The prevailing wisdom is that pre-built systems are still the best way to get an upgraded graphics card. As graphics card prices normalize, 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 looked to put together a machine that offered decent value for money, balancing the specs to hit its £1,649 price tag. So while it employs one of the latest Intel Alder Lake CPUs, it’s not the top model but the more affordable Core i5 12600KF.
Don’t let that put you off though, this is a phenomenal chip and in fact 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 a surprise to learn that the Reaper comes with DDR4 memory as opposed to the newer DDR5. While it would be great to have DDR5 here – simply because it’s the latest standard and fully supported by this CPU – this decision means the machine comes with 32GB of DDR4 for less than what it would cost to ship this with 16GB of DDR5. That’s a trade I can definitely follow.
CPU: Intel Core i7 12600KF
GPU: Nvidia RTX 3070 8GB
RAM: 32 GB DDR4-3600
Motherboard: MSI Z690-A Pro WIFI DDR4
Processor cooler: Arctic Liquid Freezer II 240
Store: 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 Keyboard/Mouse, HDMI, DisplayPort, Front Audio
ONLY: Windows 11 Home
Guarantee: 5 years
Along with a quality graphics card in the RTX 3070 form factor, an amazing CPU and a 32GB DDR4 memory, you also get a quality motherboard in the MSI Z690-A DDR4 WIFI form factor, a 1TB NVMe SSD and a quality CPU cooler. All of this is built seamlessly into a Lian Li Lancool II Mesh case.
As the name suggests, this is a mesh-front case that offers plenty of airflow, and thanks to the three RGB fans behind that mesh, it also creates a light show. It’s annoying that the front panel USB Type-C port has been blacked out, especially since there’s a header on the motherboard. At least there’s a USB Type-C port on the rear IO.
The only real mark against the Reaper is that the SSD installed is a PCIe 3.0 model. When you’re spending that much money on a system, you want more than just competent, you want something special, and the 1TB Lexar SSD you’ll find inside this machine falls short of that front.
This unit produced one of the slowest load times in Final Fantasy XIV at over 11 seconds. PCMark 10’s storage rating also turned its nose up at the drive, with an rating of 966 (where many modern systems hit 3,000 or more). In terms of direct throughput, the AS SSD compared the drive with just 1871MB/sec sequential reads and 1347MB/sec writes, less than half of 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 sounds a bit high, but you’ll almost triple the throughput if you do. And while you might argue that storage isn’t all that important, the imminent release of DirectStorage could come back to bite your ass here.
We don’t know the full requirements for DirectStorage at this stage, but around 5,000 MB/s seems likely, and that’s notably short of that.
Of course, it’s gaming performance that matters most and the Wired2Fire Reaper does well on that front. At 1080p, you’re seeing silky-smooth frame rates in just about any game you might play. Of course, the RTX 3070 is a card that was built with 1440p in mind, and sure enough, you’re also seeing very strong framerates in our gaming tests.
I compared this machine to the Novatech Reign Sentry, which costs the same as the Wired2Fire Reaper, but has 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 graphics so you can see what the extra £600 gives you – silky smooth 1440p performance basically.
Playing in 4K is a little more challenging, and while there are games where you’ll see well over 60fps, it’s a different matter once you start turning on ray tracing. Cyberpunk 2077, for example, is still playable at 1440p, with ray tracing set to Ultra and DLSS set to Balanced, you’re looking at 59fps.
At 4K though, you’re seeing a much less pleasant 32fps. Metro Exodus with ray tracing tells a similar story, and while 51fps is still playable, you’d be better off maxing everything out at 1440p with smoother frame rates.
If you’re looking for less gaming-focused workloads, there’s also a lot to like here. The Cinebench R23 result of 17,227 shows that this machine will handle 3D rendering well, as well as 52fps x264 video encoding. While there are faster machines out there, you will have to pay considerably more for the privilege.
There’s nothing wrong with cable management on this machine, but Wired2Fire also offers an ‘Extreme Cable Management’ option for an extra £60 that will apparently “make sure your system is looking its best”, which sounds wonderful if a little pricey. He recommends upgrading to a modular power supply to get the most out of this service, but you know, I’m sure the Wired2Fire system builders love a challenge anyway.
One of the perks of better cable management is improved airflow, although it’s hard to pin down how much difference a slightly tidier set of wires will make. As it stands, the Reaper has absolutely no issues on that front, however. In tests, the CPU peaked at 69°C and the graphics card never got hotter than 63°C. Both are legal and well below what could be considered a problem.
It’s also the reason this machine runs so quietly.
It is worth noting the impressive warranty offered by Wired2Fire also for its machines – 5 years in total, with 2 years pick-up and return and 5 years labor. Obviously, you shouldn’t have any problems with a machine you buy, but it gives you a lot of peace of mind in case something goes wrong.
Wired2Fire has produced a tempting and affordable gaming machine with Reaper. Pairing the Alder Lake CPU main with an Nvidia RTX 3070 creates a powerful gaming machine at 1440p, and with 32GB of RAM to call it should last for years of gaming without having to open the case without tools.
The fact that it’s so cool and so quiet shouldn’t be overlooked either. Also consider the healthy guarantee and there’s a lot to love here. It’s a shame the SSD is such a slow beast.