Power, Pricing, Upgrades and Final Thoughts
Power consumption on the AVADirect system is pretty reasonable when compared to some other recently tested systems like the 3-way SLI configured Digital Storm computer.
There is no secret to AVADirect’s success here: take one of Intel’s wildly popular Core 2 Quad processors, overclock it by nearly 800 MHz, attach to it some of the fastest DDR3 memory you can buy and you’re bound to have a fantastic run on the benchmarks. That is exactly what happened with my sample system as the quad-core 3.4 GHz processor was able to run through just about all of our tests without breaking a sweat. The DDR3 memory running at 1600 MHz is among the top speeds you can push with aggressive timings adds to the mix as does the XFX 790i Ultra SLI motherboard.
What really made the difference for the AVADirect system in our PCMark Vantage results was the inclusion of the new Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB hard drive – easily the fastest standard disk-based hard drive we have ever laid hands on for the enthusiast consumer. With a processor running that fast you need to get rid of many of the potential bottlenecks as possible and storage has traditionally been one of the most cumbersome.
The only potential drawback on the system was the BFG GeForce 9800 GTX+ GPU – and that is saying something about the configuration if that is the slow point. I don’t want to take anything away from the 9800 GTX+ in general, but pairing a single card like that with a highly overclocked 3.4 GHz CPU and 4GB of DDR3-1600 memory makes it seem like the odd man out. Simply doubling that up with another 9800 GTX+ would probably do the trick and put the graphics system on par with the primary CPU. Either way, we were able to play Call of Duty 4 well even with a single CPU so we have very little complaint in this area overall.
The design of the AVADirect custom built system is both its crux and its gain. On one hand the fact that AVADirect uses all standard components on their system builds, from the chassis to the coolers to accessories, makes them particularly unspectacular. Any enthusiast you know might have a computer that not only features the same components but also one that just LOOKS the same and that is just not the case with Alienware, Voodoo or VelocityMicro PCs, for example. Visual differentiation is important to some buyers that are looking for an enthusiast gaming PC that doesn’t look like all their friends’ boxes.
On the other hand, none of the above mentioned system builders will let you select components with such detail as AVADirect does on their website. There are MANY different cases that you can choose from, all kinds of memory vendor brands as well as very specific CPU coolers. If you are an experienced enthusiast that is familiar with brands like Cooler Master, Thermaltake and others, then you have an advantage in being able to select from these groups for AVADirect to build your computer from.
One drawback though is that consumers that are not product knowledge might be overwhelmed by all the choices – after all how does Patriot Memory differ from Corsair Memory besides the price? There is very little information on the site that tells a user WHAT these options actually are or what they add to your system in performance, appearance, etc. It would be nice to at least see correct photos that update with the cases – the most important component when it comes to the appearance of the custom gaming PC.
The system as I tested here today will run you about $2450 – much, much less than the Alienware Area-51 or HP Blackbird 002 PCs we recently tested. How can AVADirect do this while still getting such great performance? One reason is because they don’t use the custom chassis designs that I mentioned above that offer the boutique companies a personality but also raise their cost. The other reason is that AVADirect chose to take a cheap processor like the Q9450 and overclock the hell out of it – a 27% increase in clock rate came at measly $150 charge.
Of course should you WANT the higher priced options, QX9770 processors, multiple graphics cards, etc, you can certainly add them but the real positives of going with a system builder like AVADirect is their strength if building fast machines at a lower than standard price. Yes, you could still likely build this very same PC with the same components and a lower price tag, but with AVADirect you get telephone support, a 3-year warranty and with that, a little bit more peace of mind.
AVADirect is a much different system builder than say an Alienware or Voodoo brand and the benefits of that really come at you when you look at the system options and prices available in a custom gaming PC. The sample system that AVADirect sent to us was built just like I imagine many of our own readers would: a low cost processor that is tweaked and overclocked to outperform the more expensive options, reasonably priced GPU and super fast overclocking friendly memory. While I know most of you would be able to build something like that, for those of you that don’t have time, or really like the idea of having someone to call when things go wrong, AVADirect looks to be a great company to look for your next gaming system.
If you want to build your own AVADirect system, visit http://www.avadirect.com/
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