CNET First Look
Digital Storm Special Ops 690 IIIt's often hard to distinguish one vendor from another in the crowded custom builder market. If you find that Digital Storm has a sale, or a certain component you have your eye on, we can say from this Special Ops 690 II Advanced build that its prices...
Hi, I'm Rich Brown, senior-editor for CNET.com. Today we're gonna take a look at the Digital Storm Special Ops 690 II Advanced. This is an upper, mid-ridge custom gaming PC. Costs about 2,200 bucks. And it's actually a pretty good deal. Comes with an overclocked Intel Core i7 CPU, fast [unk] as well as a Blu-ray drive. And it'll play pretty much any PC game out there at pretty high resolutions too. The overall system itself is pretty well put together. We'll go inside and see a few of the course. We also have some reservations about the vendor itself. If you go to Digital Storm's website you're faced with the whole bunch of options to configure the systems, your multiple cases and motherboards. It makes it really hard to know what to buy and it also sort of makes us question whether they can really support all those many features. It's not impossible but probably easier to do if you had a fewer options to choose from. Other way though, the system you can see from the front has a Blu-ray drive up here, got a media card reader, and most of the few parts up on top here is actually up here the top you'll find the eSATA board for the system. And on the back you can see, you get a whole bunch of connectivity options. Pretty good selection. You have some USB ports, as well as USB 3.0 jacks, you have a bunch of DVI ports down here with HDMI and VGA. So you have lots of options to send the system up to a different display. You also get a standard set of 7.1 analog audio jacks and there's a few PS2 ports up here if you want old school input devices. Now we mentioned the eSATA port and that's at front, that's fine, there was no FireWire in the system though. That means if you have an older digital video camera for example you might want an expansion card or some sort of other options to connect it. We also wish the system had a dedicated digital audio output. You can send the audio out over the HDMI port but still would rather have the dedicated jack on the back. Now looking inside the case, it seems like a pretty clean system and [unk] Digital Storm has done a good job of binding down on the cables and just making things nice and tidy. And this big bracket here is designed to keep the two graphic cards in place from the system to shipping and underneath it you'll see a pair of Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 cards. Now up here you'll see there's a liquid cooling system that goes right to the CPU and Digital Storm has overclocked this system to 3.8 gigahertz. That's a pretty fast ship no doubt but that said we've seen the same CPU go up to 4.2 gigs from other vendors. And there's also 6 gigs of RAM in the system and you get room to add 3 more sticks up here. And over here you see the hard drive base, now Digital Storm has added a solid SATA drive for boot as well as the standard 1 terabyte hard drive for general data storage. And you have room to add 4 more drives down here. And the only problem though is that the data and power connection ports that go to the back of each of these slots are not held down. They're just sort of floating freely against the back edge there. That means if for example you wanted to swap out one of the hard drives, you pop it out on it's lid but then you really have to yank it out of it's data connections, if they were anchored like we've seen on other systems it would just pop right out. It also means if you wanna reconnect it you have to take off the back panel and fill it with the ports to line them up just so. It's definitely a pain and it's an easy fix so we wish that something Digital Storm can come up with before [unk] the system. Now you do get a more room to expand this PC aside from the hard drive base over here. There's a third PCI Express graphics card slot underneath. As well as a single PCI Express 1x slot. Now we wouldn't add a 3rd graphics card without upgrading the power supply first and Digital Storm will sell even a 1,000 watt model for an extra 100, 125 bucks. That's pretty reasonable and that would make a pretty good upgrade for this PC. It's plenty fast as it is, and if you wanna say dial up a game to a very high resolution and a high image quality you shouldn't have any problem. The difficulty might come if you wanna go to multiple monitors, you wanna have those 3D effects that some vendors are selling now. And with that the system would probably hit some speed bumps if you really, really dialed up the resolution. A third graphics card will probably solve that for you. Now aside from our critiques, we actually do like the system. It's fast and some pretty good value. So, I'm Rich Brown and this is the Digital Storm's Special Ops 690 II Advanced.