X
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Overdrive Torque 64 review: Overdrive Torque 64

Overdrive overclocks the Torque 64 for free and under warranty, giving gamers high-end performance at a midrange price.

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
6 min read
Overdrive Torque 64
Instead of shelling out serious coin for expensive desktop components in your gaming PC, what if you could use lower-end parts and still get high-end performance? Overdrive PC, a performance-desktop company started in 1999, does just that with the Overdrive Torque 64. (The company is selling this exact configuration through January for $2,399, which is more than $300 cheaper than the cost if you were to build it on Overdrive's online configurator.) With the processor and the graphics card overclocked and covered under warranty, we'd recommend the Torque 64 for any gamer looking to squeeze every bit of performance out of a dollar.

Our Torque 64 test system arrived with an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ processor and an Nvidia GeForce 6800 GT graphics card, which Overdrive overclocked to behave like a 2.4GHz Athlon 64 3800+ and a GeForce 6800 Ultra, respectively. Using the lower-cost components and clocking them at higher speeds makes them function as higher-end products for about $700 less. This tweaking is all carefully balanced, however, and the slightest change in the BIOS could cause serious instability. (Overdrive includes screenshots on the system of the BIOS settings so that you can return them to their original state should you get yourself in any trouble here.) Although the quiet SureCool fan cooling system prevented overheating in our tests, a hot room or restricted air to the fans--say, from having the system wedged under your desk and right up against a wall--could also cause stability issues. And because the system uses custom RAM (Centon DDR SDRAM running at 544MHz), upgrading requires either purchasing modules from Overdrive or scrapping the 512MB already in the PC.

7.9

Overdrive Torque 64

The Good

Big performance without the big premium; attractive, expandable case; removable hard drive; quiet operation.

The Bad

Any tweaking or excessive heat may cause system instability in this fragile machine; upgrading requires custom RAM.

The Bottom Line

Gamers will find that the Overdrive Torque 64 turns in high-end performance for a midrange price.

These inconveniences aside, the Torque 64's application performance was strong in CNET Labs' tests, coming in at 190 on SysMark 2004, which is somewhere between the results we've seen from Athlon 64 3400+ and 3800+ CPUs and in the neighborhood of the 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz Pentium 4 processors we've tested. Graphics performance, on the other hand, underwhelmed us--at least at first. We tested the card with its image setting within Nvidia's display properties set at High Quality, resulting in a lower-than-expected 72fps on our 1,600x1,200-resolution Unreal Tournament 2003 test. A simple slider change back to the default Quality setting, however, brought the score to 105fps with no noticeable image loss. (We alerted Overdrive to this performance hit, and the company said it will no longer be using the higher setting.) Its score of 105fps was ahead of that of other AGP 6800 GT cards we've tested and on a par with some 6800 Ultra-based systems, such as the iBuyPower Gamer Extreme.

All of this power is housed in a sturdy Lian Li full-tower case. The door covering the entire front panel gives the Torque 64 a clean appearance, and it swings open to reveal a double-layer DVD±RW drive and a multiformat card reader. Inside, there's a single 200GB SATA hard drive, but it's in an odd spot: Instead of nestled in a standard interior, 3.5-inch drive bay, the hard drive sits in one of the 5.25-inch bays. Overdrive opted for this placement because you can easily slide the drive out of the front of the case. With four 5.25-inch bays, there's room for such an arrangement without limiting your optical drive choices. At the bottom sit two USB 2.0 ports, and four more are around back with a FireWire port, giving you ample external connectivity.

Inside the spacious and extraordinarily clean interior are three vacant 3.5-inch drive bays, two open RAM slots, and five free PCI slots. The unit also holds a 500-watt power supply, providing plenty of power if you decide to expand this desktop. To aid any would-be upgraders, Overdrive thoughtfully includes a small flashlight inside the case. It clasps neatly to the side of the drive bays. The Zalman heat sink atop the processor spins with nearly silent operation.

Bundled with the PC is a good-for-anything, 19-inch NEC AccuSync 900 CRT and a satisfying Logitech X-530 5.1 speaker system. Our Windows XP Home-based system came equipped with little in the way of software, but Overdrive lets you select apps à la carte via its online configurator. It also offers a good selection of games.

A one-year parts-and-labor warranty, which completely covers the overclocked parts, 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. Instead of a printed user manual and setup guide, Overdrive takes a more hands-on approach. The company will call you upon receipt (FedEx alerts Overdrive to each delivery), and a representative will walk you through the machine and field any questions you may have.

Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  
*Note: The Overdrive Torque 64's CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2004, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).

3D gaming performance (in fps)   (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768  
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF  
*Note: The Overdrive Torque 64's CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2003, widely used as an industry-standard benchmark. We use Unreal to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8.0 (DX8) interface at a 32-bit color depth and at a resolution of 1,024x768 and 1,600x1,200. Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are disabled during our 1,024x768 tests and are set to 4X and 8X, respectively, during our 1,600x1,200 tests. At this color depth and these resolutions, Unreal provides an excellent means of comparing the performance of low-end to high-end graphics subsystems. We report the results of Unreal's Flyby-Antalus test in frames per second (fps).

Far Cry Custom Demo Rebellion (in fps)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Far Cry 1,024x768 4xAA 8xAF  
Far Cry 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF  
Velocity Micro Vector SX (Nvidia GeForce 6600GT, PCIe)
52.7 
23.5 
*Note: The Overdrive Torque 64's CPU and graphics card are overclocked.

For high-end gaming PCs, we've added UbiSoft Entertainment's Far Cry to our benchmark arsenal. Far Cry is a DirectX 9.0-based game that uses a number of advanced rendering techniques, all of which combine to produce some of the most realistic scenery and physics we've seen in a game title to date. As such, it is very demanding on a graphics subsystem and, therefore, an excellent tool for evaluating high-end PCs. In our tests, we run a custom demo on the Rebellion level and run it two times each at a 32-bit color depth and at resolutions of 1,024x768 and 1,600x1,200. Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are set to 4X and 8X for both resolutions during our 1,600x1,200 tests. After installing the retail game, we patch it to version 1.1.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Cyberpower Gamer Ultra 6500 SE
Windows XP Home; 2.0GHz AMD Athlon 64 3000+; Via K8T800 chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce FX 5700 (AGP); Hitachi HDS722516VLAT20 160GB 7,200rpm

iBuyPower Gamer Extreme
Windows XP Professional; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 3800+; Via K8T880 Pro chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra (AGP); Maxtor 6Y160M0 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated VIA Serial ATA RAID controller

Overdrive Torque 64
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.0GHz AMD Athlon 64 3000+; Nvidia Nforce-3 250 chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 GT (AGP); Maxtor 6Y200M0 200GB, 7,200rpm Serial ATA

Shuttle XPC G5 9500g
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 3800+; Nvidia Nforce-3 250 chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon X800 Pro (AGP); WDC WD2500JD-00GBB0 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

Velocity Micro Vector SX
Windows XP Home SP2; 3.4GHz Intel P4 550; Intel 915G chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce 6600GT (PCIe); WDC WD2000JD-00HBB0 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

7.9

Overdrive Torque 64

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Support 7