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Review of my new Apollo

Post Date: 2016-04-12

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Moonripple View Drop Down
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  Quote Moonripple Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Topic: Review of my new Apollo
    Posted: 12 Apr 2016 at 12:35pm
Hi, everyone! I recently purchased one of Digital Storm’s custom Apollo systems, which I received last Thursday (4/7). Reading reviews from other customers was one the big reasons why I selected Digital Storm, so I wanted to provide feedback on my experience. Maybe this will help others thinking of buying and help Digital Storm improve their products and services.

A little about me: I’m a 41-year-old computing and gaming enthusiast. My job fr the last 20 years has been writing and designing software applications, and (most recently) managing software development teams. I’ve owned several gaming systems, some which I build myself and some that were purchased from online builders. This is my first purchase from Digital Storm.

My Build

The budget for my system was $2,500 and I was targeting a machine that would give me a superior 1080p gaming experience. With this in mind, I chose the Apollo platform and made a few strategic tradeoffs to get as much performance for my dollar as possible. I settled on an overclocked i5-6600K and 8GB of RAM , which I can upgrade myself later, and used the money I saved to go with as much video card as I could afford within my budget. The build I decided on was:

Chassis Model:     Apollo White (Corsair 760T)
Processor:     Intel i5-6600K 3.5GHz Quad Core
CPU Cooling:     Corsair H100i GTX 240mm Liquid
CPU Boost:     Overclock CPU Up to 4.4GHz
Motherboard:     ASUS Z170 PRO GAMING
System Memory:     8GB DDR4 2666MHz
Power Supply:     750W EVGA SuperNOVA
Graphics Card:     NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB (ASUS Strix Edition)
Chassis Fans:     Standard Factory Chassis Fans


Overall, I was pleased with the build options offered. I had no problem finding a build I was happy with within my budget.

Planning my System

System Configurator. I spent a lot of time in the Configuration tool than Digital Storm provides, weighing different build options (I’m sure I am not unusual in that regard). I liked the layout and logical flow of the tool overall, and found it more than adequate to plan out a system build. The ability to save a build so that you can return to it later was particularly welcome. I used that feature frequently.

While I liked the Configurator overall, I saw a few minor items I felt could be improved. First, the pictures of the individual build components were too small. Digital Storm should be providing potential customer with high resolution images of each component they offer and some components, such as the System Cases, should have images from multiple angles. I also wasn’t fond of the “More Details” link that was displayed below each component. Clicking it opened a pop-up window that wasn’t formatted well, with the component information poorly displayed in a small frame that required excessive scrolling. I found the detailed descriptions of each component to be inconsistent - some components had full specs and warranty information while others had almost no detail at all. These are minor issues, I admit, but they are noticeable deficiencies in an otherwise solid tool. I wound up having to go to YouTube and other tech websites to get pictures and full descriptions of all of the parts I was researching, but in my opinion, all that information should be provided by Digital Storm consistently and in one place.

Customer Service. I used both the e-mail and chat options on the Digital Storm website to ask their support team questions regarding different options for my build. Responses were quick, and the analysts I spoke with provided a clear and accurate responses to all of my questions. Knowledgeable support is always a good thing.

Online Forums. I found the Digital Storm community to be very useful. There were plenty of customer reviews and pictures of completed systems, all of which I found very useful. I was also pleased to see Digital Storm support interacting directly on their forums with customers who were having issues with their orders or systems. Frankly, I think it shows you have a lot of confidence in your customer support processes to allow your analysts to engage with customers so openly, rather than hiding those types of posts from your forums and pretending unhappy customers don’t exist. Kudos to Digital Storm for this. Customer support is important to me, and this is one of the primary reasons I ultimately chose them for my build.

