The Making of a Boutique Gaming PC (Part 1 of 6): Digital Storm
Q: The new X79 platform has caused quite a stir for high-end system builders. Tell us about what you've been able to achieve with this new platform.
A: The X79 platform has given Digital Storm a significant edge in performance that we’ve never achieved before. In terms of raw performance, the Intel Core i7-3960X blows all other CPUs out of the water. Heck, our X79 HailStorm won Maximum PC’s “Kick Ass” award and it’s the fastest system they’ve reviewed.
Q: Almost all of your X79 systems are built with two or more GeForce graphics cards in SLI. Why is this? How do these two technologies complement each other?
A: The X79 platform was designed for hardcore gamers and enthusiasts in mind. The improved PCI-Express lanes ensure a 3-way and even 4-way SLI configuration of the fastest cards won’t cause a bottleneck during intense gaming sessions. The X79 platform is an extreme platform and generally speaking, you want to complement that horsepower with an equally powerful graphic card setup which is why an SLI configuration fits so well.
Q: Of all your gaming PCs, which model are you most proud of? Please give us a rundown of how it's built, from the component selection, construction, to testing.
A: The system we are most proud of is the Digital Storm Cryo-TEC liquid chilled system. It was exclusively developed here at Digital Storm to push the boundaries of CPU performance by lowering the CPU temperature to below 0°C. The Cryo-TEC system’s main cooling unit is really the star of the system. It contains two thick copper blocks designed by Digital Storm that house the thermo-electric cooling plates. Each block has liquid channels inside that carry the chilled liquid to the processor lowering its temperature to below 0°C. In addition, Digital Storm designed a controller board to automatically regulate the cooling system maximizing efficiency and performance. A tremendous amount of ingenuity and man hours went into the design of the Cryo-TEC’s cooling system and that holds true for the assembly of every Cryo-TEC gaming computer. Each one is hand built by our senior technicians, so when you receive you Cryo-TEC computer, it is going to be built by the hands of someone who knows the machine inside and out. To complement the craftsmanship of the Cryo-TEC system, an equally thorough testing process is also followed to make sure that this extreme-performance computer has zero issues and is maximally overclocked to take advantage of the 0°C cooling system. Afterwards, we throw a series of stress-tests ranging from: Prime95, Linpack, FurMark, Heaven, and Battlefield 3 until our team is happy with the system’s performance and stability.
Q: When people buy a multi-GPU PC from you, what percentage choose SLI? What are the main reasons why people go with SLI?
A: On average 90-95% of our customers select SLI for their multi-GPU systems. They prefer SLI because of the fluid performance that multi-GPU setups provide for multi-monitor or high-resolution 27”-30” displays. Also, some customers who do GPU computing such as Folding@home prefer 3-way or 4-way SLI because of the incredible performance that these SLI configurations provide. We’ve built some killer systems that people don’t even play games on using four GTX 590s!
Q: Many of our readers are avid system builders themselves. What are your top three tips for someone looking to build a high-end gaming PC?
A: Top three things to consider when building your high-end gaming system:
- Make sure you design your system around your needs, both now and in the future. Take into consideration for what resolution you want to play the latest games on, running a 30” display at a resolution of 2560 x 1600 is going to require some serious horsepower!
- After you put it all together and fire it up for the first time, run some diagnostic tools such as CPU-Z and GPU-Z to make sure your CPU, memory, and video cards are running at their full potential. For example, check to make sure your memory timings are set properly and double check what speed the PCI-Express slot your video cards are in is running at.
- Take a moment and read up on how to overclock your system. You can squeeze a ton of extra power out of the new X79 platform by overclocking the CPU. Use Prime95 and run a blend test for 24 hours to test the stability of your overclock.
Q: Finally, there are quite a few vendors building high-end gaming PCs. What makes you special? What's your philosophy when it comes to building systems and taking care of customers?
A: At Digital Storm we practice the mantra “The Elite Standard”. What that means in practice is that as a boutique system builder we are constantly trying to raise the bar in every facet of our business, from performance to system building, customer service, testing, and even packaging. We take everything that we learn from our customer base, dissect it, study it, and then make ourselves better the next day.