4K Gaming for Dummies: from $15,000 to budget

The picture above is of the crazy $40,000 (not joking) Samsung 85-inch UN85S9 4K Ultra HD TV running Tom Clancy’s The Division. It’s worth reading the (fake) reviews on Amazon, they are quite hilarious.

4K is a new standard which is higher resolution than standard HD, it has 3840 (horizontal) x 2160 (vertical) pixels. This extremely high resolution makes modern games look stunning, but also requires pretty serious hardware in order to run them well. Keep in mind, that 4K gaming was not possible at any budget last year, and now is. Also, prices will continue to fall on the hardware and displays able to run 4K games.

As a side note, neither the Xbox One or the PS4 come even close to being able to run anything complex at 4K resolution, in fact current games on the console have difficulty running at 1080p which is normal HD. For now, this relegates 4K gaming strictly to the realm of PC gamers.

Here is the minimum setup for playing today’s most demanding games at 4K resolution:

  • CPU – I would recommend an Intel Core-i7, the 4770k should run most of today’s games fine.
  • RAM – 8GB of RAM is a minimum, but go with 12GB to be safe.
  • Video Card – I would say a dual Nvidia GTX 780 Ti  setup is going to be very smooth. You can get by with just one, but your frame rate will be jerky in demanding situations.
  • Monitor – So there are a couple of options here. If you are on a strict budget then the Seiki 39-inch 4k TV is your best bet at a tad under $500. But any TV you use will only be able to give you 30 frames per second because of the limitations of HDMI 1.4 which is the input standard they all accept.  Your only option for full frame rate 4K gaming at the moment is Asus’s 32-inch 4K monitor which splits the signal over 2 cables.

$15,000 Setup

digital storm aventum ii

If you have money to burn, and need nothing but the best, then the combination of the Digital Storm Aventum II Level 4 and the Asus’s 32-inch PQ321Q 4K monitor is for you.  The Aventum II level 4 comes fully equipped with everything you would expect from a $9,861 (without many options) gaming system and more. It has 3 Nvidia 780 GTX Ti graphics cards, which collectively can render the most challenging games at 4K way above 60 frames per second.  It also has all the usual stuff you would expect in a ultra high end gaming PC such as a 6 core top of the line processor. The Asus monitor (as mentioned above) is the only 4K monitor or TV (at the moment) which will allow you to go above 30 frames per second.

The real magic here, and the reason you are paying so much for the Aventum is that it has an unbelievable custom liquid cooling system which has 2 benefits:

  1. All the components will always run at their full speed.  In a normal system with 3 extremely hot high speed video cards packed this tightly, the video cards will start to slow down to avoid overheating. But with the cooling inside the Aventum you have no such problem.
  2. Since the cooling is so extreme, you will be able to overclock your CPU and graphics cards significantly, thus getting even more performance out of them. Digital Storm claims to have Aventum’s normally running between 4.5ghz and 4.8ghz, that is up to 20% higher than stock performance for it’s high end CPU.

Not only is this cooling system utilitarian, but it is beautiful too. It’s copper pipes are nickel plated so it looks like a well tuned machine. In addition, the pump and reservoir used to store and circulate the liquid are of the highest grade.

Good luck getting your 4K gaming system up and running. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments.