The day the crate arrived, everything changed.
I guess I should explain myself a bit before I start this review. I took a four year course in Information Technology specializing in repairing computer hardware and have worked in computer related positions for the past ten years. I’ve been more or less on the pulse of the PC hardware scene for a while now. For a very long time, the rule of thumb was “always buy and build your own rig, avoid pre-builds”. This was due to the relative and increasing simplicity of building computers, far more customization options, and the ease of obtaining parts. Why would you pay someone to do it for you? It was my longest thought process, until the plague struck. Suddenly, between PC enthusiasts getting stimulus money they were dying to burn, electrical component shortages, and the “Scalp-ocalypse,” PC component scarcity was at an all-time high, in especially GPUs.
It’s no exaggeration to say that for most of 2021, you could buy a new 3080 TI for the same price as a used car. For PC gamers, getting their hands on the parts of a decent gaming rig without selling an organ to scalpers was an economic and logistical nightmare. I had gotten lucky and upgraded my PC just before the pandemic, so I was able to watch the news reports about how hard it was to source components from a comfortable distance, glad I avoided the great drought. That was my mindset when I heard we were getting a pre-built PC for the very nice people at CLX Gaming to review. CLX offers both off-the-shelf machines on a range of different specifications and configurations, as well as bespoke offerings, allowing you to choose from a surprisingly comprehensive list of options and features.
When CLX contacted us for a review, we very generously chose one of their ready-to-ship or custom-configured computers as a loaner review unit. The CLX team picked one of their pre-builds for us when we expressed interest in high-end gaming, Twitch streaming, video editing, and 3D modeling to test, which resulted in a link to the CLX RA. We got confirmation of PC secession and shipping details. The process of ordering the computer and getting it delivered went perfectly, with a big thank you to the Max Borges agency reps and our local guy from UPS who is still in pain and had to drop off our monolith of four -twenty pounds.
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To be completely honest, I wasn’t convinced these deals were going to be real until I heard my dog crying in the window, only to look outside and see him in our driveway. It comes in a fantastic package, shielded for transportation in a sturdy wooden crate and foam packed both outside and inside the PC case behind the glass panel, thus avoiding damage the graphics card and the AIO in the event of a transport accident. Once out of its plywood sarcophagus, my brain immediately kicked into gear realizing what was in front of me. We started giving the PC a quick look. The first thing I noticed was that the RTX 3090 was a Founders Edition model in the graphics card slot, and after triple checking to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, I was able to confirm that not only was it real, but it was beautiful. My own PC build is using an RTX 2070 Super which had what I thought was a more than adequate 8GB of VRAM, which never gave me a problem on all but the latest games. The 3090 with 24 GB of vram changed all that, but more on that later.
There is a custom flame decal on Lian-Li’s dynamic 011 case on the glass side panel. It felt a little too much out of the box, but it really pushed me as I ran my tests on the rig itself, catching the glow of the remote-controlled LED lights in the corner. to my eyes, almost giving it a “fake hotel fireplace” kind of charm. oh man she didn’t disappoint Another fun fact about yours truly I’m what I like to consider a “messy perfectionist” because I will gladly sacrificing tertiary factors like human comfort and any kind of emergency savings for optimal performance of my electronic devices.
The next thing that jumped out at me looking through the case was how sized everything was. The custom case fits snugly around the motherboard and graphics card, leaving just enough room for any future expansion, but still being snug enough to promote better airflow through the case’s main bay with the 10 Absolutely overkill RGB fans. Another small mention, but the cable management was spotless, with all the wires zipped together and out of the way. The debate over how big of a thermal difference poor cable management creates will undoubtedly survive me, but it goes a long way toward making any computer look crisp and clean.
I’m also very picky when it comes to game performance, as I’ll usually store a game I’m having graphical issues with until I upgrade the hardware rather than turning off my graphics settings. like a peasant. So, suffice it to say, there are a handful of games that I basically haven’t touched despite being pretty high on my endless to-do list. (Soon Metro Exodus, I promise I’ll be back for you!) The 3090 was the solution I didn’t know I needed. It’s absolutely destroy everything we threw at it. Shadow of the Tomb Raider? Maximum settings, locked 144hz at 1440p. Hitman 3? Maximum settings, locked 144hz at 1440p. Quake 2 RTX? Locked. Eternal destiny? Locked. Crysis remake on the famous uncapped “can it run” Crysis” settings? PC asked back “did I stutter?” Damn, I even threw star citizen to her, just to see what would happen. 144hz locked. Control? locked in with all that beautiful Ray Tracing we’ve come to expect.
Thinking I could trip this beast with modern benchmark games was as futile as thinking I could derail a freight train with a penny. To its credit, the ONLY game that could crush the beast was Cyberpunk 2077and even with that it never dropped below 40 FPS with all settings on Psycho (this being with DLSS OFF because I wanted to see what it would take to choke that thing out) but I blame performance more on poor optimization of the game itself more than any flaw in the platform.
To test the video editing and streaming capabilities, we asked for a high-end processor. The answer was the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, an absolutely overkill 16-core processor, along with 32GB of DDR4 from G.SKILL Trident Z Neo. On top of all that rendering power, the aforementioned looper on an Nvidia 3090 graphics card had 25GB of GDDR6X under the hood, which could very well be this whole rig’s secret weapon. We were completely unprepared, without even any 4K resolution video to attempt to edit with. As for Adobe Premiere Pro (the program that led us to choose the AMD processor in the first place), these components allowed render times and screen sharing to happen with ease and crisp bitrates.
Even just sharing 1080p or 60fps gameplay in a Discord call, with webcams running, didn’t affect game stability at all. Local ISP that provides a 1 Gbps fiber optic internet connection for which we installed a cable directly to my desk. Combined with 4TB of cold storage and OS storage, an entire Terabyte MVMe M.2 SSD, it’s clear that this machine seems less aimed at an avid content creator and more aimed at a Pixar animator or one of Marques Brownlee’s staff compiling 8K source video.
I’ve seen what the bleeding edge can do, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back. But one of the things that slowly crept over me as I ran all of this was how right it all was. work. Right out of the box I had no issues with crashes or misconfigurations, we just plugged everything in, ran driver updates and that was it. The whole process took about 10 minutes and required absolutely no technical skills or knowledge to operate. Plus, with all the custom configuration options CLX gives you for its system builder tools, it’s safe to say that anyone who wants the latest high-end PC, you can get one now without ever touching a screwdriver. The CLX RA is a fantastic platform that presents the benchmark for everything from running the most advanced games to graphic design, video editing and rendering. Although absolutely overkill for most people’s daily driver, if you need to crush a project you’re working on, look no further.
My aforementioned home PC with the 2070 GPU doesn’t even come close to the power of this device, and I actively try to refresh components as often as possible. The catch is that this unit is valued at $5123 on the CLX website, and although an enthusiast like me, or maybe even you, can go to PC Parts Picker and find these components for less or MSRP, what you pay for is build quality, high end service, and ease of use, because a purchase even comes with repairs and services available on your components. The biggest advantage of CLX is the versatility of these versions. Just because we reviewed the high-end, maximum-overdrive PC they had available, doesn’t mean that this PC shop doesn’t have builds available for regular consumers. The CLX RA has great components even at a competitive price of $1789, and there are more available as well. The user interface of the website is simple and offers clear lists of components with extensive customization and concise information so that even a newbie can purchase their own customized version.