AVADirect X79 Gaming PC review

The AVADirect X79 Gaming PC has an appealing design and considerable firepower, but its price tag gives one pause.
Photo of AVADirect X79 Gaming PC

The AVADirect X79 Gaming PC ($4,800 direct, as tested) continues the proud, high-end gaming desktop tradition of going completely over the top in every possible regard. Of course, when you enter into rarefied elite territory where five grand systems are the norm, a certain degree of flashiness is to be expected, and in this regard AVADirect have certainly hits the mark. Everything inside and outside of the X79 gives the appearance of raw power, from its sleek, refined Silverstone chassis to the top-of-the-line components humming away beneath the surface. The X79′s performance in our benchmarks tests confirmed its brute strength, though it still fell short of its competitors in some areas. Gamers shelling out so much cash don’t expect a good system, they expect the best system. With these heightened expectations in mind, then, the X79 faces stiff competition in its price point.

Design and Features
The X79′s chassis measures 19.6 by 8.3 by 24.2 inches (HWD). Its huge dimensions is meant to accommodate a massive amount of components, but finding a place for the gaming rig will be a challenge for gamers living in tight quarters.

With the SilverStone chassis, AVADirect delivers an elegantly refined gaming desktop. Instead of the flashing LED lights and garish grilles typically seen in this category, the X79 comes in a subdued metallic silver chassis. Moreover, the SilverStone chassis has the motherboard vertically mounted, allowing the heat generated by the X79 to dissipate upwards.

The top of the X79 chassis has a removable perforated grill,that must be pulled off for gamers to access the majority of its ports and, moreover, to unscrew either one of the side panels and pop open the chassis. All the removable grill allows users to hide all of their cables, this can become cumbersome after a while since the top needs to be removed each time you want to access the ports beneath.

The X79 features an abundance of ports. The top of the chassis has four USB 3.0 ports, seven USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA ports, a Bluetooth module, a PS/2 input, audio inputs, and an S/PDIF digital audio output. The top also has some hardcore gamer-friendly elements. There’s a Clear CMOS switch (for letting gamers replace the motherboard’s jumper cap in the event that an overclock fails) and an ROG connect switch, and corresponding ROG input (which allows you monitor the system’s processing speed in real-time through a laptop). There’s also an integrated OC Key dongle, which can be plugged into the DVI port of any graphics card to give gamers on-screen performance information and overclocking options without having to boot the OS. The top also houses three fan control switches that allow users to toggle between high- and low-speed for each of the X79′s three cooling fans. During testing, I didn’t notice a difference in noise levels between the settings.

Toward the front of the system, the top of the chassis sports a power button, reset button, and activity LEDs. A sliding door to the side of these elements opens to reveal headphone and mic inputs, as well as a pair of USB 3.0 ports.

The front panel of the X79 features a total of five bays. The top bay houses a Blu-ray reader that also reads and burns DVDs and CDs. The second bay beneath it has a 65-in-1 card reader and a USB 2.0 port. Further down still, there are three empty 5.25-inch drive bays. The X79′s rear is a more low-key affair that has a removable plastic grille that allows users to easily clean a dust filter that captures all the debris kicked up in the maelstrom of the system’s cooling fans.

Popping open either of the chassis side panels reveals an impressive array of hardware as well as padding on the inside of each panel, ostensibly for muffling any sound. The sound, of course, stems from the X79′s three fans at the bottom of the system. In addition to integrated Bluetooth, the X79′s motherboard also sports a total of eight DIMM sockets that can accommodate a maximum of 64GB of RAM; our test unit had two occupied by 8GB modules, leaving six available, though two of these are slightly difficult to access because the X79′s massive six-core 3.2GHz Intel Core i7-3960X processor sits directly in the middle of the modules.

A good portion of the X79′s interior real estate is also occupied by its trio of EVGA 2GB GeForce GTX 680 graphics cards in a three-way SLI configuration. Each graphics card features one HDMI port, two DVI ports, and one DisplayPort input, making it possible to use multiple displays at once. Additional expansion cards would be difficult to accommodate since the graphics cards block access to the motherboard’s remaining PCIe x8 slot.

Although the X79 is already brimming with components, its 1,000-watt power supply (PSU) means that it can easily accommodate even more upgrades. Of course, most users don’t shell out nearly five grand on a system with the expectation of having to upgrade it in the foreseeable future, but the possibility is still there.

The X79 packs two solid-state-drives (SSDs) and two hard disk drives (HDDs); the two 120GB OCZ Vertex 3 SSDs are for the operating system and are in RAID 0 array in order to provide a quick platform for running your OS and programs. The two 2TB Seagate Barracuda 7,200rpm HDDs are in RAID 1 (mirror) array, leaving you with plenty of storage space.

Like most custom-built gaming rigs, pre-installed software is kept to a minimum, and, includes stuff worth keeping, like full versions of Assassin’s Creed and Deus Ex Human Revolution – The Missing Link. Like the V3 Gaming PC Avenger, the X79 is covered by a three-year limited parts and labor warranty and free life-time tech support.

Performance

With a six-core 3.2GHz Intel Core i7-3960X CPU overclocked to 4.5GHz and 16GB of DDR3 RAM, the X79 tore through our benchmark tests. Still, the X79 belongs to a class of gaming desktops where ripping through benchmark tests is the norm. Thus, while the actual difference between the systems in terms of performance is nearly impossible to perceive, a nearly $5,000 price tag means that you’d want to buy the best of the best—not merely “one of the best.”

With these elevated expectations in mind, it was disappointing that the X79 failed to top the charts in our tests against other similarly-priced gaming desktops. Its PCMark 7 score of 6,197 came within striking distance of the Falcon Northwest Mach IV Icon2 (6,245 points) as well as the V3 Gaming PC Avenger (6,348 points) but lagged behind the class-leading Maingear Shift Super Stock (Core i7-3930K) (6,501 points).

The same goes for the X79′s multimedia performance. It completed our Handbrake video-encoding test in 54 seconds, putting it on equal footing with the Maingear Shift Super Stock (54 seconds) and the V3 Gaming PC Avenger (54 seconds) and a few seconds behind both the Northwest Icon2 (53 seconds) and the Origin Genesis (i7-3930K) (51 seconds). Meanwhile, the X79′s Cinebench R11.5 score (13.15) handily surpassed the Falcon Icon2 (9.66) but lagged slightly behind the Shift Super Stock (Core i7-3930K) (13.98 points) and, to a greater extent, the Origin Genesis (i7-3930K) (14.23 points).

The X79 finished our Photoshop CS5 test in 2 minutes 22 seconds, which was several seconds longer than both the V3 Gaming Avenger (2:17) and Maingear Shift Super Stock (Core i7-3930K) (2:15) while finishing ten seconds behind the Origin Genesis (i7-3930K) (2:12).

Although the X79s’ trio of Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 GPUs easily delivered insane frame rates in even the most demanding settings of our gaming benchmark tests, it ultimately couldn’t keep pace with its peers. In our Crysis benchmark test, the X79 dished out strong frame rates (120fps in medium quality at 1,280-by-720 resolution; 77fps in very high quality at 1,920-by-1,080 resolution) but couldn’t keep pace with either the Northwest Icon2 or the Origin Genesis (i7-3930K).

The X79 fared better in our Lost Planet 2 benchmark test, managing to outmuscle the V3 Gaming PC Avenger, but once again failing to pump out frame rates with as much dexterity as the Origin Genesis (i7-3930K) or the Maingear Shift Super Stock (Core i7-3930K). That said, the X79′s frame rates are impressive in their own right, and it’s worth repeating that it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between these systems since they all effortlessly deliver silky smooth graphics.

As far as 3D rendering is concerned, the X79′s performance in our 3DMark 11 benchmark tests (23,397 points in Entry-level mode, 8,916 points in Extreme-level mode) were objectively impressive but nonetheless not as high as the Falcon Northwest Icon2 (23,627 points and 10,523 points, respectively) or the Origin Genesis (i7-3930K) (24,330 points and 9,710 points, respectively). While these are certainly smoothly playable scores, they still fall short of the competition, all of which fall in the same price range, save for the more expensive Origin Genesis (i7-3930K).

All said, the AVADirect X79 Gaming PC is undoubtedly an attractive system with the capability to handle enormously complex visual tasks as well as unfettered multimedia creation and consumption. However, high-end gaming enthusiasts who can afford to drop nearly five grand on a gaming rig would be better off spending the few hundred dollars extra for our current Editors’ Choice, the Maingear Shift Super Stock (Core i7 3930K), which outscores the X79 across the board (though it should be said that the scores were very close).

BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the AVADirect X79 Gaming PC

COMPARISON TABLE
Compare the AVADirect X79 Gaming PC with several other desktops side by side.

More desktop reviews:

Specifications
Primary Optical Drive Blu-Ray Disc
Processor Family Intel Core i7
Graphics Card nVidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
RAM 16 GB
Type Gaming
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 4240 GB

Verdict
Despite its appealing design and considerable firepower, the AVADirect X79 Gaming PC nonetheless falls short of comparable systems, making it difficult to recommend to high-end gaming enthusiasts.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc