The gaming picture is a bit different, and the AVADirect system finds itself on the bottom of the heap on both of our gaming tests. Its Unreal Tournament 3 score is still 100 frames per second on even the higher-end 1,920x1,200 test, so for the most part, this system will handle all of today's games with little trouble. But relative to the other systems, it's not as fast, which speaks poorly of its ability to play titles at high resolution that will come out later. Its Crysis scores make that point for us. Its slow 38 frames per second framerate at 1,280x1,024 is a less-than-ideal playing experience. Its 1,600x1,200 Crysis scores actually seem to benefit compared with the 32-bit Puget and Gateway systems, so you can see again that 64-bit Windows is helping this system, but it's still only able to manage an unplayable 22 frames per second. This system would clearly benefit from an extra 3D card, and that's the first change we'd make.
We also wish that AVADirect had found a way to make this system a bit quieter. Your reviewer actually has a different variation of the CoolerMaster Cosmos case (the RC-1000) at home. It's one of the most silent PCs he's used, and it took little effort to get it that way. Unlike that case, this Cosmos has a vented side panel with no sound-dampening foam. The result is that this PC sounds very loud, even at idle. AVADirect offers the Cosmos RC-1000, which also has outward-facing hard-drive cages, for $60 less.
That actually brings up our next point. As we mentioned, the AVADirect Core 2 SLI DDR3 Gaming System is a wildly configurable desktop. AVADirect offers literally dozens of different cases, CPU coolers, memory configurations, graphics cards, hard drives, and other components. The Web site says this system starts at $2,400, and we imagine you can ratchet the price up well into five-digit figures. In confirming the pricing for our system, AVADirect itself had to go back and check the configuration twice. We've said we like the build quality, and we stand by that. This system is neat on the inside, and as you can see from our tests, it's fast. AVADirect clearly knows how to build a PC. It also informs us that it's working on displaying a few user-friendly configurations. We'd really like to see that before we recommend a novice go shopping on its Web site. The vast array of options is far too confusing.
Still, we're happy with the overall polish of this system. AVADirect used a modular power supply to save internal space, and we found all of the spare cables, connectors, and other accessories for the PSU and other hardware components in the system packaging. Not all vendors do that, and we're glad to see AVADirect give you everything that you pay for. The system wiring is also very well done, with easy access to the spare motherboard expansions and the internal drive bays.
AVADirect's support is getting better since we last reviewed one of its systems, but it's still not as robust as other vendors'. You do get three years of parts and labor coverage standard, which is generous. The tech support phone number is not, as it's only open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, and only from Monday to Friday. AVADirect has added an online tech support chat feature, which is a nice addition to the usual e-mail-based support. A new user forum also launched on May 1, and it seems fairly active so far.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
AVADirect Core 2 SLI DDR3 Gaming System
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit; 3.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (overclocked); 4GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX graphics card; (2) 500GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drives; 150GB 10,000 rpm Western Digital hard drive
Dell XPS 730 H2C
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 3.8GHz Intel Core 2 Quad QX9770; 2GB 1,600MHz (overclocked) DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 1GB ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 graphics cards; (2) 160GB 10,000rpm Western Digital hard drives, 1TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 3.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (overclocked); 4GB 1,333MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics cards (overclocked); (2) 750GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drives.
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.5GHz AMD Phenom X4 9850; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 1GB ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics cards; 500GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive.
Puget Deluge-i L2
Windows Vista Ultimate; 3.5GHz (overclocked) Intel Core 2 Duo E8400; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS graphics cards; 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm hard drive; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drive.