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The Best Games to Benchmark Your New Gaming PC

Before firing up your favorite games after building a new gaming PC, benchmark your machine with a few demanding games. This list includes the best games to benchmark your new gaming PC.

Tip: if you’re still debating about the components, these are the best gaming PC parts to prepare your PC for 2024.

1. Cyberpunk 2077

CD Projekt RED’s dystopian RPG has to be near the top of your list if you want to really stress your gaming PC. Cyberpunk 2077 didn’t launch in the most optimum state in 2020, but a few years of work and the release of the Phantom Liberty DLC have now made it one of the most advanced graphical experiences on PC.

Whether you turn on Cyberpunk 2077’s path tracing mode or make do with the Ultra ray tracing preset, this game doesn’t hold anything back. The brilliant lighting, reflections, and shadows come at a cost, and your PC needs to be very powerful to experience the game and all its fancy bells and whistles. Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FSR will help recover some of the FPS lost to ray tracing.

The game is known to have 90% CPU usage, even on 8-core CPUs. Your trusty 6-core CPU might not be enough to max out this visual masterpiece.

Good to know: looking for something similar? These are the best PC games that are similar to Cyberpunk 2077.

2. Alan Wake 2

If there’s something that can bring your gaming PC to its knees more than Cyberpunk 2077, it’s Remedy’s newest title, Alan Wake 2. The long-awaited sequel to the 2010 horror game and the newest installment of Remedy’s ever-expanding universe took gaming graphics to a whole new level with its implementation of path tracing. It’s also the first game to make use of mesh shaders instead of the traditional vertex shaders, so it performs poorly on anything other than today’s best graphics cards.

Screenshot from Alan Wake 2 showing Alan's face bathed in red light

Even the RTX 4090 struggles to maintain playable framerates without some help from upscaling, if a PC gamer maxes out every setting at 4K resolution. The game has been developed with ray-traced visuals from the ground up and needs beefy hardware to render it in all its glory. If your gaming PC can play Alan Wake 2 at 60+ FPS, it can play anything.

3. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor might have become known for all the wrong reasons – horrible optimization on PC, stuttering issues, poor performance even on recommended hardware – but it’s one good-looking game. It requires a pretty beefy system to run at maximum settings.

Screenshot from Star Wars Jedi: Survivor showing a lightsaber duel

The recommended graphics cards for this game are the RTX 2070 and RX 6700 XT, but you’ll see systems with even RTX 3000, RTX 4000, or RX 7000 graphics cards struggling to maintain high framerates at 4K and the highest settings. If your gaming PC is powerful enough to brute-force the game into running smoothly, you’ll know you have a winner on your hands.

4. Metro Exodus

If you’re a fan of survival games, you’re probably aware of Metro Exodus. The third and final entry in the Metro series, the post-apocalyptic first-person shooter sported gorgeous graphics when it originally launched in 2019. An enhanced edition came out two years later and brought ray tracing and global illumination to the game’s already beautiful world.

While you can run the game decently on an RTX 2070 or RX 6700 XT, you’ll need a high-end GPU to really crank things up. Whether it’s the realistic lighting and shadows or the mesmerizing environments, Metro Exodus is one of the best story-driven games, as well as a great benchmarking tool for your gaming PC.

5. Red Dead Redemption 2

Rockstar’s prowess for crafting immersive open worlds is widely known, and Red Dead Redemption 2 is perhaps the studio’s finest achievement to date (at least until GTA VI arrives). The game has incredible storytelling, a flawlessly rendered open world, and immersive gameplay. RDR2 isn’t just one of the best PlayStation games, but also one of the most popular titles to benchmark your gaming PC.

For a game that’s more than five years old, it looks unbelievably realistic. Even without any ray tracing, it’s capable of stressing fairly capable gaming PCs to their limit. You can run it on a budget graphics card at the lowest settings, but to really experience its jaw-dropping lighting, physics, and textures, you have to have a modern high-end GPU.

6. Forza Horizon 5

Racing games often don’t come to mind when we talk about demanding graphics, but Forza Horizon 5 deserves a mention on this list. Even though it isn’t as punishing as some other titles, you still need a powerful PC to extract consistent performance. The fifth edition of the Forza Horizon series presents a fictionalized and visually stunning version of Mexico, allowing you to experience open-world driving in its purest form.

