Does A Fixed Radeon HD 7970M Help Digital Storm?
Digital Storm surprised us by taking on its competition's expensive CPU and SSD with lower-cost parts in an attempt to improve value.
The cheaper CPU offsets the difference in system price, while the conventional hard drive gives Digital Storm an extra $80 to spend on a chassis with a larger screen. The company ends up with a 6% overall value lead before we even begin to consider how much more its 17.3” display is worth (actually a little comparison shopping on Digital Storm's site tells us that the display is worth $54).
A few more configuration changes allow us to create the same system on Digital Storm's page that we received from Xotic PC, and we end up with roughly the same price, within a few dollars. Digital Storm isn’t what we'd consider a low-cost builder, but the company knew how to pick the parts that'd make its setup appear as price-optimized as possible. Bravo!
Getting back to the primary purpose of these notebooks, we wanted to see how each one compared in terms of gaming performance-per-dollar.
Most of our games are not CPU-bound (particularly when they're backed by a 3 GHz+ Core i7). So, processor performance isn't a major factor in the frame rates observed for our gaming value chart. Digital Storm's original x17 configuration comes within 1% of Xotic PC’s average performance at 1920x1080, and the processor’s lower price boosts the system's overall value significantly. When you arm it with a Core i7-3610QM, the x17 has 13% more gaming value than Xotic PC's smaller notebook with the faster CPU.
The big number is where AMD's Radeon HD 7970M rides in on a white horse. Performance enhancements to a somewhat-better driver (remember, we're still seeing problems in F1 2012, even with Catalyst 12.11 Beta 8) combine with Digital Storm's good processor choice to give it a commanding 29% lead. We can only hope that a final version of AMD’s Enduro-patched driver is released soon, and that a Clevo-specific version is able to fix the issues that remain.