Ordering, Building, and Shipment

Order Timeline. The estimate for my system build was 10-15 business days. From the time I placed my order until the time is shipped was 11 business days. Digital Storm shipped my system one day later than they estimated, but hit all other estimate targets. I don’t have any complaints in this department. My entire order history:

3/15/16 6:00 AM:   Order Placed on Digital Storm’s Website
3/15/16 1:00 PM:   Stage 1 – Payment Processed
3/16/16 3:00 PM:   Stage 2 – Inventory Assignment
3/16/16 3:00 PM:   Stage 3 – Phase 1 Integration
3/22/16 5:30 PM:   Stage 4 – Engineering Lab
3/22/16 6:30 PM:   Stage 5 – Phase 2 Stress Testing
3/29/16 2:30 PM:   Stage 6 – Quality Assurance
3/29/16 6:00 PM:   Stage 7 – QA Passed
3/31/16 7:20 PM:   Shipped

I selected ground shipping for my system with a 3-5 business day estimate, and the UPS shipped it from California to North Carolina in 5 days. Again, I’ve got nothing to complain about in this area.

Communication During Build. Digital Storm contacted me prior to charging my credit card to verify that I had placed an order, which I appreciated (I’ve been an identity theft victim and don’t wish to repeat it in this lifetime). Digital Storm provided automated e-mail status updates as my system moved through each phase of build. I found their communication to be adequate but, admittedly, there were no problems during my system build that required Digital Storm to contact me (or me to contact them) so I can’t speak to how well they escalate communications when necessary.

Initial Impressions

Packaging and Materials. I’ve had PCs shipped to me in the past, and this system was packaged as well as I’ve ever seen. The packing materials are well designed and sturdy. I was worried since my system had to literally travel across the country to reach me, but I combed over the machine thoroughly when I got it and I couldn't find a scratch or loose screw on it.

Build Impressions. The system is well built - all the parts line up perfectly and it is solidly constructed - no looseness to the components or “wobble” to the case. The cable management was just as clean as advertised. There were two quirky things I did notice about my system. First, one of the hoses from the liquid cooling on the CPU is positioned very close to the rear case fan - there is only about 1 mm of clearance. The hose doesn’t appear like it will shift into the path of the fan, but I find that my eye keeps getting nervously drawn to it. For my piece of mind, I’ll probably end up trying to put some space between the two components. The second item is the reset button - it flashes constantly like there is a short in the backlight. This appears to be completely cosmetic and the front of the case is pointed away from me, so I can live with it.

The Corsair 760T is one of those cases you either love or hate. I happen to love it, and I couldn’t be happier with how the system looks - it is really a showpiece sitting on my desk.

System Noise. System idles at about 30 decibels and tops out around 40-45 decibels when I’m gaming and the video card fans spin up. I didn’t make any build decisions to address system noise, and the noise level is in the ballpark of previous systems I’ve owned, so I’ve got no issues here.

Thermal Performance. I went with the Corsair H100i and GTX 980 Ti Strix (and it’s three exhaust fans) to be sure heat wouldn’t be a problem. I can happily report heat isn’t a problem at all. Even after long gaming sessions, my CPU temperatures haven’t exceeded 59C and my GPU has topped out at 76C. The standard case fans have had no problem venting heat from the case.

Gaming Performance. Fallout 4, The Division, Far Cry 4, and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate are all running smoothly at 1080p with settings maxed - I don’t even see a momentary dip below 60 FPS. The only game that really taxes my system is Ryse: Son of Rome. It’s still smooth, but it tops out around 45-50 FPS. I’m not sure if it’s a poorly optimized port or just a beast graphically.

Conclusion

You don’t form a complete opinion of a new system until you’ve have it for a few months, so I can't tell you this is the best system I’ve ever owned because I don’t know that yet. I’ll try to come back in 3-6 months and update this review when I feel like I have an answer to that question.

But based on my initial impressions, I couldn’t be happier with the machine I received. The system is everything Digital Storm said it would be – beautiful to look at and fast. Digital Storm built the machine they promised on the timeline they promised and with an attention to detail that I was led to expect. And for that reason, they exceeded my expectations. Knowing what I know now, I would certainly buy from Digital Storm again.













