Voodoo Rage F:5

Voodoo Rage F:5

Voodoo_PCbeauty.jpgMonth Reviewed: February 2005
Verdict: 9 Kick Ass
URL: www.voodoopc.com

We've long said that great PCs are crafted, not built. Voodoo PC invokes that mantra with its latest work of wonder, the Rage F:5. This machine blends elegance and speed in a sophisticated water-cooled chassis that doesn't sound like a helicopter crashed into your office.

The Rage F:5 is a logical progression for the class of boutique PCs. While it used to be enough to paint an off-the-shelf case green or fold the wires in a fancy manner, such steps are no longer sufficient. Hence the Rage F:5’s custom aluminum chassis called the Voodoo Maga.

We've long said that great PCs are crafted, not built. Voodoo PC invokes that mantra with its latest work of wonder, the Rage F:5. This machine blends elegance and speed in a sophisticated water-cooled chassis that doesn't sound like a helicopter crashed into your office.

The Rage F:5 is a logical progression for the class of boutique PCs. While it used to be enough to paint an off-the-shelf case green or fold the wires in a fancy manner, such steps are no longer sufficient. Hence the Rage F:5’s custom aluminum chassis called the Voodoo Maga.

You might notice similarities between the Voodoo Maga and the Lian Li PC-V1000, but that's to be expected—Lian Li manufactures the case for Voodoo. Voodoo tells us it had a heavy hand in designing the Maga, and many of those features appear in the PC-V1000, too.

The most noticeable difference between the two cases is the Maga’s ability to accommodate even Extended ATX motherboards. The Maga also uses a reverse mounting system, so the case opens from the right instead of the left. Finally, the Maga features a baffle that separates the power supply and hard drives from the main compartment where the motherboard is mounted. It's like a McDonald’s McDLT, in that respect: The hot stays hot and the cold stays cold. For those who don't remember the defunct McDLT, think of Apple’s G5. The idea is to keep the hard drives and power supply walled off, so they can’t heat up the rest of the system. The case doesn't feature any exotic paint, but Voodoo’s laser cutter put in some overtime on the box.
Inside, the machine packs an overclocked (by 100MHz, to 2.7GHz) Athlon FX-55 on an Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe board. Two nVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra cards in SLI mode power the graphics, and there’s 2GB of Crucial Ballistix DDR400. Unlike the Katana SLi (reviewed on page 68), the Rage F:5 uses two 1GB DIMMs instead of four 512MB DIMMs. This provides an upgrade path that doesn’t involve junking your old DIMMs.

The Rage F:5 uses water cooling, with a large radiator cleverly hidden in the front bezel. In addition to cooling the CPU and the pair of videocard GPUs, the water cooler also keeps the chipset cool—thus cutting out one more fan. We wondered if the videocard RAM would overheat without a fan to move air over the heatsinks, but we didn't experience any problems. Because the inverted design leaves the GPUs facing up, it’s possible the heat they generate rises rather than sitting on the cards.

Storage is handled by a pair of 120GB Seagate 7200.8 drives running in RAID 0. This is actually our biggest complaint. A mere 240GB just isn't enough today, especially after we laid eyes on the stack of drives stuffed into the Katana SLi. The Katana is overkill, for sure, but we still want more than 240GB of storage, and we'd rather have 10K drives over NCQ; we haven't seen enough evidence to show that NCQ matters on the desktop.

The Rage F:5 comes through in the most-important category, though: performance. The Rage F:5 unseats last month's Velocity Micro machine in our Adobe Photoshop 7.0 script (but then, AMD has dominated our Photoshop benchmarks ever since the Athlon 64 FX-55 appeared). The F:5 also does well in SYSmark2004—in fact, it’s the fastest machine we've seen in eight months. On the other hand, an overclocked P4EE machine set the record for this benchmark at 218 eight months ago.

The Rage F:5 really excelled in our 3DMark2005 benchmark, beating the three other SLI rigs we've seen so far: The Rage F:5 was 27 percent faster than the Xeon-based Alienware ALX system we reviewed in January, 15 percent faster than the Katana SLi, and about 4 percent faster than last month’s Velocity Micro Raptor 64 Dual X.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Rage F:5 are its acoustics. We've now had four SLI-based systems come through the Lab and the Rage F:5 is unequivocally the quietest of the bunch. The Velocity Micro box was borderline loud, and the Katana SLi is near-deafening. Alienware's ALX comes closest in quiet mode, but set its water cooler on high, and it too enters the realm of pretty darn loud. The Rage F:5 just quietly hums along whether it’s hot or cold. That a machine could be this fast and this quiet is a wonder in itself. -Gordon Mah Ung

+garlic: Quiet gaming in an elegant case.

-onions: With only 240GB of storage, DV editing or torrent warehousing will be limited.

Verdict: 9 Kick Ass

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