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The PC Gamer team's personal rigs

Andy is one of the few editors at PCG using a new Skylake system.

Check out that oldschool keyboard (and triple displays)!

Andy Chalk’s PC

Specs for Andy's PC

CPU: Intel Core i5-6600K (stock 3.5-3.9GHz)
Graphics card: MSI GTX 960 4GB
Motherboard: ASRock Z170 Extreme3
RAM: 2x8GB Patriot Viper DDR4-2667
SSD: Crucial MX200 500GB
HDD: WD Black 1.5TB
PSU: Thermaltake TR2 RX 750W
Case: Fractal Design Define R4
Displays: Asus VE247H 24-inch
Acer G215HV 22-inch
Viewsonic 19-inch 4:3 I picked up at a yard sale
Keyboard: Unicomp Model M – buckling spring 4 lyfe
Mouse: Razer Mamba Tournament Edition
Headphones: Plantronics something or other, although I often just rock out with my old Creative 5.1 speakers

Tell us about your computer

The core components of this rig were put together with the able assistance of Hardwaremeister Wes Fenlon, and it runs wonderfully. The CPU, so I'm told, is an overclocking champ, but I haven't bothered with that yet and may not at all. I used to get a kick out of cranking up my chips, but these days I'll happily take stability over a few more turns of the clock. My favourite part may be the SSD, which is my first. Boot-ups and game loads fly, and as a personal thing I very much enjoy not having to listen to a conventional HDD click and whir and buzz. Not that I'm bothered by noise, but loud drives always sound to me like they're on the verge of exploding.

The Define R4 is a great case, too. Prior to this I've had windowed, lighted cases—its predecessor was an Antec Gaming 900—but barring unforeseen disaster or a dramatic change in standards, this is my Forever Case.

What are you playing?

Grim Dawn! I got a late start on it, but it's completely sucked me in. The character creation system is incredibly complex, and the game world is filled with all kinds of mysteries and secrets. I've got a lot of hours into it, and I expect there will be a lot more to come. I'm technically still playing Fallout 4 too, but that's probably a dead issue at this point.

What upgrade are you planning next?

I've reached that magical state of techno-Nirvana at which I really don't need, or even want, any new components. My optical drive is very old, and it's been wonky for years, so that might be worth replacing at some point—I still buy as many games as I can in boxes, so yes, I do still use it. But otherwise, I think I'm set for a good long time to come.

The PC isn't the only thing that's custom -- check out the desk!

Zak lays claim to the highest clocked CPU, thanks to his custom liquid cooling loop.

Zak Storey's PC

Specs for Zak's PC

CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K (overclocked to 4.8GHz)
Graphics Card: AMD Radeon R9 Fury X
Motherboard: Asus Z170i Pro Gaming
RAM: 4xGB HyperX Savage Black DDR4-2666
SSD: 256GB Samsung 950 Pro M.2 PCIe SSD
HDD: 960GB OCZ Trion 100 SATA SSD
PSU: Corsair AX1200i
Case: NZXT Manta (x2)
Display: Iiyama Prolite B2888UHSU-B1 28-inch 4K TN
Keyboard: Corsair K70 RGB Cherry MX Red
Mouse: Corsair M65 Pro
Headset: Audiotechnica ATH-AG1X
Cooling: Fully custom PETG loop, including 1x EKWB PE240, 1x EKWB SE240, a variety of acetal nickel waterblocks, Bitspower fittings, Mayhem’s Aurora Red 2 coolant, and 4x Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 120mm fans.

Other goodies: Cablemod white cable kit, NZXT Grid+ V2 fan controller, Mionix Propus Mousemat, bespoke reclaimed wood, toughened glass, desk.

Tell us about your computer

This one’s rather special to me. I recently worked on piecing together a liquid-cooling feature for Maximum PC. I’m by no means an expert in the field of liquid cooling, but it’s a passion of mine and I wanted to do something distinctive. We’ve worked with soft tubing in the past, so hard tubing seemed like the next best step. As far as specs go I wanted to try and pack an ITX chassis with as much power as I could manage, while still being reasonably priced.

To accomplish this, I got ahold of a pre-binned Intel Core i7-6700K, 32GBs of DDR4 from HyperX, and an AMD R9 Fury X provided by XFX. The reason this rig means so much is due to the amount of work that’s gone into it. Liquid cooled machines are kind of like custom cars: the job’s never quite finished, and even now there are things I’d like to change.

First the tubing was a little wonky due to the limited time we had to shoot it. Then we had a pump die and had to reorient the loop, which gave me an opportunity to work out the tubing kinks. After that I noticed one of the tubing runs staining in the sunlight, so I swapped that out for a fresh piece of PETG. And most recently, I flushed out all the white pastel coolant from the system and swapped to Mayhem’s Aurora instead.

What are you playing?

It’s tough at the moment, especially as the Steam sale’s just passed. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Stonehearth, I play a bit of Ryse: Son of Rome to mellow out in the evening, but otherwise it’s all about RTSes for me, particularly Total War: Warhammer (with the Radious mod), and more amazingly Dawn Of War: Soulstorm, with a catch. I’m playing the Ultimate Apocalypse mod, which is still being worked on today; it’s by far one of the craziest mods out there, adding titanic units, world ending weapons, and a plethora of new races. Mostly though, I’m hyping myself up for Legion right now.

