I have a big goofy grin on my face and it’s not going away (yes I’m sober). The reason for this merriment is I have pretty much one of the most powerful gaming PCs money can buy to test out.
And, frankly, it’s a bit ridiculous.
The computer in question is a pre-build machine from relatively new PC builders Starforge Systems. Formed in 2022 by a mix of PC industry veterans and streamers, Starforge Systems produces high-end gaming and creator PCs, with some customization and, in my testing so far, precious little bloat.
The machine I have access to is a $4,299 Voyager Creator Elite, a monster of a PC equipped with the powerful Intel Core i9-13900K processor, the mighty Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 and a massive 64GB of DDR5 RAM — there's also a healthy 2TB of PCIe 4.0 SSD space.
In short, this is the most powerful and most expensive PC I think I’ve ever tried. And to go with it I have the excellent Alienware AW3423DWF, a 34-inch 3440 x 1440 resolution OLED display with a quantum dot panel; it’s fantastic and a good monitor to pair with a powerful PC.
I think the Voyager Creator Elite is glorious overkill for it and my gaming life.
First, some context. I’ve long been a PC gamer, preferring the scope of games and mouse and keyboard control over consoles. But over the past few years, I’ve fallen a bit off the wagon and tend to be drawn more to my Xbox Series X and PS5.
The reason for this was I have a perfectly capable 1080p gaming PC that’s only just starting to feel the real strain of running the latest games. While I’d considered a new desktop, 2022’s crazy graphics card supply problems and skyrocketing prices put me off.
And as more games came out on the new consoles and I paired them with the wonderful LG C1 OLED, I felt myself slipping away from desktop gaming. After all, I could simply boot up the Series X or PS5 and jump into a game with the only real choice of playing in a mode that prioritizes frame rate or resolution, with the knowledge I’d be getting a gaming experience that still looks fantastic even with dynamic resolution.
With precious few games really pushing PC hardware, beyond the likes of Cyberpunk 2077 at its highest settings, I saw no real need to replace my aged gaming PC.
Then I had a taste of high-end PC gaming.
PC gaming at its finest
Booting up games that would have had my own gaming PC grumble in protest by ramping up its fans and chugging along, the Voyager Creator Elite simply chews through everything I’ve thrown at it, with all settings maxed out and at a QHD resolution.
Now I’ve had powerful PCs before that could handle the best-looking games of the time at max settings, but nothing quite compares here. I’m getting blistering frame rates from a PC that barely breaks a sweat pumping crisp, ray-traced graphics to one of the best gaming monitors and taking advantage of the latter’s 165Hz refresh rate.
Not only do games look and run gloriously, all this power makes PC gaming trivial. I can simply ramp everything up to ultra and hit play.
That means The Last of Us Part 1, a game that had a notoriously bad initial port from PlayStation to PC, runs like a dream now that it’s been patched and can take advantage of the mighty GeForce RTX 4090. The high-end Intel processor also makes mincemeat of Total War: Warhammer 3, seemingly bulldozing another game that had been blighted by poor performance.
Going back to older games that used to challenge PCs, such as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, is a treat, too. Being able to run that game at a QHD resolution with everything turned up to the max and getting a framerate that’s so smooth I almost think the game shines, is just a joy. All of a sudden I’m back to thinking about playing upcoming releases, such as Starfield, on the PC first. The glory of such high-end gaming has me willing to sit upright at my desk instead of benching myself on my sofa.
But as I said earlier, this is all somewhat ridiculous.
Overkill performance, chilling price
As a tech journalist I'm in the privileged position of getting to try out all sorts of technology without paying for it. If you were to take my access out of the equation, would I spend more than four grand on a gaming PC?
Starforge Systems has the Voyager Creator Elite targeted at major PC gaming enthusiasts and video creators; while I’m a gaming fan, I’m not a frame rate or max settings fanatic. And I leave the video creation up to Tom’s Guide’s tame TikTok star Kate Kozuch. So I can respect the Voyager Creator Elite and other PCs that have masses of power, but they aren't quite for me yet.
The reason I say that is as wonderful as it is to see games at their very best, we’ve yet to get a bunch of titles that really demand high-end PC power. The likes of Cyberpunk 2077 and Forza Horizon 5 may look their best on PC, but they will still present a bounty of virtual splendor on the Series X or PS5 when coupled with one of the best 4K TVs, all for a third of the price of the Voyager Creator Elite.
Maybe this situation will change as the current generation of consoles and PC hardware matures. But right now the very best in PC gaming is really only the domain of professional gamers and streamers, and people with arguably more money than sense (I’m jealous, leave me be).
However, what this dive into high-end PC gaming has done is made me remember how wonderful a gaming platform the PC is. Yes, it can be a nightmare of poorly optimized games, odd bugs, or the need to spend too much time tweaking graphics options in menus before playing a game. But I’m reminded of just how many interesting and diverse games there are on the PC, which with a little bit of extra juice can feel like fresh experiences. And playing strategy games on a widescreen OLED monitor is an experience I’d struggle to abandon,
As such, I’ve been quietly keeping a weather eye on the price of PCs with the GeForce RTX 4070, a graphics card that I feel would give me the smooth hit of QHD gaming I’ve sampled but without breaking my bank balance. And in fairness to Starforge Systems and other PC builders, there are plenty of options to get great desktop gaming at prices that are easier to swallow.
Nevertheless, if you do ever get a chance to try out a no-holds-barred PC, then go for it as I feel it's an experience every gamer should get to see.