Digital Storm Releases the Bolt II: Steam Machine!

Subject: Systems | January 7, 2014 - 05:08 AM |
Tagged: CES, steam os, Steam Machine, Steam Controller, small form factor, dual boot, Digital Storm, CES 2014, Bolt 2

Today Digital Storm has announced the Bolt 2 small form factor computer.  This little number is marketed as a “Steam machine”, and for very good reasons.  This particular number packs in quite a punch in a very small space.

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The custom designed case has a very effective and logical layout.  It really is quite small, but it is very strong and robust.  It can handle a micro-ITX board, multiple drives, and a dual slot graphics card.  The system I saw was decked out with a GTX 780 Ti along with the Intel i7 4770K.  It includes Digital Storm’s proprietary lighting and cooling module which of course controls the lighting… and cooling fan speed for the system.

Cooling is primarily based on the Corsair H100i dual fan unit.  This portion takes air from one side/top of the case (depending on orientation) and then vents it through the rest of the chassis.  The graphics card takes air from the other side of the case and routes it out the back.  This cooling solution allows a fair amount of overclocking to be attempted by the end user, but it does have limitations as compared to a larger system with more airflow.

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The design utilizes a 700 watt power supply, which is pretty impressive considering the space constraints that Digital Storm has to deal with.  A lot of work with partners has allowed them to include this very small unit with a pair of 30 mm fans at either end.  One would expect such fans to produce a LOT of noise.  This is happily not the case.  The design is good enough, and efficient enough, that at higher loads (including overclocking) it stays very quiet.

The system is very accessible, far more than most would expect.  Anyone that has worked on an older small form factor case will testify as to how annoying and contorted setting up hardware (or swapping it out) can be.  Digital Storm again took their time with the design to make sure that installation and the changing of components is as simple as possible.  A person armed with a screwdriver can get to any major component in a few seconds.  Swapping out the video card would take the amount of time of removing four screws, unplugging the power, and making sure not to rip out the PCI-E 16X ribbon connecting the card to the board.

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Prices for the unit start at $1500 and go above $2500, depending on component choices.  When Valve finalizes the Steam OS and has it ready for prime time, Digital Storm will be including the Steam controller with the build.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2014: Digital Storm Bolt II SFF Steam Machine

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2014 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: SteamOS, Digital Storm, CES 2014, CES

Another big expectation coming into CES, this year, was the announcement of Steam Machines. We have already seen a few announcements but most of those were just teasers of what is to come at the event. Unlike our fears with G-Sync, many of the products we have seen differ from one-another and attack specific niches. One attaches to the back of your TV while another is a pretty beefy system with a console price-tag.

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This one is another small form factor (SFF) machine that includes both SteamOS and Windows to access both libraries. The Digital Storm Bolt II goes after the high end with a factory-overclocked CPU and easily accessible (their claim, I cannot form an opinion without using it) graphics card, storage, optical drive, and cooling system. They do stress the cooling capabilities of their SFF design so it would seem that was their development priority.

I am somewhat confused about the default dual-install, however. Everything special about SteamOS will be ported to the Steam Client so the main advantage of leaving Windows would be to access Linux-exclusive games. That does not seem like much of a market at least for the moment. I expect that, unless Microsoft completely blows away their own foot, anything that comes out for SteamOS will also be released on Windows. I would expect this feature to come much further down the line. It is certainly not a bad thing, however, apart from a little recovered harddrive space.

Apparently the device will be available soon, this month, with an $1899 MSRP.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Digital Storm Releases HydroLux Liquid Cooling System

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 2, 2013 - 11:31 PM |
Tagged: Digital Storm, hydrolux, aventum II, water cooling

Last week, boutique OEM Digital Storm unleashed the HydroLux cooling system for its high end desktops. The HydroLux system is a high end, custom water cooling system for all of the major system components paired with custom software that allows users to monitor and manage the cooling system.

