If you’ve been under a rock for the past nine months or so, you might have missed the news that GPUs are hard to come by. Prices are through the roof on scalped graphics cards, and those that show up at official retailers often sell out in seconds. There’s also the whole human malware thing that makes staying at home and gaming a little more enticing than usual. As such, prebuilt and custom PCs are all the rage right now. However, with so many companies out there, it can be hard to figure out which is the best one on which to spend your hard-earned money. We recently had the chance to work with Cybertron PC’s CLX brand to see how its gaming PC build quality and customer experience stacks up in review. Here’s lowdown.
While we are obviously fans of the DIY approach, sometimes it’s worthwhile to go with something that’s built for you. Aside from the obvious graphics card availability, there are plenty of good reasons to buy prebuilt gaming PCs right now. You won’t risk getting the wrong parts or breaking anything by putting it together yourself, you get a single point of contact for warranties and technical support, and you don’t have to filter through all of the bad products out there (there are a lot). You also won’t feel the need to wash your mouth out with a bar of soap by the time you get everything hooked up properly.
Buying from system builders isn’t always a perfect experience. Aside from the component markups, they don’t always get the build right. For instance, my last prebuilt PC showed up with a WiFi module laying on the floor of the case, likely due to someone forgetting to screw it in. There was also a hard drive placed into one of the bays at a 45 degree angle. Huh? CLX gave me no such problems, and my brief interview with the team let me in on why.
The CLX brand
A couple of the top people at CLX are industry vets. As in, the OG Alienware crowd. That says a lot already, but what really impressed me was their relatability. I didn’t feel at all like I was talking to some marketing agent; I was speaking to fellow PC gaming enthusiasts that do builds for a living. The product manager stays up to date with what the hardware community talks about and was able to talk about trending news. This is just one example of how CLX tries to be a customer first company.
Something else that’s important is the customer experience and providing good support. As mentioned, there are plenty of horror stories out there, but CLX passed the quote on quote “undercover” test. I found it really easy to call in and get friendly basic support. Definitely off to a good start. CLX isn’t perfect, though. The company is still improving a few things with its configurator, case options are not ideal, and then there’s the matter of pricing. We’ll clear a few things up to help you decide whether or not to go with CLX if you’re looking at this brand for a new gaming PC.
Parts configurator and system specs
Just like with any custom PC building site, there’s a starting point you’ll jump off from. CLX uses an Egyptian gods theme for its products, but it can come across as a little confusing among the many other options on the site. There are the Scarab, Horus, and Ra brands that serve to direct you to a form factor for your case. There’s also Osiris for the beefy laptops and the Set selection that contains other pre-configured builds with different styles of cases.
We went with a Ra PC and custom configured it from there. The flagship Scarab, Horus, and Ra brands should all come with the Phanteks Evolv case by default, but the Horus branding was also assigned to some other cases with less cooling capacity. More on that later.
The configurator itself might take you a few minutes to get used to. It’s functionally just as good as competing brands, but the UI needs some work. It leans too heavily on icons to represent different component categories and customization options. These can be a little hard to interpret until you hover over the icons to read the text and figure out what’s what. We were able to put together the PC we wanted to build after we realized there were way more options about halfway through the initial process. CLX says it plans to improve the configurator later this year.
As far as brand selection, there’s not as many options as, say, CyberPowerPC, but there are probably enough options for most people. You’ll be covered as far as popular CPUs, GPUs, etc. One thing to note, however, is that CLX doesn’t list which model of GPU you’ll get due to the unpredictable supply. This won’t be popular with everyone, but it can work in favor of some customers. The way CLX put it is that you might get a Founder’s Edition, or you might get a ROG Strix. It just depends. We received the MSI RTX 3070 Gaming X Trio, which is considered premium model. This practice should return to normal when demand is inevitably satiated, but the company plans to do things this way for now in order to keep systems shipping out on time.
You can also add on all kinds of peripherals and accessories to your order if you want. This all pretty standard fare. Here’s what we configured on the CLX Ra PC in the end:
- Case: Phanteks Evolv
- Motherboard: ASROCK Steel Legend Z590
- CPU: Intel Core i7-11700K
- CPU cooler: CLX Quench 360mm
- GPU: MSI RTX 3070 Gaming X Trio
- RAM: (2) 8GB ADATA XPG 3200MHz
- Storage: 480GB 2.5in Seagate BarraCuda SSD (OS), 2TB Samsung 860 QVO SSD (Games)
- PSU: EVGA 750W
- Fans: CLX Gamdias RGB Fan (PWM)
From what we can tell, CLX only has one method for packaging its PCs, which involves a wooden crate. Crates used to be an upgrade option among PC builders, but have become increasingly standard practice in recent years. This of course results in increased costs, which CLX tries to sell as part of the premium experience. We can’t see the years of RMA stats companies certainly track in order to judge whether this is a necessary measure or not. At the very least, crates minimize the chance you’ll need to send your PC back due to shipping damage.
This PC was packaged with expanding foam pads in the box to keep it completely still while traveling. It was also covered in a cloth and plastic cover. Even if your trusted delivery service left your new PC out in the rain, you’d likely be fine. CLX also uses one of these expanding foam pads inside of the PC to keep the graphics card from getting punished by wonderful delivery services. This should be obvious, but you need to remove that pad on the inside before turning things on.
As is standard practice, CLX also includes a slip of paper with basic customer instructions for getting things going along with the support number in case you run into any snags. You also get owners manuals for all of your components and some accessories. The CLX fans came with a remote for the RGB. There were also screws and other accessories for the case, which you will need if you ever want to work on your system in the future.
