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.
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.
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.
|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|