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Bill's Digital Storm Computer Review

Post Date: 2009-03-17

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BillDempsey View Drop Down
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  Quote BillDempsey Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Topic: Bill's Digital Storm Computer Review
    Posted: 17 Mar 2009 at 7:54pm
My DS computer review(s):

My first computer was a false start, thanks to damage by FedEx. I will only relate this part of the story because it proves a point about how Digital Storm takes care of their customers.LOL

I placed my original order at the end of January. Received that system on Feb 14th. The cardboard box had been damaged heavily by FedEx. When I set it up and checked temperatures, it was overheating. When  I opened it up and checked the heat sink, it was moving around very easily. I tightened it down as much as the mounting screws would allow and it was still a bit loose. It was still overheating. This is where tech support at other inferior companies would spend endless time on the phone with me asking me to do stupid things like turn it off and unplug it for 60 seconds because that's what the script told them to tell me to do. If you got really lucky, the techs at those other companies might even speak English without a thick Indian accent.

Lucky for all of us, Digital Storm isn't like other companies on their tech support. When trouble happens, that's when Digital Storm really shines.Angry I went on their tech support forums, explained what was happening, and asked if it would void my warranty if I replaced the CPU cooler myself and sent it back. My idea was to avoid the delays of shipping the system back and forth to get it fixed.

Alex responded by saying he was heartbroken that I was having troubles. Clap He assured me it would be fine to change the CPU cooler if I was comfortable doing it, which I am. I bought a replacement CPU cooler and installed it. As I was taking off the old one, I noticed the screws holding the brackets to the heat sink were loose. Big%20smile I couldn't see these loose screws until I removed it. Anyway, I installed the replacement and checked temperatures. They were still dangerously high, so I tightened those loose screws on the original cooler and put it back on. Still too high.

So I went back on the forums and informed Alex of my results. Pinch He told me they would send somebody to pick the machine up and start building me a brand new machine immediately. I was impressed.Thumbs%20Down He even helped me to make some changes to the original configuration to make sure the machine runs cooler in my warm room. He also got me a wooden crate for protecting it during shipping. He kept assuring me that they just wanted me to be happy with my purchase. You would never get that kind of caring treatment at another company. During this whole time, the kind assurances and support of others on the forums was overwhelming. The family of other DS owners is part of what makes this such a great place.Ermm

The bottom line? DS took care of me perfectly after FedEx screwed up the first system. Here are a few pictures of the first computer, just for reference: (note the damaged box)











NOW - moving on to bigger and better things...ConfusedAngry
AngryMy replacement computer - the REAL review.

The configuration:
Chassis Model: Cooler Master HAF 932
Exterior Finish: - Standard Factory Finish
Interior Finish: - Standard Factory Finish
Trim Accents: - Standard Factory Finish
Processor: Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition 965 3.2GHz (Quad Core) (Extreme Performance)
Motherboard: EVGA X58 3X SLI (Intel X58 Chipset) (Supports Triple SLI or CrossFire)
System Memory: 12GB DDR3 1600MHz Corsair Dominator DHX (High-Performance)
Power Supply: 1000W Corsair HX (Dual/Triple/Quad SLI Compatible)
Card Reader: Internal Digital Media Card Reader (Black)
Hard Drive Set 1: Operating System: 2x Two (300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor (10K RPM) (16MB Cache) (Extreme Speed)
Set 1 Raid Options: Configure Hard Drive Set 1 in a Raid 0 Stripe (Requires Two Hard Drives)
Hard Drive Set 2: Multimedia\Data: - No Thanks
Hard Drive Set 3: Backup\Misc.: - No Thanks
Optical Drive 1: DVD±R/RW/CD-R/RW (DVD Writer 20x / CD-Writer 48x) (LightScribe Edition)
Optical Drive 2: - No Thanks
Internet Access: High Speed Network Port (Supports High-Speed Cable / DSL / Network Connections)
Video Card(s): 2x SLI Dual (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 1GB) (Includes PhysX Technology)
Add-on Card: - No Thanks
Sound Card: Integrated Motherboard Audio
Extreme Cooling: H20: Stage 3: High-Performance Liquid Chilled FrostBite System For CPU
Liquid Color: Red: Non-conductive High-Performance Fluid (Requires H20: Stage 3 Cooling Package)
Chassis Airflow: Standard Factory Chassis Fans
Internal Lighting: Internal Chassis Lighting System (Red)
Enhancements: - No Thanks
Chassis Mods: - No Thanks
CPU Boost: Yes, Overclock the processor as much as possible with complete stability
Graphics Boost: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my video card(s)
Memory Boost: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my memory
Windows Boost: - No Thanks, Please do not tweak the services on the operating system
Windows OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (64-Bit Edition) (For Enthusiasts)
Restore Kit: Digital Storm Specialized Recovery System (DVD Image Based)
Virus Protection: - No Thanks
Office: - No Thanks
Benchmarking: - No Thanks
Pre-Install Game: Supreme Commander Gold Edition (Pre-Install, apply updates, and test gameplay with my system)
LCD Display: Samsung 30 inch 305T (Widescreen) (Black) (High-Performance Gaming Display)
Surge Shield: - No Thanks
Speakers: - No Thanks
Keyboard: - No Thanks
Mouse: - No Thanks
External Storage: - No Thanks
Exclusive T-Shirt: - No Thanks
Priority Build: - No Thanks, Ship Within 5-10 Business Days After Order Is Successfully Processed
Warranty: 3 Year Platinum Care Extended Parts & Labor Warranty

