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System Review: Digital Storm's Gaming Dominator

Test Settings

We compared Digital Storm’s 3.8 GHz build to the closest-matching custom machine we’ve tested, Maingear’s Ephex. A 73% price difference should make it easy for the Gaming Dominator to prove its value, but we can still see how much performance is really sacrificed.

Test System Configurations
Digital Storm Gaming DominatorMaingear Ephex
CPUIntel Core i7-950 (3.20 GHz, 8 MB Cache) Overclocked to 3.83 GHz (23 x 166.6 MHz)Intel Core i7-920 (2.66 GHz, 8 MB Cache) Overclocked to 3.80 GHz (14 x 200)
MotherboardMSI X58 Pro BIOS 7.3 (04-17-2009) Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset, LGA-1366Asus P6T Intel X58/ICH10R Chipset, LGA-1366
RAMMushkin 6 GB DDR3-1333 CAS 9 at DDR3-1333 CAS 8-8-8-19 (1T)Kingston 6 GB DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-20 (1T)
GraphicsXFX GeForce GTX 295 1.79 GB 576/1242MHz GPU/Shader, GDDR3-20163 x EVGA GeForce GTX 285 1 GB, SLI 648/1476MHz GPU/Shader, GDDR3-2484
Test Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 1 TB 7,200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/sIntel X25-M 80 GB SATA 3.0 Gb/s SSD
SoundIntegrated HD AudioIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit NetworkingIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Software
OSWindows Vista Home Premium x64 SP1Windows Vista Home Premium x64 SP1
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 186.18Nvidia GeForce 182.08
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.0.1007Intel INF 9.1.0.1007

Sharp-eyed readers will notice the difference in graphics driver, which couldn’t be avoided since the Ephex had been tested a couple of months ago. The system’s current $3,869 price remains relatively high due to its SSD drive and 3-way SLI graphics configuration.

A few of our Maingear Ephex benchmarks are also a little outdated, but we retained these for today’s comparison.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Call of Duty: World at WarPatch 1.1, FRAPS/saved game High Textures, No AA / No AF, vsync off Ultra Textures, 4x AA / Max AF, vsync off
CrysisPatch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Very High Quality, 8x AA
Far Cry 2DirectX 10, Steam Version, in-game benchmark Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 8x AA
World in ConflictPatch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo Test 1: High Details, No AA / No AF Test 2: Very HighDetails 4x AA / 16x AF
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunes 8Version: 8.1.0.52 (x64) Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98 64bits (07-04-2008) Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min wave to MP3
TMPEG 4.6Version: 4.6.3.268 Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes) Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality Enhanced multithreading enabled using SSE4 Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.1Display encoding status = off
MainConcept Reference 1.6.1 Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kbp/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS)
Productivity
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009Version: 11.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8Version: 8.0.134, Virus base: 270.4.5/1533, Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
WinRAR 3.80Version 3.80, WinZIP Commandline Version 3.0, Compression = Best, Dictionary = 4,096 KB, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
WinZip 12Version 12.0, Compression = Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)
Synthetics
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.01, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2Version 2008.5.14.24, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia, 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.
  • 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