Its official name is Core 2 CrossFire DDR3 Gaming System, but you can just call it the Quad Meister or Quaderino, if you’re into the brevity thing. What else could you possibly call a PC equipped with two ATI Radeon 4870 X2 cards (quad GPU cores), four Velociraptors (quad hard drives) and an overclocked Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (uhh, quad cores)? Maybe we’re stretching here, but our nickname is certainly sexier than the PC’s official moniker.
This rig’s components are housed in an NZXT Khaos case with a custom laser-cut side. Optical storage is handled by a Samsung DVD burner and an LG Blu-ray burner. In magnetic storage, AVADirect hit us with a head scratcher. It equips the machine with four 150GB Velociraptor drives. Yeah, you read that right—WD makes a 150GB version of its spectacular Velociraptor drive. An Alphacool LCD display and a Corsair 1000HX PSU round out the package.
AVADirect stripes the four 150GB Velociraptor into one big RAID 0 array but doesn’t include a backup drive. Storing anything you care about on such an array is like trying to steal home—it’s a big risk for a big reward.
The last AVADirect machine we reviewed, the AVADirect Core 2 Duo SLI Gaming System (December 2007), was damaged during shipping and leaked coolant all over the place. This time, the company went with air cooling and, amazingly, was able to get the QX9770 overclocked to 4GHz using a heatsink fan the size of Jupiter. The good news is that it passed our stress test with flying colors. The bad news is that this machine also came damaged and had several screws stripped loose.
The Quaderino was roughly five percent slower than the Digital Storm Benchmark Crusher we reviewed last month (the Crusher’s water-cooled CPU was clocked about five percent faster). In gaming, the showdown was between the Crusher’s tri-SLI GTX 280s and the Quaderino’s Radeon HD 4870 X2 cards. In our UT3 test, the Quaderino was about 13 percent faster than the Crusher. In Crysis, however, the Radeons took a backseat to the GeForce cards. While the Digital Storm could belt out 54 fps in Crysis, the AVA Direct was down at 34 fps. Why? One theory is that since Crysis supports just three GPUs for gaming, the Radeons are at a disadvantage since each individual GPU core is slower than an individual GTX 280. While Crysis is the more graphically intense game, we’re calling this fight a draw—especially since the Digital Storm system turns the price knob up to $9,000 while the AVADirect machine is $6,000.
The AVADirect box is a nice machine and sensibly priced, given the amount of hardware it packs. We question the storage configuration and are a bit concerned about getting two consecutive machines with shipping damage from the company. AVADirect needs to either look at its packaging or buy its shipping guy a cookie bouquet.
Still, the Quaderino is a fast box and represents well as the first PC we’ve received this year without a GeForce in it.
AVADirect Core 2 Crossfire DDR3
Fast and a good value for the hardware it packs.
Loud and no safety net for small RAID array.
Vista 64-Bit Benchmarks
AVADirect Core 2 CrossFire DDR3 Gaming System
Premiere Pro CS3
582 sec (+116%)
Unreal Tournament 3
Our current desktop test bed consists of a quad-core 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 RAM on an EVGA 680 SLI motherboard, two EVGA GeForce 8800GTX cards in SLI mode, a Western Digital 150GB Raptor and 500GB Caviar hard drives, an LG GGC-H20L optical drive, a Sound Blaster X-Fi and PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750 Quad PSU, and Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit.
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (3.2GHz overclocked to 4GHz)
Asus Rampage Extreme (Intel X48 chipset)
Corsair 4GB DDR3/1600
Two Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2s in CrossFire
Onboard HD Audio
Four Western Digital Velociraptor 10K 150GB in RAID 0