I've often come out as a Konsolero here on the blog. Since I work at least eight hours a day on the computer, tinkering with a gaming PC has become too tedious for me in the past. At least that's what I thought. Since I still regularly include PC gaming in my posts, Nvidia asked me if I wouldn't give the whole thing another chance. That's why I've been quietly working on a real gaming PC for the last few weeks and would like to share my new experiences with you.
Basically, I used to love PC gaming, especially during my studies. I had a lot of fun finding the best technical compromise for myself in titles like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Most of the time I opted for maximum image quality at just playable frame rates. For a long time I followed two tracks: The first PlayStation, a Nintendo GameCube or a PlayStation 3 stood in the living room, while a computer suitable for gaming was also considered good manners. That ebbed away for me in the PS4 era because, in my eyes, the technical differences between console and PC versions basically shrank.
The RGB lighting of the PC can of course be adjusted in terms of effects and colors.
But it is certainly also the convenience: I work on the PC. Psychologically, it has become a working tool for me. In my free time I just want to put in a game and get started in an uncomplicated way. Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 allow me to do that, both of which I really appreciate. At the end of 2021, I retired my Windows computer and switched to a Mac mini in my home office – a step that I have not regretted. As luck would have it, Nvidia probably had a good nose for this and thwarted my final departure from Windows gaming – with the following test system. It was made available for editorial work in the blog in cooperation with Nvidia and Memory PC.
Gaming PC for Caschy's blog: That's what's in it
Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X (Zen 3, eight cores, 16 threads, 3.8 GHz base and 4.7 GHz boost clock, 4 MB L2 cache, 32 MB L3 cache, 105 watt TDP, AM4)
Motherboard: MSI Mag B550 Tomahawk
Graphics card: Gigabyte Aorus GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Master 12 G (1,770 MHz clock, 10,240 CUDA cores, 12 GB GDDR6X VRAM with 19,000 MHz and 384-bit connection or 912 GB/s bandwidth, PCI-Express 4.0 x16, DirectX 12 Ultimate, DisplayPort 1.4a (3x), HDMI 2.1 (2x), HDMI 2.0 (1x)
16 GB DDR4 RAM (2x G.Skill RipJaws V DDR4 3600MHz)
1 TB SSD storage space (Kingston SNVS1000G, PCIe NVMe Gen 3.0)
CPU cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock 4
PSU: MPG A850GF
Case: MSI MPG Sekira 100R with glass window
Price: 2,599 euros
Of course, this is a real hit on paper. Anyway, my PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X looked a bit intimidated when I connected the PC to the TV. That's right: Regular readers know that I'm very interested in home entertainment and that I'm currently on the go with an LG OLED E9 that supports HDMI 2.1. So it makes sense to put the test system to the test directly on the TV with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, which is also equipped for HDMI 2.1. Especially since I can dive into a dark abyss for you too: HDR gaming on the PC. Unfortunately, there is still some wild growth there.
However, my plan is to first introduce you to the gaming computer and its capabilities in more detail from the point of view of a console and also to compare it more closely with PS5 and Xbox Series X in a follow-up article. I will send you my own articles on HDMI 2.1 gaming and HDR gaming on the PC as well as on Nvidia's DLSS – also in comparison with the cloud gaming I tried via GeForce Now RTX 3080. Maybe I can from the point of view of a console gamer with PC roots yes give one or the other a hint as to whether PC gaming would be an option again at the moment.
All beginnings are difficult…?
Curiously, I had to activate Windows 11 with my own key on the gaming PC that was made available to me. That wasn't a problem, since I still had the key from my previous computer in stock, but it does lead to the stumbling blocks that, as a convenience console gamer, you don't really think about at first with a gaming PC. Next hurdle: Nothing with Wi-Fi, the computer wants to connect to the network via Ethernet. Luckily there is a repeater with a LAN connection near my TV. After numerous updates for Windows 11, the graphics card drivers and Co. I remember the strengths and weaknesses of PC gaming.
For example, to put "Forza Horizon 5" and "Halo Infinite" on the disk, I go to the Microsoft Store, which in turn forwards me to the Xbox app. Only then are the games drawn. Again, "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Cyberpunk 2077" are stored for me on Steam, which Nvidia offered me at the time to test their GeForce Now RTX 3080 cloud gaming tariff. And I also took some free games with me from the Epic Games Store, so I have to use at least three launchers…
On the one hand, I'm happy about the flexibility of being able to strike in the store of my choice. The whole thing is also a little memory training for those who only gamble on the computer and do not want to be tied to a store. Incidentally, the GeForce Experience unexpectedly came to my aid here: As a central contact point, previously started titles can be called up from there at least once. Of course, the respective store is then opened first via the link, but I found this to be a nice convenience function that I wouldn't want to do without. Driver updates, the GeForce Game Ready drivers, can of course also be found here.
