Since our last desktop review, I've overhauled the benchmarking suite for desktop systems. That means that AVADirect's build is getting a fairly fresh start. Futuremark has updated their PCMark 8 and 3DMark suites somewhat, making test results less comparable, and Cinebench has updated in the interim to R15. I figured now would also be a reasonable opportunity to trim down and focus gaming benchmarks.

Unfortunately, until I get more test systems in, comparison points are essentially lacking, but I can at least present the test results I do have for AVADirect's system.

Note that for PCMark 8, I'm running it with OpenCL acceleration. Since this is essentially the direction things are moving, it seems sensible to enable OpenCL.

PCMark 8 (Home) 5399
PCMark 8 (Creative) 5091
PCMark 8 (Work) 5546
PCMark 7 7029
3DMark (Fire Strike Extreme) 4731
Cinebench R15 (Multi-Thread) 851
Cinebench R15 (Single-Thread) 166
Cinebench R15 (OpenGL) 162.13
Video Encoding - x264 5.0 (Pass 1) 68.31
Video Encoding - x264 5.0 (Pass 2) 18.38

Scores are about where they should be, although the modest overclock and DDR3-1600 does hurt AVADirect a little. As far as the overclock goes, I'm not sure what can be done other than to try and cherry pick as many i7-4770Ks as possible; Haswell has a pretty wide range that I've experienced myself. 4.2GHz is conservative, but it's also about as high as I'd guarantee the majority of chips to be able to reliably hit and it seems to be what the SI industry has standardized on.

For gaming, I'm stuck on 1080p testing, so I've instead opted to just ramp settings as high as possible for each game. The reality is that our high end gaming hardware is stuck in a sort of limbo: too powerful for 1080p, nowhere near enough for 4K. Suffice to say, a single GTX 780 is mostly enough to handle the games in my revised suite.

BioShock Infinite 114.1
Company of Heroes 2 42.2
GRiD 2 111.7
Metro: Last Light 44.3
Tomb Raider 48.4

Keep in mind that Metro: Last Light and Tomb Raider are both running with SSAA, which is pretty taxing. So while we've got playable performance, it's not otherworldly just yet; we're not hitting the magic 60fps.

The bottom line is that AVADirect's system is more than adequate for handling most tasks and a fine gaming machine.

Analyzing the Build Quality Power Consumption and Heat
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  • Aslan7 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Were I interested in buying such a system the rubber fan mounts would appeal as would the fan controller. I'm willing replace fans or to pull fans out of a case to get a quieter build. The one thing I see wrong with the build is 8GB of memory. Current generation consoles have as much and Windows is heavier than a console. As for all SSD storage, that's laughable this year and the next. You could go all SSD if you didn't mind having a computer instead of a car. My Steam Library alone is 1.39TB I don't even have a lot of AAA games which run bigger and then there's Desura, GOG, and games not from a digital service, plus music, ebooks, photos and videos.
    I've got a 512GB SSD acting as a cache for a 4TB drive and I still find myself shuffling files to other drives.
  • Pbryanw - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I think the specs sheet said it had 16GB of memory (4x4GB).

    As far as SSDs go, I'm sure a 512GB one would suffice for most people. I think those with big Steam & game libraries are in the minority. Also, with a quiet going on silent build (speaking from my own experience) a mechanical hard-drive can be the loudest component. It's why I now run two SSDs (for Windows + Steam Library) instead of an SSD + large hard-drive.

    If you must have a 4TB storage drive (and this is a gaming PC), I think it's a bit pointless (as Dustin points out) to have two SSDs in RAID when SSDs are so much faster than mechanical hard-drives anyway. Better to have a 512GB SSD and 4TB hard-drive as per your setup then two smaller units in RAID.
  • Black Obsidian - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Just because you *have* a 1.39TB Steam library doesn't mean you need every single game installed simultaneously, unless you're running on 56K or something. My library of Steam games is over 2TB and 100 titles, and yet my gaming PC's Steam folder is under 400GB.

    How? Because I only have games I am currently playing or am likely to play in the near future installed. One of the greatest advantages of Steam is the ability to download any game in your library, at any time, on any PC. Why negate that by trying to have ALL THE THINGS installed all the time?
  • Pbryanw - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Totally agree with this. If you're like me, you only play one game at a time. I have more than 100 Steam games in my library and just have a fraction of these installed on a 256GB SSD (like you, the ones I'm most likely to play). The rest I can download anytime from the Steam servers.
  • Papa - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    It's pretty easy to go into SteamApps folder, move the game onto a mechanical drive. That's all that Steam looks for. No need to delete if you don't have to.
  • DominionSeraph - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    I lived with an 80GB hard drive from'06 to '13, loading games from CD when I wanted them and downloading only high compression 720p rips. But that was a $350 Dell.
    This is a $2500 boutique gaming system. At $2500 you should not be so constrained for space. Since a SSD doesn't do much for games and is completely unnecessary for media files, it's stupid to trade space for needless expense.
  • Pbryanw - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    Yes, it's $2500 but it's also been built for silence. If you've gone, like AVADirect, to the trouble of including a fanless CPU cooler, a PSU that is fanless up to 30% load and a fan controller, it seems a shame to include a mechanical hard-drive which could be the noisiest component in the build.

    Of course, this review includes no noise benchmarks, and the drive is in a silent enclosure, but going from my own experience, my WD Green was the noisiest component in my quiet build until I swapped it for an SSD. Including a 1TB SSD, as Dustin suggested, wouldn't be such a bad compromise between noise and space for a decent games library in my opinion. At the very least it should be offered as an option on their web-site.

    I think it just comes down to that tricky balancing act between noise and performance. I can see why having a 4TB drive for games would be an advantage, but if you have a fast internet connection, it's easier (at least for me) to keep a decent list of favourite games and then download when I need to.
  • ironwing - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    A review of a quiet PC should include objective measurements of sound volume at idle and under load. One person's "very quiet" is another person's "too loud".
  • shooty - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Exactly, I don't need to see the benchmark results - I would like noise levels readings at various loads. I can look up a review of dozens of other similarly configured systems to get an idea of performance.
  • twtech - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    With my money, I'd probably get both the terabyte SSD, and keep the mechanical storage drive for mass storage.

    My SteamApps folder alone is approaching 1TB, and I have quite a few GBs of photos from my hiking trips. So I appreciate the inclusion of a mechanical storage drive - but I would suggest that if you are going to have one, why not go with 4TB?

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