Parts and build quality
A good build quality, proper part selections, and hardware configurations are what make or break a gaming PC. There’s a lot that goes into a system and plenty of mistakes to make along the way. In the case of our custom CLX gaming PC, there aren’t many issues to report. All of the components are properly configured, cable management is generally good, the system performs exceptionally well, the parts stay cool, and it’s ridiculously quiet. All we have are minor gripes at best. For the sake of review though, we’ll go through all the common issues that come with buying a gaming PC from system builders.
A case for caution
Starting with the case, there’s a lot to like about the product that CLX elected to go with. The style of the Phanteks Evolv may not be for everyone, but it has better airflow than most cases that come from system builders. You can also get it custom painted by CLX if you want. The case is a mix of aluminum and tempered glass on the outside. The glass flanks both sides and is tinted black. Both sides open on hinges and the doors can be lifted off the hinges.
The front panel features a full front intake that’s minimally obstructed by a cover. It reminds me of the Corsair 5000X, as the air can flow through a 45-degree inlet straight into the front radiator. I didn’t see much of a difference if any when the cover was off and I tested thermals. The case also has plenty of slits for additional air to pass through the top and corner sections of the design. The only real problem with the case are the narrow vents on the roof. These do ventilate heat, but still seem too narrow. The top of the case got plenty hot, though the components did remain cool (and the 3070 plus an 11700K create a lot of heat). The top fans were just blasting a lot of heat into the solid roof of the case though.
We can’t guarantee your components will stay cool in the smaller versions of this case, as the Ra is a full tower. What you order will influence your thermals. If you order power hungry parts, definitely go with this case. If you go with a lower-end system, you might be able to get away with less cooling capacity. The prebuilt cases are severely lacking in cooling capabilities compared to this particular model, so you’ve been warned. Hopefully CLX will be able to add some more high-airflow case options to its lineup in time.
Feel free to go for the CLX branded parts
We ordered the CLX fans and “Quench” CPU liquid cooler with some apprehension, but this is a review, after all. Turns out, these are all great. CLX just slaps its brand on top of parts from quality manufacturers. The Gamdias fans have some of the best RGBs I’ve seen and are whisper quiet. The CPU liquid cooler uses a 6th generation Asetek pump. It’s quiet as far as pumps go and delivered killer cooling for the 11700K.
Cables be gone!
CLX does a great job in showing off the components in the main case compartment. Motherboard cables are tucked away and power cables get the fancy cable combs to keep things neat. Depending on which cables you go with, the results can be very clean. I selected the EVGA PSU that came with black cables. You can also pay for braided cables in other colors. As a note of consideration, think about which cable colors you go with. The service panel side of your case has tempered glass, so you will see things like white cables or SSDs through it. This PC had the black Samsung 860 mounted in the back, so it wasn’t visible through the glass.
The cable compartment is definitely the harder part of the build to cable manage. This really just depends on personal preference, as nobody will ever see this unless servicing the computer. Here’s a shot of the other side. There’s a lot going on, but this is normal.
All systems go (almost)
CLX takes care of everything for you so the PC is ready to go when you receive it. Our brief inspection through BIOS showed that everything was set up properly and all of the components performed to spec. Just boot up and sign into the default profile and you’re ready to go with a blank slate. No bloatware, no need to configure performance. The default profiles aim for maximum performance for both your CPU, memory, and GPU. If you order a PC that comes with PWM fans, those will also come configured to ramp up under load but stay quiet when you’re not gaming.
The only shortcoming was the lack of enabled Resizable-BAR for our system. Seeing as that’s a decent selling point for our particular configuration, it is worth mentioning. This isn’t something we can fault CLX for though, as Nvidia and Intel rolled out support this spring. While our system didn’t have the feature enabled, CLX plans to address it moving forward. However, anyone that purchased the RTX 30 Series from CLX earlier this year should double-check that this feature is enabled. If it’s not, check with support to learn how to update BIOS and VBIOS for it.
Is a CLX Gaming PC worth it?
All things considered, CLX delivered a well put together gaming PC. Aside from a lack of variety for airflow-oriented cases, most should be happy with the customization options available. The company stocks all of the in-demand parts and makes sure customers get the proper performance out of what they buy.
Pricing is the final hurdle to cross. Our CLX build equates to $3,418. To put that into perspective, we put together a list with MSRP pricing for all of the parts in our build. The total cost came out to $2,350. These two price points aren’t completely like for like due to a few limitations, but this does show the general markup for this system. Markup shouldn’t come as a surprise to those familiar with buying prebuilts, but this is on the higher end. Similar systems from competitors cost around $2,700 on the low end and $3,500 on the high end. There are variables to consider though, as one such competitor only offered the 10700K, but matched it with a Z590 motherboard, which makes zero sense.
With this pricing in mind, CLX comes across as a premium brand for this particular build. The extra spent cash means you get premium shipping, and you should get the same premium service, build quality, and custom system optimization that we experienced. There are ways to make the brand more affordable by shopping the sales and picking older components that offer similar performance at far lower prices though. We managed to create a different custom build with similar quality and performance for about $2,300. There’s also the pre-configured lineup of entry-level gaming PCs we mentioned earlier that can be had for well below $1000 if you’re on a budget.
CLX Gaming is worth considering if you want to have a company build a custom gaming PC for you. DIY is cheap, but has its own drawbacks. It will also likely remain difficult to buy a GPU at MSRP for the foreseeable future. Going with CLX will cost you a decent chunk of change in the end, so you’ll have to decide if the experience CLX sells with its PCs is worth it to you versus competitors.
Please note that all prices are in USD.
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