Pick Your Own Parts...And Have Someone Else Build For You
Wouldn’t it be great if you could build your own PC with a few clicks of your mouse, with near-perfect precision? Tom’s Hardware's editorial team, made up of enthusiasts, spends most of its time writing stories for the do-it-yourself power user crowd. Sometimes we forget that a great many of our readers want to pick the parts for their next machine, but don't necessarily have the time or will to piece everything together. Shoot, I even know a professional IT guy who accidentally messes up several systems a month as a result of Intel's delicate LGA interface.
If you're looking for customization without the challenge, risk, or inconvenience of setting everything up on your own, than a boutique builder is probably your best bet. They're the folks who apply skilled hands to one-off configurations. And among those companies, AVADirect offers a vast array of top-end hardware and an extremely talented staff. But the company decided to go even further to prove that its custom-built machines could challenge both the quality and the value of our own efforts.
So confident is AVADirect in its quality and value that it even applied a chrome-like finish to the chassis holding the system we're reviewing today—that's a $99 AVADirect-exclusive option that doesn’t even show up in performance-to-price calculations—in addition to providing three years of parts and labor coverage and lifetime technical support.
|AVADirect (Custom Order) Mini "Cube" Gaming PC|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-4770K (Haswell): 3.5 to 3.9 GHz, Four Cores, 8 MB Shared L3 Cache|
|DRAM||Kingston KHX16C9T3K2/16X, DDR3-1600 C9, 16 GB (2 x 8 GB)|
|Graphics||Asus GTX780-DC2OC-3GD5, GeForce GTX 780 3 GB GDDR5|
|System Drive||2 x Kingston HyperX 3K 120 GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD, RAID 0*|
|Storage Drive||Western Digital Black WD2002FAEX 2 TB, 7200 RPM Hard Drive*|
|Optical Drive||LG BH16NS40 Black 16x/16x/48x BD/DVD/CD Burner|
|Motherboard||MSI Z87I, LGA 1150, Z87 Express, mini-ITX with Wi-Fi|
|Chassis||Lian Li PC-Q28B mini-ITX Tower|
|Custom Finish||Custom "brushed metal" vinyl wrap|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Seidon 120M closed-loop cooler*|
|Power Supply||Seasonic SS-760XP2 80 PLUS Platinum Full-Modular 760 W|
|Internal Bays||4 x 3.5" / 2 x 2.5" Trays (Shared)|
|Power Bay||PS/2, Top Mounted on Rear Panel|
|External Bay||1 x 5.25"|
|Front Panel I/O||2 x USB 3.0, Headphone, Microphone, all on right-front edge|
|Fans||1 x 140 mm Intake (front), 1 x 120 mm Exhaust (top)|
|External Peripheral||1 x PS/2, 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0,|
|External Audio||6 x Analog, Digital Optical|
|External Video||HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI-I|
|Internal Ports||4 x SATA 6Gb/s, 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0|
|Internal Slots||1 x PCIe x16, 1 x mini-PCIe (Filled)|
|Maximum Memory||2 x DDR3-800 to DDR3-2933 (all standard capacities)|
|Gigabit Ethernet||Dual Realtek RTL8111G PCIe, with teaming|
|Wireless Network||Intel 2230 PCIe 802.11n Single-Band, 300 Mb/s, + Bluetooth|
|Audio Controller||Realtek ALC892 DAC, 7.1+ 2 channels rear/front audio|
|Dimensions||12.1" (H), 8.9" (W), 14.1" (D), 21.2 Pounds|
|Warranty||Three Years Limited Parts/Labor|
|Software||Windows 7 Home Premium, CyberLink Media Suite 10|
|*Call AVADirect for availability|
The PC we received was extra-custom, sporting three internal drives. That's notable, since AVADirect's online configuration tool only lets you pick two; you need to call in to add the third. At first, that 2 TB Western Digital Black repository didn't even appear on our parts list. Including it plus the two SSDs is what got us up to $2470. But we needed all of that hardware to make this setup comparable with the two machines we're using as competition today.
We also had to calculate the price using a different cooler of similar value, since the Seidon 120M in our sample wasn't yet available through AVADirect's online configurator. We used the slightly-more-expensive Noctua NH-L12, so the price of this specific configuration could drop a bit in your own shopping cart. Again, though, both configuration exceptions can be solved by calling AVADirect and ordering that way.
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!
Overall though, it's good to see these guys putting together a nice compact, high performing PC.