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Smooth Creations Broodling Gaming System
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Date: May 14, 2008
Section:Systems
Author: Daniel A. Begun
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Overview and Specifications

Enthusiasts are familiar with the Smooth Creations team as the artists behind the airbrushed gaming rigs from the likes of Falcon Northwest, Alienware, and Maingear. Not as many may be aware, however, that Smooth Creations has recently expanded from the realm of painting cases to that of building and selling painted, customizable systems and laptops as well. These are not your grandfather's systems--they are all high-end gaming rigs with the specs and price tags to prove it.

For HotHarware's April sweepstakes, we partnered with Smooth Creations and Diamond Multimedia to create a truly intimidating system; and they delivered. In the pages ahead we'll take a peek at the system's design and see what's revving under its hood. Although not a full product review; this article is meant as a showcase of the sweepstakes system and to hopefully get you excited for the next great HotHardware sweepstakes.


Smooth Creations Broodling
Features & Specifications

Processor

  • AMD Phenom 9750 Quad-Core Processor @ 2.4GHz

GPU

  • Diamond Multimedia Viper Radeon HD3870 X2

    • ATI Readon HD3870 X2

    • 1,024MB DDR

    • GPU clock: 823MHz

    • Memory clock: 900MHz

Memory

  • 4GB Kingston Dual Channel DDR2 @ 666MHz

Motherboard

  • Abit AX78

    • AMD 770-SB600 chipset

Installed Drives

  • Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB, 16MB cache, 7,200rpm, SATA 3Gb/s hard drive

  • Lite-On LH-20A1S 20X DVD+/-RW drive with LightScribe

CPU Liquid Cooling

  • CoolIt Systems Eliminator CPU Cooler

Power Supply

  • Cooler Master Real Power Pro 1250W

Case

  • Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 full tower

Operating System

  • Windows XP Professional SP3



The Smooth Creations Broodling is powered by a 2.4GHz AMD Phenom 9750 Quad-Core Processor residing on an AMD 770-SB600-based Abit AX78 motherboard, coupled with 4GB of Kingston Dual Channel DDR2 memory running at 666MHz. The AX78's Phoenix-based BIOS offers room for overclocking, made easier by the CoolIt Systems Eliminator CPU Cooler's combination of air cooling and liquid / TEC chilling. Driving the graphics is a Diamond Multimedia Viper Radeon HD3870 X2--a 16x PCIe-based card with two Radeon 3870 GPUs onboard and 512MB of DDR3 memory dedicated to each GPU, for a total of 1GB of graphics memory. A single 500GB Western Digital Caviar SE16 hard drive and Lite-On 20X DVD+/-RW drive round out the peripherals. Powering the rig is a 1,250-watt Cooler Master Real Power Pro power supply--which gives this system plenty of power to grow for future upgrades.
 
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Smooth Creations Broodling: Exterior

The Broodling uses the Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 full-tower case--popular with do-your-selfers and custom-builders alike for its sturdy construction and spacious interior.

      

If there is any doubt as to where the "Smooth" in Smooth Creations' name comes from, all you have to do is run your hand along one of their painted cases. Your fingers skate across the smooth, painted surface as if it were ice that a Zamboni had just cleaned. This is a system you'll want to touch as much as you'll want to use it for gaming. Even with sturdy handles at the top and bottom of the case, the heft of the system is enough to deter you from carting it around to LAN parties. Which is a shame, as the impressive paint job is intimidating enough to scare your opponents before they even log on. You'll just have to host the LAN parties at your own house. 

      

The Broodling's front panel is conveniently located on the top of the system--ideal positioning for under-the-desk placement of the system. The front panel includes power and reset switches, four USB 2.0 ports, one firewire port, one eSATA port, headphone and microphone jacks, and power and hard disk activity lights. Unlike some system designs we've seen, this reset switch is actually functional. An optional setting in the BIOS allows the audio out to the speakers to automatically cut out when headphones are plugged into the front headphone jack. The back panel of the system includes two PS/2 ports, four USB ports, one gigabit Ethernet jack, and six programable audio jacks with 7.1-channel surround audio support. A toggle switch on the backplane resets the CMOS memory--making it much easier for overclockers to push back BIOS settings to their default without having to open the case to access the motherboard's CMOS reset jumper. The HDCP-compliant, Diamond Viper Radeon HD3870 X2 graphics card has two dual-link DVI-I ports and a proprietary port for a variety of video-out functions.



