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Aventum 3 review

Post Date: 2015-11-05

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i48181 View Drop Down
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  Quote i48181 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Topic: Aventum 3 review
    Posted: 05 Nov 2015 at 9:20am
Here's my review for my first-ever Digital Storm purchase. There is a link at the bottom for many more images. I do give criticisms but also highlight where Digital Storm shines.



* Case: Aventum 3, Black Metallic Matte Finish
* MoBo: ASUS X99 RAMPAGE V USB 3.1 (Intel X99 Chipset)
* CPU: Intel Core i7-5930K @ 3.5GHz, overclocked to 4.5GHz
* RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum DHX 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 2666MHz
* GPU: 2x SLI NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN X 12GB
* SSD: Intel 750 Series 400 GB NVMe
* HydroLux Level 3, Blue H20 Tube Color


Background
I have used for the last four years the following system:
* Case: COOLER MASTER Elite RC-310-OWN1-GP
* MoBo: Intel DZ68DB
* CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K @ 3.40GHz
* RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 24GB (2x4GB + 2x8GB) DDR3 1333MHz
* GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 570 Classified 012-P3-1578-AR Video Card
* HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black 750GB 3.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s
* No extra fans, no overclocking (despite the 'K')

Three factors drove me to upgrade my system:
* Obviously with only one GTX570, high definition gaming at high/ultra settings is pretty bad
* I was running into the 24GB RAM limit often in my work
* With no noise suppression and the harddrive screwed into the metal chassis, the thing is LOUD when it is churning

I chose Digital Storm because I wanted liquid cooling and did not want to do it myself. After researching various other custom-built providers, Digital Storm was the only one that provided all the hardware options I wanted, hands down.


Ordering Process
As mentioned, Digital Storm's customization selection is amazing, allowing you to build exactly the right kind of rig.

The website did have some issues at times. When the customization page loads, the browser pulls in over a hundred image files for all the options. This preloading is good for user experience but hurts the browser and webserver. It could perhaps be optimized a bit not to take such a performance hit and cause the initial wait.

Regardless, I was able to submit an order simply and received a confirmation email automatically. Below were the wait times for each stage:

* Ordered – 2015-09-22
* Stage 1 – 2015-09-28
* Stage 2 – 2015-10-01
* Stage 3 – 2015-10-01
* Stage 4 – 2015-10-06
* Stage 5 – 2015-10-07
* Stage 6 – 2015-10-20
* Stage 7 – 2015-10-25
* Shipped – 2015-10-27
* Manually picked up from freight center on 2015-11-02

My order did seem to take a bit longer than the estimated ranges given in the emails, and I wish communication had been better. I received one phone call on 2015-10-12 about some build notes I left when placing the order, but the Digital Storm representative on the line had no idea why she called me. She distractedly read aloud some notes from the person building the rig but when I asked for clarification, she said she didn't know and eventually said she'd ask and call me back. She called later in the day and sounded much more alert and informed.

I'd rate the ordering experience a 9 out of 10 because of the above. They still do a great job keeping you updated how far along things are, which is more than I can say for other companies.


Packaging
As others have said, I thought I was prepared for how large the box was, and I wasn't. It measures 38"x35"x18". My photo album has a tissue box on top to try to capture the scale of it. The shipping weight listed is 250 lbs, which would include the wooden pallet it comes wrapped on top of, but I did not weigh it to verify. All the cardboard alone is probably 20 lbs and is extremely heavy duty.

The packaging and shipping box is perfect: the case is extremely well protected within the air cushion and placed inside a large plastic bag still further. The accessories boxes are kind of just thrown on top after the cardboard around the case, but there's nothing you could really do about that other than maybe tape them to the side inside a bag or something. The accessories boxes are labeled with your invoice number, so you know they keep track of everything while building the computer.

Where the packaging fell short (if you are one that would care) was the anti-tamper tape. The tape clearly says, "WARNING: this carton has been sealed with pilfer proof tape. If this seal is broken, check contents before acceptance." It appears to be similar to the tape Amazon Prime uses, which is meant to tear into threaded pieces instead of easily coming apart as one strip. However, the adhesive on this tape was so light that you can see in the images: the tape practically fell off at the slightest pull. It was the underlying clear packing tape that actually was holding the box closed. Digital Storm could perhaps review its tape supplier.

Despite the tape, as I mentioned, the packaging was perfect and I have no complaints about it. 10/10.


Documentation
The relevant paperwork from your components is included in the accessories boxes. Not *all* paperwork is included, but that's a good thing. I did not, for instance, receive anything regarding the RAM, GPUs, or cooling system, but as an end user, you probably don't care. I did receive the motherboard manual, the little Intel processor booklet, and everything else I would have cared about.

