The world of PC gaming is looking pretty attractive right now. The release calendar is enticing with the likes of Alan Wake 2, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Diablo 4, and Starfield on the way, but more importantly, there’s a whole heap of good stuff happening in the hardware market.
Innovation in the CPU space is rife with Intel and AMD locking horns for desktop supremacy, so much so that the latter has introduced gaming-specific X3D chips laden with an extra dollop of cache. Graphics cards are in stock and coming down in price, SSDs are practically being given away, and after years of stock shortages and exorbitant costs, there are no obvious hurdles when returning to PC gaming.
Those eager to jump in will see obvious attraction to a turnkey solution from a reputable retailer. In addition to the benefit of time saved, there’s extra appeal in the form of system-wide warranty, and reflecting industry trends, all the big names are now being aggressive on price where it’s often no cheaper to build your own.
PCSpecialist’s Zircon Supreme is the kind of rig I might consider were it not for my one-year-old daughter – babies leave precious little time for gaming! – yet I’m nonetheless intrigued to see what’s on offer from a modern, gamer-oriented rig. Priced at £2,099, this here PC aims for gaming nirvana by championing latest-gen AMD hardware. Let’s dive in.
Component selection for a high-end 2023 build can be complex because there are so many impressive parts to choose from. Taking an all-AMD approach helps narrow things down, and we see merit to an AM5 platform whose fledgling socket is expected to support CPU upgrades for at least the next 3-5 years.
Hoping to strike an enviable balance between price and performance, Zircon Supreme skips the absolute best in each category for top-tier components better suited to the savvy shopper. The CPU of choice for a gaming build, naturally, has to be the eight-core, 16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D. Armed with 96MB of L3 cache, the processor is installed atop an Asus TUF Gaming B650-Plus WiFi motherboard outfitted with 32GB (2x16GB) of Corsair Vengeance DDR5-5600 memory and a 2TB Solidigm P41+ M.2 NVMe SSD.
Solid foundations for the intended audience, and at this price point a 20GB Sapphire Radeon RX 7900 XT Pulse makes perfect sense for high-quality QHD or UHD gameplay. Can’t argue with the core components, yet the supporting cast often has to give way when attempting to hit a keen price point.
In this case (excuse the pun), the Corsair iCue 220T RGB Airflow chassis feels basic in comparison to the hardware within. Dimensions of 395mm (L) x 210mm (W) x 450mm (H) are petite for a mid-tower solution, build quality is decent, yet there’s no front USB-C connectivity (dual USB 3.0 Type-A and an audio jack is your lot), and Corsair’s supplied trio of RGB intake fans are louder than we’d like. In the budget case department, we’d prefer, say, a Fractal Design Pop Air, which looks fresh and at least has the option to add USB-C when needed.
Rounding out the build, CPU cooling comes courtesy of a PCS FrostFlow 200 dual-tower air cooler, and power is provided by a 750W Corsair RMe Series modular supply. Do be aware that the £2,099 price point is only applicable as configured, yet while we may favour a faster SSD or nicer case, in truth there isn’t anything we’d insist on changing; component choices are decent throughout.
Onboard Wi-Fi 6 is always helpful in getting up and running quickly, plus there’s 2.5GbE if wired is an option, and PCSpecialist’s overall presentation is tidy. Cable management is neat enough, a clean install of Windows 11 is replete with the latest drivers, the hardware is well secured during transport with foam inlays, and if there is a problem, the standard three-year warranty includes labour for the duration, parts cover for a full year and collection costs for the initial month.
Scouting individual components across various retailers reveals it would set you back somewhere in the region of £2,040 to acquire the aforementioned parts for a DIY build. A less-than-five-per-cent premium to have it put together, tested, delivered and warranted is no bad thing.
7800X3D is a fascinating addition to the Zen 4 portfolio but do be mindful of inherent limitations. With a peak speed of 5GHz, the eight-core, 16-thread CPU is not a productivity powerhouse by today’s standards. The tables are turned when it comes to gaming, as we’ll demonstrate momentarily.
32GB of DDR5-5600 is a safe choice for a modern build. No issues with bandwidth or latency.
PCSpecialist’s standard 2TB SSD is unadventurous. Sequential read and write speeds of 4,145MB/s and 3,344MB/s, respectively, are in line with official specifications for the Solidigm P41+ M.2 drive, and while capacity bodes well for a decent game library, speeds aren’t the best by modern standards.
You might be wondering what all the X3D fuss is about. The first indication of the AMD CPU’s comes via PCMark, which utilises the extra cache to deliver an excellent overall score; no review system has yet managed to hit the 10k mark, but Zircon Supreme gets close.
As expected, the combination of 7800X3D and 7900 XT bears fruit in graphics performance. Zircon Supreme is propelled up the 3DMark chart, bested only by systems employing the outrageous GeForce RTX 4090.
Translating synthetic performance to actual gameplay, the popular Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker benchmark cements Zircon Supreme’s position as a hugely capable gaming rig. Performance scales well across resolutions, and the upgrade will be felt most keenly when migrating from older hardware.
|FPS @ 1080p
|FPS @ 1440p
|FPS @ 2160p
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Ultra High Quality, FSR Off)
|Cyberpunk 2077 (Ray Tracing: Ultra, FSR On)
|Far Cry 6 (Ultra Quality, HD Textures and DXR On)
|Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction (Ultra Quality)
Testing a variety of modern games reveals genuine 4K60 potential. The only potential stumbling block is Cyberpunk 2077, whose raytraced eye candy performs better on rival GeForce cards, despite the use of FSR.
In-game performance occupies a lot of benchmarking limelight, but does AMD get enough credit for efficiency? Given the framerates on tap, Ryzen 7 7800X3D and Radeon RX 7900 XT prove to be a remarkably frugal duo. Handy to know in these times of lofty electricity bills.
Air cooling is evidently sufficient for both core components. CPU temperature peaked at 81°C during full load, while GPU temperature never exceeded 68°C when gaming.
Power consumption and temperatures are plus points, yet there’s room for improvement when it comes to noise. Corsair’s chassis fans are partly to blame, as Zircon Supreme is clearly audible at all times and quite vocal at full tilt. As someone who appreciates a quiet PC, I’d be inclined to swap out the four pre-installed 120s in favour of four quieter 140s (two front intakes plus two top exhausts).
The fun part of buying a new PC is formulating component combinations. The level of choice and customisability is far superior to any game console, and devising the right rig for your intended use case takes careful thought and consideration.
When taking the AMD route, our preference for a high-end gaming system priced at around the £2k mark is to a pair a Ryzen 7 7800X3D processor with Radeon RX 7900 XT graphics. The hard-hitting duo would work well on an affordable and future-proof B650 motherboard, we’d want a minimum of 32GB RAM, and given the size of modern games, at least 2TB of SSD storage.
That exacting criteria is fulfilled to a tee by PCSpecialist’s Zircon Supreme. There’s more than enough performance to drive upcoming games at maximum quality settings, and though the chassis and fan configuration leaves room for improvement, this is an incredibly potent PC primed for a thrilling gaming experience.
PCSpecialist Zircon Supreme
Verdict: a fine example of AMD gaming hardware delivering high-end performance at an agreeable fee.
Best CPU for gaming
7900 XT delivers 4K60
Tidy build quality
Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5GbE
Could be quieter
No front USB-C
SSD not the quickest
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