Top 10 performance desktop PCs
Intel's Sandy Bridge processors are still the popular kids on the block, but the new Sandy Bridge Extreme Edition has arrived, to take top honors on our Performance PC benchmarks
AVADirect X79 Silent Gaming PC Review, by Alex Cocilova November 23, 2011
Ample, speedy storage
Boring, boxy case
Bottom Line: The AVADirect Silent Gaming PC is a speedy, powerful, pricey machine in a quiet package.
This new AVADirect X79 Silent Gaming PC may be a bit of a bore on the outside, but crack open the case, and you will see where that $3000 (as of November 21, 2011) price tag comes from.
The star of the show is its six-core Intel Core i7-3930K. It sits in the middle of the Sandy Bridge Extreme Edition lineup, sporting a base clock speed of 3.2GHz. The processor alone will set you back $555, but thanks to the unlocked CPU cores (and with the aid of liquid cooling), AVADirect managed to comfortably overclock the processor to 4.5GHz.
Though the system is as quiet as its moniker suggests, it's still a beast on our benchmarks, earning a score of 215 on PCWorld's WorldBench 6 test suite. It still lags the Origin Genesis 2011, which sits atop the Performance desktop category and earned a score of 223 on WorldBench. But Origin's behemoth cost over twice as much as the Silent Gaming PC when we reviewed it ($6399, on 1/12/2011), and was built around the launch of Intel's original Sandy Bridge lineup.
To complement the blazing-fast processor, AVADirect included 16GB of memory running at 2GHz and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 CPU. All of this in one box makes an impressive gaming rig, wreaking havoc on our graphics benchmark tests. Both Dirt 2 and Far Cry 2 saw over 80 frames per second during testing, on the highest settings at the 2560 by 1600 resolution. It was also able to maintain 36.8 frames per second on the demanding S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat benchmark on the same settings. These are fairly impressive results for a single graphics card. A beefy 850-watt power supply keeps everything running smoothly.
Storage wise, AVADirect's system doesn't disappoint. The speedy 120GB solid-state drive is large enough to comfortably host Windows and plenty of your favorite games and applications with great load times. You can store bulkier files, such as music, movies, pictures, and documents, in the massive 2TB drive. Unfortunately, the 2TB drive takes up a larger external drive bay because of the soft protective case it sits in, preventing any optical drive or disk drive additions. However, the smaller internal bays will let you add up to six more hard drives.
This rig also offers some useful media components as well. In addition to an unremarkable multiformat card reader, you'll find a Blu-ray burner. These are actually rather rare: Most desktops--even those as far up the Performance chart as the Silent Gaming--tend to stick with standard Blu-ray drives. But on this machine, you can either watch your favorite Blu-ray movies, or burn your own Blu-ray discs.
I can't help but comment on how neat the system's innards are. Everything on the Intel DX79TO motherboard is clearly labeled and highlighted in white so you never have to guess where to plug anything in--that tends to be at least half of the headache of putting a PC back together. To AVADirect's credit, the wiring never gets in the way, and is tucked behind the motherboard. It's impressive, really: they managed to store all of that the wiring, and still add sound dampening foam on both of the side panels.
As impressive as the internal workings of the machine is, the exterior does not leave a lasting impression. The case is a simple, plain black box with very little to get excited about. You'll find no graphics or flashy lights, a shallow but almost mandatory feature on most gaming rigs. A swinging door on the front hides the optical drive and card reader, as well as the two front fans. A pair of covers on top of the chassis hides both a larger fan and an external drive bay for quickly swapping in an extra drive.
At a glance, you may not expect much in terms of power and performance from the AVADirect X79 Silent Gaming PC. But the moment you start it up, the potent combination of powerful processor and speedy SSD make themselves known. Coupled with the plethora of RAM and a strong graphics card, you'll find a powerhouse in a near-silent package. Just keep in mind that power doesn't come cheap.