Introducing the V3 Gaming PC Avenger

We've had a few boutiques come through here, but what V3 Gaming PC wanted to approach us with was something different than we're used to seeing. Many of the systems sent through here are aggressively tuned, designed for performance at virtually any cost. It looks fantastic on charts, but in practice you're often paying out the nose for a system that left the price-performance curve eating the dust in its speedy wake. With the Avenger, V3 wanted to do something a little different.

What we have in house today is a system they believe has been designed to be as balanced a build as possible. High performance, sure, but more well-rounded and suited for a variety of tasks without blowing up the room temperature or the power bill in the process. The reasons behind some of the decisions they've made are laudable, but some of the others may be somewhat more nebulous.

V3 Gaming PC Avenger Specifications
Chassis Corsair Carbide 500R
Processor Intel Core i7-3820
(4x3.6GHz + HTT, Turbo to 3.8GHz, 4.75GHz (38x Multiplier, 125 Bclk) Overclock, 32nm, 10MB L3, 130W)
Motherboard MSI X79A-GD45 (X79 Chipset)
Memory 4x4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1600 @ DDR3-1666 (expandable to 64GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB
(1536 CUDA cores, 1006/6008MHz core/RAM, 256-bit memory bus)
Storage 2x Corsair Force GT 60GB SATA 6Gbps SSD (SF-2281) in RAID 0
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7200-RPM SATA 6Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) Toshiba-Samsung BD-ROM/DVD-RAM
Power Supply Corsair TX750 V2 80 Plus Bronze
Networking Intel 82579V Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC892
Speaker, mic/line-in, surround jacks, optical out for 7.1 sound
Front Side Optical drive
Card reader
2x USB 3.0
6-pin FireWire
Headphone and mic jacks
Top -
Back Side 2x PS/2
6x USB 2.0
2x USB 3.0
Optical and digital audio out
Ethernet jack
Speaker, mic, line-in, and surround jacks
2x DVI-D (GTX 680)
1x DisplayPort (GTX 680)
1x HDMI (GTX 680)
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Extras Card reader
Asetek closed liquid cooling loop
Warranty 3-year parts and labor, lifetime support
Pricing $2,399

If you're looking at that spec table and scratching your head at some of the choices, you weren't the only one. A high overclock on a quad-core CPU, NVIDIA's top-of-the-line single-GPU graphics card, 16GB of fast DDR3, that's all par for the course with a boutique system. I'm even quite fond of the Corsair enclosure and power supply, both of which are quality components. Yet I'll admit I was perplexed by the use of the Sandy Bridge-E quad-core instead of Sandy Bridge proper (the review unit was received before Ivy Bridge launched). Running two low-capacity SSDs in RAID 0 also seemed like a strange call. So I went to the source and asked why these choices were made.

First, the Avenger is their top shelf system, so it would make sense that they'd go for X79 and Sandy Bridge-E instead of an LGA1155-based system. A top shelf system should also be ready for tri-SLI or CrossFireX, too, so the mountain of PCI Express bandwidth on Sandy Bridge-E makes sense. At the same time, most users simply don't need a hex-core processor, so under the circumstances the Intel Core i7-3820 would be the best fit. I'm not sure I 100% agree with the logic here, but the system as specced is designed to be as upgradeable as possible; a Z77-based system would be stuck at dual graphics cards, 32GB of RAM, and the CPU would basically peak where the i7-3820 begins. You may not entirely agree with the decisions made here, but at least there's some logic to them.

Where I do think things are more nebulous is with the pair of 60GB Corsair Force GT SSDs in a striped RAID. On paper that performance is going to look fantastic, but in practice it's not really necessary and I think a lot of us would've been more satisfied with a single 120GB drive to go with the mechanical hard drive. The price would be essentially the same, but you'd gain TRIM support. The argument there was that many customers request SSDs in a striped RAID, and that this is a six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other kind of situation. Again, I'm not sure I agree and I'm not sure you will either, but there's still logic to it.

The rest of the system is pretty fundamental, although the overclock on that i7-3820 is among the highest we've tested and I remain a bit concerned about the 1.42V running through it. Overclocks are one of those things I tend to leave up to the discretion of the vendor; if they're willing to warrant it and accept the responsibility, that's their call. I personally find it to be on the high side, but as I was discussing with Ian the other night, I'm a very conservative overclocker; I seldom raise voltage on a CPU more than 0.1V, if that.