The system's 1,250-watt Cooler Master Real Power Pro power supply is more than enough to power the system's components. Which means that anyone looking to add more components can rest easy knowing that the power supply has the juice to power just about anything you can throw at it. The power supply has a non-standard connector, designed to be used only with the supplied heavy-duty power cable.
 
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Smooth Creations Broodling: Interior

A benefit to using a full-tower case is that it is much easier to have a neat layout on the inside. The Smooth Creations folks did a decent job on cable management, keeping as many of the cables out of the way as possible.

      

The side panel pops off right off with the release of a lever on the back of the system. The Diamond Radeon HD3870 X2 graphics card occupies one of the two PCIe 16x slots. The AX78 motherboard supports CrossFireX with its second PCIe 16x slot, so upgrading to a total of four GPUs with a second X2 is always an option. Three PCI slots and one 1x PCIe slot are all vacant; however, plugging a card into the 1x PCIe slot might be a tight fit as the graphics card is right against it. All four DIMM slots are populated with 1GB modules, bringing the system up to 4GB--half of the motherboard's maximum supported 8GB. The Smooth Creations artists included some of their handiwork inside the system as well. They painted the CoolIt Systems Eliminator CPU Cooler's chiller/pump module with logos for the various component manufacturers of the system as well as a shout out their favorite technology Website! Occupying the most space in the system--and adding a bit of a cluttered feel above the CPU--is the Eliminator's CPU fluid heat exchanger. Effective cooling at this level means that this system has room for overclocking.

   

There is no shortage of available drive bays here. The system sports five accessible, external drive bays--only one of which is occupied with the Lite-On DVD+/-RW drive. Below the external bays are six internal bays--one of which is populated with the 500GB Western Digital hard drive. The motherboard includes a total of four SATA connectors, supporting RAID 0, 1, and 0+1. Those looking to go old school will be happy to know that the motherboard also includes an IDE connector and a floppy disk drive port.
 
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Some Quick Benchmarks


 

As this article is a showcase of the HotHardware April Sweepstakes system and not a product review, we did not perform extensive benchmarking of the system, nor did we do side-by-side performance comparisons. That said, we did run a couple of quick benchmarks to provide you with reference numbers, with which you can see how the performance of the Broodling stacks up against your own systems. All of the scores reported below were taken with the system running at stock speeds.

 Preliminary Testing with SiSoft SANDRA XII
 Synthetic Benchmarks


The first test we ran was SiSoftware's SANDRA XII SP2, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran three of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA XII suite: Processor Arithmetic, Processor Multi-Media, and Memory Bandwidth.
 

      
Processor Arithmetic                 Processor Multi-Media                   Memory Bandwidth


These synthetic, low-level system benchmarks show that The Broodling's performance is on par for its configuration and compares favorably with similarly configured reference systems.


 3DMark06 v1.1.0
 Details: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/


The second set of tests we ran were using FutureMark's 3DMark06 version 1.1.0. We ran the full 3DMark test and the CPU Performance module.

 


Both the 3DMark and CPU scores are in the same ballpark as similarly configured systems running at stock speeds. Overclocked system typically see noticeably higher scores. While the Broodling is capable of being overclocked, we tested it at stock speeds.
 

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And The Winner Is...


By now you are probably wondering who the lucky winner of the Broodling is. You may know him as "ice_73", a frequent contributor to the HotHardware forums. Known as Daniel in the real world, he lives in Brooklyn, NY and is a full-time student working towards his MBA. He's been coming to HotHardware on a regualr basis for about five years now and has been active on the forums for the last three or so years.


Daniel has been a computer enthusiast for about eight years and counting. His first computer was a 900MHz AMD Athlon Thunderbird with 256MB RAM, a 40GB hard drive, and a TNT2 graphics card. He affectionately refers to his first system as a "China Town Build"--meaning that he purchased it from a small brick-and-mortar shop that assembles systems from OEM components and then sells the completed systems. The first thing he did with the system when he got it home was to crack it open and look inside. This was the system with which he learned how to overclock.

Daniel says the first thing he is going to do with the Broodling when he gets it is to overclock and experiemnt with 3DMark Vantage.  Then he's going to get busy with
Crysis and BioShock, but promises not to go into a "gaming coma." Daniel also wanted to pass along this message to the HotHardware readers: "I would love to mention HotHardware rocks. And a big thanks to Smooth Creations, CoolIt, and of course Diamond especially for all the upgrades this rig has received. Also I would love to give a shout out to the forum regulars--I'm sure they know who they are--without them the forums wouldn't be as fun a place as they are." Congratulations ice_73!



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