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  Quote Snaike Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 12 Apr 2016 at 10:25pm
Very nice review, congrats on the system, and thanks for the pics!!   
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  Quote hoserator Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 13 Apr 2016 at 3:04am
Thank you for the very complete and clear review. (and the images)Awesome Hope you enjoy your system for a long time.
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  Quote bprat22 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 13 Apr 2016 at 3:06am
Nice.
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  Quote Alex Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 13 Apr 2016 at 10:32am
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  Quote tfg1955 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 13 Apr 2016 at 5:16pm
Thats one nice looking setup there. If you are worried about the cooling hoses, you can rotate the radiator 180 degrees and have the hoses exiting towards the front. I did this on my Vanguish case and it is smaller than the Apollo.
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  Quote Dovaogedy Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 04 May 2016 at 11:28am
Love the purple lighting, that is what im planning to go with.

Are you using the software set up for lighting or just the remote?


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  Quote Moonripple Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 05 May 2016 at 8:24pm
I'm just using the remote. There are plenty of pre-installed color options using just the remote.

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  Quote Dovaogedy Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 07 May 2016 at 2:21pm
Originally posted by Moonripple

I'm just using the remote. There are plenty of pre-installed color options using just the remote.



Thank you for taking the time to respond, much appreciated

I had been going back and forth on the lighting, my first thought was to go with case fans with purple LED's but after seeing your case with the remote and the purple lighting, you've sold me.

Love your build as well, it basically covers everything i am looking for

Thanks again for responding
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  Quote JohnnyO777 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 08 Jun 2016 at 6:52am

Those colors are vibrant!
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  Quote oldlady RPGer Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Jun 2016 at 6:23pm
Beautiful!!!!   
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  Quote Smoothchocolate Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 25 Jun 2016 at 9:15am
yea i like here is my build and hasn't any stage yet but it's in the works!


Processor: Intel Core i7 6800K 3.4GHz (6­Core) (Unlocked CPU)
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA­X99­SLI (Intel X99 Chipset) (Up to 4x PCI­E Devices)
System Memory: 16GB DDR4 2666MHz Digital Storm Certified Performance Series
Power Supply: 750W EVGA SuperNOVA (750 B1)
Storage Set 1: 1x SSD (500GB Samsung 850 EVO)
Storage Set 2: 1x Storage (1TB Seagate / Toshiba
Graphics Card(s): 1x GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB (EVGA HYBRID Edition) (VR Ready)
Extreme Cooling: H20: Stage 2: Digital Storm Vortex 240mm Radiator Liquid CPU Cooler
Internal Lighting: Remote Controlled LED Lighting System (Multiple color options and lighting effects)


Edited by Smoothchocolate - 25 Jun 2016 at 9:17am
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  Quote Moonripple Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 25 Jun 2016 at 10:31pm
Hey, everyone. I promised to revisit my review after some time with my Apollo. It's been almost three months since I received my machine. I'm still quite happy with it.

My current games of choice are The Witcher 3, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Doom. All are smooth and stunning at 1080p and 60 fps.

The Apollo looks stunning sitting here on my desk. I change the colors of the LEDs about once a week, just because I can. I've gotten numerous compliments on how it looks.

There is one thing that I didn't mention in my review, but is worth pointing out. In the nearly three months I've had this machine, the inside of the case has collected almost no dust.

It really is a top-notch machine, and I'm just as happy about my decision to purchase from Digital Storm now as I was back in March when I placed the order.

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  Quote DST4ME Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 25 Jun 2016 at 10:39pm
Your system looks great boss
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  Quote bprat22 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Jun 2016 at 2:58am
Good to hear, Enjoy and thanks for the update.   
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  Quote hoserator Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 26 Jun 2016 at 12:04pm
AwesomeEnjoy.
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