Up to the £1,000 (AU$1,530, US$1,500) mark, there’s are a huge variety of different specs you can throw into a PC and still come out with a decent gaming rig. Just look at the Daw Computers machine and the Vibox Power FX.
Above that price point though, things stagnate very quickly. From here until the crazy-priced machines with their hex-core Sandy Bridge Extreme and octo-core Xeons, it’s all about the Core i7 3770K and whatever overclock the SI can squeeze out of it – and, of course, the Z77 motherboard.
This Wired2Fire machine comes slap-bang in between the lower-end machines, like the Daw and Vibox rigs, and the top-tier Titan machines that are starting to pop up everywhere. But when you compare it with those £2,000+ (about AU$3,000+, US$3,000+) rigs, the only real difference you’ll see is in the choice of graphics card that’s been used.
At the £1,600 (about AU$2,460, US$2,430) Wired2Fire is targeting with the Diablo Phantom, you’re moving away from the cheaper machines that will usually sacrifice some general niceties for top CPU and GPU combos and are getting a full gaming PC with all the benefits you’d expect from a premium rig.
That means that as well as the ubiquitously overclocked 3770K, you’ve got a quality Asus P8Z77-V motherboard, a huge amount of quick Corsair Vengeance system memory and lots of data storage, as well as twoKingston HyperX 3K 120GB SSDs.
The Diablo Phantom has taken the odd step of using a RAID array to give the SandForce-powered Kingston HyperX 3K drives a bit of a speed boost. But the extra boost from RAID is negligible when you start to include the problems of incompressible data handling you get with SandForce.
The NZXT Phantom chassis that Wired2Fire has used in this build is visually striking but somewhat disappointing. It looks pretty funky from a distance, but when you get up close you can see the plastic of the orange detailing hasn’t been finished that well. However, it does run much quieter than the DinoPC Titanosaurus Rex.
CPU encoding performance
X264 v4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better
DIABLO PHANTOM: 51.44
TITANSAURUS REX: 51.61
DirectX 11 tessellation performance
Heaven 4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better
DIABLO PHANTOM: 23.7
TITANSAURUS REX: 35.2
DirectX 11 1080p gaming performance
Crysis 3: Frames per second: Higher is better
DIABLO PHANTOM: 50
TITANSAURUS REX: 66
Unfortunately, the active cooling doesn’t seem to be sufficient for the chip to run stably at the 4.7GHz it came clocked at out of the box. We managed an initial successful run of Cinebench, but further runs fell over and even once we’d taken it down a notch to 4.6GHz (which is what all our benchmarks were run at afterwards), the X264 test struggled to complete.
Once it’s running, this is a decent rig, and although it’s not quite in the same league as the Titans, it’s not far off – especially when you consider it’s substantially cheaper than the DinoPC and can still happily knock around 2,560 x 1,600 gaming.