Build Progress:
Stage 2: Feb 25 10:27 AM
Stage 3: Feb 27 10:54 AM
Stage 4: Feb 27  4:13 PM
Stage 5: Mar  2 12:59 PM
Stage 6: Mar  9 11:00 AM
Stage 7: Mar 10  2:54 PM
Shipped: Mar 10  4:49 PM
Arrived: Mar 12  4:50 PM

The machine arrived in a big wooden crate this time. The FedEx guy treated the crate with MUCH more respect than he did when he carried in the original box. I think he figured it must be something expensive and important to warrant a shipping crate. Here is a pic of the crate:


My beautiful wife opening the crate for the photo...

Nicely packed interior...



Considering the damage the first machine had suffered, the first thing I did was open the chassis and make sure the water cooling block wasn't loose. I checked for leaks. I made sure the graphics cards and RAM were firmly seated. The bottom line? Everything arrived in perfect condition. Conclusion? That wooden crate really paid off! It kept the machine in the exact condition it was when it was shipped. I highly recommend that crate for any system that is over $4k in price.







I plugged in my devices, booted the machine, and it booted perfectly. I installed the utilities first to check temperatures. Their basic liquid cooling system didn't help much with the idle temperatures, but it dropped the 100% load temperatures by at least 10c versus the first air-cooled machine. That's a great gain for a small price premium versus the good air cooling. For anyone running a 965EX, I highly recommend their basic liquid cooling as a minimum choice! This temperature drop at high loads is enough to keep the machine from overheating during extended 100% CPU load runs (far worse than any game taxes the CPU), so I'm pretty happy with the change. Here are some screen shots of the temps at idle and full load:


Temps stabilized here after 6 minutes at 100% load - Prime95x64 - Small FFT torture test Shocked Yeah, it still gets hot, but not like before. I think I can improve the temps further with some tweaks of my own, so I'm pretty happy. And boy is it fast!


I have installed two 1TB WD Caviar Black drives, an LG Combo Blu-ray burner, an external SATA drive dock, Adobe Lightroom 2, Adobe CS4 Production Premium, and some other software. All of it works perfectly. The machine hasn't balked at anything. The temperatures for most tasks stay remarkably reasonable considering the machine is overclocked to 3.6GHz. Even under full load, I can live with them. I haven't installed any games yet, but I plan to do that this week. I really can't wait to see how well it does. Ermm

Overall, I have to say DS bent over backwards to take care of me. They did everything they could to make sure I am happy with my DS computer and I'm pretty picky. They certainly went above and beyond anything I've experienced at other computer companies.

Any computer company can look good when things go right. The truly great companies shine when things go wrong. DS is one of those great companies. It is for this reason that I highly recommend DS as the best place to buy a custom computer. LOLOuchLOL

A few more shots... Computers to the left. Computers to the right. And the new one right in the middle of it all. Ermm





Edited by BillDempsey - 17 Mar 2009 at 7:57pm
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Dsnewb210 View Drop Down
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  Quote Dsnewb210 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 17 Mar 2009 at 8:01pm

Awesome review and grats on a very nice functioning pc.

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  Quote tman5890 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 17 Mar 2009 at 8:02pm
Wow Bill. Such a nice review and a kickass rig .
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  Quote Onkel_Ken Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 17 Mar 2009 at 8:10pm
Great review!  Wonderful pictures!  I am very pleased that there was a happy ending to the long journey in getting your dream machine!!
 
Be sure to let us know how this much power helps with your video work.  I know that I am able to do video conversion of DVDs to put on my Sansa Video player very much faster than what it was on the old computer!
 
Great news about the machine arriving safe and sound.  This review will be a testament to how Digital Storm provides post sales support.  Thank you for taking the time to compose an excellent honest review that will help folks know exactly how DS interacts with customers once they join the family!!
 