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The Hydrolux loop is essentially a highly customized water loop with some interesting extra features. The water loop is designed to cool the CPU, VRMs, and GPUs with water. The various water blocks have chrome fittings and are connected using red tubing. A large cylindrical reservoir, high flow pump, and two 360mm radiators make up the rest of the water loop. The two radiators each have three LED-lit 120mm fans. Other features include quick disconnects to facilitate easy component upgrades and a high flow pumps rated at 300 gallons per hour.

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Using the HydroLux software, users can monitor the temperatures of the components (CPU, GPU, HDD, ect) and the water temperature itself. The LEDS used in the chassis and on the fans can be set to certain user-selected colors or to automatic mode which will gradually change the color from blue to red as the system temperature increases from higher system load be it gaming, rendering, or other intensive activities.

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Enthusiasts are also able to choose from three pre-set modes that will control the fan speeds to get the best balance of noise and cooling performance.

The HydroLux cooling system will be available on all of Digital Storm's desktops, including the new Aventum II. In short, while it is essentially just a custom water loop, the company has added some nice features to make it interesting and if you are going the OEM/boutique route it looks to be one of the better pre-built custom water options.

Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Digital Storm

Haswell and Kepler

With the release of Intel's Haswell core processors and the updated graphics card lineup from NVIDIA, Digital Storm has updated many of their custom PC lines to include both.  A little while ago the company sent along a pre-built Ode system that includes some impressive hardware like an overclocked Core i7-4770K and a GTX 780 along with a Corsair SSD and more.  Even though the design is using fully off-the-shelf parts, the build quality is impressive and will interest many users that want the jump start of a ready made rig.

Our article today (and embedded video) will give you a quick overview of the hardware, the build and the performance that you can expect for this $2500 PC.

  • Digital Storm Ode Custom
  • Intel Core i7-4770K (OC to 4.4 GHz)
  • ASUS Z87-C Motherboard
  • Corsair H100 Water Cooler
  • 16GB (2 x 8GB) Kingston HyperX DDR3-1866
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Graphics Card
  • 120GB Corsair Neutron SSD
  • 1TB Western Digital 7200 RPM HDD
  • Corsair HX1050 Power Supply
  • Corsair Graphite 600T White Case

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Current pricing on this build is $2577 from Digital Storm's website and while that is definitely higher than buying the same components out right, the difference shouldn't be enough to scare you off.  More on that later.

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The Ode from Digital Storm is built around the Corsair 600T chassis, an older design that still stands up well in terms of looks and performance.  The only draw back to it is that it does not have an internal USB 3.0 header and thus still uses the external cable to plug into the back of the motherboard.  If you want to see video from 2010 we did of this case, check the way back machine to do so!

A white color scheme really makes this system stand out and the window on the side panel will let everyone gawk at the components included inside.  With plenty of room for fans, radiators and good intake filter support throughout, the 600T remains one of our favorite chassis at PC Perspective.

Continue reading our review of the Digital Storm Ode Custom Gaming PC!!

Digital Storm Launching Haswell-Powered 13.3" VELOCE Gaming Notebook

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 12, 2013 - 12:24 AM |
Tagged: veloce, Intel, haswell, gtx 765m, gtx 700M, Digital Storm

Later this month, Digital Storm will be launching the 13.3” VELOCE gaming notebook. The 13.3” laptop is 1.26” thick and weighs 4.81 pounds. It combines a 1080p screen with an Intel Haswell processors and NVIDIA 700M dedicated graphics.

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On the outside, the VELOCE features a black laptop lid with a red Digital Storm logo that runs down the center. The interior of the laptop is silver and grey with a backlit keyboard. The VELOCE has a LED-backlit 13.3” display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. External port IO includes three USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 1.4a output, one VGA video out, and an Ethernet RJ45 jack.

Internal specifications for the VELOCE include an Intel Core i7-4800MQ Haswell processor (quad core at 3.7GHz max), 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and a 750GB hybrid hard drive with 8GB of flash cache. Users also get a NVIDIA GTX 765M dedicated GPU with 2GB of video memory and support for the company’s Optimus technology. A 8x DVD/CD drive and Killer Wireless-N 1202 Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.0 NIC. The notebook supports a single 2.5” drive and a single mSATA drive, with RAID support.

