How much PC power can one jam into a bread box? (We’ll take a commercial break while the youngsters Google “bread box.”) V3 Gaming tries to answer that question with the latest iteration of its Devastator small form factor box. Unlike the four micro-towers that we previously reviewed, the Devastator conforms to a boxier silhouette, using a slick new Silverstone SG10 case.
The Devastator fits in a pair of GeForce GTX 770 cards along with a new Haswell chip.
The SG10 is slightly taller than a traditional SFF box, so it can accommodate a microATX motherboard. Lest you wonder why you’d need a microATX in an SFF, we have a simple answer: multiple video cards—more on that later.
The Devastator seems like it was configured with best-bang-for-the-buck in mind. Inside, you’ll find a pair of GeForce GTX 770 cards slotted into the Asus Gryphon Z87 board, 16GB of Corsair DDR3/1600, and a Core i5-4670K clocked up to 4.4GHz. For storage, V3 Gaming didn’t skimp on the primary drive—something a lot of vendors do these days—and outfitted the Devastator with a 256GB Plextor M5 Pro SSD. Bulk storage, however, is a bit paltry, consisting of a 1TB Toshiba desktop HDD. These days, it’s pretty hard to justify a 1TB drive on a build that costs more than $800.
To measure the Devastator’s performance, we looked to three points of comparison. First was our aging Sandy Bridge-E zero-point test bed, where it was a give-and-take contest. In thread-light tasks, the Devastator’s higher-clocked Haswell is on par and even sometimes faster than the six-core SNB-E in our zero-point. Flip to, say, Premiere Pro CS6 or x264 HD 5.01 encoding, however, and even the elderly Sandy Bridge-E cores hammer the hell out of the less-threaded Haswell. In gaming, the tide turns yet again, with the once-mighty GeForce GTX 690 in our zero-point being trounced by the Devastator’s pair of GeForce GTX 770 cards. Boo hoo.
But that’s not the whole story on micro-towers. We also pit the Devastator against the $4,433 Falcon Northwest Tiki, and the latter’s 4.7GHz Core i7-4770K simply dominated in the compute-heavy tasks. But, again, the Tiki’s Titan can’t compete with the dual GeForce GTX 770s—the Devastator is faster in 3DMark 11 by 22 percent. The gap closes in 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme, where the Devastator is but 10 percent faster.
The Tiki is an extreme example, though. For the most part, simple physics and the ability of a bigger box to better displace thermals and hold more hardware put standard desktops at an advantage. For example, the $2,000 CyberPower Zeus Evo Thunder 3000 SE that we reviewed in our September 2013 issue aces the Devastator in compute tasks, thanks to its Core i7-4770K, and comes out slightly faster in gaming since it also has a pair of 770s, while coming in $500 cheaper. Of course, it’s also much bigger.
Still, the Devastator is a good blend of size and performance, and is fairly priced to boot, given that small form factor boxes typically carry a premium.
Our current desktop test bed consists of a hexa-core 3.8GHz Core i7-3930K and 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.