$2500 Intel Core i9-10900K & RTX 2080Ti Gaming PC Build
In this article we present the ultimate build for gamers with the new Intel Comet Lake i9 10900K & the high-performance graphics card Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080Ti.
Considering the high-performance hardware inside this build the price seems actually quite fair.
We achieved this by saving some money on useless features that are too expensive.
For example, we could have chosen water cooling for the i9 10900K. But water-cooling is very expensive, not as long-lasting as air cooling, and ultimately not that much more efficient as air-cooling.
In the worst case the water-cooling setup can fail and sersiously damage or even destroy your CPU.
In the case of the i9 10900K this would be a 500$ mistake.
That’s why we chose an air-cooling setup over a water-cooling setup.
More money was saved by not going with an Nvidia Titan RTX. Compared to the RTX 2080Ti the Titan RTX does not offer that much more performance for gamers.
Especially when you take price into account, the more than double price of the Titan RTX vs the Nvidia RTX 2080Ti seems pretty crazy.
When Intel presents a new CPU generation, it is something very special.
Because the technology giant does not spill. Usually. In the test lab we extensively maltreated the king of the new CPU generation – the Intel Core i9-10900K.
Intel introduced no less than 32 new processors for the 10th generation of its desktop CPUs on April 30, 2020 – from the Celeron G5900 to the Core i9-10900K there should be something for everyone.
We have reported in detail about Intel’s new processors 2020.
The list of innovations is lavish: 5.3 GHz Thermal Velocity Boost, Turbo Boost Max 3.0, DDR4-2933 support, WiFi 6 and 2.5 G Ethernet hardware implementation, to name just a few. But, not every processor has all features.
The i9-10900K was generously awarded the title “World’s fastest gaming processor” by Intel.
And Intel has substantiated this claim with various gaming benchmarks and also put aside a performance gain compared to a three year old PC system.
In the lab we basically measure the pure CPU performance, no benchmarks are used that include the graphics performance.
However, a Gen 10 gaming PC will surely soon be hitting us.
All in all, this 2500$ Gaming PC Build will be a state-of-the-art Gaming Machine that will perform to the highest level for the next 5 years, which makes it mega future-proof.
$2500 i9-10900K & RTX 2080 Ti Gaming PC Build – The Parts List
|CPU||Intel Core i9-10900K||$500|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-D15||$100|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero||$349|
|RAM||Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB||$155|
|GPU||GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2080 Ti||$1100|
|SSD||Samsung 970 EVO SSD 1TB – M.2 NVMe||$150|
|Case & Case Fans||Cooler Master MasterBox MB600L||$50|
CPU: Intel i9-10900K
With the new Core i9 10900K in the test, Intel follows AMD Ryzen and its own Core i9 9900K.
In order to set itself apart from the AMD competition, which has been ahead in terms of price-performance since the Ryzen 3000 generation at the latest, the number of cores and clock speed is being tightened.
The new processor costs a lot: In first price comparison lists the Core i9 10900K with ten cores is around 590 Dollar, the Core i9 9900K with eight cores costs around 540 Dollar.
AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X with twelve cores is already available for just under 450 Dollar.
Does this quite significant price difference between Intel and AMD also make itself felt in terms of performance?
Manufacturing and motherboard compatibility: In terms of manufacturing, Intel still relies on the 14-nm production used for the first time six years ago with Skylake (Core i 6000) for the Core i9 10900K, even if in an optimized form.
Coolers for the predecessor 1151 socket basically also fit the new – and absolutely necessary – mainboards for socket 1200, but especially in the case of the Core i9 10900K with a TDP of 125 watts, you should make sure before using a cooler that it is suitable for this CPU according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
As expected, the Core i9 10900K can place itself at the top of the entire processor test field in our gaming benchmarks. The advantage over the Core i9 9900K turns out very small, though.
Thanks to Thermal Velocity Boost, the 10900K usually reaches a high 4.9 GHz on all ten cores in our open test setup with the powerful Noctua NH-D15 cooler.
