There are countless companies in the world who will offer to take your money in exchange for a top-of-the-line gaming PC – a PC which they promise will be future-proof and hardly ever need upgrading to play the very latest PC games for years to come. These people are usually liars and charlatans, more focussed on separating you from your hard earned money and earning a profit from the mark-up imposed on their components then providing a service to the PC gaming community.

It’s rare then, to meet a company like BeastRig – whom firmly believe in their products with such conviction that it would put an Ultramarine Space Marine to shame. Based in Pensylvania, BeastRig began its life with a simple ethic – no compromises. They wanted to give everybody the chance to play PC games the way they should be played. I’m more than honoured then, to be in possession of one of their starter rigs for this review. Granted, that’s a bit of a misnomer; BeastRig don’t necessarily believe in the traditional ‘starter ’ or ‘entry level’ gaming rigs for the simple reason that they believe that – by starting their product line where most companies start their higher-end machines – you’re not simply buying a gaming PC but rather investing in a gaming platform which will serve you over the years and offer you some of the greatest gaming memories you will encounter.

The custom Zalman case is quite huge but has such a sophisticated feel to it

That being said, BeastRigs are not cheap machines but by looking at the components list you can see that a great deal of time and care has been taken to attune each component to its electronic neighbor inside the case. The delicate cable management (that was still fully intact even after an overseas flight!) the position of the different components to allow maximum air flow. All of this and more lets you know that BeastRigs are a labour of love, as cliché as it sounds – their made by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts and they don’t want to give you a PC that you need to tweak or tune to get better performance out of; they want you to experience ‘plug and play’ at its very core.

There seems to be this unfortunate delusion these days that in order to fully enjoy a powerful gaming PC you need to have a degree in Computer Science and at least 5 years Desktop Tech Support experience – this is simply not true. Upon receiving the BeastRig – all I needed to do was open the side panel (which was helpfully attached by fixed Thumb-Screws so no tools were required) reconnect the only loose wire inside into the motherboard (the power supply – pre-removed for safety) and connect the external wires (power, mouse, keyboard, internet, monitor and speakers) and that was it.

Test Number 1: All About the Zombies

Most of my gaming sessions aren’t complete without dispatching a few filthy undead foot-draggers so what better way to begin the testing of this machine than to use Capcoms Resident Evil 5 Benchmarking Utility.

With an average of 93.1fps this test far exceeded my expectations.  The Resident Evil 5 Benchmarking tool is a good example of many different animations being rendered simultaneously.  With absolutely no less of frames or noticeable screen-tear.  I’m very happy with the result of this test.

Test Number 2: A Knight to Remember

Given the high level of detail and the fact that this is still used as a benchmarking tool by many mainstream companies to stress-test gaming platforms. Gotham City is our next stop with Batman: Arkham City.

For consistency, these tests are performed under the following conditions:
– DirectX 9 and DirectX 11 tested separately
– Resolution 1366 x 768
– PhysX turned OFF
– FXAA, MSAA x4 and MSAA x8 tested on separately. (These options change the level of Anti-Aliasing used by the system – edge smoothing – the higher it is, the better the game’s finer details will look but ultimately it will force the graphics card(s) to work harder
– All other details turned on

This benchmark is run on high detail across the board, with Ambient Occlusion checked too. It flies us through a few of the game’s major locales with a fixed camera, taking us to a goon-filled lair featuring a moving light sources, the entrance to Poison Ivy’s botanical den, and the sky-scraping peaks of Arkham City itself. Below is an example of it.

The results of the different benchmarking test are as follows:

DX9 – FXAA

DX9 – x4 MSAA

DX9 – x8 MSAA

Dx11 – FXAA

DX11 – x4 MSAA

DX11 – x8 MSAA

Min FPS

46

45

48

27

26

28

Max FPS

62

63

62

61

60

61

Avg FPS

59

59

59

58

57

56

Looking at the results from the basic benchmarking, it’s clear to see that this was no real challenge for the BeastRig, breezing through the demo with no judder or screen tear whatsoever.  I decided to take things to the next level.

With exactly the same configuration as the above, I decided to enable PhysX on its highest setting – reserved only for GeForce cards of 470 and higher.

As Above + PhysX on High

Min FPS

11

Max FPS

59

Avg FPS

37

Obviously this was going to be a challenge for any gaming PC – but despite a low Minimum FPS count, the game didn’t become unplayable at any point, there was one instance of noticeable choppiness (the area with the ice beams if you have watched the example video above) but nothing constituting a show-stopper.  And with an average FPS output of 37 – this is still higher than many current generation console games.

