Price Analysis & Conclusion
The 2017 AVADirect Avatar brought us on a stroll down memory lane, and it quickly reminded us of why we were fond of it in the first place. The new version’s Intel Core i7-7700K offers excellent top-tier gaming performance, and although AVADirect’s CPU overclocking may not yield the highest clock rate in the field, we can attest to its rock-solid stability, which is one of AVADirect’s primary goals with the Avatar series desktops.
The processor is cooled by a Corsair H110i v2 240mm CPU liquid cooler, which is only offered with the CPU overclocking service ($99 for the cooler, $25 for the overclock, for a combined total of $124). If you forgo the overclock, the Avatar comes equipped with an air-cooled CPU heatsink. This configurator option is convenient for AVADirect’s target audience – the average consumer looking for a powerful and stable top-tier gaming PC. If overclocking isn’t something they care for, why would they need anything better than an air-cooled CPU heatsink (especially an aftermarket, non-stock cooler)? This prevents customers from paying for a component they don’t necessarily need.
The 240mm cooler is also a definite upgrade from the previous model of the Avatar that featured a Corsair H60 (120mm) cooler. So, too, are the Corsair SP120 RGB LED exhaust fans mounted in the rear of the case and on the radiator. Previously, these were just the stock 120mm Silent fans that came with the case, and the colorful LED fans now come stock in every Avatar configuration at no extra cost. Combined with a 20-color remote-controlled LED strip (also at no added cost), AVADirect is packing massive aesthetic value into the new iteration of the Avatar.
The Avatar’s EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti provides top-tier performance at 2560 x 1440 and 3840 x 2160. We wouldn’t recommend such a powerful GPU for gamers with 1920 x 1080 displays (you could save some serious cash downgrading to something less beastly, but still potent), and this configuration of the Avatar is most certainly geared for the PC novice who wants the best possible performance. AVADirect again walks the path of stability with the Avatar by not offering GPU overclocking services (although the company does offer it on other desktop series for $25), holding it back from attaining true dominance against the other GTX 1080 Ti-equipped systems in GPU-intensive gaming benchmarks. However, it doesn’t trail far behind, and end users could just as easily download MSI Afterburner and boost the graphics card themselves should they find they have the need for more speed.
The Avatar is also quite proficient in productivity applications, aided by speedy SSD storage and 16GB (2 x 8GB) of DDR4-2400 memory. The 256GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 NVMe SSD is a welcome change from our last encounter with the Avatar; AVADirect didn’t even offer M.2 storage on its configurator at that time. This was one of our primary criticisms in the 2016 review, and although the capacity of the newer, faster SSD isn’t substantial, it’s a great starting point for the average consumer. The memory options have not changed from the previous version of the Avatar (it’s still a kit of Kingston HyperX DDR4-2400), but again, the company tunes the Avatar series for stability over speed. Few games rely on the memory for performance, and the capacity is more than adequate, even if it’s not that fastest RAM on the block.
It’s almost as if AVADirect is paying attention to what its critics and customers say about its products. Virtually every nitpick we had mentioned in our review of the 2016 version of the Avatar has been remedied with the new 2017 model. AVADirect’s website configurator was significantly simplified since then too, and it’s incredibly easy to use (one of the easiest we’ve ever sampled), especially for an average consumer. The new configuration’s price is much more attractive; the previous version sat at $2,509 with a Core i7-6700K and GTX 1080, and it lacked M.2 NVMe storage, RGB LED fans, and a 240mm CPU liquid cooler. At $2,677 (only $168 more), the 2017 AVADirect Avatar offers all of this with a newer CPU and better graphics card, resulting in a better price-to-performance ratio than its predecessor and similarly equipped competition (the Steiger Dynamics Era Reference, priced at $2,958).
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