Introducing the V3 Gaming PC Avenger

We've had a few boutiques come through here, but what V3 Gaming PC wanted to approach us with was something different than we're used to seeing. Many of the systems sent through here are aggressively tuned, designed for performance at virtually any cost. It looks fantastic on charts, but in practice you're often paying out the nose for a system that left the price-performance curve eating the dust in its speedy wake. With the Avenger, V3 wanted to do something a little different.

What we have in house today is a system they believe has been designed to be as balanced a build as possible. High performance, sure, but more well-rounded and suited for a variety of tasks without blowing up the room temperature or the power bill in the process. The reasons behind some of the decisions they've made are laudable, but some of the others may be somewhat more nebulous.

V3 Gaming PC Avenger Specifications
Chassis Corsair Carbide 500R
Processor Intel Core i7-3820
(4x3.6GHz + HTT, Turbo to 3.8GHz, 4.75GHz (38x Multiplier, 125 Bclk) Overclock, 32nm, 10MB L3, 130W)
Motherboard MSI X79A-GD45 (X79 Chipset)
Memory 4x4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1600 @ DDR3-1666 (expandable to 64GB)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB
(1536 CUDA cores, 1006/6008MHz core/RAM, 256-bit memory bus)
Storage 2x Corsair Force GT 60GB SATA 6Gbps SSD (SF-2281) in RAID 0
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7200-RPM SATA 6Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) Toshiba-Samsung BD-ROM/DVD-RAM
Power Supply Corsair TX750 V2 80 Plus Bronze
Networking Intel 82579V Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC892
Speaker, mic/line-in, surround jacks, optical out for 7.1 sound
Front Side Optical drive
Card reader
2x USB 3.0
6-pin FireWire
Headphone and mic jacks
Top -
Back Side 2x PS/2
6x USB 2.0
2x USB 3.0
Optical and digital audio out
Ethernet jack
Speaker, mic, line-in, and surround jacks
2x DVI-D (GTX 680)
1x DisplayPort (GTX 680)
1x HDMI (GTX 680)
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Extras Card reader
Asetek closed liquid cooling loop
RAID 0
Warranty 3-year parts and labor, lifetime support
Pricing $2,399

If you're looking at that spec table and scratching your head at some of the choices, you weren't the only one. A high overclock on a quad-core CPU, NVIDIA's top-of-the-line single-GPU graphics card, 16GB of fast DDR3, that's all par for the course with a boutique system. I'm even quite fond of the Corsair enclosure and power supply, both of which are quality components. Yet I'll admit I was perplexed by the use of the Sandy Bridge-E quad-core instead of Sandy Bridge proper (the review unit was received before Ivy Bridge launched). Running two low-capacity SSDs in RAID 0 also seemed like a strange call. So I went to the source and asked why these choices were made.

First, the Avenger is their top shelf system, so it would make sense that they'd go for X79 and Sandy Bridge-E instead of an LGA1155-based system. A top shelf system should also be ready for tri-SLI or CrossFireX, too, so the mountain of PCI Express bandwidth on Sandy Bridge-E makes sense. At the same time, most users simply don't need a hex-core processor, so under the circumstances the Intel Core i7-3820 would be the best fit. I'm not sure I 100% agree with the logic here, but the system as specced is designed to be as upgradeable as possible; a Z77-based system would be stuck at dual graphics cards, 32GB of RAM, and the CPU would basically peak where the i7-3820 begins. You may not entirely agree with the decisions made here, but at least there's some logic to them.

Where I do think things are more nebulous is with the pair of 60GB Corsair Force GT SSDs in a striped RAID. On paper that performance is going to look fantastic, but in practice it's not really necessary and I think a lot of us would've been more satisfied with a single 120GB drive to go with the mechanical hard drive. The price would be essentially the same, but you'd gain TRIM support. The argument there was that many customers request SSDs in a striped RAID, and that this is a six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other kind of situation. Again, I'm not sure I agree and I'm not sure you will either, but there's still logic to it.

The rest of the system is pretty fundamental, although the overclock on that i7-3820 is among the highest we've tested and I remain a bit concerned about the 1.42V running through it. Overclocks are one of those things I tend to leave up to the discretion of the vendor; if they're willing to warrant it and accept the responsibility, that's their call. I personally find it to be on the high side, but as I was discussing with Ian the other night, I'm a very conservative overclocker; I seldom raise voltage on a CPU more than 0.1V, if that.

As far as pricing, putting together similar parts from Newegg and other online stores, the total hardware cost for a system like the V3 Avenger comes out to around $1900—we say "around" because some of the parts aren't readily available for end-user purchase. Toss in a 3-year standard warranty and the 25% overclock and the final price of $2400 looks pretty comparable to what you'd pay elsewhere. It's not an amazing deal, but for a prebuilt system with a hefty overclock it's at least reasonable. If you have the time and inclination to DIY, you'll pay less, but for those who would rather just skip straight to using their PCs you're looking at a ~10% markup. And with that out of the way, let's get into the details of the Avenger.

Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • gitano - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    the case looks awful, and the price a rip-off Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    Boutique machines are always going to be a little pricey, you're paying for the care of assembly and the customer service.

    As for the case, that's a matter of opinion. I've reviewed it personally:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4972/corsair-carbide...

    I'm rather fond of it, myself.
    Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    I think many of us might've built up false expectations after reading your intro.

    As you mentioned, using X79 (especially for a quad), 16GB of RAM, and RAID SSDs is anything but a "balance".
    Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    I don't think there is anything wrong with the case. The carbide 500 is the only non-silverstone case I'd ever consider. As for it being white, mine has been crammed under my desk for 3 years so I could care less what color it is, as long as its functional. Reply
  • Bonesdad - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    I agree, though the case is not exactly my cup of tea, I have seen MUCH worse come across these reviews. I don't have a problem with the case really at all...now the price...? Reply
  • Samus - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    I generally don't comment on the prices, because when I read these botique reviews, I know I'd never buy one becuase I can't justify the price premium for someone taking an hour to screw it all together. As far as them 'testing choice components' I can already tell you without doing a second of research the best parts to put in any mid-to-high end gaming system is

    mainstream ASUS motherboard with USB 3.0
    3GHz+ quad core i5
    16GB GSKILL high speed memory
    Corsair H80 water cooling kit
    Intel 180GB SSD330 or SSD520
    'pick your brand' 3TB SATA drive
    Silverstone or Corsair case of your choice
    PCP&C or similar 600 watt PSU
    nVidia Geforce 670
    Bluray drive
    23+" IPS monitor (TN if 3ms difference really matters to you)
    comfy keyboard and mouse
    decent 2-channel speakers or headphones
    APC or Tripp-lite 800va battery backup
    Windows 7 Home Premium OEM
    Comcast or other high speed internet and a Motorola DOCSYS 3.0 modem with a Linksys E3000+ router with gigabit

    All under $2,000 and assembled using knowledge from a youtube video in under 2 hours.
    Reply
  • watchdogusa - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    This is good suggestion, but it doesn't address this review. To me, a review on a system is how the system stacks up with other systems with price in consideration, i.e, performance vs price. If you put the above system together, it would not compete eye-to-eye with the review system, even with price in consideration. In addition, built quality, warranty and time spent on building/testing the system should be considered too. For many DIY say you can build a system much cheaper, only if your time is not valuable. For example, a lawyer who bills at $600 to $800 per hour spends 2 hours to build the system, you should tag another $1500 to the price tag of the system, because he just lost 2 hours of billable hours. Of course it is not that simple, but when compare DIY and building a system, you can't just compare the part cost alone. If that is the case, why not build everything you want? I am sure with youtube, you can even build an atomic bomb. I think if we are here talk about prices, we should compare it to other boutiques/retailers with similar components and services. This way, it would be an apple to apple comparison. That is just my $0.02. Reply
  • Jakeisbest - Friday, May 18, 2012 - link

    Samus,

    You just described my exact setup, even my modem and router.
    Reply
  • aguilpa1 - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    I'm in agreement. It used to be boutique vendors charged more but went further to present something unique in their cases, whether custom paint or design. This thing is just ugly. I notice the current trend is towards white cases but there is a reason they went away a long time ago. It becomes to obvious and cheap looking when you start to stick black plasticky components in the front and for the most part stick out like a sore thumb no matter where they go. Reply
  • EnzoFX - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - link

    It annoys me when people say this about white cases. Those old cases, they weren't white, they were beige. Can you really not tell the difference? Reply

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