Digital Storm's Core i5 System Reviewed - HotHardware

Digital Storm's Core i5 System Reviewed

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Digital Storm uses the Cooler Master HAF (High Air Flow) 932 in several default configurations. The case is well-built, roomy, and provides a number of options for routing cables behind the motherboard as opposed to in front of it. DS exploits this to maximize airflow throughout the case's interior. The case shots here are courtesy of Cooler Master.



The HAF 932 may be designed to maximize airflow, but CM clearly had an eye on the tower's acoustic profile when they designed it. The front, side, and side fans are both 230mm (110CFM, 19dBA). Digital Storm has replaced the single 120mm rear fan with a pair of 120mm's (one on each side of the AseTek radiator), and the front fan (originally a third 230mm) has been swapped for a 120mm as well. It's technically possible to remove the top 230mm fan and install a pair of 120mm fans instead, but there's no practical reason to do so.




Here's a shot of the top of the HAF 932. The large 230mm fan is visible here. There's a fill port underneath the rubber mat, for those with water-cooling rigs.


 
Here's CM's stock photo of the FP connectors and fill port. Front-panel goodies include four USB ports, FireWire 400 (1394a), eSATA, and microphone/headphone jacks.

The HAF932 definitely isn't a case that everyone is going to like. Cooler Master isn't kidding when they call it "High Air Flow." Not only are the left side and top punched full of ventilation holes, the entire front of the case is an open grille. Both the side and top fans are exhaust fans. Add a 1kW PSU, two GTX 275s, and a pair of 120mm rear fans, and you've got a tremendous amount of air being pushed out of the case—and since nature abhors a vacuum, that means you've got quite a bit of air being pulled into the case too, mostly at the front. Even with the front fan disconnected, there's a steady stream of air flowing through the system.

The unavoidable side effect of pushing or pulling a ton of air across all those little holes is the creation of fan noise; at full load, the HAF932 sounds as though it's attempting to become a wind tunnel. Its physical characteristics and total lack of any sort of ventilation filters also makes the HAF932 an absolute dust magnet. If you've got shag carpet, six kids, and assorted dogs + cats, this might not be the case for you.

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I would like to know EXACTLY what changes they are making to the OS.

I wouldn't mind freeing up some performance in Vista :-)

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This is a good thorough review. Their OS tweaks are intriguing. I'd like to know what they do to increase the performance too.

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Yes, that would be interesting.  Maybe someone with access can export the registry and run some diffs against other boxes.

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>> The company ships an actual copy of Windows rather than relying on a recovery disc alone

BRAVO.  That's a big plus, in my book.

One of the things that I really dislike about MS is that around the time the released Win2k, they instituted a policy where vendors who licensed Windows could only include a recovery CD and not a full install CD (was never announce publicly, but a MS rep confirmed to InfoWorld in July 2000).

This made it harder for pirates, but it also made it impossible to re-install Windows when your MB died (unless you could find the same outdated motherboard as a replacement).  Microsoft can thank their stupid policy of treating all their customers like pirates for being the catalyst that got me to try my first clean Linux install.

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This weekend i'm gonna go through the services running in vista and see if I can duplicate the kind of performance gains as seen here. I'll create a new thread and post up my results :-)

I'm gonna use the following list as a reference on things to disable.

http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2151344,00.asp

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Chieftec PSU?  I don't remember them ever making psu's.  I'd expect better for that price.

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The team at Digital Storm wanted to pass some information along with regard to the issues mentioned in the review.  We worked with DS during the review process and they reacted very quickly to our concerns.  Here is what the company has to say...

"DIGITAL STORM REPLY:
Digital Storm would like to thank HotHardware.com for the opportunity to review our i5 system. It is always a pleasure to work with computer technology sites like HotHardware because though we strive to be as perfect as possible sometimes we learn more about ourselves in the process.

As a premiere custom gaming computer company we are constantly striving to provide the absolute best product to our customers. That is why we are taking to heart the three issues raised in this review very seriously. Our endeavor is to make sure that every single system that we deliver to our customers is a high performance –finely tuned machine. 
  
We have already taken steps to make sure that every single computer that uses multiple video cards is organized to optimize performance. Our testing team has integrated a performance checklist into its process to make sure a customer’s system is perfectly tuned to draw out the greatest performance from their hardware.

Concerning the GPU overclocking instability that was mentioned, we had spoken to Joel Hruska before the review posted concerning this issue and have already taken steps to make sure the GPU overclocks our customer’s are receiving are rock solid stable. We have integrated multiple tests into our process to verify the stability and performance of the GPU overclock. This includes the recommendations mentioned in the review and additional game testing. Again, this change has already been made, however, even before these changes we experienced about a 1% failure rate. We are now confident that the GPU overclock failure rate should drop to zero after the recommendations that Joel has recommended.

As mentioned in the review Digital Storm now offers a Noise Suppression package that our customers can select to guarantee quiet operation in their computer. We take every system that purchases this package in an isolated room to measure the dB output and replace fans, add insulation, adjust fan speeds, and take additional steps to make sure the customers dB output is as small as possible.

We want HotHardware, the readers of this article, and our customers to know that whenever constructive criticism is provided Digital Storm takes it very seriously and will take any steps necessary to make sure that any issues are resolved because the most important thing to us is the quality of the product that we are selling. We wanted to personally thank Dave Altavilla and Joel Hruska for their cooperation throughout this process and the web users of HotHardware.com for their interest in Digital Storm."

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Sounds like an amicable bunch.

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Well that's pretty awesome that they would make such an effort.

They should slap a Hothardware.com sticker on there somewhere!

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Game Booster Will tweak your system to a degree to speed it up for gaming.

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