PC Specialist Vortex Destroyer review

10 Aug 2012

A near-flawless system thanks to great performance, build quality and peripherals, albeit for a high price

Price when reviewed: 
1,748(£1,749 inc VAT)
5

Ivy Bridge has arrived, but Intel’s latest processors benefit laptops far more than they do desktops - and that means existing Sandy Bridge chips are still viable candidates for a desktop PC. PC Specialist obviously agrees, as its latest desktop PC bundle, the Vortex Destroyer, opts for an overclocked Sandy Bridge processor and partners it with a high-end X79-based motherboard.

PC Specialist hasn’t stuck with the ever-popular Core i5-2500K, though, instead loading its system with the rarer Core i7-3820. It’s a Sandy Bridge-E part, but unlike its six-core stablemates it makes do with four Hyper-Threaded cores and barely any more cache than cheaper processors.

PC Specialist Vortex Destroyer

Overclocking makes all the difference, however. The CPU’s stock speed of 3.6GHz has been clocked up to 4.6GHz, and that helped the PC Specialist to a benchmark score of 1.16. That’s more than enough power to scythe through everyday applications, and only a whisker behind the A-Listed Chillblast Fusion Flash, which scored 1.17.

The Vortex Destroyer’s graphics hardware is altogether more cutting edge. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 is a gaming powerhouse, and it motored through our gaming tests, scoring 75fps in Crysis at Very High quality and 1,920 x 1,080. It’s here where the PC Specialist trumps the Chillblast: the Chillblast’s Radeon HD 6970 graphics card only managed 53fps in the same test.

Neither CPU nor graphics card caused headaches when it came to heat. The processor’s peak temperature of 87˚C is reasonable considering the overclock, and the graphics card runs a little cooler, hitting a top temperature of 83˚C. Peak power consumption of 472W is higher than expected, though; most systems duck under 400W, with the Sandy Bridge-E chip largely responsible for the higher figure.

The installed copy of Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit nips along thanks to Kingston’s HyperX 3K SSD, and it’s partnered with a capacious 2TB hard disk. There’s also the small matter of a mighty 16GB of RAM and a Blu-ray drive.

It’s all housed in the familiar Fractal Design Define R3 chassis. This is a firm PC Pro favourite thanks to its keen balance of cooling and noise reduction. Sound-absorbing foam lines both side panels and the roof, and the Intel watercooling loop isn’t exactly loud. It makes for a system that’s very quiet when idle and only a little louder at peak.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,457
Price inc VAT £1,748
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 3 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 2,120GB
RAM capacity 16.00GB
Screen size 27.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i7
CPU nominal frequency 3.60GHz
CPU overclocked frequency 4.60GHz
Processor socket LGA 2011
HSF (heatsink-fan) Intel water-cooling

Motherboard

Motherboard Asus P9X79
Motherboard chipset Intel X79
Conventional PCI slots free 1
Conventional PCI slots total 1
PCI-E x16 slots free 2
PCI-E x16 slots total 3
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 1
PCI-E x1 slots total 1
Internal SATA connectors 6
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 4
Memory sockets total 8

Graphics card

Graphics card Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting High
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
Graphics card RAM 2.00GB
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Kingston HyperX 3K
Capacity 120GB
Hard disk usable capacity 111GB
Internal disk interface SATA/600
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity 2,000GB
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity 1,810

Drives

Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo

Monitor

Monitor make and model Iiyama E2773HDS
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Pixel response time 1ms
Contrast ratio 1,145:1
Screen brightness 332cd/m2
DVI inputs 1
HDMI inputs 1
VGA inputs 1

Additional Peripherals

Speakers Creative A520
Speaker type 5.1

Case

Chassis Fractal Design Define R3
Case format Full tower
Dimensions 207 x 521 x 442mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply Corsair TX850
Power supply rating 850W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 1

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port yes
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader no

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Razer DeathAdder mouse, Razer Arctosa keyboard

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 130W
Peak power consumption 472W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 110fps
3D performance setting High
Overall Real World Benchmark score 1.16
Responsiveness score 1.01
Media score 1.26
Multitasking score 1.21