The Swiss army knife of gaming PCs

The Swiss army knife of gaming PCs

The Swiss army knife of gaming PCs

Yesterday, I posted some news about the launch of CLX system integrator CLX’s new Intel-based dual-PC, the mighty Hathor. The first of its kind, according to CLX. For the uninformed, we’re talking two PCs in one, eliminating the need to run two standalone computers while gaming and streaming at the same time.

I’ve spent about a week with a fully spec’d review unit, and while it’s definitely a niche product aimed at a very specific segment of the gaming/streaming market, I think it’s worth a serious look, if for no other reason than that. the obvious ambition behind the build.

First off, the Hathor is an insanely heavy piece of tech equipment. I wouldn’t say that’s surprising given how crammed with components the Lian Li frame is. For example, it has two separate power supplies installed to power two separate CPUs. There’s also the standalone NUC with accompanying mini-board, which takes up the entire bottom of the motherboard area. All of that is combined with the usual suspect components like a giant GPU (GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition, in this case), a 1TB OS drive, a 4TB HDD dump, an Elgato 4K capture card, and enough cooling fans to provide a clean takeoff runway for a literal jet probably.

For those interested, here is the complete list of specifications:

CLX Hathor, Primary Unit

  • Processor: Intel Core i9-13900K
  • CPU Cooler: Phanteks Glacier One 360MPH white
  • Motherboard: ASUS STRIX Z690M-G Gaming D5
  • Memory: Kingston Fury Black RGB 32GB
  • OS drive: 1TB Samsung 980 PRO PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Storage Drive: 4TB Western Digital HDD, 256MB Cache
  • Video: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition 16GD6X
  • Frame: Lian Li O11D Dynamic XL ROG white
  • Chassis Fans: Gamdias Aeolus M2 1201R RGB White
  • Power supply: 1000W EVGA SuperNova Gold G5
  • Power Cables: Cablemod Black Cable Kit for EVGA PSU
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 11 Home 64 bit

CLX Hathor, secondary streaming unit

  • Intel Compute Element 12
  • Processor: Intel Core i9 12900
  • Memory: 16GB Crucial DDR4 3200MHz SODIMM
  • OS drive: 1TB Samsung 980 PRO PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Capture Card: El Gato 4K60 Pro
  • Power Supply: 750W EVGA SuperNova GT Gold
  • Power Cables: Cablemod Black Cable Kit for EVGA PSU
  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 11 Home 64 bit

The chunky system arrived in what CLX calls its Sarcophagus crate, which in turn added a lot more pounds to the package, punishing my poor aching back as I somehow managed to drag it where it needed to go. I’d recommend bribing a very strong In-N-Out friend for this arduous process, especially if your Hathor needs – God forbid – to climb some stairs.

The good news is that the wooden case protected the PC beautifully during transportation. The Hathor was conveniently located inside a sturdy cardboard box inside the protective sarcophagus, padded with plenty of insulation foam to boot, both inside and out. After removing all of the internal foam from the frame, I couldn’t find any cracked glass, broken parts, or loose components. This is a win for CLX and possibly UPS. I’ve had PCs show up with their glass panels completely shattered, but not this time.

The ROG Lian Li O11D Dynamic XL case (in an elegant white colorway) is simple and impressive. It has a brushed aluminum panel on the front that houses separate power buttons for the primary 13900K gaming processor and secondary 12900 NUC, so you can boot them up independently at will. It also has four USB-A ports, two at the top and two at the bottom of the panel. Finally, there are both microphone and headphone jacks, as well as buttons for physically controlling the unit’s internal RGB lighting.

Despite the stuffy tempered glass panels that show off all components, the chassis is very well ventilated, with perforations on much of the solid surrounding panels. Ten different RGB fans help the custom Phanteks AIO CLX keep the machine running smoothly and cool, and in all of my tests, everything seemed to do its job swimmingly. No weird bottlenecks or throttling.

As far as overall build quality goes, I think the CLX has done a great job. Cable management is solid, and there’s not a single bit of shoddy setup to speak of. I wish a matching white GPU was included, as the 4080 silver and black clashes with the otherwise ubiquitous white theme.

The ASUS STRIX Z690M-G Gaming D5 motherboard is by no means the ultimate motherboard, but it has plenty of what you could possibly need, including three different M.2 slots for fast storage and up to 6E wireless connectivity. What’s interesting is that because it’s a dual-PC setup, the NUC and Z690-G both have input panels along the back of the Hathor. Basically, you get double the inputs (USB, Ethernet, etc) because you are literally running two PCs.

So what is it like to use the Hathor? Well, I’d say if you’ve never used a dual PC setup before, something like Hathor takes some getting used to. I originally thought I needed to connect two sets of peripherals, but after tracking down Microsoft Mouse Without Borders software, I was able to share a single keyboard and mouse across PCs and monitors. Amazing!

For a dual PC newbie like me, the whole experience was an absolute journey. The NUC has its own processor and 16GB of DDR4 memory, so running a stream (or any other application, really) on the second monitor while simultaneously playing games on the 13900K was a wonderful, seamless experience. And this has happened with games like Cyberpunk and Forza Horizon running at maximum graphics settings with a constant (and often higher) 60fps at 4K on the primary monitor! CPU and GPU temperatures also remained entirely reasonable. It’s kind of dark magic and I can’t get enough of it.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the all-in-one powerful nature of the Hathor, even if it stubbornly remains a strange bespoke product in the end.

Do I recommend the Hathor to the average PC gamer and content creator? Maybe not. If you just want to play in 4K at ridiculous graphics settings and maybe tweak YouTube content on the side, you can easily set up one of the CLX’s other machines with a 4080 or 4090 and lots of memory for endless gaming and creation options. The Hathor would be overkill for this type of consumer, who are better off sticking to a standalone gaming PC.

However, if you’re already falling deep down the streaming/content creation rabbit hole and could actually benefit from offloading much of the coding, rendering, and general grunt work to another PC in real time, then Hathor could potentially fit that bill like a glove. While boosting gaming performance and greatly reducing desktop clutter. That said, I wouldn’t suggest putting this beast on on the top necessarily of a desk, unless it is made of pure titanium. This is more of an under the table operation, I would say.

Of course with 4080 and 13900K, Hathor can handle any game you throw at it with flying colors. Add the handy NUC to that equation, and you could have the ultimate streaming (or in general, multi-tasking) PC. Using a single set of peripherals for both machines, being able to drag files and move the mouse cursor across monitors, is just icing on the cake.

CLX hasn’t provided an exact price for this specific model, but I’d imagine it’s pushing at least $5,000. Also, the price is relative to what you put into the chassis and will change depending on which goodies you decide to include via the website configurator.

Verdict? Well worth it for serious streamers and a tremendous achievement in component consolidation, but gamers who just want to play might be better off looking elsewhere.

Clarifications: CLX has provided a review unit for coverage purposes.

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