Putting a gaming rig through its paces

A high-end gaming PC is nothing without games. Testing out a newly built gaming PC is not only fun, but it's important to do in order to detect any problems with your computer early so you can return faulty parts. Below are a few great games to play and use for extensive benchmarking.


Crysis "Crysis" was released in 2007, but it still bosts some of the best graphics of any PC game out on the market today. Not only is it a fast-paced and frenetic first-person shooter, it also contains several benchmarking applications that will allow you to tweak the graphics of the game and see how many frames per second can be squeezed out of your gaming rig. The game itself is set on a tropical island in the near-future where an alien artifact has been found. While the game is incredibly detailed and realistic, it can be a little unstable at times and prone to crashes, so don't expect to achieve more than 40 frames per seond with this graphical powerhouse. If your rig can run it with all the highest settings at a constant 30 frames per second, then you're in pretty good shape.

StarCraft II:

StarCraft II Ten years in the making and "StarCraft II" is finally out. StarCraft is a real-time strategy game where you manage an army of alien or human units. The single player campaign contains one of the most memorable stories in an RTS to date, however, StarCraft II's real strength is its diverse multiplayer experience. The original game was played in the competitive PC gaming scene for ten years, and this new version has already taken its place. Due to the high number of moving units and the level of detail, this game can help test both your GPU's and CPU's capabilities.

Metro 2033:

Metro 2033 If "Crysis" is a graphical powerhouse, then "Metro 2033" is a lumbering monster of visual mayhem. The sheer number of actions taking place on screen and their level of detail would leave even the most seasoned PC gamers in awe. While Crysis runs on an older version of graphical rendering software, Direct X 10, "Metro 2033" runs off of Direct X 11 and takes advantage of all of its features. The game is set in a dystopian version of Russia where evil creatures known as Dark Ones are roaming the desolated ruins of a post-apocalyptic countryside. You'll be able to test out the Direct X 11 capabilities of your rig, if you opted for a newer graphics card, while blasting through this first-person shooter.

Just Cause 2:

Just Cause 2 Some of the most detailed and expansive landscapes can be found in "Just Cause 2." You may overlook them, however, due to the consistently over-the-top gameplay, which is full of explosions and gunfire. You'll play as Special Agent Rico Rodriguez as you infiltrate the Asian island-nation of Panau. With an arsenal of high-tech tools, you'll take down the oppressive leader of this nation and free the populous from his tyranny. "Just Cause 2" is not only a great action title, but it also offers several graphical benchmarks that can help you find the right balance between visual prowess and fluid motion. The demo, which can be downloaded for free from Steam, also comes with benchmarks if you're not willing to purchase the full game.

Unigine's Heaven Benchmark:

Heaven Benchmark "Heaven Benchmark," while not a game, is still very much an interactive experience. This program renders a beautiful medieval fantasy scene that palyers can explore like they would a typical game. While you're busy inspecting the floating islands of Heaven, don't forget to inspect the dragon statue in the center of the main island, which showcases some of the most impressive tesselation possible on todays hardware. This benchmark can be downloaded for free from Unigine's website.