Starforge Systems Horizon II Ultra review: A killer combo

Starforge Horizon Elite II pcDexerto

Twitch content group OTK and YouTuber MoistCr1TiKal launched Starforge Systems together back in 2022, but just how good are their computers?

On August 8, 2022, Twitch content group OTK Network joined up with YouTuber MoistCr1TiKal to launch Starforge Systems just weeks after former PC building company Artesian Builds filed for bankruptcy.

After a rocky launch, Starforge has worked to improve the quality and value of its builds for its customers while also streaming its build process on Twitch. Almost a year after launch, we’ve had our hands on the Horizon Elite II Ultra to put through our gauntlet of testing scenarios and quality checks.

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The good news? The OTK and MoistCr1TiKal-owned company can indeed build a beastly gaming computer.

Key Specs

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-13600k
  • Motherboard: MSI Pro Z790-A DDR5 WiFi
  • CPU Cooler: DeepCool LS520 240mm AIO Cooler
  • Ram: Teamgroup Delta RGB 32GB DDR5 6000 CL38
  • GPU: MSI RTX 4070 Ventus 3X 12GB OC
  • PSU: MSI MPG A850G Gold PCIe 5
  • Storage: 2 x 1TB Teamgroup Z44A5 PCIe 4.0 NVME
  • Case: Deepcool LS520
  • Operating System: Windows 11 Home
  • Price: $2,099


Horizon 2 Ultra PC designDexerto

When it comes to prebuilt computers, one of our favorite things a company can achieve is to make it not look like your typical big-brand PC. Starforge Systems has done just that with the Horizon II Ultra. The PC makes use of scarce logos and other elements which tie it to the company.

Minimal branding is always a plus for us, which we loved on the Maingear MG-1 Shroud Edition. Starforge simply only includes its own logo on the pump cap of the AIO. Though, the design of the logo itself is questionable at best. We would have liked to have seen an alternative pump cap included with the purchase so users can choose a different design.

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Horizon 2 Ultra PC internalsDexerto

Starforge has opted to take advantage of DeepCool’s budget-friendly parts by including the LS520 240mm AIO CPU cooler and RGB fans all placed neatly into the CK560 mid-tower case.

We really like DeepCool’s line of AIOs, and we’ve found that the fans from the company move air quite well. The CK560 case is nice and functional too. The perforated front panel allows for an intake of airflow, with the radiator fans set to exhaust. The case itself also has no sharp edges and plenty of spots for cable management.

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However, the removable front panel is quite wobbly towards the center, causing it to feel slightly cheap. Not ideal for a PC that costs over $2,000. Though, this becomes less of an issue when you set the PC where you want it to go and begin to actually use it.

Build Quality

Horizon Elite II gpuDexerto
The MSI 4070 included in our build uses a single 8-pin power connector.

Tempered glass on the side of the CK560 case gives you the perfect view of the PC’s internals, including the powerful MSI RTX 4070 Ventus 3X GPU. It looks great on the surface, and even better once you crack the side panel open.

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You’ll immediately notice the power plug on the MSI RTX 4070 12GB OC, as Starforge has included one of the only GPUs from this generation that don’t use the PCIe Gen 5 12VHPWR cable. This allows for a nice and tidy cable bend, that won’t be prone to any known issues of the new connector.

Luckily for customers, the Starforge Systems Horizon II Ultra does come with an ATX 3.0 power supply, meaning those looking to upgrade to a 4080 or any other 40-series GPU that does use the 12VHPWR cable will not have to make use of the included adapter.

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Just like every decently sized GPU lately, the 4070 Ventus 3X requires an anti-sag bracket to prevent stress on the PCI-E port. Instead of having a traditional bracket that slides under the card from the front or side, Starforge has opted for a Lian Li-style bracket that screws to the motherboard standoffs that we absolutely love.

Horizon 2 Ultra Cable managementDexerto

The cable management on the PC’s rear — where many PC builders leave a rats nest of wires — is very pleasantly organized and tied up on our build, allowing us to easily figure out what wire goes where.

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On top of that, the wire organization allows for easy access to both your 3.5″ storage drive bays and the 2.5″ drive mounting points.

Starforge has even gone as far as including Cablemod sleeved PSU extensions for all cables that are visible in the front, making for a beautiful-looking computer.

We’re quite pleased with the build quality of the Starforge Systems Horizon II Ultra, as they’ve left us with very little to critique.

Gaming Performance

Cyberpunk 2077 character screenshotCD Projekt RED
Cyberpunk 2077 got off to a rough start but has seen a recent influx of players.

As a mid-range build, the 13th-gen Intel Core i5 13600k paired with the MSI RTX 4070 Ventus 3X 12GB OC GPU makes this PC quite a beast for the budget, and our benchmarks prove it. The system is extremely similar to our benchmark PC, and we’ve put it through the same tests.

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Testing pure rasterization performance at 4K and 1440p saw the Horizon II Ultra scream past our Founder’s Edition RTX 4070 benchmarks, likely thanks to the factory overclock included. For many titles without ray tracing, you should expect triple-digit performance.

In Cyberpunk 2077 with ray tracing at 1440p with DLSS3 on we saw a max of 138 FPS, but an average of 118 FPS which brings performance in the game around the ideal 120 FPS mark that we prefer playing games at. Turning DLSS3 off, however, brought the FPS down to between 79 and 100. This is still more than playable, and a showcase of excellent performance for the PC.

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Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K resolution ran quite a bit slower. However, the maximum of 78 FPS with an average of 68 FPS is perfectly suitable for anyone willing to sacrifice a high refresh rate for high resolution.

All of our tests on Overwatch 2 and CS:GO resulted in very high frame rates, making the Starforge Horizon II Ultra plenty suitable for fans wanting to enjoy esports-focused games, too.

Forza Horizon 5 (1440p, Ultra)148 FPS186 FPS
Forza Horizon 5 (4k, Ultra)105 FPS127 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 (1440p, Ultra, RT Ultra, DLSS Performance, Frame Generation / FSR )118 FPS138 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 (4k, Ultra, RT Ultra, DLSS Performance, Frame Generation)68 FPS78 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 (1440p, Ultra, RT Ultra, DLSS off)79 FPS100 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 (4k, Ultra, RT Ultra, DLSS off)14 FPS18 FPS
CS:GO (1440p, High, Dust 2)350 FPS400 FPS
CS:GO (4k, High, Dust 2)250 FPS300 FPS
Overwatch 2 (1440p, Ultra)300 FPS330 FPS
Overwatch 2 (4k, Ultra)250 FPS280 FPS

We think that the 13600K paired with an RTX 4070 is a killer combination in 2023 for gaming at 1440p, and these results prove it. The Horizon II Ultra will manage to run just about anything that you throw at it, thanks to the great performance of its main components.

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Synthetic benchmarks

We also put the system through 3DMark, Aida64, and Cinebench R23 synthetic tests to see how well the Horizon II Ultra performs under extreme loads.

All of our 3DMark benchmark scores came out just as expected, with good scores across the board. These results also fell in line with our testbench system used for our RTX 4070 Founder’s Edition review, with nearly identical parts. The slightly lower score is extremely minimal and could be attributed to the slightly different configuration.

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BenchmarkTime Spy ExtremePort RoyalSpeed Way
Horizon II Ultra8102105904266
Benchmark PC8608112934520

Thermal performance

The Deepcool CK560 case is optimized for airflow, and the results show exactly that. We set the PC to the test while gaming, and under extreme synthetic loads. With three intake and exhaust fans on the Horizon II Ultra itself, we were not disappointed.

Gaming thermal performance

BenchmarkCyberpunk 2077 (1440p)
CPU Temperature (Average)61c
CPU Temperature (Max)68c
GPU Temperature (Average)54c
GPU Temperature (Max)65c

When running Cyberpunk 2077, a demanding title at 1440p, we can observe great temperatures across the board between both the CPU and GPU. Neither the average nor maximum temperatures under gaming workloads would stand to make any of the components throttles.

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While we were admittedly worried about the CPU cooler being set to an exhaust configuration, it still manages to keep the chip cool. when paired with three 120mm intake fans and an additional exhaust at the back, this PC will be absolutely fantastic for gaming, and will keep those all-important components nice and cool while gaming.

Synthetic thermal performance

TestAverage temperatureMax temperature
Aida64 (30 Minutes, full load)77c83c
Cinebench R23 Single Core (1917 score)54c68c
Cinebench R23 Multi Core (22233 score)94c100c

For Aida64 and Cinebench R23, we monitored temperatures and base clocks through HWInfo. Outside of the Multi-core R23 test, the Starforge Horizon II Ultra stayed nice and cool thanks to the DeepCool LS520 AIO and properly placed fans throughout the case.

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During the multi-core test, the CPU’s performance cores almost immediately throttled down to 4.3ghz from the standard 5.1ghz max clock speed we saw throughout our gaming benchmarks and other tests.

It’s important to note that these are extreme scenarios, and you are unlikely to get these temperatures while gaming.

Should you buy it?

The Starforge Systems Horizon II Ultra is a great, higher-end gaming PC that can achieve triple-digit performance in some of the most popular games around, while keeping all of its components cool. With excellent build quality and very little to complain about, it’s a well-rounded system for 1440p gaming.

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The asking price of $2099 is relatively modest too. Not only do you get extras like premium Cablemod sleeved extensions, but you also get the benefit of someone else building the entire system almost flawlessly, and ship it to you, too.

We priced up a PC with nearly identical parts for around $1850, so the premium you’d be paying for Starforge Systems’ support, build cost, and more equate to around $250, which is incredibly reasonable, especially when compared to others out there on the market.

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The Verdict – 5/5

This competitively-priced PC is perfect for gamers targeting 1440p, and Starforge Systems should pat themselves on the back. Following a rocky launch, the ship has seemingly steadied, and the company can deliver an excellently well-rounded system in the Horizon II Ultra.

If you’re shopping for a new PC and want to support your favorite creators, we don’t think you could do much better than what Starforge Systems has managed to assemble.

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