Digital Storm Bolt 3 SFF Gaming PC: A Compact Powerhouse

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Introducing The Digital Storm Bolt 3

Face the facts: if you want a pre-built PC that can play virtually any game at high resolutions with high-quality settings, you're going to have to pay a princely sum. While you could probably build your own PC for less than a pre-built system, boutique builders typically offer a number of benefits in the form of guaranteed overclocks or custom component. Or maybe you just have no interest whatsoever spending all that time installing parts and hiding cables in your case.

Though Digital Storm's Bolt 3 isn't the highest-end gaming PC we've tested, it holds its own for its not-so-insignificant price—delivering gaming performance that fits its cost, all built within a beautiful, small form factor chassis that would look just as good in your living room as it would under your desk. We dig Digital Storm's craftsmanship and component choices, but only to a point. The Bolt 3 is gorgeous, but as we'll explain later, we have some issues with the noise this system generates. Even at idle, the Bolt 3 is audible. And when you're gaming, consider a great pair of headphones a must.

Digital Storm Bolt 3 Chassis
Of course, if you truly are using the Bolt 3 as a living room PC, than the distance from your couch to your entertainment center—where we're presuming you'll place it—along with your sound system will probably be enough to drown out the system.  The noise output is not a deal-breaker for this beautiful system, though. And given everything that's inside such a small enclosure, we can't fault Digital Storm too much for what it sounds like, though we probably would happily trade its large acrylic side window for something with sound dampening material...

Digital Storm Bolt 3
Specifications & Features
Processor
Intel Core i7 4790K (8MB Cache, four cores, 4.0GHz normal/4.4GHz turbo)
Operating System
Windows10 Home (X64)
Motherboard
ASUS Z97I-PLUS (Mini-ITX)
Graphics
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti (6GB)
Memory
16GB DDR301866MHz (2x8GB)
Optical Drive   DVD-RW (8x)
Storage
250GB Samsung 850 EVO + 1TB HDD
Cooling System
  Digital Storm 240mm CPU Liquid Cooling System; 2x Corsair Air Series SP120 fans
Connectivity
Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Front Panel Ports

2 x USB 3.0; Headphone and Mic
Rear Panel Ports

4 x USB 3.0; 2 x USB 3.1; 2 x USB 2.0; HDMI; DisplayPort; S/PDIF Out; 5.1 surround sound; 802.11ac Wi-Fi antennas
Sound
Integrated 5.1 channel surround sound
Power Supply
600W SilverStone SX600-G
Dimensions
18.3 (H) x 15.1 (D) x 5.8 (W) inches
Weight
12.1 pounds
Manufacturer Warranty
3-Year Labor, 1-Year Parts
Pricing:
Starting at $1,753. ($3,069 as configured)

Although we're testing a system with Devil's Canyon, Digital Storm also now offers a Skylake Core i7-6700 CPU, which could improve performance slightly depending on what you're using the system for. You can also outfit the Bolt 3 with up to 32GB of memory on Digital Storm's site, though a 600W power supply is the beefiest you're going to get for this PC. Since the Gigabyte or Asus motherboard you can select for the system uses the Mini-ITX form factor, this isn't a rig you're going to be able to configure with multiple GPUs either. You can upgrade to a GeForce Titan X card for an additional (and significant) investment, but we don't see why you would bother: The GeForce GTX 980 Ti is the better value.

A Look Inside The Digital Storm Bolt 3

As you might expect, you can also swap out the Bolt 3's DVD/RW drive for a Blu-ray drive (reader, not burner), and you get a huge number of options to configure the system's storage—SSDs, HDDs, M.2 SSDs, and even SSD Mini-SAS drives.

Digital Storm didn't overclock our system, but you can ask them to boost your CPU up to 4.8GHz (depending on the cooling system you've elected to use) and your GPU "as much as possible with complete stability."

Most importantly for some poeple, Digital Storm doesn't load up your PC with a bunch of bloatware—which would be extremely irritating for a boutique vendor to do. The only special app it slaps on your system is its Control Center app, which allows you to adjust the system's airflow (and noise), customize its internal lighting to any color you want (or set it to change dynamically based on the system's temperature), and get real-time updates about all the different temperatures the Bolt 3 measures (including its coolant, as well as its CPU, GPU, and HDD areas).


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