Digital Storm 950Si (Intel Core i7) review: Digital Storm 950Si (Intel Core i7)

Juice box
Digital Storm 950Si  
Off (watts) 2.33
Sleep (watts) 7.34
Idle (watts) 283.08
Load (watts) 489.74
Raw (annual kWh) 1,187.38734
EnergyStar compliant No
Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $134.77

The Digital Storm 950Si is the first full-fledged, overclocked gaming PC we've subjected to our power efficiency tests, and the contrast between this system and the all-in-one PCs we tested previously is striking. Where those systems would run you around $20 to $30 a year, the Digital Storm will have a significantly more noticeable impact on your power bill, adding more than $10 a month if you play games for two and a half hours a day. With a more modest workload to match that of our all-in-one tests, the Digital Storm's results come out to around 1,040 annual kilowatt hours, which comes out to about $8 a month.

To our point earlier about adding an extra 3D card, there's little agreement about how much room you should leave yourself when budgeting your power supply needs against your power supply capacity. According to those who suggest 50 percent, at least, this system is close to its threshold. By consuming 489.74 watts under a gaming load with its 1,000 watt power supply, the Digital Storm 950Si would go well beyond the 50 percent mark if you added a second GeForce GTX 295 graphics card. Realistically speaking, it would probably be stable, but our power tests shine a light on why it's more common for a system like this to have a 1,200 watt power unit. That added power headroom will make actually taking advantage of those extra PCI Express graphics slots a bit more comfortable. Of course, we'd hate to see the power bill with four GPUs running an overclocked CPU.

Like many small boutique PC vendors, Digital Storm boasts impressive customer service policies. We found the results varied. The default warranty covers system parts and repair labor for a lengthy three years, with phone support available from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT. You have to search around its Web site to find the toll-free support number, and we'd much prefer the business day hours ran 24-7. Then again, reduced hours are common among boutiques that offer only in-house support. We'd feel better about it if Digital Storm had a Saturday shift, as that workweek schedule isn't exactly consumer-friendly. You'll find links to various buying and support guides around the site, but none was that thorough. The tech support FAQ, for example, has only three questions. Digital Storm also has a Web-based form to submit written support requests.

It's hard for us to gauge the true quality of a vendor's customer support but we will at least say that we were heartened by the fact that Digital Storm's configurator offered a thoughtful selection of components for each system, without overloading you with options as with AVADirect. That not only makes the buying process less cumbersome, but it gives us more confidence that Digital Storm can actually support the wide variety of systems it sells.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

AVADirect Custom Gaming PC
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.88GHz Intel Core i7-920 (overclocked); 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM (underclocked to 1,480MHz); 1,792MB Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 (overclocked); 1.5TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive; 147GB 15,000rpm Fujistu hard drive

Digital Storm 950Si
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.79GHz Intel Core i7-920 (overclocked); 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1,792MB Nvidia GeForce GTX 295; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive; 300GB 10,000rpm Western Digital hard drive

Falcon Northwest Fragbox 2
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit; 3.2GHz Intel Core i7 (overclocked); 6GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; (2) 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 graphics cards; 1.5TB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

Maingear X-Cube
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit; 3.7GHz (overclocked) AMD Phenom II X4 940; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 1GB ATI Radeon HD 4870X2 graphics card; 1GB Radeon HD 4870 graphics card; (2) 750GB, 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drives

Shuttle XPC H7 5800
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 32-bit; 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 940; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 285; 500GB, 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive

Best Desktops for 2020

All best desktops

More Best Products

All best products