Digital Storm Level 3 ODE PC Review
We love our PC gaming hardware, so when the opportunity to review a fully assembled gaming PC presents itself, we jump on it. This time, we got to try out a Digital Storm Level 3 ODE PC. In an era where PC parts are availble from places like NewEgg and Amazon at reasonbale prices, would we find a reason to buy a pre-built PC?
One of the first worries when buying a pre-built PC is getting it delivered undamaged. This Digital Storm PC was delivered in an emormous box. Inside I found the tower encased in a sturdy cardboard frame. The internal components were protected by an expanding foam packages that kept everything in place.
Setup was simple. Once the internal foam package was removed and a few strips of tape pulled off, all that was required was to hook up peripherals, plug it in, and turn it on. For a guy who normally builds all his own PCs, it was a nice to change to doing any actual work.
Powering the system up, I was immediately struck by the complete lack of pre-installed nonsense on the system. The desktop was as clean as if I’d done the Windows installation myself. Anyone who’s ever bought a PC from the traditional outlets can attest to the amount of stuff that you have to spend time removing from the system before you’re happy with it.
As I began testing it, the thing that stood out was the amount of overclock Digital Storm had wrung out of the i7 2600K. Instead of the stock 3.4 GHz, this CPU was operating at a blazing fast 4.7 GHz, representing an increase of 38%. That’s of ton of overclock, and something that not every 2600K is capable of. Temperatures were rock soild thanks to the Corsair H70 liquid cooling built into the rig. The CPU idled at an average of 30C, and even under extended load (Battlefield 3 on Ultra) never rose above 55C or so.
The two GTX 570s are really the core of the gaming side of this machine, and they delivered superb graphics in everything we tested. Battlefield 3 ran like a dream on Ultra, with average frames rates hovering right around 60 (at 1920×1200). Several other games like Deus Ex: HUman Revolution and Red Orchestra 2 ran equally well, or even better. Metro 2033 was probably the sternest test this machine faced, and it managed an average of 50 frames per second at 1920×1200. I even gave it the Minecraft test, which it passed with flying colors.
Aesthetically, the ODE was surprisingly pleasing to the eye, as I’m not normally a fan of white cases. Something about this one just appealed to me. Even the interior lighting, which I began leaving out of my PCs about 5 years ago, didn’t spoil the effect. The nicely rounded edges somewhat disguise the fact that this case is enormous. It’s not as tall as a full server tower, but that doesn’t explain how wide it is. It sports a 200mm fan on top that doesn’t even stretch the full width of the case.
Like the pre-installed software, or the lack thereof, the outside of the ODE’s case is simple and elegant. No frills are to be found here. If you’re one of those folks who enjoys custom-painted rigs, or elaborate logos, this isn’t the machine for you. It’s understated and almost elegant. Only a single Digital Storm logo on the botton of the case front lets you know just where it was acquired. Each of the fan grills is easily removable for cleaning, which is a major plus if you live in a dusty house or if you have pets.
There are a few small negatives I should mention. The biggest one is that the rig isn’t all that future-proof. If you want more GPU horsepower down the road, you’ll have to toss both GTX 570s and start over, since the ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard only offers two PCI Express slots. You’ll probably also need a little more power, as the ODE only ships with an 800 Watt Corsair power supply. The plus to the P67 board is that when the new Ivy Bridge CPUs hit the market, you can plug one right in. The biggest negative for most folks is going to be the price: $2,339.
OK, that sounds like a lot. But when I ran the numbers, I was surprised to find that the components that make up the ODE would cost approximately $2,000 if purchased from NewEgg. While those prices can fluctuate a bit, that means you’re paying around $350 to have your rig built, overclocked, burnt in, tested, and shipped to you. You’re also getting a three year warranty, lifetime tech support and free upgrade installation when you purchase the parts from Digital Storm.
Overall, the ODE impressed at every turn. The build quality is stellar, its aesthetics are excellent, and its gaming capabilities are top notch. It even includes a Blu-Ray drive to allow you watch a movie when you need a break from gaming. It’s quite simply one of the best pre-built machines I’ve ever used. Even better, it’s not a $6,000 behemoth. Sure, it’s pricey, but for someone who likes to be ahead of the hardware curve, the price is actually quite comparable to building your own.
The Digital Storm ODE is a great machine at a reasonable price, and isn’t that what awesome hardware really should be?
NOTE: The tower pictured above is the exact same model that we reviewed, except that it contains a 750W PSU instead of the 800W we tested.