Screenshot from Forza Horizon 5 showing some card racing downhill

One of the best games on the Xbox Series X, Forza Horizon 5 can be played even on a GTX 1070, but if you want a stellar 100+ FPS experience at 4K maximum settings, you’ll need a pretty high-end, latest-gen graphics card.

7. Baldur’s Gate 3

An isometric RPG may not sound like it belongs on this list, but Baldur’s Gate 3 is different. One of the best games of 2023, it brings Dungeons & Dragons to the video game medium, offering tons of content and highly satisfying gameplay. An RTX 2060 Super is the recommended GPU for it, but you may need to set your sights higher.

Screenshot from Baldur's Gate 3 showing a character holding a lantern

Once you start increasing the resolution to 1440p and 4K, and max out the settings, you’ll notice the game getting considerably demanding. You’ll need at least an RTX 4070 for consistent 4K 60+ FPS performance. It’s good to run something different when benchmarking your gaming PC to know you’re covered in all scenarios.

FYI: love RPG games? This list includes the best free RPG games to play on your new gaming PC.

8. Dying Light 2

Dying Light managed to garner a cult following, thanks to its unique spin on the zombie genre and the engaging world the developers created. But Dying Light 2 went bigger and badder – a bigger open world, more characters, more gameplay mechanics, and of course, more immersive visuals. The game features one of the most impressive-looking open worlds, enhanced all the more by ray tracing.

Screenshot from Dying Light 2 showing a zombie at night staring at the protagonist

Most people should turn off ray tracing to enjoy a playable framerate, as ray tracing is mostly reserved for high-end RTX 3000 and RTX 4000 series graphics cards in this game. But, if you have one, crank it up to 11, turn on DLSS or FSR, and find the optimum balance of settings for your taste. Over two years old at this point, Dying Light 2 is still one of the best-looking games of this generation.

9. The Last of Us Part 1

One of the best games of the last decade, The Last of Us needs no introduction. Launched on PlayStation, it remains one of the most critically and commercially successful games to date. Arriving on PC in the form of The Last of Us Part 1, it brought upgraded visuals, enhanced gameplay, and new game modes.

Screenshot from The Last Of Us Part 1 showing Joel caressing a person's head

While it had some stability and optimization issues at launch, regular updates have since improved things quite a bit. It’s now one of the best modern titles to test your gaming PC’s chops. The developers recommend an RTX 2070 Super, but you’ll need an RTX 4070 to achieve 60+ FPS at 1440p. For 4K, an RTX 4070 Ti should be the minimum you should aim for. Be prepared for significant CPU usage, too.

10. Ark: Survival Ascended

Ark: Survival Ascended is a remake of the hit dinosaur-taming survival title, Ark: Survival Evolved. The original game was released in 2015 and looks its age. This remake rebuilds the game from the ground up using Unreal Engine 5, leveraging all the Lumen and Nanite goodness of the engine to deliver a visually striking experience for this generation.

Screenshot from Ark: Survival Ascended showing a dinosaur near a cliff in a forest

The recommended graphics card being an RTX 3080 may set off alarms in your head, considering that’s a relatively recent high-end GPU. Yet, the game’s graphics are so graphic, they need all the horsepower they can get. Even on an RTX 4070 Ti, it’s limited to 1440p resolution. This is one of the most punishing and best games to benchmark your gaming PC.

With the way modern games are punishing the most high-end PC hardware, it seems the days of budget gaming PCs are numbered, if you want to experience the most graphically demanding games at their peak. Fortunately, you can still build a great value-for-money gaming PC for under $1400 that can crush most games at 1440p resolution. Before you start your build, there are many things to consider and some building mistakes to avoid.

Image credit: Flickr. All screenshots by Tanveer Singh.

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Tanveer Singh

After a 7-year corporate stint, Tanveer found his love for writing and tech too much to resist. An MBA in Marketing and the owner of a PC building business, he writes on PC hardware, technology, video games, and Windows. When not scouring the web for ideas, he can be found building PCs, watching anime, or playing Smash Karts on his RTX 3080 (sigh).

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