The best graphics cards don’t come cheap, so we completely understand your desire to show off your new rig’s capabilities with the most graphically demanding pc games available. After all, what’s the point of investing in a powerful computer if you’re not playing the best looking pc games? Here, we’ll be highlighting a wide-selection of CPU-intensive games, GPU-intensive games, and RAM-intensive games that are perfect for stress testing your shiny new rig.
To keep things interesting, we’re including a variety of titles across multiple genres, including open-world games, first-person shooters, and the go-to for showing off PC hardware—racing games. Make sure to check back as we’ll be updating this list in the future with new entries. If you would like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:
While its over-the-top characters and “edgy” humor may not appeal to everyone, Borderlands 3 serves as the perfect stress test for powerful PCs due to its vibrant cel-shaded visuals. The looter shooter action RPG takes place seven years after Borderlands 2 and sees players returning to the planet Pandora, a barren wasteland rumored to have hidden vaults filled with treasure and advanced technology scattered throughout.
Pandora’s geography includes frost-tipped mountains, volcanic areas, massive valleys and stretches of coastal land, which is more than enough diversity to showcase your PC’s incredible power. Complementing Borderlands 3’s colorful locales are a cast of new and interesting playable characters such as Amara, a Siren with the power to summon ethereal fists; Moze, a rowdy Gunner accompanied by her mech Iron Bear; Zane, a highly-skilled Operative with access to different gadgets; and FL4K, a robot Beastmaster who can summon animals to join them in battle.
The Metro series continues to improve with each new installment and Metro Exodus is by far the most impressive entry to date. Aside from supporting ray-tracing, featuring an immersive redesigned HUD, and offering more visually-detailed weapons, the story-driven first-person shooter introduces new environments for players to explore as they travel through a post-apocalyptic Russian wasteland.
The game sees you playing as everyone’s favorite Russian scavenger, Artyom, as he sets off to find a new home for his family aboard the Aurora, a massive steam-powered train. However, the journey is far from simple, with harsh weather conditions, ammo-scarcity, lethal radiation, and a host of mutated creatures threatening your survival at every turn.
Playing Destiny 2 on PC is a completely different experience than playing on consoles, where frame rate caps and lower graphical fidelity prevent the looter shooter from reaching its true potential. With the right rig, you can live out all your sci-fi superhero fantasies as you hop from planet-to-planet defeating Fallen, Taken, and Hive enemies with the superb shooting mechanics Bungie is known for.
Destiny 2: New Light is also free-to-play, making it the easiest (and cheapest) way to show off your hardware’s capabilities. If you find yourself enjoying everything the game has to offer, the latest Shadowkeep expansion builds upon the success of Destiny 2: Forsaken by offering players a more streamlined system for upgrading armor, new exotics to hunt for, cross-save functionality, and additional story content.
What better way to spend your time waiting for the release of Doom Eternal than checking out the first game. 2016’s Doom was a return to form for id Software’s iconic first-person shooter, featuring more brutal combat, gory executions, overpowered guns, and last but not least, more Doom Guy.
What’s more the game is just as visually-impressive today as it was at launch thanks to fluid, cinematic-quality animations, disturbingly-detailed blood splatters, and an abundance of explosive weapons. Doom also boasts a new upgrade system which lets players invest in weapons they like along with stylish Glory Kill executions.
Respawn Entertainment’s take on the Battle Royale genre continues to prove itself as both a competent first-person shooter and a graphical sight to behold, with support for volumetric lighting, adaptive resolution, and dynamic shadow coverage. It’s not that surprising when you take a look at Respawn’s track record for producing great-looking games like Titanfall 2 and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
With Apex Legends Season 3 “Meltdown” kicking off, now is the best time to assemble a squad and dive headfirst into World’s Edge, a brand-new fire-and-ice themed map. That’s not all, as the new hacker-based legend Crypto joins Apex’s roster of unique and interesting combatants, bringing new game-changing tactics and abilities along with him.
“Can it run Crysis?” was not only a popular joke amongst PC gaming enthusiasts but also an accurate way to gauge the limitations of your rig at the time. And although game development technology has surpassed the graphical feats Crytek was able to achieve with their first-person shooter, Crysis 3 is still a shining example of how truly gorgeous a game can look with the right hardware.
