A small, custom chassis
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!
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!
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.
Subject: Systems | March 26, 2012 - 04:06 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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|
IV Extreme X79
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.