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System Review: Digital Storm's Gaming Dominator

Hand-Assembled, But Not Custom-Built?

Many people love the craftsmanship that goes into a custom-built performance PC, but not everyone can justify the expense. Buyers unwilling to pay exorbitant build fees and unable to assemble their own machines have often been forced to rely upon on tech-savvy relatives, neighbors, or friends to make recommendations and assist with building and testing. Unpredictable quality and an almost total lack of support are the typical results of these cost-savings efforts (Ed.: raise your hands if you've been that "nice guy," who offered to help build a friend's machine, only to become the 24-hour tech support line when they had an issue with it).

But what if you had a truly skilled friend who, for a few hundred dollars, would build your system, overclock it for maximum performance, provide lifetime technical support, replace anything that breaks for the first three years, and was even willing to buy it back for the first 30 days if you found a serious problem? Digital Storm recently told us that it could be that friend, and we wanted to put the company to the test.

Long-time custom builder with an eight-year reputation (supported by its A+ Better Business Bureau rating), Digital Storm now sells several pre-packaged configurations at steeply discounted prices compared to their traditional build-to-order service. And unlike those large faceless corporations who try to offer similar options, every component Digital Storm uses is a high-end off-the-shelf part, making upgrades easy and relatively pain-free.

Digital Storm Gaming Dominator Specifications
CPUIntel Core i7-950 (3.20 GHz, 8.0 MB Cache) Overclocked to 3.83 GHz (23x 166.6 MHz)
CPU Cooler120 mm Single-Fan Radiator
MotherboardMSI X58 Pro BIOS 7.3 (04-17-2009) Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset, LGA-1366
RAMMushkin 6 GB DDR3-1333 CAS 9 at DDR3-1333 CAS 8-8-8-19 (1T)
GraphicsXFX GeForce GTX 295 1.79 GB 576/1242MHz GPU/Shader, GDDR3-2016
CaseCooler Master HAF 932
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 1 TB 7,200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerPC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W ATX 12V 2.2 / EPS 12V, Active PFC
OpticalOptiarc 20X DVD±R, 8X DVD+RW 6X DVD-RW
RemovableNone
Software
OSWindows Vista Home Premium x64 SP1
ProductivityNone
GamesNone
Accessories
MonitorNone
KeyboardNone
MouseNone
SpeakersNone
Warranty and Price
Warranty PeriodThree Years Hardware, Lifetime Support
Price$2,233

We priced out every component in the Gaming Dominator at our favorite discount vendors and found a $300 difference before-shipping. That’s $200 post-shipping, since Digital Storm currently offers a $100 instant rebate to cover total shipping value on this product.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • grog189
    I would have to say the last page of this review is the only reason i would ever tell a friend to buy one of these computer's. The warranty and tech support to me is worth the 250$ extra price tag to anyone that does not know anything about computer's but still enjoy's playing games to their fullest.

    I don't mind helping out my friend's but face it you are not always going to be there for them for the next 3 or 4 yrs they end up using the computer. When a problem arise's and you cannot be there they are bound to start messing with things and this is where they can really ruin their computer instead of just calling tech support and asking what they should do. Had a friend try to replace his cpu once, suffice to say he didnt know about different sockets and ended not only buying the wrong type but also tried forcing it onto the mobo and almost ended up breaking off quite a few pins but thankfully he decided to wait for my help before he proceded any further.

    That's my 2ct. Insurance is great for those that don't know how to fix their computer or don't have the money to fix it if something breaks and their factory warranty either doesn't cover it or has run out.
    Reply
  • The_Blood_Raven
    I don't understand the conclusion, I'll build a faster, better looking, higher overclocked, and better setup (OS wise)PC than that thing for less. Yeah if you get the exact same parts then the price is not much different, but the parts I would include are.

    i7 920 = $300
    Good X16/X16/X8 X58 board = $350
    6GB of fast DDR3 = $100
    3x 4890s = $600
    Corsair 850TX = $150
    CM Haf 932 = $200
    1TB drive = $100
    Xigmatek dark knight = $50
    2 DVD burners = $50

    Total: $1900

    Once you shop around you can get this for around to $1600-$1700. Add shipping and a bunch of bad deals you will get around $1800. So for $433 less (atleast) you will get a far faster machine. While it is true that there is no support, I have built plenty of computers for people and I support them fully, if something goes wrong I'll fix it. As for replacements, that's what newegg and long or lifetime warranties are for.

    Also that i7 950 could go FAR higher on air, so don't try that "maximum performance" stuff.
    Reply
  • IzzyCraft
    I saw System i thought it was going to end with "builder's marathon give away" then my heart dropped as i read the rest :)
    Reply
  • falchard
    The thing I don't like about modern cases is all the mesh they use. How are you suppose to blow out heat when all the cold air is blowing out the case before it reaches the heat source? Also needlessly expensive case. Everygame on the market can run on a single high-end GPU. Not many productivity software utilize crossfire or sli. The next time a game comes out that will be challenging to a GPU setup, its gonna take more then 3-HD4890 to run it. Just because when they are released they are usually too much for the most modern high end solution, a generation+ old setup won't have a chance.
    Reply
  • ravenware
    A High-End gaming system should encompass a quality sound card.
    This portion of a build is omitted far too often.

    Other than that, not bad and the company isn't charging a ridiculous premium for build costs or support.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    ravenwareA High-End gaming system should encompass a quality sound card.This portion of a build is omitted far too often.Other than that, not bad and the company isn't charging a ridiculous premium for build costs or support.
    They do if you want to pick your own parts. But if you like any of their pre-selected configurations, you can get heavy discounts that make it a good value for labor and support.
    Reply
  • haplo602
    /me raising hand :-)

    I know this situation, however in my country such a premium price will not be accepted by the normal folks ... anyway one could build a good bissiness on this model I guess.

    Anyway the rig looks good as to the component config. However I did not find the PSU details in the article.
    Reply
  • drealar
    @The_Blood_Raven

    LoL man, the conclusion is written in very simple English.

    Although I can't compare how well is Digital Storm's support compared to yours, I can roughly see that your support and services are F.O.C. That kinda indicates that you're doing something else for a living and not guaranteed to be there when I need you during the 3 years period.

    Although companies and retailers do messed up at times, there are legally written Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy that give customers assurance. In Maslow's Hierarchy, safety and assurance comes next after food-shelter-money-sex :D
    Reply
  • drealar
    Talking about food-shelter-money-SEX, I kinda feel that the ads of Evony with the big boobs model is distracting :P . Most probably that's why recently, my non-nerdy friend like to visit Tom's and other out-of-his-interest sites :D
    Reply
  • nonxcarbonx
    This sounds like an advertisement meshed up as a review (though I assume that it is still truthful), and the fact that a digital storm advertisement is in the upper right hand corner of this page (in my case anyways) doesn't quell that suspicion. I'd rather read an article about a normal system builder's marathon or some crazy overclocking or a huge raid array than this.
    Reply