12 Games To Test Your New PC

12 Games To Test Your New PC
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Congratulations – you’ve just built your first gaming PC. Or maybe you’re like Cecilia and you’ve just bought your first pre-built rig. Either way, you’ve got some fresh new hardware and now it’s time to put it through its paces.

Question is, what should you play? Here’s 12 games to put a new gaming PC through its paces.

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

The Witcher 2 was a fantastic way to test your rig whenever you upgraded your graphics card, and the luscious open-world of The Witcher 3 is even better. Every machine will eventually hit a wall with Geralt’s last adventure, whether its at 4K or pushing Hairworks to the maximum. But whatever settings you finally settle on for your flash new gaming PC, The Witcher 3 will look downright gorgeous nonetheless.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Image: Steam

One of the best ways to test a new rig is by taking a slightly older game that already looked good, and bumping the resolution up natively or through in-built downsampling features (like the ones you find in GeForce Experience or the resolution options in the AMD driver settings).

And a great game to do that with is the orc-slaying simulator Shadow of Mordor. AMD and NVIDIA cards alike struggled to run the game at 4K before the Pascal and Polaris-based GPUs were released, but in 2017 that target is much more achievable. You’ll want to run the game on the High or lower graphics presets if you’re running anything under a GTX 1080. Alternatively, most modern rigs should have no issues maxing out all the settings at 1440p, provided your new PC has at least a GTX 970/Radeon R9 380X.

Planet Coaster

Image: Steam

The mouse and keyboard interface opens a door to a whole world of management and strategy games that never cross the console divide, and one of the best over the last year was Frontier’s virtual theme park land, Planet Coaster.

It’s a little light on the management side, but the first-person rollercoaster rides are a joy to muck around with. And Planet Coaster has the benefit of full Steam Workshop integration, which is great for filling your park with some completely off-beat creations – like the theme park built on a giant cruise liner.

Fallout 4

Image: Steam

You’ll get the trademark Fallout jank no matter what platform you play on, but the PC is the only place you can say “fuck it” and download a 58GB high-res texture pack. The system requirements are probably beyond the vast majority of gaming PCs, but if you want to really push your new hardware to the limit and off a proverbial cliff, this will do it. Crysis just doesn’t brutalise hardware the way it used to.

Star Citizen

But filling the void that Crysis left is another Cryengine-powered game, Star Citizen. It’s far from finished, and the fanbase is expecting a huge optimisation boost when the game’s netcode is updated with Alpha 3.0, due out later this year.

But who cares about that when you can see space in all of its glory. Or at least an idea of what Chris Roberts and co. believe virtual space should be like, anyway. There aren’t too many games where their developers openly brag about pushing the boundaries of PC hardware in the introduction video. Star Citizen is one of those games.

Grand Theft Auto 5

Image: Rockstar

The vast modding scene is already a good enough reason to explore Los Santos again, if you already played Grand Theft Auto 5 on another platform. But if you’ve just upgraded or purchased a new rig, GTA 5 has plenty worth looking at: triple monitor support, support for resolutions beyond 4K, and plenty of PC-only customisations that will make the most of that absurd graphics card.

Project CARS

Image: Delyth Angharad

Project CARS was the gaming equivalent of car porn years before it even came out, and the fact that people are running around with 8K and 12K screenshot galleries only further highlights how stupidly pretty the game is.

Project CARS is also great for showing off VR, if you’ve got a Rift or HTC Vive lying around. The game was one of the best showcases of VR in the days of the Rift DK1 and DK2, too.

Rise of the Tomb Raider


Are you even kidding? Just look at it.

Star Wars: Battlefront

Image: Berdu

Before Berdu started working in the media team at EA DICE, he built a reputation as one of the best screenshotters in video games.

With shots like this, it’s no wonder DICE hired him. And if you want to try your hand at Battlefront beauty, here’s a set of cinematic tools that will give you all the control you need.

Far Cry: Primal

Image: Xanvast

Far Cry games have always looked stunning, but it’s Primal that’s the most visually intriguing and the best showcase of new hardware. It was a decently well-optimised game from the outset, but the Stone Age open-world is a treat at higher resolutions and a good way to put any new PC through its paces.

If you’ve really gone all out with your rig, you’ll also be pleased to know that Far Cry Primal got a 4K texture pack last year.

DmC: Devil May Cry

Image: Dead End Thrills

Sometimes the best thing you can do with a new PC is push an older title to the limit to see how far it can go. DmC: Devil May Cry is great for that kind of treatment. It’s a visual treat – the opening levels are almost entirely bathed in red, then you have the shift to Limbo, that level in the nightclub – and it only gets better when paired with a neat SweetFX preset.

The PC version also wasn’t beset with any of the problems the console editions had at launch, although you’ll still want to play the game with a controller. Diehard fans of the original Devil May Cry games still haven’t forgiven Capcom and Ninja Theory, mind you.


Unsurprisingly, throwing massive stacks of Warhammer armies at each other in siege warfare on a massive battlefield while the skies rain with spells and blood is a solid way to test a new rig. But Total Warhammer is also a useful title for exploring the kinds of strategy games that only really work on PCs, thanks to all the various abilities and armies that require managing.

What are the first games you like to play after an upgrade, or after buying/building a new gaming PC?


  • I just recently got a GTX 1070. Games like Doom, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and FarCry: Primal run like a dream on near-max settings. Assassin’s Creed IV runs like poop. Go figure.

  • I’d also vouch for Battlefield 1, as per the article’s header image (but not in the article?). It’s a very, very pretty game (especially in campaign or on maps like St Quentin’s Scar) and is pretty well optimised too.