Otherwise, let's focus on the binder, which I included some pictures of. The first page is a certificate of ownership and your invoice/packaging receipt on the reverse side. The next page is titled, "How to Connect a Monitor to Your New PC" and has an image of the I/O ports on the rear of the motherboard. The title is self-explanatory as to the purpose of the page. The next page is titled, "Issues with New Arrival?" and has a few cases listed if you run into problems when booting the system. This page would be very helpful for people who don't know how exactly to troubleshoot, and was a good investment on the part of Digital Storm to create it. The next page I felt should have been first: a simple Thank You and good wishes. It really expresses the thought and time put into the system, and again shows how Digital Storm stands out from the competition. The remaining pages are standard printouts:
* Quality Checks: printed check marks, so just a stock page
* Setup Instructions: foolproof "how to turn it on"
* Desktops with Liquid Cooling maintenance: describes the correct amount of fluid
* Warranty Coverage
* Terms and Conditions
* Installation media (DVDs for the motherboard and GPUs)

I was going to mention a lack of cleaning instructions, but there is a paragraph on the liquid cooling page that describes dusting with a can of compressed air. I'd be more comfortable if the printouts had included images describing how to remove the panels and the correct places to check for dust.

The binder is a great touch. Other than listing the changes made to the BIOS and OS (see my later section), the overclocking modifications and test results, and perhaps more detailed cleaning instructions, it's perfect. I would have loved to see what settings were tried and failed, what succeeded, how it turned out in QA, etc. Overall, I'd rank documentation as 7/10.


Build Quality
The hardware assembly of this rig is a dream. Perfect in every way. I could go on and on, but I think I'll leave it at "perfect" and move on.

When I first turned on the system, one of the fans you could tell was misaligned and making noise during the first 10 minutes, which concerned me because (1) I couldn't locate it and (2) it was the only one out of however-many-fans-this-thing-has. However, after cranking the fans up to high for a while, it went away and has not returned since. This thing is whisper quiet now, better than I ever expected.

The fans+cooling is amazing: at idle, the CPUs and GPU sit near 30-35°C and the system is something like 25db. Practically not even there if you had your eyes closed. In contrast, my old air-cooled system idles near 65°C CPU and 50°C GPU, still being about 50-55db loud. When the harddrive cranks on the old system, you want to rip your ears off. No more, my friends! Intel SSD FTW.

This leads to a question, though... I did pay the $79 for "noise dampening material" and other than one small padded piece on the side of the case, I don't see any other pieces. Is this one piece worth $79, or are there others that I didn't see because I didn't full disassemble the case? It's perhaps another small addition to the system documentation that could be added. I did ask in the build notes to be notified if noise dampening even made sense, and to please remove it if it doesn't, but no one ever contacted me about that.

The RGB LED strip is routed perfectly and I really like how it looks, even though I leave it off most of the time. One point to make is that it cannot do all colors well: orange is more or less out of the question; you get some faint off-yellow instead. I had assumed "RGB" meant a full range of colors, but these LEDs are much like the notification LED on your smartphone: it also cannot do all colors well. Red, blue, green, fuchsia, yellow, etc. come out bright and have a few shades to them if you get it right. However, the custom color picker is misleading: you might try to select purple but end up with yellow based on being just a few values off. This is simply a physical limitation of the LEDs and mathematical rounding of the RGB values, so just something to be aware of.

UPDATE 1: I forgot to mention that the bottom of the tower has some tiny rubber squares on the border to keep it from moving easily. As it is already a very heavy machine, these rubber feet keep it unyielding. I have mine on a wooden floor and am unable to push it at all, so I placed a large piece of packaging paper underneath to enable me to slide it away from the wall when I need to get to the back of it.


Software Configuration
There is also no indication what modifications were made to the stock BIOS settings. It's clear the overclocking was performed, but the binder really should have included something that describes the changes made. I noticed that the NX bit (a CPU security feature) was disabled, though the motherboard manual states the default is enabled, so I would have appreciated seeing why it was turned off.

As others have mentioned, the OS comes fully patched and ready to go. I was pleasantly surprised by how little bloat there was preinstalled. I expected a ton of stock software and when I opened the Control Panel to go uninstall things, I said, "Wow." I had to wipe the drive anyway so now know what was required and what was not: the system came with maybe 10 items installed, mostly drivers, and 8 of them were required to get the system back up and running after wiping it. I did not need the Corsair Link software or the Asus Sonic Radar sound software, so left it off.

Other than the lack of documentation, I think is another area where Digital Storm really needs to be appreciated: the OS came as clean as one could hope and this is exactly how it should be. You'll never get this kind of purity from the big dealers, which load Windows up with so much junk you want to vomit. 10/10 here, guys.


Overall
The wait was worth it. As I said before, the quality of this system is awesome and Digital Storm will certainly be my choice in the future by keeping this up. I am very happy to achieve 23K on Fire Strike and 13K on Fire Strike Extreme. This is probably because I am not overclocking the GPUs, but it is more than enough for me.

One final thing to note is the lack of Linux support. I asked to waive the Windows license fee because I have plenty and was going to install Ubuntu anyway. Digital Storm effectively waived half of the cost of the license. There is no Linux version of the HydroLux Control Center software, so you cannot change the fan profile or lighting while in Linux. The chip appears to be a simple USB to Serial adapter and should be pretty simple to code up support for, though. Just be aware that your last settings are locked on reboot, so don't accidentally reboot with "Extreme Fan Mode" on.