Digital Storm is bundling the notebook with Windows 8 x64.

The Digital Storm VELOCE will be available on July 17th. It will have a starting price of $1,535 USD which gets you the laptop, 3 year warranty, and lifetime of US-based tech support.

Author:
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Digital Storm

A small, custom chassis

UPDATE 11/22/2012

Right before the holiday weekend we got an email from Digital Storm detailing some changes to the Bolt system based on ours, and other reviewers, feedback.  Design changes include:

  • "Quieter operation" after moving from a Bronze level 500 watt 1U power supply to a Gold level unit.  I have put that part in quotes because I am hesitant to believe that much has changes on the sound levels of the system; we are still talking about a 1U unit here with two tiny fans.  Until DS publishes some sound level metrics, we'll consider this a modest change.
  • Digital Storm has also given the Bolt "a less glossy and improved external finish" to help prevent fingerprints and dust from reflecting in light.

In addition, there have been some hardware changes in the Level 3 unit that we were sent that are fairly significant:

  • Upgrade from a 60GB cache SSD to a 120GB SSD dedicated to the OS installation.
  • Storage drive lowered from a 1TB to a 500GB
  • Upgrade from a Core i5-3570K to a Core i7-3770K CPU

That is a pretty hefty change in hardware specs, in particular the move from the Core i5-3570K to the i7-3770K.  That increases the CPU performance of the Bolt pretty handily and they were able to do that without raising the price.  

This definitely gives us a better opinion overall for the entire Digital Storm Bolt configuration as tested and makes it a much better option when compared to the other recent systems we have reviewed.

END UPDATE 11/22/2012

A couple of months ago Digital Storm contacted us about a new design they were working on that they claimed would easily become the highest performance, smallest custom PC on the market.  The result of that talk was the new Digital Storm Bolt, a system designed in-house by DS to target PC gamers that want a powerful PC without the bulk of traditional desktop designs.

Digital Storm claims that the Bolt is the "thinnest, most powerful gaming PC ever designed" and we tend to agree.  This is not chassis that you can buy off the shelf but instead was custom designed for this system and actually requires some very specific hardware for it to function completely.  Items like a 1U power supply, 90 degree PCI Express riser extensions and slim-line optical drives aren't found in your standard gaming PCs.

Available in several starting "levels" of configuration, the Digital Storm Bolt can include processors from the Core i3-2100 all the way up to the Core i7-3770K and graphics cards starting at the GTX 650 Ti 2GB and increasing to the GTX 680 2GB.  Our system came with the following hardware:

  • Intel Core i5-3570K @ 4.2 GHz
  • Low Profile CPU Heatsink
  • 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz memory
  • GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB
  • 60GB cache SSD + 1TB 7200 RPM HDD
  • Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WiFi motherboard
  • 1U 500 watt power supply
  • Windows 7 Home Premium x64
  • Custom DS Bolt Chassis

Starting cost for this configuration is $1,599.

Check out our quick video review!

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The box the Bolt ships in is pretty timid compared to some of the crates that have hit our office recently but that's just fine by me.  Due to the small size of the case though I have actually had some laptop boxes (the Alienware M18x comes to mind) that were bigger!

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There she is, the Digital Storm Bolt, a combination of custom steel case design and fingerprint-loving piano black paint.  Measuring just 14-in tall and 3.6-in wide the case is going to be able to fit and blend in places other desktops simply could not.

Continue reading our review of the Digital Storm Bolt system!!

Digital Storm Shows Off Custom Water Cooled Aventum PC

Subject: Systems | March 26, 2012 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, nvidia, Ivy Bridge, gtx 680, Digital Storm

Digital Storm, a custom PC Manufacturer founded in 2002 today revealed their latest system lineup. The new Aventum computers employ the company’s Cryo-TEC sub-zero cooling solution and the latest in PC hardware in a custom full tower chassis. The custom Aventum systems come in several tiers, including three systems with Intel Sandy Bridge-E processors, NVIDIA GTX 680 graphics cards, solid state drives, and at least 16 GB of RAM. Digital Storm further does not skimp on the power supplies. The Aventum computers are powered by either Corsair or Silverstone PSUs.