Featuring highly-realistic environments, dynamic water effects, and expressive character facial animations, Crysis 3 is just as impressive today as it was when it released back in 2013. While its story is largely forgettable, the addition of new weapons and abilities go a long way towards keeping you engaged while exploring an urban rainforest teeming with overgrown fauna, murky swamplands, and turbulent rivers.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a story-driven action RPG set in a medieval open-world powered by CryEngine. The result is hyper-realistic medieval sim with detailed characters, HD-textured objects and environments, and a dynamic day/night cycle. Additionally, developer Warhorse Studios built a motion capture studio to create the game’s highly-expressive facial and swordfight animations.
In it, players control Henry, the son of a blacksmith who decides to join a resistance combating invading raiders after his parents and village are slaughtered. More broadly, it takes place during the Holy Roman Empire when the death of Emperor Charles IV causes two heirs to wage war over the throne. While you won’t find any dragons or magic, Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s medieval-based combat can be immensely rewarding once you make it past the steep learning curve.
Prey is an open-world first-person shooter developed by Arkane Studios which was also made possible by the CryEngine toolset. The game posits an alternate reality where President John F. Kennedy was never assassinated, leading to more technological advancements in the space exploration field. You take on the role of Morgan Yu, a human aboard the Talos 1 space station which becomes overrun by a species of violent aliens known as the Typhon.
While characters and the Typhon all share striking depictions, the real highlight is the architectural design of the Talos 1 space station, which features detailed 1960s-inspired design and décor made only better by running the game on a super powerful PC. On the gameplay side of things, Prey has a lot to offer when it comes to player choice, allowing you to pick Morgan’s gender, what weapons and upgrades you want to use, and make decisions in the world that affect how the story plays out.
Far Cry 5
Far Cry 5 presents players with a massive open-world inspired by the wilderness of Northwestern United States. Set in the fictional Hope County, Montana, the game sees you traveling through vibrant valleys, warm hot springs, and treacherous mountains as you track down three cult generals belonging to Eden’s Gate, a dangerous organization led by a villainous man who calls himself The Father.
Although it maintains the action-packed gameplay the series is known for, Far Cry 5 also provides plenty of opportunities to take a break and admire Hope County’s countless vistas while fishing or hunting. Aside from its campaign, which can be played in both solo and co-op, FC5 features a map editor that allows players to create their own challenges and share them with the world.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider may not be the strongest entry in the rebooted series but it’s definitely the most brutal, depicting a much darker and more violent Lara Croft than previous games. The Eidos Montréal developed action-adventure game sees the iconic explorer venturing to a gorgeous, tropical rainforest in a race to stop the evil organization Trinity from unleashing an ancient Mayan apocalypse.
Gone are the days of playing as an inexperienced tomb raider who was willing to stand her ground when necessary, but typically avoided combat. Instead, we get a version of Lara who’s not only capable but more than willing to kill Trinity’s soldiers using an array of new tools, traps, and weapons. With features like HDR support and built-in benchmarking tools, SoTR serves as an excellent stress test for any gaming PC.
No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky will no doubt go down as one of the most controversial releases in video game history, something developer Hello Games has spent the past couple years trying to remedy with much success. The Beyond Update is the indie studio’s biggest achievement by far, adding a number of QoL improvements along with support for VR and a host of new multiplayer-focused activities designed to entice new and returning players.
However, the game’s procedurally-generated planets brimming with exotic fauna and wildlife appear just as captivating today as they were at launch. Now sporting a redesigned and improved engine, NMS’ algorithm-based geometry and structure does an excellent job at mimicking real nature, resulting in surreal environments with vibrant color palettes that can be absolutely breath-taking on the right gaming rig.
Just Cause 4
Just Cause 4’s huge open-world and physics-based mayhem makes it a solid choice for seeing what your PC can really do. Whether you’re zipping around with a grappling hook, gliding past charming South America-inspired landscapes, or just blowing every car, enemy, and explosive barrel to high hell, there’s always something exciting to see or do.