The temperatures under gaming load are in the range of 65 to 70 degrees.
The Core i9 10900K’s two additional cores in comparison to the 9900K make themselves clearly more noticeable in our application tests than in the gaming benchmarks.
Overall, the 10900K is thus the fastest CPU in the test field, also due to its high clock rates.
Many cores aren’t always exhausted: If an application scales very well with a high core count, as in the case of Cinebench R15, the Ryzen processors with more than ten cores can clearly distinguish themselves from the Core i9 10900K.
On the other hand, if the clock rate also plays a greater role, the Intel CPU is more likely to be just ahead.
Especially in the application benchmarks, which usually put the ten CPU cores under much more strain in comparison to games, one thing should also be considered:
The Intel CPU can only maintain its maximum clock rate for a very short time due to TDP limits.
Thus, in our test with Handbrake, only about the first 30 seconds 4.9 GHz are present on all cores, after which the value drops to about 4.4 to 4.5 GHz.
Basically, the same applies to the new top model from Intel as to the previous top models:
The high investment is only worthwhile if you absolutely want to use the fastest desktop CPU from Intel, especially since the purchase of a new mainboard is also mandatory.
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15
With the NH-D15S, Noctua doesn’t really offer a new cooler.
Instead, it’s practically a variant of the successful NH-D15 with improved PCIe and memory compatibility.
The asymmetrical design and the elimination of the second fan pave the way for this.
Our measurements show that the difference between single and dual fan operation is minimal in normal operation.
For many users, the NH-D15S should therefore be the better choice: they have fewer compatibility problems to fear, but hardly any loss of cooling performance.
And just in case, the NH-D15S also comes with a second pair of fan brackets.
The NH-D15’s high-compatibility version does not lose any of the original’s premium quality.
From the elaborately designed packaging, the perfectly crafted cooler and the always cultivated working fan to the extensive range of accessories, the NH-D15S also shows itself to be a premium product.
The unusually long warranty period of six years should also not be forgotten. Excluding semi-passive operation, the Noctua cooler is also extremely powerful.
Ultimately, Noctua’s NH-D15S is an all-round package for the demanding user.
The only thing that’s really unfortunate is that Noctua doesn’t use the elimination of the second fan for an even more significant reduction in purchase price.
Considering the value of the NF-A15 PWM fan, the NH-D15 actually has a slightly better price-performance ratio – even though the NH-D15S is a few Dollar cheaper to buy.
As a powerful dual-tower alternative, Cryorig’s R1 Ultimate is especially recommended.
The futuristic design is a matter of taste, but there is no doubt about the R1 Ultimate’s performance.
It’s not for nothing that we recommended this cooler in our Christmas guide.
Currently, however, the availability is a bit worse.
If you’re looking for a cooler for semi-passive operation (the only weakness of Noctua’s flagship models), the Thermalright Le Grand Macho, which we recently tested, is a good choice.
Discerning buyers can’t really go wrong with the Noctua NH-D15S – especially as the NH-D15’s already incredibly coherent overall package is now enhanced by better compatibility.
That’s why we’re also honouring the Noctua NH-D15S with our Excellent Hardware Award.
Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero Z490
Overview of Intel Comet Lake-S
The ASUS mainboard is based on the Z490 chipset and the LGA 1200 socket, which Intel introduced with the Comet Lake S series.
This is the tenth generation of desktop processors that are now starting on the market.
They are based on the Skylake architecture, i.e. they have a structure size of 14 nanometers.
Much has not changed with Comet Lake-S, but Intel now clocks the CPUs a bit higher and offers hyperthreading on almost all models.
The specified thermal power dissipation (TDP) of the processors with free multiplier, i.e. the K models, is 125 watts each.
This also applies to the Core i9-10900K, which is the most powerful CPU in the new series.
It offers ten cores and 20 threads and clocks up to 5.3 Gigahertz on two cores using the Thermal Velocity Boost – all cores simultaneously achieve 4.9 GHz.
