Overdrive PC Torque SLI
In Spaceballs, they called it "Ludicrous Speed." Overdrive PC calls it "Hyperclocking." However you say it, the Torque SLI is fast. Not satisfied with just dual graphics cards or a top-of-the-line Athlon FX-57 (it has both), the Torque SLI also incorporates the virtual nitro boost of overclocked processor, memory, and graphics cards, resulting in some of the fastest benchmark scores we've seen. At $4,968 (as of August 2005), sans monitor and speakers, this system also is the most expensive of the recent high-end PCs we've reviewed. But if you absolutely must have the fastest PC on the block, the Torque SLI will give you bragging rights.
Unlike more stylized competitors, such as the, Overdrive houses the Torque SLI in a simple, clean-lined Lian-Li PC-6070 midtower case--black on our review unit but also available in silver or with a custom paint job. A pair of blue LED-backlit, 120mm cooling fans on the left side of the case is the only visual indication that this isn't your average PC.
The clean-cut image dissolves once you remove the two thumbscrews to crack open the case. Inside, the side panels are coated with a foam-rubber sound-damping material. The Asus A8N-SLI Premium motherboard, the hard drives, and even the expansion cards are fitted with stainless steel screws and rubber washers. Cables are carefully routed and clipped to maximize airflow, making for a very neat appearance. Quiet fans also help reduce noise output. Despite state-of-the-art hardware that runs at beyond-rated speeds, the Torque SLI's fans stayed so quiet during our testing that we could hear the hard drive heads moving. There's even a small flashlight clipped to the drive cage; if Overdrive PC had included a screwdriver, it would truly have thought of everything.
Our test system was equipped with a pair of 256MB XFX GeForce 7800 GTX graphics cards and a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS sound card. This combination doesn't leave much room for internal expansion; only a single PCI slot and a couple of memory slots remain open. For external expansion, there's a pair of USB 2.0 ports on the front of the case, and four more on the back. A pair of FireWire ports reside on the back of the Torque SLI, one of which is on the Audigy 2 ZS card.
Our test configuration came loaded with storage devices: a dual-layer DVD burner and a DVD-ROM drive; a removable 200GB hard drive; and a pair of 74GB, 10,000rpm hard drives configured in a RAID 0 array. Also onboard was a floppy drive with a built-in media card reader. On top of all of this, there's a pair of open 3.5-inch internal bays, as well as an open 5.25-inch bay. (Two more open 3.5-inch bays surround the RAID array, but you'd probably want to leave them open because of heat considerations.)
If you've ever dabbled with overclocking, you know that extra performance sometimes comes at the cost of system stability. Not so with the Torque SLI, which remained rock stable even when running CNET's extensive game tests and benchmarks on a hot summer day. Overdrive PC calls its overclocking technique Hyperclocking, and the results are impressive. The AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 CPU, rated at 2.8GHz, runs at 3GHz; the dual GeForce 7800 GTX GPUs are bumped from 430MHz to 505MHz, with memory speeds notched up from 1.2GHz to 1.39GHz; and the 1GB of the system's DDR SDRAM runs at 500MHz, up from 400MHz. Overdrive PC also optimizes BIOS and Windows settings for maximum performance.
All of this Hyperclocking pays off with gaming performance that stomps the nearest competitors. Running Half-Life 2 at extremely demanding settings--1,600x1,200 resolution with 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering--the Torque SLI managed a whopping 120 frames per second (fps). The next closest competitor, the, was left in the dust at 97fps. Doom 3 scores were similarly impressive, with the Torque SLI benchmarking 105fps at 1,600x1,200, compared to the Velocity Micro's 96.1fps. The Torque SLI blazed through productivity applications as well, with a SysMark 2004 score of 255, the fastest of its group. In fact, the only benchmark test where the Torque SLI came up short was with SysMark 2004's Internet content creation, where it was trounced by the dual-core Athlon 64 X2-equipped Alienware Aurora 7500. PCs with dual-core processors may hold a speed advantage over the Torque SLI in heavy multitasking, but not in single applications or gaming.