The full album of photos can be found at http://imgur.com/a/FzbKd (32 images). Again, the highest of praises to Digital Storm for the impeccable quality of this system. I am extremely pleased, and this is what makes the cost and wait well worth it.

Edited by i48181 - 05 Nov 2015 at 10:00am
Zeus: Aventum 3 // i7 5930K // 2x TITAN X
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  Quote  Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 05 Nov 2015 at 9:56am
Nice! I wonder if you were to load Windows in a VM if it would allow you to access the fan control board and make adjustments with the HydroLux Control Center.
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  Quote i48181 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 05 Nov 2015 at 11:33am
Originally posted by 

Nice! I wonder if you were to load Windows in a VM if it would allow you to access the fan control board and make adjustments with the HydroLux Control Center.


The program fails to load in Wine due to a lack of an implementation of .NET DataVisualization.Charting.Chart.

Good idea with the VM... I checked, and you can. For anyone curious for the future, here is how you do it for VirtualBox. I'm sure VMware is similar.

1. On the Linux host, find the special device file, usually /dev/ttyUSB0. You can use `lsusb` and the /sys tree to deterministically find it, see this link for more info.
2. Make it world-readable and world-writable (`sudo chmod a+rw /dev/ttyUSB0`).
3. In your VM settings, enable the first serial port, set it to COM1, port mode of Host Device, and provide the path.
4. Boot the VM, use COM1 as the device port within the Control Center.
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  Quote  Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 05 Nov 2015 at 12:08pm
Awesome! I'm glad you could establish the connection and get it working.

I'm curious with this picture: did they just hack off the heat pipe to separate the VRM heat sink from I/O cover? I see a sliver of copper down there...

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  Quote Alex Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 05 Nov 2015 at 12:18pm
i48181,

Thank you for taking the time to post your review, especially with all of those great photos. I'm glad to hear that you love the PC and that you will be coming back to us for future orders.

I do agree with your feedback and I will definitely share it internally. We appreciate this as it allows us to constantly improve our business for our customers.

The binder could be more descriptive in certain features, this is something we agree about, and due to the nature of our custom business, it's been a challenge, but we could improve on this. Please note, if you do ever need details on anything or help, we're here for you, as you have life-time support by our team.

The noise material makes sense, we did not have to use a lot, as it's difficult to do so, especially when the chassis does not leave much room, and also when the system is already quiet with our control board and software. I will have a credit request issued for the noise material you paid for.

Other than that, enjoy this beast, and thank you for being a customer!
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  Quote Tidgxor Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 05 Nov 2015 at 2:07pm
Thank you for a very informative write-up. Enjoy the system! Strong
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  Quote i48181 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 05 Nov 2015 at 2:10pm
Originally posted by 

did they just hack off the heat pipe to separate the VRM heat sink from I/O cover? I see a sliver of copper down there...


That does appear to be the case.
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  Quote  Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 05 Nov 2015 at 2:22pm
Interesting; thanks for the confirmation. I imagine that heat pipe was press fit in, so I wasn't sure if they would simply cut it or had a mechanical removal process of some sort. Cheers!
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  Quote eeekman Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 06 Nov 2015 at 3:20am
Great review and your machine looks gorgeous in black and blue!

Congrats!
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  Quote Snaike Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 06 Nov 2015 at 7:37am
I love the write up, but am in a place where I can't see the pictures /cry/ I'll edit this when I can take a peek.
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  Quote hoserator Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 06 Nov 2015 at 8:57am
Very very nice write up. Thank you for your time and effort. Beautiful machine and worthy of praise.
 Hope you enjoy it for years to come.Awesome
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  Quote i48181 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 06 Nov 2015 at 10:05am
Originally posted by 

I see a sliver of copper down there...


Here is a closer image to satisfy your curiosity.
http://i.imgur.com/F3zjjAw.jpg

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  Quote Snaike Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 06 Nov 2015 at 10:12am
oh wow... now that is a thing of beauty. Just went through your imgur album...

Thanks for sharing!   
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  Quote  Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 06 Nov 2015 at 10:13am
Yep! Looks like they snipped it off with a wire cutter. You can see a little bit of the sintered copper hanging out of it. There is also a little bit of tearing in the nickel plating, as it is not as malleable as the copper pipe.
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  Quote oldlady RPGer Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 11 Nov 2015 at 10:58pm
WOW


Beautiful review! Outstanding PICS!!!!!


Damn that's a big rig!!!
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  Quote db188 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 12 Nov 2015 at 1:40am
congratulations on your system and thanks for sharing a nicely formatted review and great pics!  
Aventum 3
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Gigabyte G1 Z170X Gaming GT
16GB Corsair Dominator 2800MHz
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Intel 750 400GB PCIE-NVMe
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  Quote db188 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 12 Nov 2015 at 1:45am
i assume your forum name is partly your order number.  based on my number and date of purchase it looks like DS moved around 300 orders in the span of a couple of weeks.  business must indeed be good!Wow
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