I built the best gaming PC in the world — and it wasn’t wort…

John's latest gaming and work machine.
Bonus points if you see LED glove-hand reflection. John Martindale/DigitalTrends

I like PC hardware. I’ve been researching, building, modifying and writing about it for 20 years and I still get as excited by the latest generation of CPUs as I did when I first started. Built my first PC in my teens.

But as educated and experienced as I am, I also think I FOMO (fear of missing out) may occur. I can write guidelines on how to maximize your budget, but it turns out I’m not the best at following my own advice. I built one of the fastest gaming PCs in the world – and if I’m being honest – it was (almost) a complete waste of time.


Soldiers running through a ditch in Hell Let Loose.
Hell Let Loose is a good-looking game, but it’s no benchmark for graphical performance. team17

I run a few computers in the office I work from home. I have one main desktop PC for most of my writing and gaming, and a secondary test bench made up of rotating hardware depending on what I’m working on. Until recently, the mainstream PC was made up of a collection of Frankenstein upgrades over the years. A Ryzen 2600 CPU, 16GB DDR4, an ASRock B450M motherboard and a Radeon Fury

It was a perfectly respectable gaming system that could play everything I wanted without any difficulty. But it was still starting to show its age.

Do you know when a Windows install becomes outdated? Random slowdown, stuttering, and it constantly needing to restart instead of sleeping for days. My work was being affected and my ping was sometimes going through the roof for no apparent reason. It was time not just for another upgrade, but for a fresh start.

If this were a decade ago, I would have spent a few days formatting my main drive and painstakingly reinstalling everything, manually copying over old files and folders. I’m so paranoid that I’ll bring up the errors that caused me to need a fresh start in the first place, I don’t think I can ever clone my boot drive, or simply factory reset it, this It’s that easy.

But this was not the case 10 years ago. Today I’m a busy dad and professional tech journalist, so instead I bought a new drive and used my old drive as a game/app drive. It works, right? I have done this so many times that my drive collection can help teach my kids the alphabet.

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D is installed in a motherboard.
Jacob Roach/

I also took advantage of my collection of pre-tested hardware gathering dust to build something truly monstrous. Since it’s there, why not? Correct? I’m always writing about 4090 and 16+ core CPUs, why shouldn’t I take advantage of this stuff to really boost my gaming and work life?

Ultimately I decided on a Ryzen 7950X3D, 32GB DDR5, a 2TB Samsung 980 Pro, an Asus ROG Crosshair X670E motherboard, and an RX 7900 XTX. I could have put the 4090 in there for prestige, but an all-AMD system sounded like fun and I’ve written quite a bit about the ridiculousness of the RTX 4090’s size and power requirements and I thought I’d stick to my principles this time. . I also upgraded to Windows 11 because it made the most sense, as much as I mourned my left-aligned Start button.

This kind of system gives me a lot of potential for future upgrades and should ensure that there’s nothing this PC can’t handle.

And I was right. It is an absolute monster. The problem was I didn’t have much to throw at it.

It didn’t make any difference to my gaming…

View of the living room in Norco.
Something tells me NORCO won’t make much profit from the 7900 XTX. raw rage

Booting up for the first time after running all Windows 11 updates, installing all the drivers, and upgrading the firmware enough to feel safe that my ROG board wouldn’t cook my processor was all very exciting. The system booted up much faster than the old system and everything was bright, fresh, responsive and very clear No Trapped by years of software, driver and hardware updates. it was very nice.

And then I played some games, and it felt just like the old PC.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. I don’t play big, demanding games often. My mainstays when writing Hell let loose, narco, And fight brothers, HLL The most sought after among them, but that too is quite lightweight by modern standards. Maybe the frame rates were higher? They probably were, but it had little impact. I didn’t feel much of anything.

Of course, I can go out of my way to get an advantage if I want. i can load it Hogwarts Legacy Save that my wife and I are slowly discovering and enjoying the high frame rates on our current monitor’s maximum of 1440p. Maybe I should turn on ray tracing? Probably not. Or I might boot up one of the many test bench games and apps I use when reviewing hardware. But I don’t really want to run them just because I built a new PC. Running them at a higher resolution doesn’t suddenly make them my kind of game, or more fun to play.

I don’t really play the types of games that require this type of hardware at the moment. Frankly, anyone? I don’t mean that no one plays AAA games in demanding settings, but PC gaming is a gaming field in itself. Playing at higher resolutions like 4K is even greater. Playing at these types of settings and high frame rates is truly a fantastic experience that is only reserved for people with money or a profession that gives them access to that type of hardware.

I want the best and fastest PC possible. But I don’t really need it.

And I’m very fortunate that I was able to enjoy that experience. It’s not something I’m so anxious to get, now I do. I’m the dog that caught the gaming car.

However, the chase is fun. I spend most of my days reading, writing about, and playing with some of the fastest gaming hardware the world has ever seen. But I am jealous. I don’t just want the best in work, I also want the best of the best My PC also. I want the best and fastest computer possible because that’s my thing. I am a computer guy.

But I don’t really need it. I love how fast my PC is now to work, and it gives me peace of mind knowing that I can play whatever I want without any compromises for the next few years. I may also consider upgrading to an ultrawide 4K monitor at some point without needing to upgrade anything else.

But when it comes to my gaming habits today, a few days after the upgrade? Not much to call home.

It’s all in the cloud anyway

So yes, I don’t really play these types of games to take advantage of this type of hardware. Understand. But it’s not just games. There was also something about the entire upgrade process that highlighted how little important it is to have this type of system today.

Most of what I do doesn’t really benefit from fast local hardware. I use Google’s services for most of my writing, and the rest is managed within the scope of a custom CMS that does a lot of the work for me. I use Steam’s cloud saves, so all my usual manual backup obsessions aren’t really needed anymore. I use ChatGPT to help with some work – and answer random alternate history questions – but it’s all dependent on OpenAI’s servers, and even Photoshop’s latest amazing features run in the cloud. .

my wife spent a year playing Valheim With me on a 2018 HP Specter x360 using GeForce Now. She has since been upgraded to a Appropriate Gaming laptops, but beyond the better displays and ability to play games that Nvidia hasn’t adopted, the most dramatic change is the extreme fan noise we now have to deal with.

Upgrading must make sense to you

AMD RX 7800 XT and RX 7700 XT graphics cards.
Jacob Roach/

PCs are a lot of fun. I think I’ll always enjoy exploring them, overclocking them, trying different combinations of hardware, and coming up with ways to maximize a limited budget to create something special. But I’m going to try to learn from it when it comes to upgrading My I have my own hardware, I need to focus on what I really need.

In this example, I didn’t waste much money because I was lucky that I already had a lot of hardware lying around. But I could. I appreciate the extreme That’s the privilege of my position here, and it may go into the realm of telling gamers to eat cake instead of upgrading their PCs, but I still think it’s something worth noting.

There must be a purpose to upgrading your PC. A game you want to play that you can’t play right now. Improving your work-life balance with a faster CPU that completes tasks more quickly. Making yourself a more competitive gamer (even if it doesn’t always help). Don’t upgrade just because it’s about that time, or because you’re excited about some new hardware. If you don’t have a reason for it, you won’t notice much of an effect.

If you like it, as I do, ignore me and keep doing what you do. But just make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment. Your time and money are worth it.

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