Digital Storm Ode Level 3 review: Digital Storm Ode Level 3

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CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars Outstanding
  • Overall: 8.7
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 9.0
  • Service and support: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The attractive Digital Storm Ode Level 3 offers fast gaming performance and a strong feature set for an aggressive price.

The Bad Some sloppy external wiring mars an otherwise polished system design.

The Bottom Line The fixed-configuration Digital Storm Ode Level 3 earns top marks in an increasingly competitive gaming PC market thanks to a smartly chosen set of components and an enticingly low price tag.

CNET Editors' Choice Jun '11

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Thanks to Intel's aggressively priced top-end Core i7-2600K CPU, boutique PC vendors can now build gaming systems priced between $2,000 and $3,000 that perform on a par with $4,000 and $5,000 desktops. We've seen a steady procession of such systems this spring, and Digital Storm's $2,399 Ode Level 3 looks to be the best value in the bunch. This system is one of Digital Storm's new line of fixed-configuration PCs, and by locking the parts, the vendor seems to be able to offer this system at an impressively competitive price. If you're happy with this configuration, and we can think of few gamers who wouldn't be, the Ode Level 3 will provide you with one of the best gaming desktop deals available.

The Ode uses a Corsair 600T desktop chassis, in a handsome white-and-black color scheme. We generally prefer to see custom-made cases from boutique vendors, as opposed to off-the-shelf parts, but the fact that this is a fixed configuration conveys at least some sense that Digital Storm is bringing its own touch to this desktop. That touch also comes out in the build quality, and in general this PC has a very clean look to it, particularly in its interior. The cables are all routed behind the motherboard, which itself is covered by a plastic plate that obscures the usual green-backed mess of transistors and circuitry.

The only real misstep comes with the Ode's front-panel USB 3.0 jack. Rather than directly connecting that port to the motherboard, Digital Storm ran the connecting cable through the case and out the back to one of the rear-panel USB 3.0 inputs on the exterior of the case. Perhaps this design decision came as a result of too few direct USB 3.0 inputs on the motherboard, but regardless, the cable poking out of the case's back looks sloppy and costs you a USB 3.0 connection.

Digital Storm Ode Level 3 Maingear Vybe Alienware Aurora
Price $2,399 $2,849 $2,596
Motherboard chipset Intel P67 Intel P67 Intel P67
CPU 4.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600K (overclocked) 4.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600K (overclocked) 3.9GHz Intel Core i7-2600 (overclocked)
Memory 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,866MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics (2) Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 (2) 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6950 (2) 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6950
Hard drives 120GB Intel SSD, 1TB 7,200rpm Samsung 250GB Intel SSD, 1TB 7,200rpm Samsung 2TB 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray/DVD burner combo dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray/DVD burner combo
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Our complaints about the Ode's design, however minor, will seem even less important once you consider its core components. Simply put, this system offers one of the best deals we've seen in the $2,500 price range.

Comparing the Digital Storm Ode Level 3 with the Alienware Aurora isn't much of a contest. No, the Ode does not have the fancy case-lighting software or other features that festoon Alienware's desktops. Instead, Digital Storm offers twice as much memory as the Alienware system, as well as a solid-state hard drive and a far more aggressively overclocked CPU, and for $200 less.

The Maingear Vybe Super Stock gives the Ode Level 3 stiffer competition, and if you drop the Vybe's 250GB solid-state drive (SSD) to a 128GB model, its price drops to a more competitive $2,480. Digital Storm still has an advantage, offering a Blu-ray drive where Maingear only provides a standard DVD burner, and the Ode still comes in at $50 less than the Maingear Vybe. We could drill down on some of the more mundane details, like the Maingear's front-panel hot-swappable hard-drive bays, or the Ode's dedicated fan-speed dial. Rather than wade through that minutiae, we're comfortable calling these systems a wash from a value perspective, which puts the Digital Storm Ode Level 3 in lofty company next to the Editors' Choice Award-winning Maingear.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Digital Storm Ode Level 3 (Core i7-2600K, spring 2011)
171 

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Cinebench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  

As we would expect given their similar configurations, the Digital Storm and Maingear systems are effectively tied for first place in our application performance tests. Origin's Genesis offers a similar configuration and falls in the same performance ballpark, as does Falcon Northwest's Mach V, but the Mach V, which costs almost $5,000, doesn't seem to benefit from its 16GB of RAM, although we didn't have our Photoshop CS 5 test ready when that unit came out this past January. The biggest outlier on these tests is the Alienware system, with performance that, while not surprising given its conservative overclocking, remains disappointing for its price range.

Crysis (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200 (high, 4x aa)  
1,280x1,024 (medium, 4x aa)  

Far Cry 2 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440x900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  

Metro 2033 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,080 (DirectX 11, very high)  

3DMark 11 Combined test (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Extreme (1,920x1080)  
Performance (1,920x1,080, 16x AF)  
Entry Level (1,680x1,050)  
Digital Storm Ode Level 3 (Core i7-2600K, spring 2011)
15 
28 
42 

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Where to Buy

Digital Storm Ode Level 3

Part Number: CNET566405 Released: May 24, 2011

MSRP: $2,339.00

AS REVIEWED: $2,339.00

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May 24, 2011
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