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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.