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
Digital Storm Special|Ops Dreadnought Review, by Alex Cocilova June 14, 2011
An abundance of ports
Neat and easily accessible interior
Lacks a media card reader
Bottom Line: Digital Storm's Special|Ops Dreadnought is fairly priced for its performance, but is not out to break benchmarks.
We expect certain characteristics from a performance desktop: speed, a lofty price tag, and a commanding presence in a room. Oh, and an enthusiastic moniker. The Digital Storm Special|Ops Dreadnought is more than happy to hit all of these notes.
Priced at $2905 (as of June 13, 2011), the appropriately named Dreadnought is intimidating in stature, standing roughly 2 feet tall and almost 2 feet deep in a Cooler Master 942 HAF X chassis--you'll find it hard to walk into a room and miss this machine.
The Dreadnought is armed with a 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K processor. Despite being unlocked, the processor wasn't overclocked, leaving any performance tweaking in the hands of the owner. The Dreadnought is equipped with 8GB of RAM, with two free DIMM slots left for more memory in the future. It's also set up for massive storage, using a 1TB drive for your media and files, and a 128GB solid-state drive for faster boot times for Windows and applications.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 graphics card has been a popular choice among powerhouse PC builders, and Digital Storm saw fit to include one here. The card sports 1.5GB of memory, two DVI ports, and a Mini-HDMI port, and it certainly constitutes one of the heaviest hitters on the graphics card market today. On our graphics benchmark, the Dreadnought breezed through Unreal Tournament 3 at the highest settings, averaging 150.4 frames per second at a resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat averaged about 40 frames per second on the same test--not too shabby for a single-card configuration.
On the optical drive front, the Dreadnought prevails. It has two drives: a DVD-burner, and a Blu-Ray player. For connectivity, the Dreadnought offers dual gigabit ethernet ports and is also Bluetooth-ready. If you need a wireless setup, you will have to purchase a wireless PCI card, as the system has no stock Wi-Fi adapter.
The machine scored 188 on our WorldBench 6 benchmark suite, placing it at a rather mediocre level for a performance PC. The lack of overclocking brought the test results lower than what we're used to seeing in the category. The Dreadnought barely bests the Origin Genesis Midtower 2011 that we reviewed in January (it had a WorldBench score of 186), mainly due both to the solid-state drive and to having double the amount of RAM. On the other hand, the Genesis Midtower was also nearly $1000 less expensive.
Where this system really shines is in the incredibly large number of ports it offers on the front and rear. It flaunts ten USB ports, plus an additional six USB 3.0 ports, and Firewire and eSATA ports on both the front and the back for all the devices and external hard drives you might have lying around. However, it is lacking any sort of built-in card reader. There is some room to add one in later, bet we've grown accustomed to seeing these on machines of all shapes and sizes.
The Dreadnought is filled with fans and grates for easy airflow--but still manages to keep the noise to a minimum. The top of the case sports a 120mm fan, and can fit in another, if you need more airflow. The rest of the case--including the side panel--is decked out with 92mm fans. Glowing red LED lights span the top of the case, lending the Dreadnought a neat ambiance.
The Digital Storm Special|Ops Dreadnought provides some great power at a fair price. Though it is does not prevail against some of the pricier machines on our performance desktop chart, it will still hold its own among machines in its price range. That being said, added features like the Blu-Ray player and the solid-state drive shift the price-to-performance ratio a tad. You'll also have plenty of room to expand, with several open PCI slots, and a 750W power supply to support your upgrade needs. If you're looking for something that's a bit more fleshed out from the get-go, you can always opt for the Genesis Midtower 2011, which has a lower basic price, and work your way up from there within Origin's configurator. Just be ready to pay more as you go.