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Back when Intel announced its 11th-generation desktop processors, CLX Gaming reached out to me asking if I wanted to check out a review unit of one of its PCs. I’d never heard of the brand, which is owned by CybertronPC out of Kansas. CLX Gaming builds custom gaming PCs, and I ended up getting the Ra.
When I say custom, I mean it. You can choose every single part you want in your tower, and then CLX builds it and ships it. As part of the review experience, I got to choose the parts in mine. At first, I maxed everything out and landed on a $15,000 gaming PC, but CLX came back to me and suggested something more along the lines of $7,000.
One thing that’s cool about the customization experience is you can actually share your design. This is the one CLX sent me, although some of the parts in my unit apparently aren’t listed anymore.
First of all, when you head over to CLXGaming.com, you’ll find a bunch of pre-configured options at all price points. For under $600, there’s one with an AMD Ryzen 3 3200G and 8GB RAM. If you scroll all the way to the bottom, there’s a unit with an AMD Threadripper 3960X 24-core with 32GB DDR4-2666 and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 for $5,898.
Then there are the options to build your own. You can choose from four different ones — the Set, Scarab, Horus, and Ra. I went with the Ra, as it’s the biggest one and the one that could handle all of the parts that I attempted to put in it.
Once you choose the model, you can choose between various towers in different colors. That’s under the look and feel section, where you’ll also find options for your custom paint job, fans, and internal lighting.
After you set up your look and feel, it’s time to decide on your core components. If you don’t know anything about building a PC, CLX will sort of help you along here. After all, you can’t get a micro tower and put a massive GPU in there, or get a cheap power supply with power-hungry components.
This section is where you’ll choose your CPU, GPU, motherboard, RAM, power supply, cabling, storage, sound card, network card, and capture card. It’s the internal guts of the PC. If you choose the CPU that I got, there are 21 Z590 motherboards to choose from, and there are even more Z490 boards. For graphics, you can choose between AMD and NVIDIA, and get anything up to an RTX 3090 (yes, you can save $552 by getting an RTX 3080 Ti, or $1,035 by getting an RTX 3080).
The next tab is The Foundry Performance. Indeed, you can have all of the best components, but if they don’t stay cool, then they’re useless. This is where you can choose your CPU cooler and your thermal compound, as well as some overclocking solutions.
The next section is all about software and services, so you can spend an extra $40 to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro instead of Home. You can also add on a Microsoft Office perpetual license, some free-to-play games that can be pre-loaded, and you can even have browsers like Chrome and Firefox pre-loaded if you don’t want that extra step of getting them through Edge.
One thing that’s definitely important in this section is the warranty. Indeed, the nice thing about towers is that they’re modular. If your storage goes bad, you can replace it. Still, if you go out and spend $7,000 for competitive gaming, you probably don’t want to have to deal with that.
The final tab is for accessories and peripherals. This is exactly what it sounds like, and I don’t want to go too deep into it. It includes anything from t-shirts to mechanical keyboards, with mice, mousepads, monitors, headsets, controllers, and much more in-between.
The custom PC building system that CLX has is pretty cool, and it’s a key part of what’s being offered here. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you from buying all of those parts and putting them together yourself. But when you buy a gaming tower from most vendors, there are a limited amount of configuration options. With CLX, your imagination is the limit.
Obviously, you can’t review a PC like this without at least talking about performance a little bit, and we’re going to have benchmarks for that. Obviously, the performance is as good as it gets. But I didn’t want to focus on that because frankly, this review isn’t so much about a tower with a Core i9-11900K and an NVIDIA RTX 3090 GPU. After all, if you head over to the CLX website to build your PC right now, you’re probably not going to get either of those. You’re going to get something else the company has to offer, and this is more about that.
I went with the space theme, because space is cool. I love it, but there are plenty of others to choose from that are just as sexy. It’s all a matter of preference.
In the front, there’s a flap that opens up to expose two USB Type-A ports, one USB Type-C port, and 3.5mm audio in and out jacks. The front panel can be removed to access the filter, which collects dusts. It’s all very easy to clean.
All of these pieces just pop off and back on again. The tool-less design here is pretty brilliant. In fact, both sides of the chassis have glass doors that just close magnetically. Not only is it tool-less, it’s even button-less.
You might be wondering why you need access to the bottom of the motherboard. This is something that’s customizable. If you want to get in there to work with the cables or replace the CPU cooler, you can easily do that.
Also, speaking of the motherboard, I just want to give a shout-out to the fact that all ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero packaging came in the box with the CLX Ra PC. If I went and bought that board right now, it would come with a manual and a bunch of extra cables and such. All of that is in the box, and yes, that manual will come in handy if you want to tinker with your new custom gaming PC.
The CLX Ra is as powerful as it gets.
That’s what I love so much about the CLX model. You might not want to go and build the whole thing all by yourself, but it’s clearly something that’s built to be played around with. You can easily upgrade, replace parts, and so on.
The back of the PC isn’t particularly exciting. Unlike the ports on the front, none of what you’re looking at comes with the case. The main ports are part of the motherboard, the graphics parts are part of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 card, and the power port is part of the PSU. Those ports on the front do come as part of the case, and those are wired to the motherboard.
And of course, the inside is absolutely beautiful. Just about everything is lit up with RGB lighting, including the many fans, the memory, and more.
Even the front of it has RGB lighting coming from behind the panel. The lighting is actually built into the panel though, as you may have noticed it’s not there in the images where the panel is removed.
As promised, I did run a bunch of benchmarks. I used PCMark 8, PCMark 10, 3DMark, Geekbench, and Cinebenchm and VRMark.
Usually when I add benchmarks to a review, I just pull up my spreadsheet of PC benchmarks and compare the device to the few that are closest on the PCMark 10 list, and then maybe add a last-gen product on top of that. I really had so little to compare this to though. The CLX Ra is as powerful as it gets. It was at the top of my list in most categories.
If I was buying a custom gaming PC, I’d go with a CLX. You’re pretty much building a PC without the work of building a PC. Some might say that the build is part of the experience, and for those people, you can still go and build your own PC.
Honestly, the thing that impressed me most, even more than the whole configuration experience, was that it comes with the box, manual, and accessories from the motherboard packaging. You won’t find that in a gaming PC from Alienware, HP, or Lenovo. This doesn’t feel like a pre-built PC like an Alienware Area-51 would. It feels like a custom build.
It’s also just a beautiful machine. I absolutely love it, from the paint job to the lighting. I’ve seen some of the other designs too, and those are slick as well. I’ve really come out of this with an appreciation for CLX, a brand I’d previously never heard of.
If I was buying a custom gaming PC, I’d get a CLX.
Normally when publishing a review, I make sure to come up with some cons around a product, as nothing is perfect. The biggest one here is how long it’s going to take to get your PC. Mine took about three months; of course, that had to do with dealing with what would go in the press unit and such. Still, it will take a little while. If you want anything except the “standard factory color” for the case, it’s an extra two or three weeks, plus the team has to build the thing and possibly contact you with any issues. Of course, customization takes time.
I’d love to criticize the fact that the Thunderbolt ports on the back didn’t seem to ever work properly, but that’s an ASUS problem, not a CLX problem. It’s more of a matter of the motherboard.
Like most custom PC builders, CLX is mostly using off-the-shelf parts but with its own custom touch. I have to say, it’s a good look.
XDA » XDA Mini Reviews »
Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I've been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.
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