Wired2Fire HAL 4000 review

27 Feb 2013

Benchmark-busting speed crammed inside a classy mini-ITX chassis that’s half the size of most desktop PCs

Price when reviewed 
1,399
5

We’ve come across many powerful, full-sized desktop PCs from Wired2Fire in the past, but this is the first small-form-factor system to emerge from its factory in Surrey – and the HAL 4000 is a barnstormer.

It gets off to a great start thanks to the Fractal Design Node 304, which is one of the best small-form-factor enclosures we’ve laid eyes on. The brushed aluminium panels make for a classy, understated PC, and the sturdy build quality is a cut above budget cases. If we were to be picky, there’s a little flex in the side panels, but it’s no worse than we’ve experienced on other high-end PCs; the HAL 4000 will easily survive regular trips to gaming events and LAN parties.

Wired2Fire HAL 4000

The removal of two screws is all it takes to access the PC’s insides, and while the interior is cramped, it’s sensibly organised. The front half of the machine houses the Xigmatek Tauro power supply, and its cables cluster around the Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 graphics card, which extends along one side of the chassis.

The back of the case is dominated by the Antec Kuhler H20 water-cooling unit, which is clamped between two 120mm fans and is attached to the rear exhaust mount. Its liquid-filled cables spiral down towards the Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard, which is so tiny that many of its VRMs, capacitors and heatsinks are deployed to a daughterboard that lies perpendicular to the black PCB.

Wired2Fire HAL 4000

Accessing the board is tricky – you’ll have to remove the cooler at the very least – but there will be little need to delve into the Wired2Fire’s innards. The single PCI Express slot is home to the graphics card; both memory sockets are occupied; and the one empty SATA socket runs at the slower SATA/300 speed, so it’s suitable for only a mechanical hard disk. There’s limited room for additional storage: while the Node 304 includes a trio of removable hard disk caddies, one contains two SSDs, another houses a hard disk, and the third is used for keeping extra cables out of the way.

Small-form-factor machines used to lack the power of their full-sized counterparts, but this is no longer the case. Wired2Fire has crammed in an overclocked Intel Core i7-3770K CPU, boosting it from 3.4GHz to 4.4GHz. That’s enough to push the Wired2Fire’s application benchmark score up to 1.25, a result that trounces our A-List machine - the PC Specialist Vortex Destroyer’s Sandy Bridge-E chip scored 1.16.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,166
Price inc VAT £1,399
Overall rating 5
Performance 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 2 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,240GB
RAM capacity 8.00GB

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i7
CPU nominal frequency 3.40GHz
CPU overclocked frequency 4.40GHz
Processor socket LGA 1155
HSF (heatsink-fan) Antec Kuhler H20

Motherboard

Motherboard Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe
Motherboard chipset Intel Z77
Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots free 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 1
PCI-E x1 slots free 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0
Internal SATA connectors 4
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 2

Graphics card

Graphics card EVGA GeForce GTX 680
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
Graphics card RAM 2.00GB
DVI-I outputs 2
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Kingston HyperX 3K SSD
Capacity 120GB
Hard disk usable capacity 111GB
Internal disk interface SATA/600
Hard disk 2 make and model Kingston HyperX 3K SSD
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity 120GB
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity 111
Hard disk 3 make and model Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.B
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity 1,000GB

Case

Chassis Fractal Design Node 304
Case format Small form-factor
Dimensions 250 x 374 x 210mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply Xigmatek Tauro
Power supply rating 600W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 4
eSATA ports 2
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
3.5mm audio jacks 3

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 8

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 85W
Peak power consumption 393W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 198fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 1.25
Responsiveness score 1.16
Media score 1.32
Multitasking score 1.27