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.
We go inside the Wii U
Last night after the midnight release of the new Nintendo Wii U gaming console, we did what any self respecting hardware fan would do: we tore it apart. That's right, while live on our PC Perspective Live! page, we opened up a pair of Wii U consoles, played a couple of games on the Deluxe while we took a tri-wing screwdriver to the second. Inside we found some interesting hardware (and a lot more screws) and at the conclusion of the 5+ hour marathon, we had a reassembled system with only a handful of leftover screws!
If you missed the show last night we have archived the entire video on our YouTube channel (embedded below) as well as the photos we took during the event in their full resolution glory. There isn't much to discuss about the teardown other than what we said in the video but I am going to leave a few comments after each set of four images.
OH! And if you missed the live event and want to be apart of another one, we are going to be holding a Hitman: Absolution Game Stream on our Live Page sponsored by AMD with giveaways like Radeon graphics cards and LOTS of game keys! Stop by again and see us on http://pcper.com/live on Tuesday the 20th at 8pm ET.
During the stream we promised photos of everything we did while taking it apart, so here you go! Click to get the full size image!
Getting inside the Wii U was surprisingly easy as the white squares over the screws were simply stickers and we didn't have to worry about any clips breaking, etc. The inside is dominated by the optical drive provided by Panasonic.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 9, 2012 - 03:40 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, tahiti, radeon, never settle, live, amd
UPDATE: Did you miss the live stream yesterday? Well don't fret - you can still watch the single player and multi-player action of Medal of Honor Warfighter in the video below. Sorry, all the prizes have been handed out though but check back in at pcper.com for two more upcoming game streams!!
This afternoon on our PC Perspective Live! page we will be streaming some single player and multi-player game action of latest title to use the Frostbite 2 engine, Medal of Honor Warfighter. You can stop in and watch us take on a bit of the campaign in the game and then view my likely repetitive demise in some multi-player matches as well.
Medal of Honor Warfighter Game Stream
12pm PT / 3pm ET - TODAY
The stream today will be sponsored by AMD and their Never Settle game bundles which we previously told you about here. Depending on the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPU that you buy this holiday season you could get as much as $170 in gaming content including:
- FREE Sleeping Dogs
- FREE Hitman: Absolution
- FREE Far Cry 3
- 20% off Medal of Honor Warfighter
AMD's Robert Hallock (@Thracks on twitter) will be joining us via Skype to talk about the game's technology, performance considerations as well as making fun of while I get sniped from the windows.
Of course, just to sweeten the deal a bit we have some prizes lined up for those of you that participate in our Medal of Honor Game Stream today as well.
- 3 x Complete Never Settle Bundles (Sleeping Dogs, Hitman, Far Cry 3, 20% Off MoH)
- 5 x Sleeping Dogs keys
- 5 x Hitman: Absolution keys
- 5 x Far Cry 3 keys
Pretty nice, huh? That's a LOT of games and all you have to do to win is be present on the PC Perspective Live! Page during the event as we will announce both the content/sweepstakes method AND the winner!
Stop in today for some PC gaming fun!!
A simple device for a complex problem
Sometimes an odd product finds its way into our office and this week we have one of those very items. The xPrintServer Home from Lantronix is a networking device that easily configures existing printers on your home or office network to work with the AirPrint capability on your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It does this without the need for special applications on your phone, without having to buy new printers and without complex software based work arounds.
The unit itself is a small white plastic case that has an Ethernet connection, USB port and power connection. The Ethernet port needs to be connected to your router / switch and the USB port is for connecting one of more USB printers (via a USB hub). After attaching the power, the device goes through an incredibly simple, automatic configuration process.
After the orange light goes solid, you can simply go to an AirPlay enabled application like Safari, Photos, Notes, Mail and more and hit the print option; your network or USB printer should already be configured. The process is impressively easy!
Inside the device is a basic Atmel designed ARM926 core SoC running at 400 MHz - more than enough power for the print spooling that it does on the Lantronix device.
By far the most impressive part about the xPrintServer is the ease of setup; we were literally up and printing on an iPhone 5 within 2 minutes of opening the box. If you are the kind of person that would like the capability to print from your iPad or iPhone but without having to buy a new printer with AirPrint built in, definitely check out this product.
You can currently find the Lantronix xPrintServer Home for $95 at Newegg.com.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 26, 2012 - 02:46 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: windows 8, video, system build, live
Today at 3pm EDT we are going to be doing a live stream of a system build and Windows 8 installation on our PC Perspective Live! page. Won't you come and join us?
UPDATE: Did you miss the event? Well then, we have you covered with the replay of the two and a half hour stream right here!
Sorry, no, I won't be doing it blindfolded this time...
