AVADirect X79 Gaming PC, Tri-SLI GeForce GTX 680

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There are a plethora of cases available on AVADirect's website, everything from slim form factor home theater enclosures to towering desktops cases, and everything in between. The one AVADirect chose for this sample system is a silver colored Silverstone Fortress FT02, which weighs about as much as a real fortress, or at least it did after AVADirect finished loading it up with hardware. Forget the P90X workout, you could lug this thing up and down a flight of stairs a couple of times and work up a bigger sweat than Richard Simmons trying to burn off a cupcake, minus the crying.



As is often the case, pictures don't do this system justice. The silver paint job isn't quite show car quality (if that's what you're after, AVADirect will happily oblige for an additional $375 for your choice between Corvette Yellow, Ferrari Red, Money Green, or Viper Blue) but it's well done nonetheless and exudes an air of quality you're not going to find on a budget chassis. For $9 extra, you can opt for a Fortress with a side window, and AVADirect should have gone that route to show off its superb wiring job (more on that later).

Rounded corners separate the Fortress from your run-of-the-mill rectangular chassis, though Silverstone stops well short of plastering its chassis with aggressive angles and other gamer-centric bling. The Fortress will appeal most to people with a more "refined" sense of style, for lack of a better term.

One thing to keep in mind with this case is that it assumes a mighty large footprint. It's a little over 2 feet long, so you'll want to take that into consideration when scanning your living quarters for a place to plop this thing, especially if you're working with tight confines, like a college dorm room or studio apartment.



Case manufacturers are increasingly seeing the benefit of vertical mounted hardware in which heat producing components like graphics cards face upwards and work with the natural flow of hot air rather than against it. Silverstone's Fortress is one of a growing number of cases that orient the motherboard in such a way that the rear input/output shield sits on top of the chassis instead of the back. It's an orientation that seems quirky after all these years of putting the rear I/O on the back of the case, but you can't argue with the science of hot air's natural tendency to rise (we're oversimplifying, but that's okay, because Bill Nye the Science Guy is nowhere in sight).

As such, the top of the Fortress sports a removable metal grill, which you'll need to pop off to plug in your cables, and also when you want to remove either side panel (screws holding the side panels in place are hidden underneath the top grill).


The top grill is completely tool-less, just give it a tug and it pops right off. Your cables, such as the power cord and USB peripherals, can be routed through cutouts in the back or front, which are then hidden out of sight by the top panel when you snap it back into place. It's a tidy and effective setup for maximizing cooling potential, but is it a perfect design?

Unfortunately, no. Just as we complained about with other systems that utilize a similar design, the downside to this blueprint is that it's inconvenient to take advantage of all those lonely USB ports and other inputs the motherboard provides. Most gadgets connect via USB these days, and if you find yourself plugging and unplugging cables on a frequent basis, you'll quickly get annoyed by having to rip off the top panel each time you want to use one of the 'rear' USB ports.  Though one could argue that rear USB ports in traditional designs are equally or even more-so inaccessible.


We don't want to overstate the potential problem of constantly having the motherboard's rear ports blocked by the top panel, because in reality, after you connect your permanent devices -- keyboard and mouse, for example -- you might never have a need for the remaining ports. For the temporary devices, like your tablet, smartphone, or digital camera, Silverstone's Fortress packs a pair of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports on the front panel, located on the top of the chassis. The ports, along with headphone and microphone inputs, sit stealthily behind a small sliding door. The power button, reset button, and activity LEDs sit to the left.

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WOW $6000, but daaaaaaammmmnnn!!

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I owned an AVA system before I got the itch to build my own systems. Good experience but I second the psycho cable management comment in the review. It's not necessarily a bad thing but they use an entire dollar store bucket's worth of zipties....

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That is one kick ass system, geek porn extraordinaire.

In comparison, I offer the following:

This is a game my sister has from when we were kids, and yes it still works. LOL I guess you could say we've seen some improvement over the years.

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CDeeter, that right there is HOT bro.

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I'm amazed it still works. We loved that game!

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Yup; AVA-D rocks, I have steered customers there way and have known people (Friends not customers) who I have directed there as well and have never seen nor heard of any issues. This has generally been on laptops there support as well has always been flawless to my experience. The available choices they have are great usually as well as very widely varied you can really build a truly custom laptop. It would seem to me if there as tight as they are on laptops they would be a no fail on a desktop as it's construction and issues would be far less likely than on a laptop just in general. Either way I would use them for anything without reserve personally.

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I think the following would work for me!

