Everything changed the day the box arrived.
I think I should explain myself a bit before we start this review. I did a four year course in Information Technologies, specializing in hardware repair and have been working in computer jobs for ten years. I’ve been more or less at the pulse of the PC hardware scene for a while now. For a long time, the rule of thumb was, “Always buy and build your own rig, avoid stems.” This was due to the relative and increasing simplicity of computer building, far more customization options, and ease of sourcing parts. Why should you pay someone to do it for you? That was my train of thought for the longest time, until the plague struck. Suddenly, PC component shortages between PC enthusiasts getting stimulus funds they were dying to burn, shortages of electrical components, and the “scalp ocalypse” were at an all-time high, especially for GPUs.
It’s no exaggeration to say you could buy a new 3080 TI for the same price as a used one for most of 2021. For PC gamers, getting the parts for a decent gaming rig without selling an organ to scalpers was an economic and logistical nightmare. I was lucky and upgraded my PC just before the pandemic so I could follow news about component sourcing difficulties from a comfortable distance, glad to have avoided the great drought. That was my attitude when I received the news that we would be getting a pre-built PC for review from the very nice folks at CLX Gaming. CLX offers both ready-to-ship machines with a range of different specifications and configurations, as well as bespoke offerings, giving you a surprisingly comprehensive list of options and features to choose from.
When we were contacted by CLX for a review, we were very generous with a selection of their ready-to-ship or custom-configured computers on loan. The team at CLX selected one of their prebuilds for us when we expressed interest in high-end gaming, twitch streaming, video editing and 3D modeling for testing, which led to a connection to the CLX RA. We have received confirmation of PC secession and shipping details. The process of ordering the computer and having it delivered was flawless, kudos to the Max Borges Agency representatives and our perpetually suffering local UPS agent who had to drop off our £80 monolith.
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To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t convinced these transactions would be real until I heard my dog crying at the window, only to look out and see him in our driveway. It came fantastically packaged, armored for transport in a sturdy wooden crate and foam wrapped both outside and inside the PC case behind the glass pane to prevent damage to the graphics card and AIO from accidents during transport. Once ripped from its plywood sarcophagus, my brain immediately kicked into gear as I realized what I was looking at. We started to give the pc a peek. The first thing that struck me was that the RTX 3090 was a Founder Edition model in the graphics card slot, and after checking three times that I wasn’t hallucinating, I was able to confirm that not only was it real, but it is Nice. My own PC build uses an RTX 2070 Super that had what i thought was more than ample 8GB of VRAM, which never gave me any trouble on all but the latest games. The 3090 with 24GB VRAM changed all that, but more on that later.
Lian-Li’s 011 Dynamic Case features a custom flame sticker on the glass side panel. It felt a bit much right out of the box, but it really grew on me as I conducted my tests on the rig itself and caught the glow of the remote controlled LED lights in the corner of my eye, almost giving it a “fake” hotel fireplace “ kind of a charm. But once the first inspection was over we hooked her up to officially kick the tires and see what she could do and boy oh boy did she not disappoint. Another fun fact of mine, I’m what I like to call a “messy perfectionist” as I will gladly sacrificing tertiary factors like human comfort and any kind of emergency savings for optimal performance of my electronics.
The next thing I noticed when looking through the case was how well sized everything was. The custom case perfectly matches the motherboard and graphics card, leaving just enough room for future expansion, but still narrow enough to promote improved airflow through the case’s main bay with the absolutely over-the-top 10 RGB fans. Another minor mention but the cable management was impeccable, all cables were zipped together and out of the way. The debate over how much thermal difference poor cable management causes will no doubt outlive me, but it goes a long way in keeping any computer looking sharp and clean.
I’m also very picky when it comes to game performance as I usually put a game I’m having graphics issues on until I upgrade the hardware rather than turning down my graphics settings like a farmer. So suffice it to say that there are a handful of games that I haven’t really touched, even though they’re pretty high up on my never-ending to-do list. (Coming soon, Metro Exodus, I promise I’ll be back for you!) The 3090 was the solution I never knew I needed. It absolutely destroyed everything we threw at it. Shadow of the Tomb Raider? Maximum settings, locked 144Hz at 1440p. hit man 3? Maximum settings, locked 144Hz at 1440p. Quake 2 RTX? Locked. eternal doom? Locked. Crysis remake on the famous uncapped “can it run crisis” the settings? The PC asked back “Did I stutter?” Hell, I even threw StarCitizen there just to see what would happen. 144Hz locked. Control? locked with all the beautiful ray tracing we’ve come to expect from it.
Thinking I could trip this beast with modern benchmark games was as pointless as thinking I could derail a freight train with a penny. To his credit, the ONLY game the beast could beat was Cyberpunk 2077and even with that it never dropped below 40 FPS with all settings set to Psycho (this was with DLSS OFF because I wanted to see what it would take to choke this thing), but I tend to blame the performance on poor optimization of the game itself more than any flaw of the system.
To test the video editing and streaming capabilities, we requested a top-of-the-line processor. The answer was the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, an absolutely over the top 16-core processor, plus 32GB of DDR4 from G.SKILL Trident Z Neo. On top of all that rendering power, the aforementioned Nvidia 3090 graphics card looper had 25GB of GDDR6X under the hood, which could very well be this whole rig’s secret weapon. We were completely unprepared and didn’t even have a 4K resolution video to try to edit with. As far as Adobe Premiere Pro was concerned (the program that led us to pick the AMD processor in the first place), these components delivered render times and screen sharing with ease and razor-sharp bitrates.
Even simply sharing 1080p or 60fps gameplay on a Discord call with webcams running did not affect game stability at all. No doubt it helps that we have a local ISP that provides 1Gbps fiber optic internet, for which we have wired straight to my PC desk. Combined with 4TB of cold storage and the OS storage, a full terabyte MVMe M.2 SSD, it’s clear that this machine feels less for an avid content creator and more for a Pixar animator or Marques Brownlee collaborator , which compiles 8K source videos.
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 came to mind while running was just how good everything was worked. Right out of the box I didn’t have a single issue with crashes or configuration errors, 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 get up and running. With all the custom configuration options that CLX gives you for its system building tools, it’s safe to say that anyone who wants the latest high-end PC can now get one without ever touching a screwdriver. The CLX RA is a fantastic device that sets the benchmark for everything from running the latest games to graphic design, video editing and rendering. While it’s absolutely overkill for most people’s daily driver, if you need to ruin a project you’re working on, look no further.
My aforementioned personal PC with the 2070 GPU doesn’t even come close to the performance of this unit and I actively try to upgrade the components as often as possible. The catch is that this unit is priced at $5123 on the CLX website, and while an enthusiast like me, or maybe even you, can go to PC Parts Picker and find these components for less or MSRP, you’re paying for a high build quality Service and ease of use, since repairs and service for your components are included with your purchase. The biggest boon for CLX is the sheer versatility of these builds. Just because we reviewed the top-of-the-line maxed overdrive PCs they had available doesn’t mean this boutique PC shop doesn’t have builds available for the casual consumer. The CLX RA has great components, even at a competitive price of $1789, and there are others available. The site’s interface is simple and provides clear listings of components with extensive customization and concise information so even a novice can buy their own custom build.