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Maximum PC Staff Jun 23, 2008

Digital Storm Twister Ultra 4

At A Glance

Casio

Fast, stable, and nicely configured.

Armitron

Two DVD burners on one
port. Is no Vista a plus or
a minus?

Maximum PC’s mandate has always been that performance rules all else. But recently we’ve been harping about nothing but stability. It’s not that we previously ignored this area, but lately we’ve been inundated with rigs that have been overclocked so aggressively they make our standard benchmarks blow up within minutes. Because of this, our new message has been stability, stability, stability.

Apparently, Digital Storm got our memo. The company shipped us its current speed king: Intel’s 2.93GHz Core 2 Extreme Quad-Core QX6800 clocked up to a mere 3.46GHz running a pair of 8800 GTX cards and 2GB of Corsair Dominator RAM cranked up to 1,066MHz, all on an EVGA 680i SLI board. From a hardware perspective, this is nothing new; this setup is similar to what we’ve been seeing since January.

Normally, this would make for one big yawner of a story, but the Twister hits the right notes for us. First up: performance. Although it doesn’t rip the speed crown from the wickedly fast Falcon Northwest Mach V that we reviewed in June, it does manage to top the higher-clocked Falcon in a few runs. Surprisingly, in Adobe Photoshop CS2, the Twister just squeezes by the Mach V with a score of 142 seconds versus 149. The difference is negligible due to the margin of error, but the Falcon Mach V has a 267MHz clock advantage, so count this as a win for the Twister. We’re also marking the Nero H.264 encode test as a win for the Twister. Although its score in this test is about a minute slower than the Mach V’s, the Twister is running a slower CPU and is 100 percent stable.

The Twister is top gun in our FEAR test, with a score that’s just a tad faster than that of the similarly equipped ABS PC that we reviewed in February. So, in performance the Twister holds three Lab records and really doesn’t have to apologize for performance elsewhere.

In build quality, we were interested to see if the company paid attention to items the techs missed last time, such as whether all the front USB ports were connected and operating. Fortunately, there were no such bone-headed errors. We do have to point out, however, that connecting two DVD burners to the same PATA port will kill your performance if you try to burn to multiple drives at once.

But is the Twister stable? Yes. We flew through all of our normal benchmarks with no issues—well, except for SYSmark2004 SE, which refused to run. We can’t blame the Twister for this though, since SYSmark2004 SE hasn’t worked in months. We did run the new SYSmark2007 Preview with no problems, and the Twister achieved an overall score of 219. We also subjected the Twister to our new quad-core torture test, Prime 95, with only one issue. On one of several overnight runs, the app reported a data anomaly, but it didn’t crash or lock up. On the Mach V, the Prime 95 test caused a spontaneous reboot within minutes. Our other multithreading tests also went without a hitch. So we have more faith in this rig’s long-term stability than in the stability of any machine we’ve tested since the Polywell Poly I680SLI-QX (March 2007), which sported a stock-clocked quad core.

That leaves the Twister in a great spot. It holds three Lab records and is much cheaper than the Mach V—and it’s stable.

THE VERDICT

Digital Storm Twister Ultra 4

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