 

GAMING PC Core™ i5 / i7 Z77 3-way SLI® / CrossFireX™ Custom Gaming System $7843.44 $7843.44

INTEL Core™ i7-3770K Quad-Core 3.5 - 3.9GHz TB, HD Graphics 4000, LGA1155, 8MB L3 Cache, 22nm, 77W, EM64T EIST HT VT-x XD, Retail

ANTEC Formula 7 Nano Diamond Thermal Compound

CUSTOM Premium 1xCPU + 2xGPU Liquid Cooling Kit, Installed (Dual Loop)

CUSTOM Coolant, NightClub Blue

ASUS P8Z77 WS, LGA1155, Intel® Z77, DDR3-2800 (O.C.) 32GB /4, PCIe x16 SLI CF /2+2*, SATA 6Gb/s RAID 5 /4, 3Gb/s /4, DVI, USB 3.0 /6, HDA, GbLAN /2, ATX, Retail

CRUCIAL 16GB (4 x 4GB) Ballistix Elite PC3-16000 DDR3 2000MHz CL9 (9-11-9-27) 1.65V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC

SAPPHIRE Radeon™ HD 7950 810MHz, 3GB GDDR5 5000MHz, PCIe x16 CrossFire, DVI + HDMI + 2x mini-DP, Retail

SAPPHIRE Radeon™ HD 7950 810MHz, 3GB GDDR5 5000MHz, PCIe x16 CrossFire, DVI + HDMI + 2x mini-DP, Retail

HAUPPAUGE WinTV-HVR-1850 / WinTV-HVR-1800 MC-Kit TV/FM Tuner, NSTC/ATSC/QAM, MCE Remote, PCIe x1, Retail

HT OMEGA Claro Halo Sound Card w/ HI-FI Headphone Amplifier, 5.1 channels, 24-bit 192KHz, PCI, Retail

OCZ 128GB Synapse Cache SSD w/Dataplex™, MLC SandForce SF-2281, 550/510 MB/s, 2.5-Inch, SATA 6 Gb/s, Retail

WESTERN DIGITAL 1TB WD VelociRaptor®, SATA 6 Gb/s, 10000 RPM, 64MB cache

WESTERN DIGITAL 1TB WD VelociRaptor®, SATA 6 Gb/s, 10000 RPM, 64MB cache

WESTERN DIGITAL 1TB WD VelociRaptor®, SATA 6 Gb/s, 10000 RPM, 64MB cache

RAID No RAID, Independent HDD Drives

HIGHPOINT RocketRAID 2310 SATA II RAID Controller, 4 ports, Levels 0/1/10/5, PCIe x4, Full-height/Low-profile, Retail

SABRENT CRW-UINB Black 65-in-1 Card Reader/Writer Drive, 3.5" Bay, Internal USB

PLEXTOR PX-L890SA Black 24x DVD±R/RW Dual-Layer Burner w/ Lightscribe, SATA, Retail

PLEXTOR PX-LB950SA 12x/16x/48x BD/DVD/CD Blu-ray Disc™ Burner w/ Lightscribe, SATA, Retail

INTEL E1G44ET2 Gigabit ET2 Quad Port Server Adapter, 10/100/1000 Mbps, PCIe x4, Full Height/Low-profile, Retail

CORSAIR Obsidian 800D Black Full Tower Computer Case w/ Window, EATX, 7 slots, No PSU, Aluminum/Steel

SERVICE Custom Automotive Paint, Viper Blue

AVA Custom Transparent Side Panel

CASE FAN LED Fans Maximum Package, Green

SUNBEAMTECH Rheobus Extreme 6-Channel Fan Controller Panel, 5.25" Bay, Black

CUSTOM WIRING Spiral Wrap Wire Management with Round Cables, Green

LOGISYS 12" Single Cold Cathode Case Light Kit, Blue

KINGWIN Lazer LZP-1000 Power Supply w/ Modular Cables, 1000W, 80 PLUS® Platinum, 24-pin ATX12V V2.2 EPS12V V2.91, 5x 8/6-pin PCIe, Retail

KUBUNTU Pre-Installed Kubuntu Linux 64-bit Latest Available Desktop Edition, No Media, No Support

MICROSOFT Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit Edition w/ SP1, OEM

SERVICE Use Other Name (Contact Us to Specify)

ACCESSORY AVADirect System Documentation and Media Binder

ASUS VE276Q Black WideScreen LCD Monitor, 27" Full HD, 1920x1080, 0.311mm, 300cd/m², 2ms, VGA/DVI/HDMI/DP, VESA, w/ Speakers

TRIPP-LITE PS4816 Corded Power Strip, 16 NEMA 5-15R, 120V AC, 50/60Hz, 15A, 1800W, 15-ft cord

APC SUA750 Smart-UPS 750VA, 750VA/500W, 120V, USB, RS-232, Black

GAMING PC Platinum Warranty Package (5 Year Limited Parts & Lifetime Labor Warranty, Express/Priority Service)

SERVICE Standard Shipping (UPS, DHL, or Fedex)

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CDeeter, that right there is HOT bro.

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It's not back till next year. That's just cruel

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