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Voodoo F-Class F510 AMD Custom review: Voodoo F-Class F510 AMD Custom

Voodoo F-Class F510 AMD Custom

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
8 min read
The Voodoo Limited Edition F-Class F510 comes in eight colors. Was it mere coincidence that ours arrived painted the color of money? This machine is blazingly fast and incorporates some of today's hottest technology--an Athlon XP 3000+ processor, 1GB of DDR memory, dual RAID-controlled 120GB hard drives, and Nvidia's GeForce FX 5800 Ultra graphics card--but only the pampered should pony up the nearly $6,000 for this system. The F510 is a lesson in luxury, from its polished fan guards to its beautifully painted, aluminum case with a logo-cut side panel. The interior is incredibly tidy, with origami-folded ribbon cables and not a single obstructed slot. Too bad the graphics card's large fan is so loud that it detracts from the audio output at all but the highest volume.

Have you ever seen a cleaner case? Neither have we.
Luxury gaming systems such as the Voodoo Limited Edition F-Class F510 sure get us drooling. You see, the performance part is easy. Any number-cruncher with a screwdriver and three grand can cobble together a fast desktop. So you can go that way and save some money, but you'd better like beige. For a truly indulgent PC experience, the F-Class F510 from Voodoo is the way to go, featuring an all-aluminum case with a protective drive bay door, automotive-paint finish (eight colors are available), and a tool-free, Voodoo logo-cut side panel with a fluorescent internal light.
Remove the side panel or glance through its window, and you'll see that Voodoo's attention to detail knows no bounds. It's the single tidiest inside we have ever seen. Ribbon cables folded like origami lie flush against the side panel, and virtually all of the other wires are either hitched right up against their components or run underneath the motherboard. While some vendors string connections over the motherboard like a shantytown power grid, not a single port or slot is obstructed by the F510's wiring, an amazing feat considering the added cabling required by the internal light and the graphics card that needs to be connected directly to the power supply.

Friendly formats include SmartMedia, CompactFlash, Sony Memory Stick, and IBM Microdrive.
Legacy connections can be found on the back panel, in addition to four USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire connection.

Unique for a gaming rig, the front panel hosts a three-slot digital-media card reader that can read SmartMedia, CompactFlash, Sony Memory Stick, and IBM Microdrive formats. The front also features a single USB 2.0 port. Around back, you'll find an additional four USB 2.0 ports and a single FireWire connection. Perhaps our only complaint is that the side panel was difficult to slide off, likely due to the newly applied paint. We suspect that with use, it would be easier to remove.

The Voodoo F-Class F510's first-rate design is equaled by its top-notch components. Our test system featured AMD's current speed leader in the Athlon XP 3000+ processor and Nvidia's fastest graphics card, the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra. It also boasted an abundant 1GB of speedy PC3200 DDR SDRAM and dual RAID-controlled, Serial ATA 120GB hard drives. You'll pay through the nose for this system, but rest assured that you'll be buying bleeding-edge components in addition to Voodoo's legendary craftsmanship.
The NEC monitor and the Logitech speakers aren't painted green, but they're nonetheless a good match for the high-end F510.

The optical drive pair is a CD-RW and a DVD-ROM drive.
Peripherals enjoy the same attention. The crystal-clear, 22-inch, flat-screen NEC MultiSync FE1250 CRT (1,900x1,440 resolution) complements the outstanding Logitech Z-680 THX 5.1 speakers. The speakers are powered by the Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2.0 audio card. You'll also get a high-quality 48X/24X/48X Plextor CD-RW drive and a trayless DVD-ROM drive, although at this price, we would have expected to see a DVD burner instead of just a DVD-ROM drive.
The FX 5800 Ultra graphics card, however, almost ruins the overall effect. Its fan consumes an extra PCI slot, and it's as loud as a leaf blower. Every time we played a CD, a DVD, or a game, the audible hiss of the fan could be heard above the booming Logitech speakers--unless we had them cranked to the highest volume. When you're plunking down $6,000 for a PC, you should expect perfection. Voodoo assures us that it's plotting ways to silence the boisterous fan.

The GeForce FX 5800 Ultra and its noisy fan take up two PCI slots.
Voodoo custom-painted this Logitech duo.

Fortunately, you can go to Voodoo's site and swap in ATI's comparably performing Radeon 9700 Pro card--problem solved. Indeed, almost any of the F510's components can be changed, although it is well appointed as is. A Logitech keyboard and an optical mouse rounded out our F510 test system--both with the matching green finish.

