Intel’s newest processing hardware has finally reached the marketplace, and the fourth-generation processors (codenamed Haswell) are appearing in gaming desktops, where cutting edge components are leveraged for a competitive edge. The Digital Storm Virtue does just that, pairing the newest Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia graphics to become one of the more potent mid-range gaming PCs we’ve seen.
Design & Features
The Digital Storm Virtue is a mid-tower gaming PC, done up in black brushed metal. While it’s not as stunning as the brightly painted Maingear F131, the basic black look still works, and a large window makes up most of the left side of the tower, showing of all the hardware inside. The case itself measures 17.25 by 8.1 by 17.75 inches (HWD), making it small enough to fit under a desk, but not prohibitively small when you need to get inside for maintenance and upgrades.
On the front of the tower you’ll find an Asus Blu-ray player/DVD Writer, two USB 3.0 ports, and jacks for headphones and microphone. The front panel also pops off (with two press-to-release catches) revealing a large vent and dust filter, making filter removal quick and easy.
On the back of the system, you’ll find four more USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and three video outputs: DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort, along with connections for 8-channel audio. A single Gigabit Ethernet port provides network connectivity, which you’ll need at all times since there’s no Wi-Fi. You do, however, get Bluetooth 4.0 + HS, for connecting a wireless gaming headset or other peripherals.
The side panels are easily removed, secured with thumb-friendly screws—no tools necessary. Open up the case and you’ll find some impressive hardware inside, starting with Intel’s latest, a fourth generation Haswell Core i7-4770K processor and 16GB of RAM. Equally impressive is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 with 3GB of dedicated VRAM. The whole thing is kept cool—and quiet—thanks to a Corsair H100i Liquid CPU Cooler.
There’s also plenty of room to grow as you update the system in the future. The installed 1050W Corsair Pro Silver 1050HX power supply offers more than enough power for the included components, and there are several expansion slots available: Two DIMM slots for an additional 16GB of RAM, one unoccupied PCIe x16 slot, one unoccupied optical drive bay and four total empty drive bays (two 3.5-inch HDD bays, two 2.5-inch SSD bays).
Already installed are two drives, a 120GB Corsair Neutron GTX solid-state drive (SSD) paired with a 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital Caviar hard drive, providing plenty of storage with the hard disk and zippy performance with the SSD. While there are systems available with larger overall storage capacity—the HP Envy Phoenix h9-1320t, for example, has a 2TB hard drive—the combination of spinning drive and SSD will offer better performance. The only software Digital Storm includes on the Virtue is a copy of Windows 8 (64-bit) along with drivers for the various hardware. Digital Storm covers the Virtue with a three-year limited warranty and lifetime customer care.
Armed with one of the first fourth-generation (a.k.a. Haswell) processors on the market, the Virtue offers strong processing performance, aided by the included 16GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory. The 3.5GHz Core i7-4770K is also unlocked for overclocking. The new processor offers powerful performance, completing PCMark 7 with a score of 7,042 points and a Cinebench score of 9.59 points, topping almost every competitor from the previous generation, and blowing past the Editors’ Choice HP Envy Phoenix h9-1302t (4,033 points).
In terms of graphics performance, there was a drastic difference between the single-card Virtue and the likes of the Falcon Northwest Mach V (Triple Titan), which boasts not one or even two, but three of Nvidia’s top-of-the-line GPUs. That said, the visual performance of the Digital Storm Virtue is still stunning, producing frame rates of 83fps (Aliens vs. Predator) and 75fps (Heaven 3.0) at 1,920-by-1200 resolution and high detail settings. While it may not match the triple digit scores of the Falcon Northwest Mach V (Triple Titan), it’s high enough for any current game to play at full 1080p and still deliver high performance.
For a single-card mid-tower desktop with a halfway reasonable price tag, the Digital Storm Virtue offers seriously fierce performance and heart-pumping graphics. Though not as inexpensive as our Editors’ Choice HP Phoenix h9-1320t, the Digital Storm Virtue is still relatively affordable. Even when stacked against tricked out top performers, like the Maingear F131 Super Stock (GTX Titan) and the Falcon Northwest Mach V (Triple Titan), the Digital Storm Virtue stands out, and is a definite contender for top mid-range gaming rig.
|Primary Optical Drive||Blu-Ray Disc|
|Processor Family||Intel Core i7|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 780|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||1120 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc