choice, offering top-of-the-line cooling for your CPU.

Motherboard: ASUS X99 Deluxe ($350)

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A theme in this build is a surplus of features for any desire or need, and the most important components for feature-sets is the motherboard. The X99 Deluxe USB 3.1 hits the nail on the head. Aesthetically elegant, it includes add-on cards for M.2, USB 3.1 or even more case or CPU fans. It also includes dual-band 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth V4.0. The motherboard suite is easy to navigate and makes it possible for even a novice to overclock without dumbing it down for the true enthusiasts.

RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 32GB DDR4-3000 ($190)

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32GB is more than enough RAM for most people. If you are reguarly working on huge amounts of data such as high resolution video editing, you may benefit from even more. DDR4-3000 offers a small speed improvement over lower speeds, without costing too much more.

SSD: 512GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2 ($320)

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One of the fastest SSDs on the market, taking advantage of M.2 PCIe speeds that blow SATA out of the water.

HDD: 6TB HGST ($250)

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Lots of storage space, with good reliability.

Power Supply: 1000W EVGA SuperNOVA P2 ($180)

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This 80+ platinum rated 1000W power supply from the reputable EVGA gives more than enough headroom to overclock your system to your heart’s content while providing plenty of juice for all of your components. In truth, you would also be OK with the 850W version ($130). 

Case: Cooler Master Cosmos II ($330)

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Large, heavy and packed with features and space, the Cosmos II has everything. 13 modular, toolless drive cages as well as two hotswap bays in the front, support for up to nine case fans with dedicated fan controllers for each section of the case, with four fans included. Car-door-like side panels and space for motherboards up to XL-ATX form factor.

The Realistic GTX 1080 Build ($1,650, Micro ATX)

OK, $4,000 for a PC is a lot. You may get the best hardware and ultimate performance, but it doesn’t come cheap. The following realistic build delivers performance that will max out all current games at anything below 4K resolution, and be playable even at 4K. This is an ideal build for VR. It has good upgrade potential, and is more compact.

GPU: GIGABYTE GTX 1080 G1 ($650)

A single GTX 1080 will still provide extreme performance and still allow you to play games at 4K on high graphical settings. You can’t get better in a single graphics card.

CPU: Intel i7-6700K ($350)

An unlocked i7 with moderate overclocking potential and excellent stock performance, especially for gaming. Gaming performance with the i7-6700K is even better than the much pricier 5960X used in our Monstrous SLI build unless the 5960X is overclocked.

HSF: Noctua NH-U14S ($70)

A high quality, high performance air-cooler, without breaking the bank.

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z170MX-Gaming 5 Micro ATX ($150)

A fully featured micro ATX Z170 board, this has 4 DIMM slots, SLI support and allows overclocking. All features that will future-proof your high-end build and provide logical upgrade paths.

RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3000 ($80)

16GB is still more than enough for most people, and this fast DDR4-3000 is affordable.

SSD: 240GB SanDisk Ultra II ($70)

A fast, affordable, reliable SSD. It will make everything load snappy.

HDD: 2TB HGST ($55)

2TB will fit a lot of games and photos, but if you want more space for high res photos or videos, feel free to get a larger drive. It will also be easy to add another drive in the future if you need more space.

Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA G2 750W 80+ Gold ($110)

Probably one of the best 750W power supplies currently on the market. It is excessive for a single GTX 1080, but it provides future-proofing for SLI, and the comfort of running with a low power load.

Case: Corsair Obsidian 350D Micro ATX ($110)

A simple, elegant case for high-performance micro ATX builds.

Wi-Fi card: TP-Link N900 ($40)

A solid, fast Wi-Fi card with good range. If you have an AC router, you can get even more speed by upgrading to the ASUS PCE-AC68 ($90).

For either build, you’re likely to want to get a couple more things:

  1. A copy of Windows. You may be able to get a free or inexpensive copy through your office or school. If not, we recommend Windows 10 on DVD ($90) or USB Flash Drive ($120).
  2. An optical drive, especially if you buy Windows on DVD. This is a good cheap DVD-RW ($21). Or, this blu-ray + DVD burner ($60).

We also have recommendations for:

If you want to see other builds that do the best they can with less expensive components, check out the main page at Logical Increments.

And there you have it! Those are just two ideas for builds incorporating the new GTX 1080s hitting the market. If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know in the comments.

  • No Name

    Wouldn’t you need a CPU cooler for the $1575 build?

    • Andreas Balslev

      Yes, you will need one for both builds.

    • Matthew Zehner

      Yes, you will! I will ask if we will add that to the list of parts in this guide.

  • Trrav

    Hi, I’m pretty new to this and was curious why you say the 5960X has as much performance as the 6700K in lightly threaded applications? There is a big price difference between the two cards and just was curious what all do we get for paying the extra amount for the 5960X.

    • Matthew Zehner

      By paying the extra amount you get better performance in more heavily threaded and multi-threaded applications, though it doesn’t really affect those that are single and lightly threaded.

      • Trrav

        Thanks for the answer! I was curious, what about running multiple single and lightly threaded applications? Would the 5960X be better in that case?

        • Matthew Zehner

          If you had a lot up then the 5960X would likely be better, but only marginally so. They should have pretty similar performance.

  • Serathis

    GTX 1060 vs RX 480, go!

  • whoishe

    Would the NH-U14S even fit in the 350D? Corsair’s website says the maximum HSF height in the case is 160mm, but the Noctua is 165mm tall…

    • Matthew Zehner

      Thanks for pointing that out! I will be sure to ask our team who wrote the article.