Power Consumption and Noise
Power consumption isn't always a major consideration for PC gamers, though the resulting heat output is. Also of concern is noise, especially for a system that's destined for the living room. The power measurement chart is one of the few graphs in which smaller numbers are better. To test the power draw, we let the system sit for several minutes after booting and recorded the wattage for our idle measurement. We then put the system under load to stress the CPU and GPU and let it run until the wattage no longer increased. This gave us our load rating.
The Digital Storm Bolt 3 had the lowest power measurement of any system we've recently tested when idle, and it drew a little less than the average amount of power of all the systems on our chart when we stress-tested its CPU and GPU. Obviously, SLI rigs will draw more power (due to the extra graphics card), and systems with less-powerful GPUs tend to pull less as well.
As for noise, our biggest criticism of the Bolt 3 is that there's no way to reduce the sound its cooling system makes. While we appreciate that Digital Storm gives you plenty of ways to control the speed (and sound) of the system's fans, its liquid cooling system remains the chief noisemaker. The Bolt 3 has a nice, constant hum to it, and we're not sure we'd really enjoy sticking it under a desk for long-term use—you might not either if you're the type who needs a nice, quiet space when you work.
The system does get loud if you elect to run its fans at full blast. And, of course, the more its graphics card heats up from extended gaming sessions, the more those fans will be working too. Keep that in mind if you plan to stick a Bolt 3, configured with high-end hardware, in a quiet space.