Other dual-graphics-card SLI PCs have shown promise, but the expertly overclocked Overdrive PC Torque SLI blows them all away with its ridiculously fast 3D frame rates and awesome overall application performance. Overdrive managed to bleed every last drop of performance out of a high-end AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 processor and two 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics cards. The result: the Torque SLI garnered the highest benchmark scores we've seen to date for both 3D graphics and CPU performance. At $4,477--without monitor or speakers--this power doesn't come cheap, and the fully stocked system leaves you with little room to expand. But chances are good you'll be too busy trouncing people at Half-Life 2 to notice or care.
Overdrive houses the Torque SLI in a minimalist, all-aluminum silver Lian Li PC-6070 midtower case. You can opt for black or, if you have $500 to spare, you can get it custom-painted. Remove two thumbscrews and slide off the side panel to reveal the intricately cabled interior. All of the case screws are stainless steel and fitted with rubber washers. Thin sheets of rubber line the inside of the case for sound dampening. The MSI motherboard sits on a sheet of rubber, too, allowing it to flex if you put pressure on it, say to insert RAM. Overdrive even clipped a miniature flashlight in the case to aid with upgrades. The 500-watt Ultra X-Connect power supply keeps everything up and running. Internal expansion, however, is limited to one PCI card and a couple of memory modules.
External expansion is much better. Up front are two USB 2.0 ports at the bottom of the case, with four more around back. A Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum sound card, which includes a front-mounted control panel, adds front and rear FireWire. For bulk storage, a 200GB removable hard drive sits in a lockable cage in one of the system's four occupied 5.25-inch drive bays. DVD-ROM and double-layer DVDÂ±RW optical drives fill the other drive bays, along with the aforementioned Audigy 2 I/O panel. A combination media-card reader/floppy drive fills one 3.5-inch bay; two more remain open.
The AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 CPU at the heart of the Torque SLI has a stock speed of 2.6GHz. Overdrive, however, nudged it up to 2.8GHz. The dual 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics cards are pushed to their limits as well, by upping not only the core clock speeds from 425MHz to 445MHz, but also the memory from 1,100MHz to 1,200MHz. Overdrive also modified the card's BIOS software to give it more overclocking flexibility.
Overdrive added 1GB of custom-made Centon DDR SDRAM running at a very fast 550MHz (overclocked from 400MHz). Factor in the two 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA hard drives set in a RAID 0 array, and it's easy to see how this system is ready to handle anything you throw at it. Since it's cooled solely by six fans--including two 120mm, green glowing ones on the side panel--the noise level is a bit higher than the other desktops but still remarkably quiet overall, likely thanks to the abundance of sound-dampening rubber throughout the case.
The Torque SLI bested the other SLI-based PCs we've tested in all of our benchmark tests. On the demanding 1,600x1,200 Half-Life 2 test, it achieved a remarkable 72 frames per second (fps), more than doubling the second-highest score. The Overdrive Torque SLI's Far Cry score at the same resolution was also impressive, 83fps, just a hair better than the 82fps of the .On SysMark 2004, the Torque SLI roundly dominated the competition with its overall result of 242, the highest score we've seen to date.
The Torque SLI uses MSI's K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI motherboard. All of the other SLI systems we've seen used the Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard. We suspect that the Asus board--the first to market--was not as polished as the MSI SLI motherboard that arrived a month later. In addition to the overclocking, we believe the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI has a lot to do with the Overdrive's performance prowess.
By default, systems from Overdrive don't come with much software. Our Windows XP Professional-based system came preloaded with a full version of and a few benchmarking applications--all included at no extra cost on all of its desktops. You can also add other software titles at the time of purchase. Our test system had no monitor or speakers, which you can also add at checkout, but it did come with Logitech's excellent wireless keyboard and mouse set.
The Overdrive PC Torque SLI's one-year parts-and-labor warranty completely covers the overclocked parts and includes toll-free tech support, available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Overdrive's Web site features a tech-support e-mail address in addition to a well-organized list of manufacturer links for component documentation and drivers. We recommend spending $200 for the company's two-year Platinum warranty, which covers any defects to your hardware and all associated shipping costs to and from Overdrive for repairs. Otherwise, you must pay to ship your PC back, and you get no onsite coverage, which we think should be thrown in, given the cost. Printed user manuals or setup guides are absent from the package. Instead, Overdrive calls new owners when they receive their systems and a representative walks you through the machine, fielding any questions you may have during setup.
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
|Half Life 2 1,024x768 4XAA 8XAF||Half Life 2 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF|
* CPU and graphics are overclocked
** Just graphics is overclocked
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-55; Nvidia Nforce 4 Ultra SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 6800GT (PCIe, SLI); two Seagate ST3200822AS 200GB 7,200rpm, Serial ATA; integrated Silicon SiI 3114 SoftRAID 5 controller
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-55; Nvidia Nforce 4 Ultra SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra (PCIe, SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLX0 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia nForce RAID class controller
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.6GHz (overclocked to 2.8GHz) AMD Athlon 64 FX 55; Nvidia Nforce 4 Ultra SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra (PCIe, SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLX0 74GB Serial ATA 10,000rpm; Maxtor 6Y200M0 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia nForce RAID class controller
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-55; Nvidia Nforce 4 Ultra SLI chipset; 2,048MB DDR SDRAM 500MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra (PCIe, SLI); two Seagate ST3160827AS 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA ; integrated Nvidia nForce RAID class controller
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.73GHz Intel P4 Extreme Edition; Intel 925XE chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon X850XT PE (PCIe) ; Seagate ST3400832AS 400GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA