While FedEx did fail to alter their delivery date and could not bring my new comp on Friday, they at least made up for it by showing up at 9am on Monday (in light snow no less). I felt bad for the older lady working the truck, knowing she was about to lug the huge and heavy box, and being a nice guy (and not wanting her to drop it, mostly), I helped her out and got the giant box inside.
The packaging was all solid, and everything was where it should be and showed no signs of travel wear. Bonus points to Digital Storm for putting easily removable padding INSIDE the case to prevent anything from getting bounced around. I do wonder how many failbots boot up the machine with that stuff still inside. I mean, its one of those ‘impossible to miss’ things, with the giant warning sticker and all, but humanity has proven time and time again that if something seems impossible, we will overcome. I bet those support calls are the stuff of legends, as I don’t doubt the padding would melt rather quickly, or at least get torn up by a fan or three.
The system documentation is as you would expect from a gaming shop; well organized in a binder and with all the details of the overclocking process and testing. The original CDs with all of the drivers were in the back, which would prove handy (more on that in a bit). Digital Storm also provides ALL of the spare parts you would get if you bought each piece yourself, and all of this is in another box that was easily stored away.
The HAF932 case is impressive, being slightly smaller than my old old Thermalake Armor case, slightly bigger than the old Alienware case, and having all of the expected connection options at the front of the case. Before I powered it up I was expecting it to be rather noisy, as it’s three massive fans look imposing (especially the fan at the top of the case), but once booted up it actually runs much quieter than even the Alienware, and makes the old ABS machine sounds like a wind tunnel. It loads Windows 7 silly fast thanks to the Intel SSD.
Speaking of Windows 7, it’s amazing how far things have come in terms of ‘plug and play’. Within just a few minutes the computer was on our network, patched up, and basically good to go. In the ‘old days’, half your day would be spent just getting the basics working, and that’s if everything went well.
The only issue I had with the system out of the box was that Digital Storm forgot to install the X-Fi drivers, and instead set the system up to use the on-board sound. That was easily fixed by popping the CD in, and Creative now has a solid auto-update feature of its own, meaning you no longer need to hunt down the latest drivers and all that. As always, getting vent to recognize my mic took some time, but it would be a strange world if that was not the case.
In terms of getting games set up, Steam really shines here. It’s just silly-easy to download the client, log in, and basically instantly download whatever you wish without hassle. No searching for DVDs, game codes, patches, expansions, etc. Just click, fast download, play. Really can’t beat that, and going forward it’s going to take a lot to make me purchase a game elsewhere.
Performance-wise the system crushes the only game I have to really challenge it, Bad Company 2. FPS never dropped no matter what was happening, and this was with the game maxed out at 1900×1200. It sure is a pretty game maxed too, very good use of lighting and fog/smoke. I’ll see how the system handles Rift on Thursday when the head-start kicks off, and what it does with Warband during a huge battle. Looks like I’ll have to finish my current Warband game (day 650ish) on the old comp, and then wait for Floris mod 2.4 to start a new one, assuming I find the time. Oh, and getting back into Darkfall was… fun. Nothing like having your entire bank scrambled and your UI reset. Looking forward to the next big siege to see how things hold up.
One day in, I’m very pleased with Digital Storm. I got a powerful system at what I would consider a very reasonable cost. Interacting with their customer service reps was always quick and pleasant, they had no issues switching the setup after the order was placed, and adding things after-the-fact was quick as well. Their forums were a huge help, with honest and knowledgeable people doing their best to ensure you get exactly what you need for your budget, and not trying to sell you on anything you don’t.
Building a system yourself will of course always be cheaper, but for me having professionals configure, test, and warranty (4 years thanks to the ‘defective’ mobo) everything is very worthwhile. If you are in the same boat, I’d recommend Digital Storm based on my experience so far.