What upgrade are you planning next?

I’m looking to get into a bit of videography when I get the time, so I’d like to upgrade to an X99 platform. I’m thinking of doing a special bespoke Micro-ATX build come Christmas time, featuring two meaty GPUs, perhaps an Intel Core i7-6900K, 64GBs of DDR4, and a 1TB Samsung M.2 PCIe SSD, plus a chunk of additional storage. I’m a big fan of a custom case company in the UK by the name of Parvum Systems; think of them as the British equivalent of Case Labs, but with acryllic. So I’d like to do something like this but with chrome plated copper tubing as opposed to PETG.

Welcome to hardware utopia, now with RGB lighting.

Why use just one NAS when you can have five? Nearly half a petabyte of storage!

Tuan Nguyen's PC

Specs for Tuan's PC

CPU: Intel Core i7-5960X (stock 3.0-3.5GHz)
Graphics card: 3x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti SLI
Motherboard: ASUS X99 E-WS/10G
RAM: 8x 16GB Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4-2800
SSD: 2x Samsung 850 Pro 2TB
HDD: 4x Western Digital Caviar Blacks 6TB
PSU: Seasonic Platinum 1000W
CPU cooler: Corsair H110i
Case: NZXT H440 Razer Edition
Display: 2x ASUS PA329Q 32-inch 4K
Keyboard: Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate
Mouse: Logitech MX Master
Speakers: Yamaha HS8 + HS8S subwoofer
Speakers DAC: Oppo HA-1
Headphone DAC: Schiit Gungnir multibit
Headphone amp: Schiit Audio Mjolnir 2
Headphone: Mr. Speakers Ether
Desk: NextDesk Air

Other goodies: I have four APC Smart-UPS 1500 to keep everything up and running in the event of a power loss. Network switches, routers, and the systems are all backed up. The NASes as well. In my NAS setup, I have about 480TB of storage capacity.

Tell us about your computer

My system isn’t the be all, end all of systems, as maybe some might assume. It’s actually fairly modest. Okay, I guess it’s a bit more than modest. The system was put together from all sorts of parts, some of it from spare review samples, and some of it bought. I do play games, but probably not as much as the majority of the editorial team. Which is sad I know, because there’s three GTX 980 Ti cards sitting in the system. I should donate them away and use a lesser card.

One of the key parts of the system is the motherboard. The Asus X99 E-WS/10G that I’m using has dual Intel 10GbE ports. This is the most important part of my system since my entire house is wired for 10GbE. I have a 10GbE switch, and my NASes are all 10GbE NASes. For the network I use a Juniper Networks ACX2100, which is an enterprise 10GbE router. It's required because my home connection is a 2Gb down/up fiber connection, and no consumer router will do above 1Gb. The Juniper is attached to a Netgear 8-port 10GbE switch, and the whole house is wired to that. For Wi-Fi duties, I use a Google OnHub.

You might be wondering what's up with all the NASes. I have a lot of data. They back up to each other, and I have another 10-bay NAS offsite that the primary back-up NAS backs up to. I also back up to an Amazon drive account. The two NASes at the bottom of the photo is actually just 1 NAS. The enclosure on the right is an expansion unit that's connected to the primary NAS unit via 12Gbit SAS (serial attached SCSI), providing a total of 20 bays. Each one of those bays holds a HGST 8TB He8 helium enterprise NAS drive. All the NASes run on RAID 6.

Because there's a lot of data being synced and backed-up on a regular basis, the NASes are directly networked to each other as well as my primary network. During a backup, the NASes will use their direct connection to each other over direct specified IP-to-IP rather than utilize the main network's bandwidth.

You may have noticed that one of the bays is flagged with a warning light. When I took this picture, there was an error on that drive, but it was replaced immediately after. There are 8 more spare He8 drives sitting cold, on hand, just in case something happens.

My 10GbE switch. Beefy.

My 10GbE switch. Beefy.

A bit on the audio department: I actually have a Woo Audio GES electrostatic headphone amp that powers the STAX SR-009 electrostatic headphones I have on hand. Sometimes I switch between the Woo and STAX's own SRM-007tII amp. Most of the time though, I have the Mr.Speakers Ether hooked up and use that as my daily cans. I'd say they're the all-around best headphones I've listened to, and I've listened to many.

What are you playing?

The last game I fully played from beginning to end is Ori and the Blind Forest, for PC. I currently play Star Citizen (yes, in alpha), and I play a bit of The Division. I tried playing the new Doom but I guess nothing will ever replace the feeling I had playing Doom over a serial port connection sitting beside a friend and their PC.

What upgrade are you planning next?

I’m not planning to upgrade for a while, but the upgrades just keep on coming. Realistically, my system is far more powerful than what I need it for anyway. Most of what I do on it is work. I know, what’s up with the 3-way SLI? It’s just a perk of the job. I would be more than satisfied with just one 980 Ti. But the new GTX 1080 is mighty tempting.

PC Gamer

Hey folks, beloved mascot Coconut Monkey here representing the collective PC Gamer editorial team, who worked together to write this article!