Imagine a CPU heat sink on steroids, on wheels, hollowed out and used as a system case, then packed with some of the best-performing hardware around. That's essentially the system that Voodoo has put together in its $5,000-plus Eden. Instead of the cooling fans you are used to seeing (and hearing) inside a PC case, Voodoo has taken a different route in keeping the Eden's thermals under control by using copper pipes to dissipate the heat. Though it's somewhat flawed, hard-core gamers willing to spare no expense or power users with noise-level issues and a yen for the dramatic will find that this unique--albeit large--PC mostly gets the job done. Just don't plan on doing any major upgrades yourself because the complex internal workings are not user-friendly.
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|It's big and bad, but at least it's on wheels.|
The Voodoo Eden is built around an innovative idea: instead of using fans to dissipate internal heat, why not transform the entire PC case into a giant heat sink? Based on the simple principle of convection, the Eden routes heat from the processor and graphics card to the matte-black aluminum case by using a snaking array of 6mm copper pipes. The only moving parts are the optical and hard drives, so this is an extremely quiet system (around 20db, according to Voodoo, or roughly equivalent to the rustling of leaves). If you are looking for a quiet system for living-room use, however, this isn't the system for you because of its size and weight. At 50 pounds and measuring 25 by 11.3 by 15.3 inches (H, W, D), we don't know of many rooms that the Eden could call home without becoming the centerpiece.
Heat-dispensing fins give the side panels a grill-like appearance, and the front and back panels work as latched doors. Swirling plastic notches line the top and the bottom of each door frame, which provide easy and necessary cable routing--the six USB 2.0 ports (two front, four back), two rear-side FireWire jacks, and all other inputs and outputs are enclosed when the doors are shut. Four lockable wheels and two dorsal handles help you transport this beast, and all external parts can be unscrewed, freeing the screw holes for stacking multiple Eden systems on top of each other. Though most users would find little need for this, Voodoo imagines a graphics-rendering farm might, especially one where noise concerns or showing off a dramatic image might be issues.
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|The cables route nicely out of the way. We'd appreciate this feature even on a standard chassis.||A glimpse of how difficult it is to perform an upgrade.|
We certainly appreciate its uniqueness, but the Eden's design presents some painful stumbling blocks. Upgrading the system yourself is a serious headache. Easy access is available only through the hinged front and rear doors, and the convection pipes are essentially static. You can add PCI cards--two of the five slots are vacant--and if you're nimble enough, you can also add more RAM in the one free slot. Voodoo advises that you use its for most upgrades beyond the PCI card and memory expansion. You should be able to swap out hard drives by unscrewing the metal plates to which they are attached, but the hard drive screws on our unit held so fast that we nearly stripped them.
Since case design makes future swapping of core components nigh impossible to do yourself, it's a good thing Voodoo makes some of the highest-quality consumer-level hardware on the market available when configuring the Eden through its online configurator. Our almost-silent brute arrived with a 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3400+, 1GB of Corsair DDR 400MHz memory, a muscle-bound ATI Radeon 9800 XT with both DVI and VGA outputs, and two Hitachi 7,200rpm 120GB serial ATA RAID hard drives (striped, mirrored, or no RAID at all, it's your choice). Rounding out the tower are two Plextor drives: a 52X CD-RW drive and an 8X multiformat DVD-recordable drive.
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|Though it's hard to tell from here, those optical drives are pretty much there to stay.||Why mess around if you're going to pay more than $5,000?|
Voodoo's configurator is intentionally a bit bare when it comes to core components, in keeping with its policy of including only tested high-end hardware. The Asus K8V-D motherboard is the only option for an Athlon-based Eden, and you have but three AMD processors from which to choose. Voodoo will install only two Hitachi hard drives in an attempt to keep system volume to a minimum (it will accommodate requests for more drives); and your graphics card choices are limited to either the ATI Radeon 9600 XT or the 9800 XT.
Voodoo bundled a 17-inch Iiyama E431SB flat-panel display with our Eden test system, which demonstrated great image quality with both games and DVD movies. A sound-input jack allows you to pipe audio through to the integrated monitor speakers, but with the superlative Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS card powering your audio, you'd be better served bypassing the tinny monitor speakers and taking advantage of the bundled Creative GigaWorks S750 7.1-channel speakers. You can configure other audio output options on Voodoo's Web site, including a $45 set of Zalman headphones.