That did it, I now wanted to find a setting that would make this machine breakdown and cry. I threw everything at it.  All the previous settings with Extreme Detail level and x32 CSAA Anti Aliasing.  This had to work…

As Above with PhysX set to High, Extreme Detail and x 32 CSAA enabled)

Min FPS

12

Max FPS

57

Avg FPS

35

With roughly the same output as previously received but with a beautifully rendered gaming environment, it’s very clear that the BeastRig has eaten Batman: Arkham City for breakfast and was hungry for more.

Test Number 3: Going all Professional!

Moving slightly aside from the built in games benchmarks for a moment, I wanted to flex the BeastRigs muscles with something a bit different – to let it sink its teeth into something a touch more mainstream I decided to run it against Futuremarks 3D Mark 11 and PC Mark 11

Both of these programs are purpose built to run the PC or graphics card through specific tests to ascertain its thresholds and choking points.

3D Mark
Performance Mode P5241
Extreme Mode X1743
Physics Score  (Performance Mode) 5070
Graphics Score (Performance Mode) 7900
Physics Score (Extreme Mode) 1567
Graphics Score (Extreme Mode) 7906

 

PC Mark Results also clocked in at 4683 which is not only a fair score but also not completely surprising as the BeastRigs hard drives are set up so that the SSD houses the Operating System and the second hard drive acts purely as storage – meaning that the operating system runs at a much faster speed as SSD hard drives act much faster than regular hard drives.

Test Number 4: But, can it?

Okay, okay – the question that’s currently on the tip of everyone’s tongue whenever people talk about super-powerful computers is my next destination.  This will be the BeastRigs ultimate moment of glory or shame – the final test it must overcome in order to be deemed worthy of the title of Gaming PC.  That question, of course is…

Can it play Crysis?

Yes! Yes it can! Not only can it play Crysis but from the video above you can see that every setting it basically cranked up to Extreme – this was a truly wonderful experience – given EA’s open admittance that the original Crysis was poorly optimised for gaming PC’s and still fails to run on many high gaming machines these days it was a true badge of honour in favour of the BeastRig

Wonderful cable management - it might seem silly but it's a really nice touch

Component Breakdown
Case: Custom GS1200 Chassis
Motherboard: Z77 LGA1155 SATA 3 6GB/s USB 3.0
Liquid Cooling: Intel Liquid Cooling System
Media Reader: 60-in-1 Media Card Reader
Power Supply: 700w Silent Pro Modular
CPU: Intel i7 – 2600k Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz
RAM: 8 GB 1600MHz Dual Channel DDR3
Graphics Card: Dual (SLI) GTX 550Ti
1st Hard Drive: 60GB eSATA SSD
2nd Hard Drive: 1TB eSTAT HDD
Optical Drive: Standard DVD Drive
Operating System: Windows 7 Home Pro

I made it a mini-mission during this review to compare the price of the collective components online against the price on the BeastRig website (I can’t help it, I’m British – we like a bargain). After all, every PC creation company in the world adds a certain mark-up to their process so that they turn a profit – I mean – that’s just how business works. Right?

Strangely, not in BeastRigs case – looking at different sources online I managed to reach the total price of all of the parts to essentially make my own BeastRig, the total was £1045* If you compare this to the website price for their Z77 rig (with not only the same components but ALSO a full years support) turns in at £1049*

Four British Pounds?!?

Now, I’m not assuming that BeastRig buy their parts at retail value – that would be crazy but equally as crazy is that they seem to actually pass that saving onto you, the gamer. The evidence does not lie, BeastRig genuinely want PC gaming to become stronger than it’s ever been before and are doing everything in their power to make that happen. And with results like those above, their well on their way to making that dream a reality. If you are looking to make a solid, worthwhile investment in PC gaming for the foreseeable future, you owe it to yourself to look at the BeastRig website.

Review Score : [starreview tpl=16]

*both prices exclude shipping costs

Benchmarking tools used
Resident Evil 5 Benchmarking Utility: Available freely from Guru 3D
Batman: Arkham City Benchmarking: Built into Batman:Arkham City which was supplied by Premier PR for the purpose of this article
3D Mark and PC Mark: Both available for purchase (or demo) at the Futuremark website – both were supplied by Futuremark for the purposes of this demo