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AVADirect Avatar VR desktop review: A big, powerful VR desktop that puts the VR ports up front

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MSRP: $2,529.00

The Good The bold-looking Avatar has VR-friendly features, including many front- and top-mounted ports. It's easy to access the interior for upgrades.

The Bad The bulky chassis has a massive desktop footprint, and the front-facing VR connection panel doesn't feel sturdy enough.

The Bottom Line The AVADirect Avatar is a VR-ready desktop with a striking design that puts the ports front and center -- just make sure you have enough room for it.

Visit for details.

8.1 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 9

Review Sections

Everyone seems to be marketing a gaming desktop with top-end parts as "built for VR." AVADirect, like a small handful of other PC makers, has actually put some thought into that idea, most notably including a front panel with VR-ready HDMI and USB ports. That should make plugging in easier, especially if the desktop's rear panel is facing a wall, under a desk, or otherwise hard to access -- but it's a better idea in theory than in practice.

That front panel, with two USB ports and one HDMI output, is an optional piece from component maker EVGA that comes bundled with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980Ti graphics card included with this configuration. Unfortunately, I found the front VR ports a little shaky and quickly switched back to the rear-facing ones. The VR front panel on the Velocity Micro Raptor was similarly flaky.

01ava-direct-avatar-vr-desktop.jpg
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Sarah Tew/CNET

Like most gaming desktops, AVADirect offers a choice of different processors, graphics cards, power supplies and storage on its configurator page. This high-end configuration, with the 980Ti, an Intel Core i7 6700K CPU, liquid cooling, and a 1TB HDD/500GB SSD storage combo is currently $2,549 in the US (the company doesn't ship internationally, but that works out to around £1,768 or AU$3,511), which is very reasonable for that set of components. Note that prices and selection for custom PC configurations can vary even week by week. Configurations of the Avatar start at $1,599.

AVADirect Avatar VR Desktop

Price as reviewed $2,549
PC CPU 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K
PC Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
Graphics 6GB Nivida GeForce GTX 980
Storage 500GB SSD + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

The chassis is really striking -- it's a matte-black box with a curved front panel, raised feet in the front and back, and very little distracting decoration, aside from a lighted side panel with the company's name etched into the plastic window. It's a customized version of the Dead Silence Black Edition from case-maker Aerocool, and promises both sound-dampening and extra airflow via a mesh top panel for airflow.

Gaming and VR performance was excellent, as one would expect from a desktop in this price range. The Avatar performed very closely with the Velocity Micro Raptor, which had a very similar configuration. This system managed to hit the top end of the SteamVR performance test from Valve, meaning it's more than powerful enough for the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, although that test is not as consistent as some other benchmarks we've used. In hands-on use, performance with the Oculus Rift was seamless.

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The front-mounted VR panel had too much flex.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion

the AVADirect Avatar has a cool look that's a little different than most gaming desktops, as long as you have the space for it. The company may not have the same long-standing reputation for extensive hands-on service and support as a company like Falcon Northwest or Origin PC, but this test system certainly worked great and the tidy interior was neatly cabled. You can compare prices, specs and performance in our extensive guide to VR-ready PCs.

Multimedia multitasking test 3.0

Falcon Northwest Tiki
120
Origin PC Chronos
123
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55
125
AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop
133
Acer Predator G6
143
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900
143
Origin PC Eon17-SLX
151
Alienware X51
248
Dell XPS 8900
257

Note:

Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Geekbench 3 (Multi-core)

Falcon Northwest Tiki
24,461
Origin PC Chronos
19,398
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55
19,162
Origin PC Eon17-SLX
18,083
AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop
18,041
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900
16,753
Acer Predator G6
15,678
Dell XPS 8900
11,025
Alienware X51
10,995

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Steam VR performance test scores

AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop
11
Falcon Northwest Tiki
11
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55
10.5
Origin PC Eon17-SLX
8.5
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900
8.1
Acer Predator G6
7.6
Origin PC Chronos
7
Dell XPS 8900
6.5
Alienware X51
6.4

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Falcon Northwest Tiki
4,421
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55
4,011
AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop
3,960
Origin PC Eon17-SLX
3,374
Acer Predator G6
3,193
Origin PC Chronos
2,867
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900
2,812
Alienware X51
2,548
Dell XPS 8900
2,502

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Bioshock Infinite gaming test

Falcon Northwest Tiki
201.87
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55
197.92
AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop
183.77
Acer Predator G6
163.23
Origin PC Eon17-SLX
156.81
Origin PC Chronos
153.97
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900
150.27
Alienware X51
131.97
Dell XPS 8900
118.27

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System configurations

AVA Direct Avatar VR Desktop Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980Ti; 500GB SSD + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Acer Predator G6 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 2TB 7,200rpm HDD
Alienware X51 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-6400; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Origin PC Chronos Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); OC 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 250GB SSD + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 2TB 7,200rpm HDD
Dell XPS 8900 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-6400; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Origin PC Eon17-SLX Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980Ti; (2) 256GB SSD RAID 0 + 2TB HDD
Falcon Northwest Tiki Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i7-5960X; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHZ; 8GB Nvida GeForce GTX 980Ti; 512GB SSD + 6TB HDD 5,700rpm

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