If you are looking to learn how to build a PC, how the Windows 8 setup goes along with initial Windows 8 experiences, or just want to hang out during a lazy Friday, click on the link above or on the flashing radio tower to the left and join us!!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | October 22, 2012 - 06:22 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: asus, vivo tab rt, tegra 3, nvidia, video, live
If you happen to be free tomorrow afternoon and would like to be one of the first to see the upcoming ASUS Vivo Tab RT based on the Windows RT operating system and the NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, you should set your calendar for 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT and join me on the PC Perspective Live! page.
While we won't have any insight on our long term experiences with the device at that time tomorrow, you can see our initial impressions and anything/everything that occurrs with our intial setup and usage!
If you have questions or thoughts on the device that you want addressed during the live stream, you can leave them here in our comments or hang around in our chat room during the event as well. We want this to be interactive so your input is requested!
Again, that is 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT at the PC Perspective Live! page.
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | October 20, 2012 - 12:33 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: hitman, amd, extravalanza, hitman: absolution, video
We are at the first AMD ExtravaLANza today getting some hands on time with some cool new hardware as well as new games like Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution. We attended a session with the Hitman developer IO Interactive where some interesting information about the DX11 features. I recorded a video of the presentation for those interested in seeing it in its entirety.
The brand new Glacier2 engine has some impressive new features including:
- DX11 hardware tessellation on character models
- A global illumination engine using light propagation volumes
- AA options including FXAA and MSAA 2x-8x
- Eyefinity and HD3D
There is more, but you can hear it all in the video above. IO Interactive wanted to assure PC gamers that they are developing the game to be a first class PC title with higher quality imaging, controls and texture detail; this doesn't look to be a standard console port.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | October 18, 2012 - 08:09 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: contest, video, giveaway, amd, llano, APU
In a self-serving attempt to increase awareness about the PC Perspective YouTube channel, we are running another contest where you can win one of four AMD Llano A8-3870K APUs simply by leaving a comment and being a subscriber.
That's right, there are two steps:
We'll pick our winners on October 24th! Good luck!
Podcast #223 - AVADirect Mini ITX Gaming Machine, Patriot Gauntlet 320GB Wireless Drive, Windows 8 Pricing and more!
Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2012 - 02:38 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, windows 8, podcast, patriot, nvidia, mini ITX, Intel, gpu, gauntlet, gauntle node, cpu, AVADirect, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #223 - 10/18/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the AVADirect Mini ITX Gaming Machine, Patriot Gauntlet 320GB Wireless Drive, Windows 8 Pricing and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Scott Michaud
Program length: 56:12
Podcast topics of discussion:
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:24:30 This podcast is brought to you by MSI
- News items of interest:
0:39:30 Alxtech.net/pcper Ad spot!! http://alxtech.net/pcper/
- Now at $0.50/slot for pcper viewers and listeners!!
- 0:42:00 Intel may have 10-core Ivy Bridge-E ready
- 0:43:45 Corsair raising money for charity with gaming marathon!
- 0:45:50 Win a FREE AMD APU on our YouTube channel!
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
A look outside and in
We handle a fair amount of system reviews here at PC Perspective and use them mainly as a way to feature unique and interesting designs and configurations. We know how the hardware will perform for the most part; doing extensive CPU and GPU testing on nearly a daily basis. Sometimes we'll get systems in that are extremely budget friendly, other times vendors pass us machines that have MSRPs similar to a Kia automobile. Then there are times, like today, we get a unique design that is a great mix of both.
AVADirect has had a Mini Gaming PC design for a while now but recently has gone through a refresh that adds in support for the latest Ivy Bridge processors, NVIDIA Kepler GPUs all using a new case from BitFenix that combines it in a smaller, mini-ITX form factor.
The quick specifications look like this:
- BitFenix Prodigy chassis
- Intel Core i7-3770K CPU, Overclocked at 4.4 GHz
- ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Z77 Motherboard
- EVGA GeForce GTX 680 2GB GPU
- OCZ 240GB Vertex 3 SSD
- Seagate 2TB SATA 6G HDD
- 8GB Crucual DDR3-1866 Memory
- Cooler Master 850 watt Silent Pro PSU
You'll also see a large, efficient Prolimatech cooler inside along with a Blu-ray burner and Windows 7 for a surprisingly reasonable $2100 price tag.
The BitFenix Prodigy chassis is a unique design that starts with sets of FiberFlex legs and handles surrounding the mini-ITX case. The minor flexibility of the legs absorbs sound and impact on the table while the handles work great for picking up the system for LAN events and the like. While at first I was worried about using them to support the weight of the rig, I had no problems and was assured by both BitFenix and by AVADirect it would withstand the torture.
Check out our video review before continuing on to the full article with benchmarks and pricing!
Get notified when we go live!