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Tom's Hardware's 2010 Holiday Gift Guide: Part 2, Last-Minute Luxury

Custom PC: Digital Storm Black Ops Assassin
By: Devin Connors

While Tom’s Hardware is all about building, maintaining, and improving our own PCs, we can still appreciate the fact that PC building is not for everyone. That’s where companies like Digital Storm come in, offering fantastic hand-built machines with the latest hardware coupled with fantastic customer service and competitive pricing.

When we decided to include a Digital Storm rig, we knew we needed a kick-ass machine with all the bells and whistles, and that’s where the Black Ops Assassin line comes in. Starting at under $1800 (our configuration goes for under $3300), the Assassin series will slay whatever games you throw at it.

So let’s get to the hardware. The case is the same SilverStone Fortress FT02 we featured in our gift guide last week, complete with three 180 mm fans and the thermodynamics-friendly 90 degree motherboard mounting. The internals are nothing short of brilliant, including an Intel Core i7-950 overclocked to 4 GHz, an EVGA X58 FTW3 Edition motherboard, 6 GB of DDR3-1600 memory, 80 GB Intel X25-M SSD (boot drive), 1 TB Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive, dual optical drives (a Blu-ray reader and a DVD burner), and a 1000 W power supply.

What really tops this machine off are the dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 480s, which will keep you, or whoever is lucky enough to get this fantastic machine, gaming for the next couple of years at least. Frankly, Digital Storm shipped us this machine prior to the GeForce GTX 580 launched so that we could get it photographed. If you were to order it today, you'd want to stick with Nvidia's more recent flagship, the GTX 580, bringing thermals and acoustic down to more attractive levels.

With that said, the focus of this machine is on 3D Vision Surround support. Digital Storm shipped our system with three Acer GD235Hz 3D Vision-compatible screens, which add quite a bit to the cost, but enable a indisputably-unique gaming experience, allowing you to get your Bad Company 2 and FarCry 2 in glorious stereo. We opted to stick with air cooling on this machine, but the NH-D14 CPU cooler from Noctua is an absolute beast, so a hot CPU (even overclocked) will be the last of your worries.

A machine like the Black Ops Assassin is only as good as the hands that build it, which is why Digital Storm includes a three-year warranty (there’s a free upgrade to four-years right now), complete with 9:00-5:00 U.S.-based tech support and an in-house 72 hour stress test before shipping.