Hardware Review: Digital Storm Bolt
I ran Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Source Engine), Battlefield 3 (Frostbite 2.0), and Crysis 3 (CryEngine 3) on the Bolt. This is a solid benchmarking trio because it represents the past, present, and future of gaming very well … or about as well as anything can represent the future, I suppose.
Based on that 255 FPS mark, you could run CSGO with max settings and v-sync, and you would never see a dip in performance. Like CSGO, Battlefield 3 manages to break the coveted 60 FPS mark, too, but with Ultra settings. The game did dip into the low 50s more than once, however, so if you really want to run BF3 with v-sync, drop settings below Ultra, and you’ll be right as rain.
Crysis 3 is unforgiving, even on some of the latest and greatest hardware. Our average fps score of 37 (as clocked by FRAPS) was “only” on Very High. Sixty FPS-plus at 1920×1080 is possible, but you’ll be dropping settings down a few notches.
The Bolt is a fantastic little machine, and it should be a welcome addition to any PC gamer’s desk or TV room. Sure, it’s dwarfed by most mid-tower gaming PC setups, but it packs the same caliber of off-the-shelf hardware in a stylish yet effective package. Video outputs and other I/O are plentiful, but I wish some sort of Thunderbolt or eSATA connection was on-board. That omission seems to be a limitation set by Mini ITX motherboard makers, and not something controllable by Digital Storm. While I did no scientific sound tests, the Bolt seems to give off the same amount of noise as your average gaming console or, at worst, a traditional gaming desktop.
The Bolt, complete with a Core i7-3770K and GeForce GTX 660 Ti, managed to pump out fantastic frame rates in CSGO and BF3, and even managed a respectable score in Crysis 3.
The one potential hangup with the Bolt is the asking price of $1,599, but it’s not as bad as you might think. A trip to Newegg shows that all the hardware (or comparable substitutes) comes to about $1,236 — a price that does include Windows and a 700W 1U server PSU, but no case. If you were to invest in a higher-end case and spend $150, you’re up to $1,386. The gap between DIY and the Bolt? Just over $200. That $200 buys you a custom-engineered case that’s small enough to fit in some backpacks (you can’t say that about any mid-tower!), along with a three-year warranty and 24/7 customer support. All in all, a very good deal.
Digital Storm has managed to do what many have only dreamed of: Fit a full desktop gaming PC into an incredibly small package, without sacrificing upgradeability, at a fair price. If you’re limited by space, or just need a PC that’s LAN party-friendly, you cannot go wrong with the Digital Storm Bolt.
If you have any other questions about the Bolt, make sure to leave them in the comments so I can follow up!