Digital Storm Bolt 3 SFF Gaming PC: A Compact Powerhouse
Bolt 3 Design and Layout
Digital Storm builds the Bolt 3 as if it was a living room PC, which is exactly where we think you should put it. You can stand the case vertically (5.8
inches wide) or set it on its side (18.3 inches long) within your entertainment center. The case's left side (when vertical) is just one, giant acrylic
window. It's great for looks, though we wish we could adjust the brightness of the case's lights — or at least have some way to set them on a timer, as to
not make a room super-bright whenever you leave your PC on or try to watch a movie with the lights off.
The side panel attaches to the chassis with large screws that you can easily tighten and loosen with your hands. We hesitate to call them thumbscrews, though, as there aren't any notches in the head and they're kind of big—not what you'd typically think of when you think of thumbscrews on a desktop PC. They're completely smooth with beveled edges.
The system's inside is marvelously wired and plumbed (if you opt for liquid cooling, as our review unit had). Digital Storm makes use of all its available
space by coming up with a little contraption that allows them to mount the video card vertically instead of horizontally, and the system's power supply
sits in its mid-right—a location you're probably not used to seeing a PSU, if you've built systems in more standard cases.
A quick glance at the top of the case lets you see how much fluid remains in your liquid cooling unit's reservoir, which would be a herculean effort to top off. Thankfully, you probably won't need to adjust the fluid going around your tubes and two-bay reservoir for a few years.
On our system, at least, we found that there wasn't really much we could upgrade even if we wanted to. There was one free SATA port, but that's it—thanks to our two-drive setup and the system's optical drive eating up a third port. Adding new storage requires you to pop off panel on the system's opposite side, which we recommend doing when the case is vertical as to not put any unnecessary weight on the more fragile acrylic. In our system, we couldn't find any place to attach a new drive—SSD or HDD—which makes us feel as if two drives (the most Digital Storm will install for you) is as much room as you get in the Bolt 3.
All in all, we like the case's design—save for the acrylic side window which, though not very soundproof, is a great way to show off the case's beautiful
(and bright) internal lighting. The only feature we felt we were missing from our system was a media card reader, but it's not the biggest loss assuming
you're just going to connect your camera to your computer via USB and transfer pictures over that way.
It also would have been a little better if Digital Storm located the case's front-facing USB ports closer to its glowing logo—the top of the case—for easier access. It's a minor point, but it would have saved us a little stretching.