As far as pricing, putting together similar parts from Newegg and other online stores, the total hardware cost for a system like the V3 Avenger comes out to around $1900—we say "around" because some of the parts aren't readily available for end-user purchase. Toss in a 3-year standard warranty and the 25% overclock and the final price of $2400 looks pretty comparable to what you'd pay elsewhere. It's not an amazing deal, but for a prebuilt system with a hefty overclock it's at least reasonable. If you have the time and inclination to DIY, you'll pay less, but for those who would rather just skip straight to using their PCs you're looking at a ~10% markup. And with that out of the way, let's get into the details of the Avenger.

Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    As an evaluation unit, the manufacturer ships us whatever they feel best represents their product. Obviously, we're not going to be upgrading it to 32GB RAM or more during the review process, so it doesn't really affect the review. If you're custom ordering a system and select 32GB RAM, hopefully they're good enough to let customers know that you'll need Win7 Pro/Ultimate to utilize the additional memory.
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    More to the point, their cart will let you buy 32GB of ram and W7 Home without as much as a single warning....
  • ggathagan - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    This is a review of a system, as opposed to a review of a vendor's purchasing process, so I'm not sure why the latter is being discussed.

    Unless you actually purchased a system from them with 32GB and W7 home, you've no idea whether or not such a combination would trigger a warning message or a follow-up email from the company regarding the mismatch.
  • zlandar - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    I have this case for my own DIY build and love it. Very easy to install components and not too large. Little touches like case screws that remain attached to the side panel make a big difference. I normally buy black cases but the white is fine.

    Puzzled why V3 would not use a 240mm radiator to take advantage of the case. I have a H100 and it sits out of the way in the built-in slot in the 500R.

    Also a raid 0 ssd setup is a bad idea. I use a ssd plus hard drives with no raid.
  • jigglywiggly - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    i love the look of that case
  • dtolios - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    ...makes sense only to have options for upgrading the base gives you more options than an i7 LGA1155, were you've hit the ceiling with the 3770K and more or less 2x GPUs...

    But with the base price of this configuration exceeding a similar or better spec "home assembled" system by more than $600 (even with a 1000W PSU should you want to go for 2 or more GPUs and O/C a 6 core with more head room etc), I cannot help myself but being afraid of what they would ask once you've started tweaking those customization options...

    I understand that they need to make a profit, but...still it's too much for something that is put together with mainstream components using marketing tricks in order to appeal to a half-educated crowd. (i.e. UN-needed RAID, poor O/C optimization etc)
  • hapsr - Thursday, May 17, 2012 - link

    Keep them to yourself, this is a big boy gamer systems, not a PS3 lol. It just that u don't have the money so please keep window shopping Cheap one lol..
  • oopyseohs - Thursday, May 17, 2012 - link

    The machine looks very balanced to me. I consider a balanced machine to be one that doesn't have a clear bottleneck or one component or components that are way too good for the rest of the system. If you look at it that way, it is very balanced (not a ridiculous hex-core processor, single 680 instead of 3, SSDs, etc). It's probably not ideal for a strictly "gaming" computer since you could get an amazing one of those for probably around 1500. Don't know if v3 said anything to dustin about it being specifically for gaming or not though

    I priced everything out on newegg and it comes out to around $1950 (not exact because some stuff is not in stock), so when you consider that they do all the work for you and offer technical support which seems good based on customer reviews online and warranties, it's not too bad of a deal compared with some other manufacturers.

    IVB might be a better choice for a configuration that is like this, but I think the review mentioned that this is a much more flexible platform, meaning greater headroom (X79 has a lot more upgrade options/ potential). That makes sense for the "top" model that the company offers. The i7-3820 and a decent X79 board really is not that much more expensive (if at all) than an i7-3770K + decent MB, and it probably runs cooler and overclocks a little better actually.

    The only things I would change in this build would probably be the SSDs to a single SSD, and 8GB of memory because I would never use 16. lastly, I have seen the white 500R in person and it looks a lot better than it does in the pictures, not sure why. IMO it is pretty good looking. totally defending v3 in this post lol.
  • Craig234 - Thursday, May 17, 2012 - link

    Did you mean "nebulous" or "dubious"? Nebulous doesn't make sense.
  • shumicpi - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    The configuration is very good but the price not :(

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