Ermm
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  Quote Alex Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 17 Mar 2009 at 8:57pm
Thank you for sharing your experience with us! Ermm
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  Quote Kryhavoc Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 17 Mar 2009 at 9:52pm
Awesome incredible looking machine.
 
I am extremely pleased you were so well taken care of, Bill!Ermm
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  Quote issues1975 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 17 Mar 2009 at 10:16pm

Its beautiful!!!    

Congrats Bill!   



Edited by issues1975 - 17 Mar 2009 at 10:17pm
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  Quote e06028 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 12:10am
Bill, nice review, nice office, nice everything.  Congrats 
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  Quote DST4ME Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 12:13am
Very nice Bill, hell of job, thats a beast right there for sure, the more I see the HAF the more I can't wait anymore
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  Quote Xflyboy Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 7:40am
Congrats Bill on the new system, hope it gives you years of great service.
DS's commitment to customer service was what made me purchase my new system.
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  Quote Sodius Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 9:11am
Well done Bill,
 
Nice looking rig. I am always amazed at how cool the inside of each rig looks. Very nice review and setup. Enjoy that bad boy. I have to admit liquid cooling sure is nice looking. Keep us posted. Ermm
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  Quote Sasha Von BonBon Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 10:42am
Holy cow!  I'm sorry that Fed Ex messed up your machine.  Would you have any recourse with them for the damage?  It's reassuring to hear that DS stepped up and helped you with a new computer.  Were you charged  for the new machine or was it all under warranty?  Did you have to pay for the box also?
 
After you went through, I'm glad you finally have your new computer. :)
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  Quote BillDempsey Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 12:05pm
Originally posted by Sasha Von BonBon

Holy cow!  I'm sorry that Fed Ex messed up your machine.  Would you have any recourse with them for the damage?  It's reassuring to hear that DS stepped up and helped you with a new computer.  Were you charged  for the new machine or was it all under warranty?  Did you have to pay for the box also?
 
After you went through, I'm glad you finally have your new computer. :)


I'm sure DS would be able to file a claim with FedEx. The cooler being bounced loose probably damaged that CPU in some way making it run far hotter than normal. There were other small indications that the machine hadn't been treated well in transport, like RAM and graphics cards being bounced loose, too. I'm still shocked that the 30" monitor came through completely untouched, considering how poorly treated the computer was.

I wasn't charged anything for the new computer and DS paid for shipping the old one back to them. DS is out all the shipping expenses on this, so they could probably claim those from FedEx, too. DS took great care of me and gave me that wooden crate for their cost, which was more than fair. Overall, I'm only out the extra time delay and inconvenience. They can't roll back time, so DS really did as much to make this right as the laws of physics allow. Smile

This review was the least I could do to show people how amazingly well they took care of me, even though I still believe this was FedEx's fault. If there is anyone still hesitating about buying from this company, my experience should definitely show them that they will be in really good hands if they purchase from DS.LOL
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  Quote Dsnewb210 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 2:37pm

Fedex did ok shipping my pc the first time around.. The box was in mint condition and nothing was dislodged.

Sadly I can't say the same this time around.. I just recieved my pc today and there are clear signs of fedex roughing it up.. Bent side panel,2 thumb screws laying in the bottom of the case+ an unidentified screw. The other thing that concerned me was the lc pump had been ripped away from its stick pad. I also have to figure out where this small blue wire goes to because its unplugged and just dangling over the mobo..
 
 I have yet to boot it up because im still checking wires and inspecting it for leaks. At this point.. Im pretty disappointed in the way shipping companies treat fragile packages. If ive learned anything from this, it would have to be the importance of a crate and how its worth every penny...
 
I will keep you guys posted on the matter once I get it plugged in...  


Edited by Dsnewb210 - 18 Mar 2009 at 2:40pm
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  Quote lgm25c Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 3:12pm
Sweet looking rig Bill!! Confused
 
I'm glad it's turned out to be a happy ending for you. After all the effort and headache you went thru with the first shipment, you certainly deserve it!
 
Also - great pic of your wife with the big smile as she opens the crate. Ouch
 
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  Quote BillDempsey Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 4:15pm
Originally posted by lgm25c

Sweet looking rig Bill!! Confused
 
I'm glad it's turned out to be a happy ending for you. After all the effort and headache you went thru with the first shipment, you certainly deserve it!
 
Also - great pic of your wife with the big smile as she opens the crate. Ouch
 


Yeah, you can tell she is embarrassed having her picture taken, too. Ouch
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  Quote BillDempsey Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 4:38pm
Originally posted by Dsnewb210

Fedex did ok shipping my pc the first time around.. The box was in mint condition and nothing was dislodged.

