Maximum PC Staff May 20, 2014

Digital Storm Aventum II

At A Glance

Super Troopers

Record-breaking performance; unique, giganormic chassis.

Starship Troopers

Really should have liquid-cooled GPUs; may be too big for some peoples homes.

What’s red and faster than Dream Machine? This PC

There’s a little secret in the high-end PC market—few if any of these premium rigs actually have truly unique case enclosures. Instead, most boutique builders start with existing off-the-shelf chassis and customize from there.

The more ambitious OEMs will contract small runs from case companies and tack on a customized façade or logo. Even then, if you look close enough, you’ll see their mass-production lineage.

The Aventum II’s case is custom built, not a re-skin of an existing case design.

That’s not so with Digital Storm’s Aventum II. Now in its second iteration, the rig highlights Digital Storm’s efforts at creating a truly unique enclosure. Rather than contract for a few thousand semi-custom cases with a slightly different nip or tuck, Digital Storm decided to CAD/CAM its own super-tower from scratch and have it hand-built right here in the US of A. This lets DStorm change the design to suit newer hardware, and boast a case that no one else can have.

The giganourmous Aventum II case is a full four inches deeper than the already-honkin’ Corsair 900D and dwarfs just about all other super-towers. With any system, it’s not just about the case, though. Details of the components are spelled out in our spec chart, but the highlights include a 3.6GHz Core i7-4960X processor overclocked to 4.7GHz, along with 32GB of DDR3/1866 and a four-way GeForce GTX 780 Ti setup.

If you read our Dream Machine story (September 2013), you know this much hardware is difficult to juice up. We had issues with our 1,600W PSU, and the last two four-way GPU boxes have all had big PSUs, too. DStorm gets around this by integrating two Corsair AX1200i PSUs into the system. That gives the box a combined power reserve of 2,400 watts. With the depth of the Aventum II (about 30 inches) it has enough room to integrate large rads along with the dual PSUs (and yes, peanut gallery, we hear you saying that maybe, just maybe, we should have done this in DM2013, too).

In performance terms, the Aventum II is in good company. Up until now, the Dream Machine has held most of our benchmark records, but that’s no longer the case. The Aventum II just squeezes past the 5GHz Core i7-3670X in DM2013 in Premiere Pro CS6 and X264 HD 5.01 performance. It gets trickier on the graphics side—the Aventum II does set a new record in Batman: Arkham City but that’s pretty much a CPU benchmark today. In 3DMark11, the Aventum II loses to both DM2013 and the four-way Titan-based Origin PC Genesis that we reviewed in December, by about 10 percent. The reason? DStorm couldn’t get water blocks for the 780 Ti in time for our review, as the PCB layout has changed from the Titan’s. And on air, the company was sensitive not to offend our acoustic sensibilities since we had just beaten up its loud Bolt PC in our micro-tower roundup (November 2013). Consequently, the Aventum II is as silent as any liquid-cooled system.

So, four-way Titan is better than four-way 780 Ti, right? Nope. We decided to see what the air-cooled 780 Ti cards could do when the librarian wasn’t shushing them, so we overclocked the cards by 158MHz and let them push thermals higher. With those settings, we hit 17,840 in 3DMark11,  which easily bakes the four-way Titans—even the overclocked Titans—and we’re sure 18K would easily be surpassed with another 10 minutes of tweaking. We have some internal figures for Tomb Raider, Hitman, and Unigine 4.0 for DM2013, and the Aventum II easily wins there too, once the noise gloves are off. For the record, it did get a little loud, but not offensively so.

Still, we’re torn. It’s simply a crime not to have liquid-cooled 780 Tis in this Lust Red box, yet we acknowledge that the option doesn’t exist today. And we also have to give Digital Storm props for its truly unique chassis, its digital fan and LED control, and the sheer straight-line speed it has in beating DM2013. As much as we wanted to withhold a Kick Ass from the Aventum II for the lack of liquid-cooled GPUs, we think the rig deserves the honor for being so dedicated to Pure PC Power.

$10,905, www.digitalstorm.com

 Zero point
Premiere Pro CS6 (sec)
Stitch.Efx 2.0 (sec) 760660
ProShow Producer 5.0 (sec)
x264 HD 5.0 (fps)18.5
Batman: Arkham City (fps)99.0204 (+106%)
3DMark 117,05015,897 (+125%)

Our current desktop test bed consists of a hexa-core 3.2GHz Core i7-3930K OC’d to 3.8GHz, 8GB of Corsair DDR3/1600, on an Asus Sabertooth X79 motherboard. We are running a GeForce GTX 690, an OCZ Vertex 3 SSD, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional.

3.6GHz Core i7-4960X overclocked to 4.7GHz
Mobo Asus Rampage IV Extreme
RAM 32GB DDR3/1866
Graphics 4x GeForce GTX 780 Ti
480GB Corsair Neutron GTX SSD, 4TB WD Black HDD
OpticalSlot-fed Blu-ray combo
Case / PSUCustom / 2x Corsair AX1200i

Digital Storm Aventum II

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