The game sees players assuming control of Rico Rodriguez once again as he takes on the Black Hand, a powerful militaristic organization run by a new villain named Gabriela Morales. After discovering his own father had ties with Morales and the Black Hand’s shady dealings, Rico travels to Solís, a fictional country prone to extreme weather conditions stemming from the organization’s dangerous experiments.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is by far the best-looking entry in the historically-based action RPG, breathing new life into the now twelve-year-old franchise while telling an original story set in ancient Greece. The game blurs the line between realism and power fantasy even further by providing players with new combat options, including the neat ability to kick enemies off ledges 300-style.
In terms of visuals, Odyssey is a carefully-blended mix of confident art design and technical wizardry, the result being an immersive open-world game whose magic and wonder could rival that of the gods of Olympus. Sprawling environments serve as the perfect opportunity to assess your GPU’s draw distance capacity while interesting lines of sight give you the chance to admire the finer details.
Hitman 2 builds upon the success of the previous game in a lot of ways, most notably the size and scope of its sandbox environments. Levels are more detailed and offer additional opportunities to cause trouble as everyone’s favorite bald assassin, Agent 47, by taking advantage of new disguises and the game’s hilariously-unpredictable AI.
The sequel pushes the Glacier 2 engine to its full potential, rendering intricately designed levels such as a crowded racing event in Miami, Florida and a shady mining operation located beneath a lush Colombian rainforest. These settings are not only interesting to explore, but they also create opportunities to showcase improvements made to Hitman 2’s reflection technology.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3’s intimidatingly-large open-world is simply too enticing not to explore, offering seemingly infinites opportunities to venture off the beaten path and into the unknown. It’s uniquely designed locales and otherworldly beasts are complemented by well-written characters and an engaging story centered on Geralt of Rivia, a monster-hunting Witcher.
In addition to his two swords, Geralt can wield magical powers which add an extra layer to combat and make battling enemies more satisfying. When you’re not slaying powerful monsters, you’re taking in local sights found throughout The Witcher 3’s bustling cities, war-ravaged swamps, dense forests, and sprawling caves.
Control was a hot mess at launch as frame rate stuttering plagued both console and PC versions, not to mention how taxing the game was for even the most powerful graphics cards. The third-person action game is highlighted for being one of the first major releases to not only support real-time ray-tracing but strive to utilize practically all of features included with RTX.
In terms of gameplay and story, Control carries over a lot of the themes and mechanics found in previous Remedy Entertainment games such as Quantum Break and Alan Wake. In it, you control Jesse Faden, a woman equipped with supernatural abilities and a shape-shifting gun called the Service Weapon.
Monster Hunter: World
Monster Hunter games have historically always appealed to a much smaller community, that is until Capcom decided to focus on refining the series numerous systems in an effort to appeal to Western audiences. Although some parts can still feel cumbersome and confusing at times, Monster Hunter: World does an excellent job of making you feel like you’re constantly improving.
Whether it’s taking down a tougher version of a monster you’ve already fought or crafting more powerful gear, progression is measurable and visually represented. Small details such as monsters accumulating scars over the course of a hunt and unique weapon animations for each attack go a great length towards immersing you in this fantastical world. This is made even better thanks to mods like Clear Hunter Reshade which improves textures and details by removing the bleached effect stemming from the game’s engine.
Grand Theft Auto V
If you’re playing on normal settings, chances are you’re not that impressed by the presentation of Grand Theft Auto V’s open-world. However, switching over to its highest graphics settings and installing a few graphics-enhancing mods such as NaturalVision, which overhauls the game’s visuals by making introducing changes to environmental weather effects, lighting, ambient colors, tone-mapping, weapon systems, and higher-quality textures completely changes the experience.
The result is a shockingly realistic depiction of a living, breathing world, albeit one that’s rampant with crime activity. The online version of the game continues to be well-supported by Rockstar and a host of community-made servers, mini-games, and activities provide more excuses to dive into the world of Los Santos.
Project Cars 2
Project Cars 2 is a motorsport racing sim which boasts an impressive catalog of 140 tracks set in 60 real-world locations and a roster of 189 vehicles to race in. In addition to featuring stunning, photorealistic visuals, the game also introduces new dynamic weather and track temperature systems, resulting in a more immersive racing experience.