Sadly I can't say the same this time around.. I just recieved my pc today and there are clear signs of fedex roughing it up.. Bent side panel,2 thumb screws laying in the bottom of the case+ an unidentified screw. The other thing that concerned me was the lc pump had been ripped away from its stick pad. I also have to figure out where this small blue wire goes to because its unplugged and just dangling over the mobo..
 
 I have yet to boot it up because im still checking wires and inspecting it for leaks. At this point.. Im pretty disappointed in the way shipping companies treat fragile packages. If ive learned anything from this, it would have to be the importance of a crate and how its worth every penny...
 
I will keep you guys posted on the matter once I get it plugged in...  


Big%20smileWow, Clap that sucks Dsnewb! Which chassis is it? I can't imagine there being  thumbscrews loose inside of the unit. The only place they use thumbscrews is on the outside covers, as far as I know. Right? Did you figure out where they are supposed to go? Is the cover bent inward or outward? Inward would be shipping damage for sure, probably from FedEx kicking the box to slide it around. A loose hanging blue wire? That's just nuts. I hope there isn't some tech at DS trying to get fired by shipping out messed up machines. I can't imagine they wouldn't catch that pretty quickly, though. I really feel bad for you bud. That's messed up. I sure hope this gets resolved quickly. Did you call yet?
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  Quote martyboeckman Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 4:57pm
How loud is the system? I'm partiularily interested in knowing how loud 2 10k rpm raptors are.
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  Quote Sentient AI Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 5:12pm
WOWza Bill - That system is just Heart

Gratz!  Your review was excellent as well!  The end result is what I've been reading on review sites & on these forums: DSO just outdoing themselves when things go wrong. 

I dunno about you, but if I got a box in that shape with an item of that price, the poor guy that delivered it would have been the brunt of serious  Sleepy

I deal with quite a bit of mail-order and I've received items under $50 that looked like they'd been to hell and back on overnight shipping lol - I feel anyone spending even just $2k should consider the wooden crate.

The pics were awesome too! Ermm






Edited by Sentient AI - 18 Mar 2009 at 5:14pm
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  Quote issues1975 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 5:20pm
Originally posted by Sentient AI

I feel anyone spending even just $2k should consider the wooden crate.

 
 
 
I really wish I could have. I was already 500+ over budget and I just couldn't afford it.
 
Since I live in Tampa Bay, I am praying the guys shipping my machine are as kind as possible to it...
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  Quote Dsnewb210 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 5:37pm
Originally posted by BillDempsey


Big%20smileWow, Clap that sucks Dsnewb! Which chassis is it? I can't imagine there being  thumbscrews loose inside of the unit. The only place they use thumbscrews is on the outside covers, as far as I know. Right? Did you figure out where they are supposed to go? Is the cover bent inward or outward? Inward would be shipping damage for sure, probably from FedEx kicking the box to slide it around. A loose hanging blue wire? That's just nuts. I hope there isn't some tech at DS trying to get fired by shipping out messed up machines. I can't imagine they wouldn't catch that pretty quickly, though. I really feel bad for you bud. That's messed up. I sure hope this gets resolved quickly. Did you call yet?
 
I went with the tj09 chasis..  Two of the three thumb screws for the side panel were lying at the bottom of the box and I found a screw that looks like the ones used to hold the mobo on. 
 
As for the side panel being bent, its bent outwards just alittle bit and the upper right corner on the side panel is bent as well. I have yet to figure out where the blue wire goes..
 
On the bright side it booted up no problem and the temps idle are about 39-42.. Ive tried to run prime 95 but i get a blue screen.. I gave crysis a go and after about 10 mins the pc locked up and both monitors went black..
 
Im thinking the unit is ok atm, but I wont know for sure til I test it further.
 
I don't want to load up your awesome review post with responses, I will post a new topic here soon.
 


Edited by Dsnewb210 - 18 Mar 2009 at 5:39pm
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  Quote scaner Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 9:38pm
wow nice rig...
GTO - Cooler Master HAF 932 Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz/oc 3.4 (1333MHz FSB)
(12MB Cache)
NVIDIA 780i Core 2 Quad Chipset: nForce 780i SLI Vista64/Samsung 2233BW


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 1GB
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  Quote Onkel_Ken Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Mar 2009 at 11:14pm
Bill,
 
I wondered if you have came to like the HAF932 now after having received it?  I think it looks better than what you had earlier but I have not seen the old one other than in pictures.  The HAF932 grows on me every day and I like it more than ever.
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  Quote <8) slunK parade Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 19 Mar 2009 at 7:14pm
you shud ship me your black cat, used to have one that looked exactly liek it
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