I almost like falling back into old hobbyist habits, because that way you could of course recognize where the bottleneck might be in a game and turn the settings. However, this was only minimally necessary in my tests so far – primarily thanks to Nvidia DLSS, which I will get to later.
Benchmarks and games – This is what the PC achieves
Of course, a gaming PC has to deliver sheer performance. I let the computer lurch through the synthetic benchmarks Cinebench R23, which puts the CPU performance to the test, and PassMark. The results follow.
You see: there is a lot going on. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti in particular is currently difficult to outperform. However, benchmarks no longer show everything. In recent years, Nvidia has specialized more and more in attracting users with special features such as DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling). Olli has reported about it before. Essentially, DLSS allows a game to be rendered at a lower resolution and then upscaled, but the result will look like the intended native resolution. Thanks to the inclusion of machine learning, you go much further than simple upscaling. For example, you can also adjust the degree of sharpening manually.
The stumbling block: You can only use DLSS if the respective developer actively involves it. Technology is also not a panacea. For example, if you set all the settings in a game to maximum, including ray tracing, the GPU is put under such enormous pressure that, from a certain point, adjustments to the resolution no longer bring the quantum leap in performance. You can see that in my experiments with "Guardians of the Galaxy" and all DLSS modes (Ultra Performance, Performance, Balanced and Quality).
As you can see: I didn't achieve a constant 60 fps on maximum settings at 4K resolution, but was stuck at an average of 56 fps on "Guardians of the Galaxy" – with dips to just 18 fps. Even DLSS in the quality setting then ensures an average of 88 fps with a minimum of 63 fps with identical settings. Here the calculated resolution is reduced only minimally, comparable to what Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 normally deliver to you in quality mode – e.g. B. 1800p extrapolated to 4K – but then on the consoles again only at 30 fps and with reduced settings.
The difference in the case of my gaming PC: Thanks to DLSS, the upscaling in Quality mode is basically not noticeable. That's extremely strong. As I described at the beginning, I'm the one who likes to sacrifice frame rates for visual quality. But I would always turn on DLSS in quality mode to tip the scales. In the case of the "Guardians of the Galaxy", thanks to DLSS, 60 fps are possible at maximum settings without any noticeable loss in image quality.
"Cyberpunk 2077" is a different topic. The title from CD Projekt RED offers the option on the PC to massively integrate ray tracing. This goes far beyond the next-gen upgrade for the consoles. Even my high-end test system achieved a modest average of 21.78 fps in the game's benchmark with maximum settings and native 4K. That's too jerky even for me, especially since there are tearing and inconstant framepacing. What can DLSS do here? The answer is: a lot.
60 fps are not possible here with maximum quality, but DLSS in the Quality level enables around 40 fps on average. Here I switched on the FPS limiter and V-Sync – et voilà, I can game at a constant 30 fps with the correct framepacing. If you raise your eyebrows because of the frame rate: "Cyberpunk 2077" looks on these settings on the PC as if it were a generation ahead of the console version. The ray-traced reflections in particular make a huge difference here.
A first conclusion
As a console player, getting a closer look at the world of gaming PCs is very exciting for me: Because what is possible there in terms of ray tracing goes much further than on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. But one point should be clear, the I have deliberately ignored up to now: the price. Xbox Series X and PS5 each cost 499 euros. The computer from Memory PC, which I use for reporting, costs a multiple of that, because an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti alone currently costs around three times as much.
Especially since the question is not only whether you are fundamentally willing to take this money in hand, but whether you can also get hold of the corresponding components – if you want to assemble the PC yourself. Even if I will also make a dedicated contribution to HDR gaming on the PC later: It's not nearly as convenient as on the consoles. This also applies to the correct configuration of VRR, at least in combination with a TV.
On the other hand, great: If you come from an Xbox, you can seamlessly continue to use your saves in first-party titles from the Microsoft Store. This made it a no-brainer for me to continue "Forza Horizon 5" on the computer. Especially since the Xbox controller for Windows ensures that you immediately feel at home.
Ultimately, I can understand the PC Master Race better after my last tests: A gaming PC is technically the best way to experience current games. The differences can be drastic – see "Cyberpunk 2077". As I said, in the next follow-up articles I will again shed light on how HDMI 2.1 (VRR, ALLM, 4K with up to 120 Hz) and HDR gaming behave. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask in the comments!
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