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The hardware inside the chassis is impressive from a performance standpoint, and Digital Storm is including high end hardware as part of several tiers. The lowest tier is an Intel Sandy Bridge Core i7 2700K and a single EVGA NVIDIA GTX 680 graphics card on an Asus P8Z68-V Pro motherboard. On the other hand, the top tier system moves up to a dual socket EVGA SR-X motherboard, two Intel Xeon E5-2630 processors and three EVGA NVIDIA GTX 680 GPUs in a triple SLI configuration. The other hardware differences are less pronounced - like the upgrade to faster or more RAM and a bit more SSD capacity and PSU wattage. At launch, there will be four system configuration levels which you can see in the chart below.

  Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Processor Intel Core i7 2700K Intel Core i7 3930K Intel Core i7 3960X 2x Dual Intel Xeon E5-2630 Six-Core
Memory 16 GB DDR3 1600 MHz 16 GB DDR3 1600 MHz 16 GB DDR3 2133 MHz Corsair GT 32 GB DDR3 ECC REG 1333 MHz
Graphics Card(s) 1x EVGA GTX 680 2x  Dual SLI GTX 680 3x Triple SLI GTX 680 3x Triple SLI GTX 680
Storage 120 GB SSD & 1 TB HDD 120 GB SSD & 1 TB HDD 120 GB SSD & 1 TB HDD 180 GB SSD & 1 TB HDD
Motherboard ASUS P8Z68-V
PRO/GEN3
ASUS Sabertooth
X79
ASUS Rampage
IV Extreme X79
EVGA Classified
SR-X
Power Supply Corsair 1050W Pro Silver Corsair 1200W Pro Gold Silverstone 1500W SST-ST1500 Silverstone 1500W SST-ST1500
Optical Drive Slot Loading DVD Writer Slot Loading DVD Writer Slot Loading DVD Writer Slot Loading DVD Writer
OS Windows 7 HP x64 Windows 7 HP x64 Windows 7 HP x64 Windows 7 Pro x64
Price $3,859 $4,985 $6,687 $7,850

 

The hardware is nice, but it is not the only interesting aspect of the new Aventum PCs. Rather, it is the custom chassis that holds the Digital Storm hardware. The metal full tower ATX case is divided up into sections and supports three 420mm (3x140mm) radiators, and 13 case fans to keep the Cryo-TEC thermo-electric cooler from overheating. The cooler is placed directly on the CPU and then is itself cooled by a water cooling loop. There are two 420mm radiators in the bottom of the chassis along with the computer’s power supply.

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The Digital Storm Cryo-TEC cooler installed in a system.

Digital Storm has designed it such that three 140mm fans draw cool air in from outside of the case, through the radiator, and then channels the heated air out of the back of the case via vent under the power supply. The 13 case fans provide cooling for five cooling “zones” and are monitored and controlled by temperature probes using Aventum software in Windows. System and temperature information is also displayed on a built in LCD on the right side of the case.

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Another interesting aspect of the Aventum chassis is that the hardware is installed “backwards” in the case such that it can be viewed through a window on the right side of the case (instead of the left in the majority of cases). It also features a removable drive cage with four 3.5” drive bays. There is also support for two internal 2.5” drives and a slot loading DVD writer optical drive accessed on the top of the case. Power and reset buttons are located just under the DVD drive while four USB ports and two audio jacks (1 mic, 1 headphone) are located on the right side of the case near the DVD drive.

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The case also features plenty of mesh patterned ventilation holes and cut out Digital Storm logos. Also, there is a Digital Storm logo on the front of the case that is back-lit by a customizable LED color. Digital Storm’s Director of Product Development Rajeev Kuruppu noted that their research department has worked for months with thermal imaging cameras to ensure that the high end components are cooled as efficiently as possible. ”Every integral component and every zone is constantly being monitored so our customers can ensure their dream machine is always delivering optimal performance.”

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The Aventum systems are available now and range in price from $3,859 to $7,856 depending on the particular configuration. More information will be posted on the Digital Storm website later today.