    RotR and The Witcher 3 are my main test games now though. Especially TW3. It was my first test game when I bought a GTX 1070 and a 1440p monitor last year. Then I accidentally started NG+ and put another 100+ hours into it <_

    • I just got a 27″ 1440p monitor last night and booted up my 1070 to try on it too. Had to disable HairWorks to get it to run at a smooth 60FPS but my goodness that game looks beautiful. I don’t think any game quite gets sunlight as it does.

      • That’s the one, Hairworks is a biatch D; . I may actually use a mod to just get Hairworks on Geralt’s beard AKA the most important part.

        Agreed though, it’s the weather effects that TW3 just absolutely nails. If you download the Enhanced Weather Effects mod as well, you’ll get chances for increased fog, thunderstorms and the like.

        Which monitor did you get – ROG or the Acer Predator? Or something else? I got the Predator and I’m in love.

        • As weird as this sounds, an old Apple iMac. On some of the models, you can pass through the Displayport and use it as a monitor. Apple generally uses top quality LG displays so it looks fine. Haven’t really tested it for lag, but it looks nice, and I will use the Mac as a server.

          Couldn’t quite pony up for a ROG or Predator, especially with the Switch around the corner!

          • That’s actually some brilliant recycling there! If Apple have ever done something right, it’s generally their desktop/laptop screens.

            Arguably I should have bought a halfway decent 4K TV instead of the Predator, but I was coming from a 24in 1080p monitor so this was a huge upgrade.

            I’m holding off on the Switch at the moment to wait on first impressions, and a bundle or price drop (haha, good joke).

  • Crysis just doesn’t brutalise hardware the way it used to.

    I beg to differ; the damn thing still puts my 1070 through its paces.

    It’s too the point where the programming of the “game” is rigged just to drive PC users nuts.

    I think Doom is also a good candidate; just set the graphics to Nightmare and see what happens.

    But I will admit, I kind of cheat. I still have both of my 960s lying around so I installed one as a PhysX accelerator (does anyone do that or SLi anymore?)

    Unless I plan to play The Witcher games where I swap the role of the cards around.


    • At that stage it’s less the game pushing the envelope and poor optimisation, I think. And you’re right, DOOM is a good candidate, but DOOM is also super well optimised (esp. with the Vulkan inclusion) that you can get it looking great on mid-end rigs quite easily.

      • but DOOM is also super well optimised (esp. with the Vulkan inclusion)

        You’re certainly optimised; got your response in before I finished editing my post.


        Jokes aside, I think even back then Crysis was suspected of being poorly optimised. I had a made whom and a few other diehards actually put their monster rigs to the test and found the game kept capping out in the frame rate despite using beefier rigs.

        As for Vulkan, I’m starting to think even the make and model of the card matters. I didn’t see as good of a improvement on it as I did with DX12 on my 1070.

        • Last time I did testing in the office I got more out of the AMD cards. I think you mean DX11 there BTW, although DOOM only uses OpenGL (and in general, the performance bump from DX11 -> DX12 with NVIDIA isn’t that fantastic and in some games the fps is actually worse).

    • Crysis 3 on my 1070 running everything on super duper ultra max settings destroyed my 1070!
      Such a demanding game ahahah

        • Im not, Crysis 3 has become a sort of benchmark game because its heavy on just about any card. (LTT ‘but will it run Crysis?!?!’)

          Got the 1070 for $430AUD new off Amazon and its certainly worth every penny!
          10/10 will do again 😛

  • IMO I’d probably take the recent Doom as a benchmark over DmC or however you capitalize it. It’s designed to run at a high framerate. Really saw the difference when I upgraded from a 670 OC to a 1080 (like, 25fps to 100+ difference).

    But that said, DmC was a really good game that deserved way more love than it got. Fantastic PC port too.

    • I agree, but I think the point @alexwalker was making was that old games as a category can look fantastic when paired with powerful GPUs and CPUs and DmC was an example. Revisiting something like Dark Souls I on PC coming from a 360 or PS3 support with 1080p+, 60FPS and mods is amazing as I’m sure you’d agree!

      • Pretty much exactly that. (And going along those lines, Dragon’s Dogma is another good example.)

  • Iv had my GTX1070 for a few weeks now and iv been going through my steam library checking out all the games my old AMD7950 just couldnt handle.
    The division scaled well on older hardware and looks super pretty on the GTX1070 but I was not impressed with the Bioshock ‘HD’ remakes.

    I will defiantly check out The Witcher this weekend

  • Witcher 3 was the first game I tried on my new PC last year. The difference between that and the console version was astounding.

    • Annoys me that I had 2 x 1080s and I still couldn’t run the Witcher 3 on max on my stupid monitor (ROG 34inch 100hz GSYNC). Then again that’s more because SLI on these cards sucks dick. Should’ve held out for the Titan. I might even upgrade next gen just because it irks me not seeing 60 fps min in games like the Witcher 3.

      • I’m still a 1080p single monitor scrub so I could run everything at max without dropping below 60 😛

  • My testing games ATM are: Life is feudal…. ARK… and Black Desert

    good list tho try em all out!
    Project cars VR… hell any VR game that is intense is hard to get a solid 90fps

    tweak tweak

  • What’s a good set up for a new gaming pc these days? I’m in the market to replace my 6 year old gaming pc and I need something that will last at least 5 years (I hope) with minor upgrades like memory or graphic cards?

    • Someone might help you here, but i would recommend /r/buildapc or /r/buildapcforme – just read the sidebar rules and you should be able to get some help, you’ll need to post stuff like your budget, current PC specs (for anything reuseable), games you play and what settings/resolution/fps you hope to be playing at.

  • Oh Star citizen?! Really?! You know the cool thing about Star citizen is that you’re gauraunteed 15-25fps on any setting regardless of how much thermonuclear shine comes from your pc. Star Citizen+ANY level of PC = Might as well have a potato.

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