Since the power consumption also tends to rise above the increased TDP with Comet Lake-S, the change to a new socket was necessary according to Intel.
Therefore, a new chipset had to be found – this is where the ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) comes in.
Design and features
The Maximus XII Hero belongs to the premium class of the new Z490 lineup.
In this country it is only subject to the Maximus XII Extreme and Maximus XII Formula, so the price is high at just under 430 Dollar.
While the ROG Maximus XI Hero (Test) still had silver accents, the successor is completely in matt black.
The Aura RGB lighting on the I/O cover and the chipset cooler provides nice lighting effects, but can also be deactivated at any time.
Speaking of coolers, the eight-layer motherboard has all kinds of coolers.
The voltage regulators (VRMs) and the transistors (MOSFETs) are covered by three heat sinks and a continuous heatpipe left, below and above the socket.
Near the upper right corner of the board, the included 40 millimeter fan can be optionally installed.
However, this should only be interesting for extreme overclockers. In a regular system with sufficient air circulation, it’s at least not necessary.
The cooling elements should counteract the increased heat development caused by the new TDP.
ASUS regulates the power supply with 14 + 2 phases and the MOSFETs are also designed for currents of up to 60 amps. For the CPU there is again an 8 + 4 pin connector.
Weaker processors below the Core i9-10900K should probably work stable with the 8-pin connector alone, especially the models without a free multiplier and with lower TDP.
However, we recommend using both connections for the top CPU.
By the way, the 8-pin connector has a metal sheath and the pins are reinforced to better handle higher currents.
Furthermore, additional metal heat sinks also cover the chipset near the right center of the mainboard and the three M.2 slots in total.
The latter all support the PCIe 3.0 interface with four lanes.
Whether the connectors are already compatible to PCIe 4.0 is not clear from the ASUS documents.
The Comet Lake S series doesn’t support them anyway, but the Z490 chipset will probably be able to use the newer standard with the next generation – that’s why other manufacturers are already building the necessary components into some of the motherboards that have just been launched.
Two of the M.2 slots are long enough for corresponding SSDs in the 22110 format and on the other M.2 slot, a maximum of SSDs with a length of 80 millimeters can be installed.
Only the topmost connector can be used at any time with the full bandwidth.
The middle one shares the bandwidth with the third PCIe slot and the bottom one with two SATA connectors.
RAID systems are possible and Intel Optane storage also supports the ASUS Maximus XII Hero.
To get to the upper two M.2 slots, seven screws have to be removed – this can take a bit more time than usual when assembling the system, but is not a serious shortcoming.
The upper two of the three large PCIe slots offer metal reinforcement and share the bandwidth of 16 lanes.
So multi-graphics card setups are possible.
There are also three small PCIe x1 slots.
For the internal connection of hard disks and SATA SSDs, the motherboard offers a total of six SATA ports, each with six gigabits per second (Gbit/s).
Good connectivity and SupremeFX audio
The first Ethernet port is connected to Intel’s internal network chip and has a maximum performance of 1 Gbps.
Again, the second port even achieves up to five Gbit/s thanks to a Marvell chip.
The mainboard also masters the current Wi-Fi 6 standard, since an Intel AX201 card is installed.
The included 2×2 antenna can be easily connected via the back. Bluetooth 5.1 is also on board.
Unfortunately, there is no Thunderbolt 3 port, but only a header, so that an additional expansion card is necessary.
In terms of audio, the latest version of ASUS’ SupremeFX is available.
Among other things, it offers automatic impedance detection for front and rear headphone outputs, 7.1 surround support and a DAC + AMP.
ASUS offers with the ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) a motherboard with many functions, which is well equipped for the Intel processors of the tenth generation.
Since the Z490 chipset doesn’t offer many innovations, the differences to the previous model unfortunately turn out slightly.
We consider the ample heat sinks and the three M.2 slots to be positive.
But the round overall package also has its price.
