AVADirect Mini Gaming PC Review: Ivy Bridge, GTX 680 in a Mini-ITX Package
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!
On the right hand side of the case you'll see a pair of USB 3.0 ports, audio jacks, LED power and activity lights as well as the power and reset buttons.
Looking at the back of the chassis shows us the meat of the system including the back panel of the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard that includes USB 3.0 (4 ports), analog and digital audio output, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connections to utilize the integrated displays and even 802.11n ready WiFi.
The GTX 680 from EVGA is prominent and you can tell from the back that the motherboard isn't mounted on the door but rather has an internal plate just above the bottom mounted power supply.
On the left side of the case you'll see some air ventilation to allow for better air flow in the small case as well as air intake for the cooler of the GTX 680.
Up top you'll see another ventilated opening that CAN support dual 120mm fans and MAYBE even a cooler like the H100, though you'll have to go without the optical drive and bay for that.
Looking inside the half-system
As you might imagine, the guts of the AVADirect Mini Gaming PC are squished to accommodate the smaller design and thus photos of the system are a bit...cramped.
Taking off the door reveals the GTX 680 from EVGA as well as the 850 watt power supply from Cooler Master; a fully modular unit is perfect for small cases as it allows the build to keep a lot of the clutter out. A large 200mm fan is installed on the front of the of the Prodigy to help bring in cool air quietly.
Notice how BIG the GeForce GTX 680 looks compared to the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard it is installed in - almost comical.
Behind the GPU is the large Prolimatech Megahalems CPU cooler that provides a TON of cooling power inside this small case. Essentially there is no room NOT being utilized in the AVADirect configuration and we love it! Using this cooler AVADirect was able to push the clock speed of the Core i7-3770K up to 4.4 GHz, even with all cores loaded, an increase of 900 MHz over the standard 3.5 GHz clock rate.
Hidden up front are the 2TB Seagate hard drive and the 240GB OCZ Vertex 3 SSD. As it turns out, there is more room for 2.5-in drives on the other door that we'll show in a bit.
Opening up the other side is a bit more complex as you have some wires attached for the power buttons, USB 3.0 and audio. We can get a glimpse of the power regulation riser on the ASUS motherboard and another view of the huge Prolimatech heatsink.
On the back door of the case you'll find some plastic housings that are a perfect fit for 2.5-in hard drives. Regardless, I can see why AVADirect chose to install the Vertex 3 in the standard bay as these are harder to access.
Also, note that the retail version of the chassis has a removable drive bay that AVADirect took out to accommodate the GTX 680:
Hopefully AVADirect includes that in the shipment of retail units so users can re-integrate it later if they choose.
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