Balancing the potential performance of an elite gaming PC with the need to still afford things—like rent and car payments—the small form-factor V3 Gaming Traverse offers some impressive hardware in a small form-factor chassis. As mid-range gaming desktops go, the V3 Traverse does a great job of giving you plenty of bang for your buck.
Design and Features
Looking at the V3 Traverse’s case, a Prodigy small form-factor chassis from Bit Fenix, I just don’t know what to think about this design. We’ve seen it before (on the AVADirect Mini Gaming PC Core i5 Z77) but I still can’t figure out why this design is even being used. Is there something about improving airflow by putting it up off of the desk or floor? Is it about providing handles? Regardless, I personally think the roll-cage design looks (and feels) bizarre. And the handles and risers flex considerably whenever you pick up the tower or set it down, which feels pretty insecure.
Despite the shaky handles and risers, the tower has a fairly compact design, measuring 15.5 by 9.6 by 13.9 inches (HWD). The white and black color scheme is a nice change of pace from the usual black boxes festooned with glowing LED accents, but the stormtrooper look is getting a little tired as well—we’ve seen it on the iBuypower Revolt R770, the Digital Storm Bolt, not to mention the same-chassis doppelganger AVADirect Mini Gaming PC Core i5 Z77.
On the front of the tower is a tray-loading optical drive—a combination Blu-ray reader and DVD-writer in this configuration—and a handful of ports on the right-hand side of the tower front, with two audio jacks (for headphone out and microphone input) and two USB 3.0 ports. On the back of the tower you’ll find far more connectivity options, like another six USB ports (two 3.0, four 2.0), Gigabit Ethernet, two HDMI outputs, a DisplayPort, three DVI outputs, along with S/PDIF digital audio and a handful of audio outputs. An internal 802.11n Wi-Fi connection gives you connectivity as well, for those times you don’t want to snake an Ethernet cable to the back of the tower.
Open up the case, and you’ll find the Traverse outfitted with a Zotac Z77ITX A-E Mini ITX motherboard. Our configuration included an Intel Core i5-3570K (normally 3.4GHz, but overclocked up to 4.6GHz), an Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 graphics card, which offers SLI-grade performance on a single card thanks to a dual-GPU design. A 600W Corsair power supply provides enough power for everything and even an upgrade or two, though there’s not a lot of room for upgrades to be made—the PCI slots are filled, and the position of the motherboard in the compact tower makes it hard to access anything anyway. There are, however, two open drive bays, and an unused internal SATA port, so you can expand the storage in that way.
For storage you get both a 1TB, 7,200rpm hard drive and a 120GB Corsair Force GT solid-state drive (SSD). This combination provides both storage and speed, with plenty of capacity for games and media files, with zippy performance thanks to the SSD. The Windows 8 operating system is preinstalled, but there’s no bloatware to speak of—there’s nothing beyond GPU drivers included on the PC. V3 Gaming covers the Traverse with a generous three-year service warranty, with lifetime labor and tech support.
The V3 Traverse’s quad-core CPU (a Core i5-3570K with 8GB of RAM) isn’t the fastest processor out there, but it’s definitely a top contender. With a Cinebench score of 7.88, it falls behind most of the Core i7-equipped systems—like the category leading Maingear Potenza Super Stock, which scored 9.57 points—but it still takes the lead in PCMark 7, scoring 6,572 points, topping both the Maingear Potenza (5,356) and the AVADirect Mini Gaming PC Core i5 Z77 (6,259). It fell slightly behind competitors in Handbrake and Photoshop, finishing the tests in 29 seconds (Handbrake) and 2 minutes 36 seconds (Photoshop CS6).
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 is actually a single-card SLI, the equivalent of two GTX 680s, with 4GB of dedicated memory. As such, it offered some of the best graphics performance we’ve seen in this price range. It cranked through our gaming tests with competition-crushing scores, leading in Alien vs. Predator with 308 frames per second at 1,366-by-768 and 98 fps at 1920-by-1080 and high detail settings. Similarly, it produced top results in Heaven (232 fps at 1366-by-768 and 107 at 1920-by-1080 and high detail settings).
While the chassis design might leave me scratching my head, there’s no denying that V3 Gaming has built a solid gaming PC in this small form-factor case. With an overclocked Core i5 and Nvidia’s single-card SLI graphics processing, the V3 Gaming Traverse offers a level of performance that belies the PC’s mid-range price tag. If you want to experience elite gaming without the $5,000-$7,000 price tag, the V3 Gaming Traverse is a smart pick, provided you don’t have your heart set on easy maintenance and upgrades.
|Primary Optical Drive||Blu-Ray Disc|
|Processor Family||Intel Core i5|
|Graphics Card||Nvidia GeForce GTX 690|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||1120 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc