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July 16, 2012

PDXLAN 20: 550 Windows Gamers Under One Roof

If you want to see just how serious Windows gamers can be- you really need to go to a LAN party. One of the largest gatherings in the United States happens three times a year in Portland, Oregon. Since it was so close to Microsoft’s offices in Redmond, I decided to attend PDXLAN (July 13-16, 2012) to meet a few Windows enthusiasts in person. I was impressed by the people I met and the tricked out Windows PCs that I saw.


You might think of network gaming as something that people do only when connected to the Internet, with opponents never seeing each other. At a LAN party, there’s a completely different dynamic going on. There’s lots of socializing, sharing, and at times screaming from an entire team when a victory is secured. The entire venue is alive with activity, and it’s an experience that you can’t really capture aside from being there in person.


PDXLAN 20 is big. Here are a few of the stats:

  • Attendance: 550 + staff, vendors, media
  • ~2,000 amps available (110VAC outlets)
  • ~750 Ethernet ports, gigabit core, gigabit backbone
  • 1,700 pizzas consumed
  • 15,000 cans of Monster energy drink given away
  • $100,000 in prizes at the event
  • Hall hours: 10:00am – 4:00am

There’s always something going on including outdoor competitions, gaming tournaments, vendor presentations, giveaways, case mod competitions, and more. Lots of noise, action, motion, and heat (think 600+ systems at ~750watts each in one room). Never a dull moment, that’s for sure!

The Latest Hardware and Accessories

LAN events are a great place to see the latest hardware offerings from vendors, to see what people are running for hardware, and how various configurations perform with different games.


Matt Conwell’s custom PC with dual NVIDIA GTX-680 Video cards

There’s one thing that remains true with the extreme gaming community: you can’t have too much processor or too much GPU. There were plenty of interesting high-performance configurations and components to look at including 12-core CPU systems, and dual graphics card setups. I learned at the event that many of the attendees are running game titles (such as Battlefield 3) that take advantage of the latest graphics hardware and DirectX 11.

Custom PCs

For me, one highlight was seeing all of the custom gaming Windows PCs at PDXLAN. Lots of illuminated cases, water cooled systems, dual systems (two complete systems in a single case), modded and custom cases, and other custom hardware configurations.


The system pictured above is a dual system setup that also features liquid cooling. Some gamers will run both a gaming server and a gaming PC out of the same case. Who wants to carry around two boxes, right?

If you want the ultimate in a portable powerhouse system, why not build it into an electronics case? Here we see a system with display integrated into the case lid:


These events also give you the opportunity to meet and talk with people that are well known in the gaming and PC building communities. I had the chance to sit down and talk with Anthony Lackey at the event to hear details about his custom PC build “Candy” that was featured in the October 2011 issue of CPU Magazine.


Some high-level stats on Candy:

  • P8Z68-Pro Asus Motherboard
  • Intel 2600K Processor running at 5.0 GHZ
  • Kingston HyperX 128GB SSD’s in Raid 0 with over 1000 MB/s read and write times
  • Running 3 Acer P244W Monitors in an Eyefinity setup with a resolution of 5760X1080p
  • 2 Sapphire 7870 GHZ Flex edition cards in Crossfire
  • Lots of custom sleeving and paint work

You can see here where the name “Candy” comes from- there’s eye candy everywhere you look on this PC! I like the eye-popping, consistent color theme and I think Anthony did a great job with all of the fine details on his PC. 

Check out this video I put together showing some highlights from the event, including an interview with PDXLAN founder/organizer Matt Conwell:

I had a great time and hope you can check out upcoming LAN events from PDXLan! These events are popular, so plan to register early if you want to attend.


PDXLAN sponsors

You can follow me on twitter here: @GavinGear