With a recommended retail price of around 430 Dollar, the motherboard is quite expensive, but this is also the case with other competitor models in this class.
For enthusiasts, the ASUS board certainly offers enough features, especially in terms of connections or connectivity.
Nevertheless, we would have liked to see a Thunderbolt 3 port or at least a USB port with up to 20 Gbit/s.
RAM: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB (2x16GB) 3200MHz
The Corsair memory kit is delivered in a simple but sturdy packaging.
Our test sample is available with either black or white heatspreader.
The aluminium heatspreader encloses almost the entire memory and ensures excellent heat dissipation due to its tight fit and high loop construction.
For the memory modules, Corsair uses Samsung B-Dies in single-rank design on a black PCB with eight layers.
We weren’t able to detect any processing defects in our test sample.
The Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO memories offer at least a two-year warranty.
Technology and overclocking
In addition to the very good cooling technology, Corsair’s engineers have also jumped on Intel XMP 2.0 profile support.
In terms of performance, there is nothing to criticize in our test sample:
The DDR4 kit ran stable on an ASUS ROG Maximus X Formula mainboard with the specified 3,200 MHz (CL16) at 1.35 Volt without any problems.
Overclocking is also possible: We were able to “whip” both bars to 3.400 MHz, whereby we only had to manually increase the power supply to 1.40 Volt. The latency remained unchanged at CL16.
RGB lighting and software
The LEDs can be controlled using either Corsair’s own iCUE software or the motherboard solutions MSI Mystic Light and Gigabyte RGB Fusion.
ASUS Aura is surprisingly not supported.
In the clearly arranged software, you can not only adjust the color and lighting modes of the LEDs, but also read out various information (temperature, clock rate, timings, etc.).
Another new feature is the “Game Integration”. If the game supports the iCUE-SDK, the Corsair RGB hardware acts as a kind of “ambient light”.
An example: If you are hit too often in the shooter Far Cry 5, the entire RGB lighting will glow red. A nice gimmick.
The new Vengeance RGB PRO from Corsair are currently the fastest RGB memories in our test field.
In addition to the decent performance and high compatibility, the stylish RGB lighting also speaks for our test kit.
The clearly arranged software (adjust RGB lighting, read out values and game support) as well as the not overly high heatspreaders round off the kit perfectly.
In short: Enthusiasts and RGB fans can access without hesitation!
Graphics Card (GPU): GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
It relies on the TU102 GPU in full configuration and gigabytes, the card delivers a slightly overclocked performance compared to the reference model.
Thus, the Aorus’ boost clock is 1.770 MHz, while the reference card’s clock frequency is given as 1.545 MHz and Nvidia’s own Founders Edition is given as 1.635 MHz.
For this reason, it delivers more performance than the competition we’ve tested so far, for example the Palit GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Dual with 11GByte GDDR6 VRAM.
However, the construction of the graphics cards is the same for the other elements – more than cooling and overclocking, board partners can’t influence gigabytes.
The basis remains the well-known Turing architecture. That’s why 4,352 shaders (“CUDA cores”) are responsible for the graphic calculations on the Gigabyte Aorus.
In addition, the memory bus of 352 bits with a corresponding transfer rate provides a bandwidth of 616 GBytes per second to fully utilize the 11 GByte GDDR6 VRAM.
Strong benchmark results show the impressive performance
The Gigabyte Aorus GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Xtreme Waterforce already sets the bar even higher than the previous leader – the Palit GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Dual – in the synthetic benchmarks like 3DMark.
This already achieves excellent 5,167 points in 3DMark Time Spy Extreme, while the Gigabyte graphics card clearly tops it with 5,428 points.
A similar picture can be seen in the gaming benchmarks, especially in the UHD resolution.
Because here the gigabyte is always a few frames per second ahead of the competition.
For example, in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, where the gigabyte reaches an average of 68 and the Palit 63 FPS.
The benchmark for GTA V is similar – here we measure 99 to 93 FPS in favor of the Gigabyte Aorus GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Xtreme Waterforce.
