The prevailing wisdom is that pre-built systems are still the best way of getting an up-to-date graphics card. As prices for graphics cards normalise this may not be the case in the not too distant future, but right now, it's still our recommendation for the most sought-after cards. Cards like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 you'll find inside this new Wired2Fire Reaper gaming PC.
Wired2Fire has sought to piece together a machine that offers decent value for money, balancing the spec in order to hit its £1,649 price point. So while it employs one of the latest Intel Alder Lake CPUs, it isn't the top model, but the more affordable Core i5 12600KF.
Don't let that put you off though, this is a phenomenal chip and indeed is our top recommendation for gaming CPUs right now. Sure, there are faster chips out there, but this hits that value for money sweet spot better than any other when it comes to gaming in 2022.
With that in mind, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to learn that the Reaper ships with DDR4 memory as opposed to the newer DDR5. While it would have been great to have DDR5 in here—simply because it's the latest standard and fully supported by this CPU—this decision means that the machine comes with 32GB of DDR4 for less than it would have cost to ship this with 16GB of DDR5. That's a trade-off I can definitely get behind.
CPU: Intel Core i7 12600KF
GPU: Nvidia RTX 3070 8GB
RAM: 32GB DDR4-3600
Motherboard: MSI Z690-A Pro WIFI DDR4
CPU Cooler: Arctic Liquid Freezer II 240
Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD
PSU: MSI MAG A650BN 650W 80 Plus Bronze
Connectivity: 6x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB Type-C, RJ45, 6x Audio, Wi-Fi 6, PS/2 keboard/mouse, HDMI, DisplayPort, front audio
OS: Windows 11 Home
Warranty: 5 year
Along with a quality graphics card in the shape of the RTX 3070, an awesome CPU, and a whopping 32GB of DDR4 memory, you also get a quality motherboard in the shape of the MSI Z690-A DDR4 WIFI, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and a quality CPU cooler. All of this is built neatly into a Lian Li Lancool II Mesh case.
As the name suggests this is a mesh fronted case affording plenty of airflow, and thanks to the three RGB fans behind that mesh, it makes for quite the light show as well. It's annoying that the front panel USB Type-C port has been blanked out though, especially as there is a connector on the motherboard. At least there is a USB Type-C port on the rear IO.
The only real mark against the Reaper is that the installed SSD is a PCIe 3.0 model. When you're dropping as much money as this on a system, you want more than just competent, you want something special, and the Lexar 1TB SSD you'll find inside this machine comes up short on this front.
This drive produced one of the slowest loading times in Final Fantasy XIV at over 11 seconds. PCMark 10's storage index also turned its nose up at the drive, with an index of 966 (where plenty of modern systems hit 3,000 or so). In terms of straight throughput, AS SSD benched the drive at just 1,871MB/s sequential reads and 1,347MB/s writes, less than half that of even affordable PCIe 4.0 SSDs.
You can upgrade the storage at the time of purchase to a 1TB Samsung 980 Pro for an extra £75, which seems a little steep, but you'll almost triple the throughput if you do so. And while you could argue that storage isn't that important, the imminent release of DirectStorage could come back to bite you on the ass here.
We don't know the full requirements for DirectStorage at this stage, but around 5,000MB/s seems likely, and this is notably short of that.
Of course, it's gaming performance that matters most and the Wired2Fire Reaper puts in a good show for itself on this front. At 1080p you're looking at silky-smooth frame rates in pretty much any game you can throw at it. Of course, the RTX 3070 is a card that's been built with 1440p in mind, and sure enough, you're looking at very strong frame rates in our game tests there, too.
I've compared this machine to the Novatech Reign Sentry, which costs the same as the Wired2Fire Reaper but features a Radeon RX 6700 XT and a Ryzen 5 5600X (and a WD_Black SN850 SSD). The £1,055 CyberpowerPC Infinity X125 is also included in these graphs so you can see what the extra £600 gets you—silky smooth 1440p performance basically.
Playing at 4K is a bit more of a challenge and, while there are games where you'll see well over 60fps, it's a different matter when you start flicking on ray tracing. Cyberpunk 2077 for instance is still playable at 1440p, with ray tracing pushed to Ultra and DLSS set to Balanced you're looking at 59fps.
At 4K though you're looking at a much less pleasing 32fps. Metro Exodus with ray tracing tells a similar story, and while 51fps is still playable, you'd be better off enjoying everything maxed out at 1440p with smoother frame rates.
If you're looking at less-gaming focused workloads, then there's plenty to like here as well. The Cinebench R23 result of 17,227 shows that this machine will handle 3D rendering well, as does the x264 video encoding of 52fps. While there are faster machines out there, you're going to have to pay considerably more for the privilege.
There's nothing wrong with the cable management in this machine but Wired2Fire also offers an 'Extreme Cable Management' option for an extra £60 that will apparently "make sure your system is looking the best it can", which sounds wonderful if a little pricey. It does recommend upgrading to a modular power supply in order to get the most from this service, but you know, I'm sure Wired2Fire's system builders love a challenge either way.
One of the advantages of better cable management is improved airflow, although just how much difference a slightly tidier set of wires will make is tough to call. As it stands the Reaper has absolutely no problems on this front, however. In testing, the CPU peaked at 69°C and the graphics card never got any hotter than 63°C. Both of these are cool, and well below what could be considered a problem.
It's also the reason why this machine is so quiet running.
It's worth drawing attention to the impressive warranty offered by Wired2Fire for its machines too—5 years in total, with 2 years collect and return and 5 years labour. Obviously, you shouldn't have any problems with a machine you buy, but this gives you plenty of peace of mind should anything go wrong.
Wired2Fire has produced a tempting, affordable gaming machine with the Reaper. The core pairing of the Alder Lake CPU with an Nvidia RTX 3070 makes for a potent gaming machine at 1440p, and with 32GB of RAM to call on, it should last you for years of gaming without needing to pop open the tool-free case.
The fact it runs so cool and so quiet shouldn't be overlooked either. Factor in the healthy warranty as well and there's plenty to love here. It's just a shame the SSD is such a sluggish beast.