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AVADirect’s Mini Cube Gaming PC: Good Looks, Price, And Performance

Test Systems And Benchmark Configurations

Test Hardware Configurations
AVADirect Mini Gaming PCLenovo Erazer X700ASRock M8 $1535 BuildSBM $2550 Performance PC
Processor (Overclock)Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5 GHz, Four Physical Cores O/C to 4.20 GHz, 1.15-1.25 VIntel Core i7-3930K 3.2 GHz, Six Physical Cores O/C to 3.90 GHz, 1.41 VIntel Core i7-4770K 3.5 GHz, Four Physical Cores O/C to 4.10 GHz, 1.08 VIntel Core i7-3930K 3.20 GHz, Six Physical CoresO/C to 4.20 GHz, 1.25 V
Graphics (Overclock)Asus GeForce GTX 780: 889-941 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-6008AMD Radeon HD 8950: 925 MHz GPU, GDDR5-5000EVGA GeForce GTX 760: 980-1033 MHz GPU, GDDR5-6008 O/C to 1200 MHz GDDR5-72003 x EVGA GeForce GTX-760: 980-1033 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-6008 O/C to 1130 MHz GDDR5-6680
Memory (Overclock)16 GB  Kingston DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-27, 1.50 V16 GB Hyundai DDR3-1600 CAS 11-11-11-28, 1.50 V8 GB  Kingston DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-24, O/C to DDR3-1600 8-9-8-21, 1.50 V16 GB Mushkin DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-24, Not Overclockable
Motherboard (Overclock)MSI Z87I: mini-ITX, LGA 1150 Intel Z87 Express, Stock 100 MHz BCLKLenovo 10122: microATX, LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express, Stock 100 MHz BCLKASRock Z87 M8: mini-ITX, LGA 1150, Intel Z87 Express, Stock 100 MHz BCLKASRock X79 Extreme6: ATX, LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express, Stock 100 MHz BCLK
OpticalLG BH16NS40: 16x BDR / DVD±RPLDS DH12B2SH 12x BDR 16x DVD±RLite-On DC-8A2SH 8x DVDRWPioneer BDR-2208: 15x BD-R
CaseLian Li PC-Q28BLenovo X7 series Mid TowerASRock M8Lian Li PC-9NA
CPU CoolerCooler Master Seidon 120MAsetek 120 x 38 mm Closed Loop Liquid CoolerXigmatek CAC-EXAI6-U01 With Noctua NF-F12 FanNoctua NH-D14 SE2011
Hard Drive2 x Kingston HyperX 3K120 GB SATA 6Gb/s SSDSamsung 830 MZ7PC128HAFU 128 GB SATA 6Gb/s SSDSamsung MZ-7PD256BW: 256 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSDMushkin Chronos Deluxe DX 240 GB, SATA 6Gb/s SSD
PowerSeasonic SS-760XP2: 760 W Modular, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS PlatinumAcBel FS8003: 625 W, 80 PLUS GoldFSP450-60GHS(85)-R: 450 W, SFX, 80 PLUS BronzeCorsair HX850: 850 W Modular, ATX12V v2.3, 80 PLUS Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 331.65AMD Catalyst 13.9Nvidia GeForce 320.49 WHQLNvidia GeForce 326.80 Beta
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.0.1017Intel INF 9.3.0.1026Intel INF 9.4.0.1017Intel INF 9.3.0.1026

It's been a long time since we had perfect systems to compare against each other. So, I chose a trio of machines to represent the spectrum of comparison points. Our recent $2550 System Builder Marathon configuration comes closest to AVADirect’s price, the ASRock M8-based setup is closest to its size, and Lenovo's Erazer X700 is the only factory-built model with data points in the same set of benchmarks.

Though Nvidia's graphics cards also support Surround mode, StarTech's MDP2DVID DisplayPort-to-dual-link DVI adapter gives us the flexibility of even higher resolutions in the future, without the need to buy new displays. The adapter also enables 3D Surround mode with our current 5760x1080 configuration.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 3Campaign Mode, "Going Hunting" 90-Second Fraps Test Set 1: Medium Quality Defaults (No AA, 4x AF) Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Defaults (4x AA, 16x AF)
F1 2012Steam Version, In-Game Test Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimUpdate 1.5.26, Celedon Aethirborn Level 6, 25-Second Fraps Test Set 1: DX11, High Details No AA, 8x AF, FXAA enabled Test Set 2: DX11, Ultra Details, 8x AA, 16x AF, FXAA enabled
Far Cry 3V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-Second Fraps "Amanaki Outpost" Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAO Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CS6Version 11.0.0.378 x64: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly
Adobe Photoshop CS6Version 13 x64: Filter 15.7 MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premeire Pro CS6Version 6.0.0.0, 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 11.0.4.4 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minute, 22 Seconds Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000 Hz, Two-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, Two-Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat 11Version 11.0.0.379: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.67b, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual Studio 2010Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
File Compression
WinZipVersion 17.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 4.2: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.28: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3, Benchmark Only
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test
SiSoftware Sandra 2011Version 2013.10.19.50, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Cryptography, Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Someone Somewhere
    Page four. The ASRock system has an i7-4770K. How is the CPU cooler an 'AMD Boxed Cooler"?

    Also, many of those seem somewhat unbalanced, especially for a gaming system.

    EDIT: Toss an R9 290X or 780 in the M8 and drop to a 4670K, and you'd have a real value winner.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    12209289 said:
    Page four. The ASRock system has an i7-4770K. How is the CPU cooler an 'AMD Boxed Cooler"?

    Also, many of those seem somewhat unbalanced, especially for a gaming system.

    EDIT: Toss an R9 290X or 780 in the M8 and drop to a 4670K, and you'd have a real value winner.
    Thanks for catching the pasting errors, it helped me fix two articles :) As for the rest of the ASRock build, I used what was available. Remember that A WHOPPING 1/3 of the benchmark set does benefit from the i7's added cache and/or HT, and that ONLY 1/3 of the benchmarks benefit from a higher-model graphics card :p
    Reply
  • bemused_fred
    12209289 said:
    Page four. The ASRock system has an i7-4770K. How is the CPU cooler an 'AMD Boxed Cooler"?

    Also, many of those seem somewhat unbalanced, especially for a gaming system.

    EDIT: Toss an R9 290X or 780 in the M8 and drop to a 4670K, and you'd have a real value winner.

    A 290-X in a mini-ITX case?!? He wants a P.C., not a space heater!
    Reply
  • Menigmand
    "Good looks" are highly subjective... I would say that case is not pretty. If the AVA sticker can be removed, and there's an option without the optical drive, then it would be better.
    Reply
  • vaughn2k
    We'll.. this is another good example of implementing modular cables. But I really don't like the idea of blocking the inside of the computer with a power supply, unless it is designed the way like Thermaltake Elite 120 does...
    Reply
  • vertexx
    Nice article. I'm not for the fake chrome vinyl wrap look, and I would question how long that would last.

    Overall though, it's good to see these guys putting together a nice compact, high performing PC.
    Reply
  • vertexx
    The same parts plus OS can be purchased for ~$1,900. Still, for someone who doesn't want to mess with building a system, it looks like a decent value.
    Reply
  • Steveymoo
    So expensive >< Jesus Christ.
    Reply
  • MooseMuffin
    These guys seem pretty price competitive actually. I just ran through their configurator with a system I put together for myself recently and it came within $150. Not bad considering you get the warranty, and that every other boutique seems to mark up way more with fewer part options.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    Love that case. The polished aluminum look should be on all high end builds regardless of chassis size, in my opinion.
    Reply