Application performance
The Voodoo F-Class F510 is one of the first Athlon XP 3000+ processor-based systems we've tested. (The 3000+ represents AMD's latest generation of desktop processor, code-named Barton.) Even though the clock speed of the 3000+ (2.167GHz) is identical to that of the currently shipping 2700+, the newer design increases the L2 cache from 256K to 512K, which boosts performance.
AMD and system vendors, such as Voodoo, would be pleased as punch if Athlon XP 3000+ systems performed on a par with Intel 3.06GHz P4-based systems, but this is not necessarily the case. As with other 3000+-based systems we've tested, such as the Polywell Poly 880NF2-3000, the F510's overall application performance is more on a par with that of systems using 2.8GHz P4 processors. When you analyze the results a bit deeper, however, the F510's performance on office-productivity applications actually matches that of any of the speediest 3.06GHz P4 systems we've tested to date. It is the F510's content-creation application performance--in line with that of 2.53GHz P4 systems--that drags the F-Class's overall performance below the 3.0GHz P4 level.
Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 Rating  
SysMark2002 Internet Content Creation Rating  
SysMark2002 Office Productivity Rating  
Motherboard Express Glacier P50 (3.06GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
Voodoo F-Class F510 (AMD Athlon XP 3000+, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129 (2.8GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
Polywell Poly 880NF2-3000 (AMD Athlon XP 3000+, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Falcon Northwest Mach V (AMD Athlon XP 2800+, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, 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 graphics and gaming performance
The F510 is the first system to come to CNET Labs with the long-awaited and hard-to-come-by Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra graphics card. The new FX graphics engine was supposed to beat the pants off the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, but this does not appear to be the case. While the F510's 3DMark2001 performance is the fastest we've seen to date, it is a mere 6 percent faster than the average performance we've seen from similarly configured systems using ATI Radeon 9700 Pro cards. And the F510's Quake III performance is exactly the same as the average performance from Radeon 9700 Pro-based systems. We must note, however, that the FX card and drivers we tested were in beta, so it is possible that the release version of the card and later drivers may boost the performance a bit.
3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Second Edition Build 330 (16-bit color)  
Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Second Edition Build 330 (32-bit color)  
Voodoo F-Class F510 (Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra)
Polywell Poly 880NF2-3000 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
Falcon Northwest Mach V (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600)
Motherboard Express Glacier P50 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200)
To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Pro Second Edition, Build 330. We use 3DMark to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8 (DX8) interface at both 16- and 32-bit color settings at a resolution of 1,024x768. A system that does not have DX8 hardware support will typically generate a lower score than one that has DX8 hardware support.
3D gaming performance in FPS  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Quake III Arena  
Voodoo F-Class F510 (Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra)
Falcon Northwest Mach V (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
Polywell Poly 880NF2-3000 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600)
Motherboard Express Glacier P50 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200)
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Quake III Arena. Although Quake III is an older game, it is still widely used as an industry-standard tool. Quake III does not require DX8 hardware support--as 3DMark2001 does--and is therefore an excellent means of comparing the performance of low- to high-end graphics subsystems. Quake III performance is reported in frames per second (fps).
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Falcon Northwest Mach V
Windows XP Home, 2.25GHz AMD Athlon XP 2800+; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB; two IBM IC35L040AVVN07 40GB 7,200pm; Promise FastTrak TX2000 Ultra ATA/133
Motherboard Express Glacier P50
Windows XP Professional; 3.06GHz Intel P4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce Ti 4200 128MB; Western Digital WD800JB-00-00CRA1 80GB 7,200rpm; integrated Promise FastTrack 376 RAID controller
Polywell Poly 880NF2-3000
Windows XP Home, 2.17GHz AMD Athlon XP 3000+; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB; two Western Digital WD800JB-00CRA1 80GB 7,200pm; HPT372A ATA/133 RAID controller
ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129
Windows XP Home; 2.8GHz Intel P4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB; Seagate ST312002 120GB 7,200rpm; Silicon Image SiI 3112 SATALink Serial ATA controller
Voodoo F-Class F510 AMD Custom
Windows XP Professional, 2.17GHz AMD Athlon XP 3000+; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra 128MB; two Seagate ST312002 120GB 7,200pm; Promise FastTrak TX4000/S150 Serial-ATA controller

Voodoo blankets the F510 with a three-year parts-and-labor warranty and lifetime upgrade insurance. With this unique program, Voodoo offers you replacement components at wholesale prices (plus a $60 labor fee). The company picks up shipping both ways and includes new recovery CDs.
Although there's no 24/7 telephone support, Voodoo opts for the personal touch of having a live body almost instantly available when you call during business hours (9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, and 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on Saturdays). We also found live tech help on the Voodoo Web site via a chat window. Manuals and a system-specific reference page ship in a huge leather binder.

Voodoo F-Class F510 AMD Custom

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8Support 9