Run Alan Wake 2 At Max Setting With This Under $2,500 Gaming PC Build Guide
Alan Wake 2 is just on the horizon, and its bone-crushing recommended spec sheet doesn't so much recommend powerful hardware as much as it does demand it. Even the minimum requirements to run the game call for pretty midrange GPUs, and that's just to play at 1080p and 30 FPS with DLSS or FSR enabled. The recommended specs for playing the game at 4K with the settings maxed out are even more extreme, though perhaps not as extreme as you might expect—you can build a PC capable of running the game for just shy of $2,500.
Technically speaking, since the spec sheet calls for a GeForce RTX 4080, a Ryzen 7 3700X (yes, a 3700X in 2023), and 16GB of RAM, $2,500 would be far more than necessary for this kind of build. However, it would make very little sense to pair a GeForce RTX 4080 with a Ryzen 7 3700X (or even a Ryzen 7 5700X) and 16GB of RAM, so this guide will outline a sensible build based around the RTX 4080 and Ryzen 7000 series.
It's not necessary to follow this build guide to the letter, but before you swap out one component for another (particularly the CPU and GPU), it's important to understand why these components are good for a PC geared towards power efficiency. Also, keep in mind that prices can fluctuate from component to component; you might need to find an alternative part in order to fit in the budget if one or two parts go up in price.
The CPU - The Best Overall Gaming CPU TodayFrom the spec sheet, we get the sense that running this game at 60 FPS isn't very difficult for the CPU, which is the case for most games. In fact, even a lower-end or midrange CPU can run many AAA games just fine if you're only trying for 60 FPS, but there's really no reason to do that when you have an RTX 4080. Today, the best overall gaming CPU with the most consistently good performance is AMD's Ryzen 7 7800X3D, which is actually going for a fairly midrange price of $369.
In our review of the 7800X3D, it topped the charts in every game but one, and even then it was just shy of a victory in that single game too. At least today, there's no such thing as a CPU that wins in every game, but the 7800X3D gets incredibly close. Sure, the Ryzen 9 7950X and 7950X3D are also great gaming CPUs, and the 7950X3D even has the same 3D V-Cache found in the 7800X3D, but the 7800X3D is the most consistent and also costs much less.
The CPU Cooler - Top-End Performance For A Low-End PriceWhat's great about today's hardware options is that the 7800X3D is both the fastest and most efficient CPU, and since it sips power we really don't need anything fancy to cool it. But if that wasn't good enough, we also live in the age of unbelievably cheap and performant Thermalright coolers, and the company's Peerless Assassin 120 SE is the obvious choice for this build. You'll probably never hear this thing run, that's how quiet it will probably be.
The Motherboard - A Board You Can Keep Going For Generations To ComeThe gifts of going with the 7800X3D keep on giving, since it means you'll be using an AM5 socket motherboard, and the great thing about AM5 is that it'll be supported for a while. Normally, Intel's sockets get two generations of support, but it's looking likely AM5 will have three generations. Its predecessor AM4 actually supported four generations of CPUs, and perhaps we might see that repeated on AM5 too. You don't need a crazy motherboard for this build thankfully, and a good upper midrange option is MSI's MAG X670E Tomahawk WIFI.
There are two main highlights on this motherboard. First is its support for a single PCIe 5.0 SSD plus three other PCIe 4.0 SSDs, which means you'll never be wanting for more or better storage. That said, I do recommend getting an active cooler for a PCIe 5.0 SSD. It also has a 14+2+1 stage VRM, which isn't quite top-end for Ryzen but should be able to handle higher power consuming CPUs (like a Ryzen 9) if you decided to move on from the 7800X3D. Other features on this board are good: there's lots of rear I/O, support for PCIe 5.0 GPUs (which don't exist yet), and you get WiFi 6E.
The Memory - Premium Without Costing A PremiumAlthough Alan Wake 2 only asks for 16GB of RAM, and it would probably run just fine with that amount, you really ought to be getting a 32GB kit of DDR5 like G.SKILL's Flare X5 Series. 32GB DDR5 kits are actually priced pretty reasonably, and fast kits like Flare X5 running at 6,000MHz and CL30 timings are going for about a $10 to $20 premium, which is definitely worth paying.
Fast RAM shouldn't help the 7800X3D a ton to provide faster gaming performance since RAM speed only matters when the CPU's cache doesn't have what it needs, forcing it to go to RAM. Plus the 7800X3D has a ton of cache. Still, there's really no reason not to get this kit of RAM since it's not that much more expensive than something a fair bit slower.
The Graphics Card - One Of The Best Ray Tracing Cards TodayPretty much every RTX 4080, no matter what company makes it, will perform about the same, with the only real differences coming from size, appearance, noise, and price. While the 4080 has an official MSRP of $1,199, we're actually seeing some cards priced at $1,099 pop up, like PNY's XLR8 Gaming VERTO EPIC-X RTX 4080. It's a standard triple slot, triple fan 4080 that should perform as well as any other card.
What's crucial about the 4080 is that it's great at ray tracing, hence why Alan Wake 2 developers likely recommended this card. To be clear, AMD cards are also good at ray tracing this generation, but while the RX 7900 XTX is a little faster than the 4080 with ray tracing disabled, the 4080 picks up the lead when it's on. Feel free to slot in a 7900 XT or XTX here, but the 4080 will probably perform better and look better thanks to DLSS 3.5.
The SSD - A Top-End PCIe 5.0 Drive For Gaming And MoreAgain, Alan Wake 2 doesn't ask for much in the storage department beyond an SSD and 90GB of free space, but with this build you should probably be getting the best, and one of today's best SSDs is Teamgroup's T-Force Cardea Z540 2TB. This is a second-generation PCIe 5.0 capable of 12GB/s reads and writes, and that's the best performance you can expect right now, though 14GB/s drives are on the way.
The thing is, this SSD gets really hot. If you want to sustain its great performance, you should probably get an active cooler for it. Teamgroup sells a standalone cooler, the T-Force Dark AirFlow I, which keeps the drive cool enough to perform at its peak indefinitely. That being said, if you're just going to be gaming on this PC, you can just stick with the X670E Tomhahawk's passive M.2 heatsink.
The Case - A Reliable Choice For PC GamingThe case here doesn't really matter too much as long as you have enough room for all the components and for future upgrades. Corsair's 5000D Airflow is a safe option here, since it's spacious and generally high quality. It's got the room for large GPUs like the RTX 4080, lots of fans, radiators for liquid coolers (if you want one in the future), and cable routing. If you don't like how dark the 5000D Airflow is, there's an RGB version that comes with three RGB fans for $179.99. You can also just use whatever case you want, as long as everything fits.
The Power Supply - Plenty Of Power For Components
As long as a power supply has enough power for your components (which you can calculate with PCPartPicker), some PSUs are better than others when it comes to price, noise, protections, and warranty. Corsair's RM850e (2023) is another safe choice for this build since it strikes a good balance for all these aspects, and it provides more than enough power (850 watts) for the 7800X3D and 4080. It also has a native 12VHPWR cable for the 4080, which means you don't need to use an adapter.
You can choose a different PSU if you want since they don't directly impact performance or features, but avoid non-established brands. Because the PSU is so important and supplies your PC with hundreds of watts of power, you want one that's at least backed by a warranty from a trustworthy company, and even more importantly, one that's well built. Corsair ranks pretty highly in this regard, but you can shop around for better deals from EVGA, Seasonic, and Thermaltake. Companies like ASUS and MSI, more known for motherboards and GPUs, also make power supplies.
At least at the time of writing, all of these components total just under $2500, which is honestly not that bad considering this build sports some pretty top-end hardware. Even at the highest-end of PC gaming, you can still find great deals and ways to get the same gaming experience for much less.
|Slot||Product Name||Amazon Price|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D||$369.00|
|CPU Cooler||Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE||$34.90|
|Motherboard||MSI MAG X670E TOMAHAWK WIFI||$299.95|
|Memory||G.SKILL Flare X5 Series DDR5-6000 CL30||$102.99|
|Graphics Card||PNY XLR8 Gaming VERTO Epic-X RTX 4080||$1099.99|
|Storage||Teamgroup T-FORCE Cardea Z540 2TB||$259.99|
|Case||Corsair 5000D Airflow||$154.99|
|Power Supply||Corsair RM850e (2023) 80 Plus Gold||$119.99|
This build won't merely meet the requirements for Alan Wake 2 at max settings, it should plow right through them. And if you want or need to upgrade down the road, you have a very nice upgrade path thanks to the AM5 socket's promised longevity, having PCIe 5.0 GPU support on the x16 slot, and the PSU's generous power budget.