One of the reasons for purchasing an RTX graphic card is, apart from the performance, the two features DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) and raytracing.
However, these two options are only slowly becoming established in the gaming industry, so that the number of games that support them is still manageable.
The flagship game is probably still Battlefield V and Shadow of the Tom Raider also joins the ranks.
Otherwise, many development teams react rather cautiously to these two new technical possibilities.
Low temperatures, but not whisper quiet
Gigabyte has given its Aorus GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Xtreme Waterforce, as the name suggests, its own water cooling.
Nevertheless, the graphic card didn’t turn out to be a quiet pedal in our test.
For example, our measurements resulted in an average of 3.1 sone under full load in 3D mode – in comparison, the air-cooled Palit GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Dual achieved 2.8 sone in the same test run.
Both are acceptable values. In return, the Gigabyte Aorus is ahead in terms of temperature development.
We measured a maximum of 59 degrees Celsius thanks to the water cooling.
In return, water cooling and performance provide a high power consumption of 443 watts and thus one of the highest rates of our cards tested so far.
Because of the large buffer in the cooling performance, we played around a bit with the overclocking and accelerated the Waterforce again considerably:
We raised the base clock from 1.350 MHz to 1.506 MHz, the boost from 1.770 MHz to 1.928 MHz.
This brought us, for example, in Far Cry V in 4K resolution another 5 FPS on average, in The Division 2 at least another 3 FPS.
So if you like to experiment a bit and if efficiency isn’t that important to you, you can gain a noticeable performance gain here.
Despite water cooling, the Gigabyte Aorus GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Xtreme Waterforce occupies two slots in a desktop PC during installation.
This is because the fans included in the scope of delivery are, among other things, there to blow the warm exhaust air outside and have to be installed accordingly in the case.
After installation, three DisplayPorts in version 1.4, three HDMI 2.0b ports as well as a USB Type-C connection including VirtualLink are available.
These are sufficient connection possibilities for a multi-monitor setup or the connection to a VR headset.
In addition, parts of the graphics card as well as the fans are RGB-illuminated and can be configured using the Gigabyte Fusion software.
If you want to buy a real high-end graphics card, you don’t look at your wallet in the first place, but mainly at the performance and the equipment.
Here, the Gigabyte Aorus GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Xtreme Waterforce can score convincingly in the test – which doesn’t leave much for the competition.
However, so many features have their price: You can dig deep into your pocket with over 1.300 Dollar for this model.
Memory Storage (SSD): Samsung 970 EVO SSD 1TB (M.2 NVMe)
Samsung EVO 970 1TB: Plenty of space for data
Despite the very compact design, the SSD with M.2 interface Samsung 970 EVO 1 TByte offers plenty of storage space in this class.
After formatting, 931.5 GBytes are still available. The SSD has a 1,024 MByte cache for the intermediate storage of data.
Despite the high acquisition costs, the price-performance ratio turns out well. In this discipline, Samsung’s EVO version outstrips the test winner, the Samsung 970 PRO 1TB, and the smaller 970 PRO 512GB.
Whilst the PRO models have a comparatively expensive 40 cents per GB, the EVO only comes in at 30 cents per GB.
Samsung EVO 970 in review: SSD fleet
The Samsung 970 EVO 1TB not only impresses with its storage capacity, but also with its transfer rates.
When reading compressible data, such as documents, average values of 2,846 MByte/s are achieved and for non-compressible data, such as music, average values of 3,030 MByte/s are achieved.
When writing, the average values are 1,325 MByte/s for compressible data and 1,691 MByte/s for non-compressible data.
The Samsung 970 EVO plays in the upper league with these transfer rates.
However, it has to admit defeat to a few competitors in writing, but still ends up in the upper third of the best list.
The access times of 0.027 ms for reading and 0.021 ms for writing are in the midfield.
The IOPS – the input and output commands per second – are also in the middle test field.
However, since these are only differences in the microsecond range and the IOPS values are close together, the classification is negligible.
The 970 EVO SSD hard drive from Samsung shows great performance with plenty of storage space.
There are no major weaknesses to be seen in the M.2 SSD.
When writing data, the drive could be a bit faster – but this is criticism on a very high level. As this is a model with 1 TB of storage space, the price turns out quite fair.
Power Supply (PSU): GAMEMAX RGB750-Rainbow
In any case, one thing can be recorded right at the beginning:
Looking at the power supply for the computer for a few Dollar would definitely be saving at the wrong end.
Especially with the power supply you should definitely pay attention to a very good quality, because if you save at the wrong end, you risk a much faster wear and tear of other PC components.
- The most decisive point is of course the number of watts adapted to your computer. Neither too much nor too little wattage will do you any favours. Further information on this topic can be found in the practical tip “Power supply: how many watts for which PC?
- You should also consider the number of plugs and of course whether they are compatible with your PC components. Also of interest in this context are power supplies with cable management, where you can connect the cables you need yourself.
- If you work on your PC for a long time, you will certainly appreciate a quiet fan. So when you buy it, pay attention to how loud it can get.
- A separate on/off switch for the power supply is also a quality feature. Even if you have already switched off the computer, the power supply still draws power.
- If you are unsure which power supply is best for your PC, the power supply calculator from bequiet.com can be a good help. All you need to do is enter some information about the components of your computer, such as CPU, VGA and RAM, and you will receive suggestions.
The Gamemax RGB750 fulfills all points for a solid PSU and goes great with out i9 10900K & RTX 2080Ti Build.
Case & Case Fans: Cooler Master MasterBox MB600L
With the MasterBox family, Cooler Master wants to offer enclosures that are particularly convincing with their price/performance ratio.
The new MasterBox MB600L fits perfectly into this picture.
Whether the Midi Tower is offered at an entry-level price, it should also be suitable for water cooling.
Externally, the MasterBox MB600L is characterized above all by the matt plastic front.
Cooler Master does without larger form plays and only slightly bevels the edges of the front. Behind it, color accents in red, blue or gray at least provide a little variety.
The I/O panel provides two USB 3.0 ports and the jack connectors for a headset in the sloped transition between the front and lid.
The MasterBox BL600L is factory cooled by a single 120 mm fan in the rear.
However, up to three 120 mm fans or up to two 140 mm fans can be optionally retrofitted behind the front.
For the third 120 mm fan, however, the mounting option for an optical drive must be omitted.
This 5.25-inch drive slot is only available for models starting with the MCB-B600L-KA5N-S.
If necessary, the rear fan can make way for a 120 mm radiator. A large 280 or even 360 mm radiator can be installed behind the front.
The maximum height of the heat exchanger should be 5 cm (without fan).
The modern interior separates the mainboard chamber from the power supply and the two combined 2.5 and 3.5 inch drive slots.
It leaves room for up to 40 cm long graphics cards and up to 16 cm high processor coolers.
For cable management, there is space for 1.5 to 2.3 cm. Both the CPU cooler height and the cable management have to take some credit for the manageable case width.
Overall, the BL600L MasterBox measures 212 x 454.5 x 464 mm (W x H x D).
In our price comparison, the Cooler MasterBox MB600L is currently listed in the three color variants red, blue and gray.
In each case, it appears to be the variants with 5.25 inch drive space.
The price of the not yet available case is around 50 Dollar.
Conclusion: $2500 Intel Core i9-10900K & RTX 2080Ti Gaming PC Build
All in all, this $2500 i9-10900K & RTX 2080Ti Gaming Build is the dream machine of every gamer.
Not only will you be able to play games with highest graphics settings, but also do so for at least the next 3-5 years.
Yes, $2500 is not the cheapest, but for enthusiasts and everyday user it is well wort it.
And although the price seems to be very high for this Build, the price-performance ratio is excellent.
You get a state-of-the-art gaming machine that will perform on the highest level.