New types of racing competitions such as Off-Road and Rally cross add some versatility to the game’s offerings while providing opportunities to compare how your PC performs in each mode. Lastly, Project Cars 2 utilizes the LiveTrack 3.0 physics engine, which makes it possible to render realistic track conditions which have a direct impact on your car’s acceleration, handling, and braking.
Anno 1800 is the fastest-selling entry in the city-builder series’ history, and for good reason. It’s not only an engaging real-time strategy game with innovative gameplay, it also happens to be one of the most visually awe-inspiring games within its genre, sporting historically-accurate structures inspired by the architecture of the Industrial Age.
In Anno 1800, players are tasked with determining the future of mankind as they navigate the difficult climate created by a society with rapidly-changing technology and corrupt politics. Your journey will see you shaping the lives of your citizens as you explore new solutions to complex problems, settle new lands, and conquer neighboring territories through a mix of diplomacy, trading, and all out warfare.
Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4 is a testament to everything developer Playground Games has learned since releasing the first entry in 2012 while maintaining the high-speed arcade racing sim gameplay the series is known for. Set in the United Kingdom, the game features 420 beautifully-rendered vehicles and introduces a new dynamic weather system that allows the world to cycle through seasons over time.
The switch from racing on high-stakes circuits to the open-roads of a stunningly-recreated United Kingdom gives the player a chance to admire the hard work that went into crafting every open-field, thick patch of trees, and pile of snow. When combined with the graphical effects from Motorsport 7 and a diverse roster of unique vehicles, it’s easy see why Forza Horizon 4 is one of the best-looking games around.
You might be scratching your head wondering why we decided to include Minecraft of all games on this list. While the popular survival sandbox game’s blocky visuals may not be able to compete with just about every other game on this list in terms of quality, its simplicity provides the perfect opportunity to test your PC’s hardware capabilities in a straightforward manner.
By now, most will recognize the staple Minecraft formula: you break blocks for resources and use them to construct tools, weapons, decorative items, you name it. However, it’s not until you dive headfirst into the world of Minecraft Mods that you realize the game’s full potential, both graphically and gameplay-wise. Mods like Optifine adds support for HD-textures and when combined with a RTX-enabled graphics card, can turn the game’s blocky world into an aesthetically-pleasing wonder.
Unravel Two is a platforming adventure game played from the perspective of two Yarnys, small living beings made of yarn. The two share a connecting thread which allows them to run, jump, and swing in order to solve puzzles and traverse tricky environments filled with dangerous obstacles such as animals, sharp objects, and harsh weather conditions.
The reason we’ve included on this list is its strikingly-unique visuals, which present fantastically-detailed representations of coastal shorelines, damp caves, and mechanical workshops, and abandoned warehouses. The contrast between the Yarnys themselves and the massive environments they inhabit make Unravel Two a spectacle that’s best experienced firsthand.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
The Deus Ex games are known for masterfully blending together elements found in first-person shooters, RPGs, and more traditional stealth games while depicting a visually-engaging futuristic setting. An expansive number of graphical details including atmospheric fog, volumetric smoke and physics-simulation for clothing have allowed the now three-year old Deus Ex: Mankind Divided to retain its spot as one of the best-looking games.
In it, you play as series protagonist Adam Jensen, a sunglasses-wearing tough-talking hero pulled straight out of an early 2000s game cover. Set two years after Human Revolution, the game sees Jensen acting as a double agent for Juggernaut Collective, a hacker group looking to expose the Illuminati that’s secretly been carrying out a sinister plot behind the scenes.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
If you don’t mind challenge that comes with Soulslike games, then Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an excellent way to showcase your gaming PC’s hardware. Set during 16th century Sengoku Japan, the game has you playing as the Wolf, a deadly Shinobi seeking revenge against a samurai who’s wronged him.
A grappling hook allows the Wolf to quickly reach different vantage points in order to track enemies, locate items, or just soak up the game’s alluring Japanese architecture. This is all made even better thanks to support for mods like the Simple Realistic Reshade mod, which makes noticeable improvements to the game’s saturation, contrast, and lighting without being too GPU-heavy.
Whether its PC or console, AAA or Indie, New-York born and raised Justin has a natural curiosity to seek out hidden gems and share them with other gamers. He also maintains his own YouTube channel in addition to writing and managing the social media profiles for GamingScan.