Also included is one of Voodoo's welcome trademarks, a large leather-bound binder that houses a slew of driver and software CDs, as well as a signed ownership certificate and a summation of system program versions and testing scores. Inside you'll find two games (Rainbow Six 3 and Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness), Roxio's Easy CD & DVD Creator 6.0, a photo-editing program, and several other software demo CDs. The excellent Logitech Cordless MX Duo keyboard and optical, rechargeable mouse were included with our Eden test system as well.
The Voodoo Eden's application performance was quite good considering its AMD Athlon 64 3400+ CPU. While this 64-bit processor is certainly no slouch (even when running our 32-bit benchmarks), its 335 BAPCo SysMark 2002 score bested the with its faster-rated Athlon 64 FX-51. We were especially impressed with the Internet content-creation score of 459. Most AMD-based systems score much lower on that test than Intel-based systems do, and the 459 is one of the highest scores we've seen in systems using chips from either manufacturer. We would have liked to see slightly higher office-productivity scores, but the 244 is still within expected parameters. Unequivocally, the Voodoo Eden is a very high-performing system that scored even better than we expected.
|BAPCo SysMark 2002 rating||SysMark 2002 Internet content creation||SysMark 2002 office productivity|
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2002, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).
3D graphics and gaming performance
The Voodoo Eden's 222 frames per second (fps) score on our Unreal Tournament 2003 1,024x768 test is about what we expected and about equal to results from other systems that use an ATI Radeon 9800XT graphics card. More impressive is its 67.7fps score on our more demanding Unreal test at a resolution of 1,600x1,200 with both 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering. These settings are nearly as high as you can crank that game, and the Eden knocked it out of the park. Not only will you be able to play any game you choose with this powerful system, you should be able to play most games with graphics detail and resolution settings pumped up as far as they will go while still maintaining playable frame rates.
|Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768||Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF|
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2003, widely used as an industry-standard benchmark. We use Unreal to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8.0 (DX8) interface at a 32-bit color depth at a resolution of 1,024x768. For higher-end systems that support higher resolutions, we run an additional test at 1,600x1,200. Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are disabled during our 1,024x768 tests and are set to 4X and 8X respectively during our 1,600x1,200 tests. At this color depth and these resolutions, Unreal is an excellent way to compare the performance of low-end to high-end graphics subsystems. We report the results of Unreal's Flyby-Antalus test in frames per second (fps).
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs technician David Gussman.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Dell Dimension 8300
Windows XP Home, 3.2EGHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB; Maxtor 6Y250M0 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
ElitePC Titan 64
Windows XP Professional, 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3400+; Via K8T800 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800XT 256MB; two WDC WD360GD-00FNA0 36GB Serial ATA 10,000rpm; one WDC WD2000JB-00DUA0, 200GB, ATA/100, 7,200rpm; integrated Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller
Falcon Northwest Mach V
Windows XP Home; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-51; Via K8T800 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB; two WDC WD360GD-00FNA0 36GB Serial ATA 10,000rpm; integrated Via Serial ATA RAID controller
Velocity Micro Raptor Extreme Edition
Windows XP Professional, 3.2GHz Intel P4 Extreme; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB; two WDC WD360GD-00FNA0 36GB Serial ATA 10,000rpm; one WDC WD2500JB-53EVA0, 250GB, ATA/100, 7,200rpm; integrated Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller
Voodoo PC Eden
Windows XP Professional, 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3400+; Via K8T800 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800XT 256MB; two Hitachi HDS722512VLSA80 120GB Serial ATA 7,200rpm; integrated Via Serial ATA RAID controller
Voodoo is one of the best in the business in the support field. Included with the Eden is its Select Upgrade Assurance program, which lasts for the life of the system and allows you to upgrade components at cost plus 10 percent with a labor fee, ideal for the Eden, since upgrading is more complicated than with standard systems. Default for the system is a one-year warranty that includes parts, labor, and two-way shipping, and it is expandable to three-year coverage for an additional $300 or more.
Voodoo tells us that phone support will soon be 24/7, but as of this writing, it is available only from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on weekdays and from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on Saturdays. The phone agreement technically lasts only for the life of the warranty, but Voodoo is known to continue phone support for customers who've purchased systems as far back as 1990. The Voodoo binder is packed with manufacturer manuals and driver CDs for all the major components, not to mention three system recovery CDs, though sadly, no overall system manual. Online support consists of live support chat, links to driver downloads, manufacturer Web sites, and even links to the more popular computer hobbyist sites.