Altech Computers NRG Storm
For serious gamers
- Excellent DirectX-10 gaming performance, looks good, very well built, overclocked to 4.2GHz, liquid cooled
- Doesn't use 10,000rpm hard drives, consumes a lot of electricity
If you're a serious gamer, you need a serious machine — and a serious wallet. This $5011 Altech NRG PC is about as serious as they come. It's beautifully built, has a GeForce GTX 280 SLI graphics card configuration and plenty of straight-line speed thanks to its overclocked quad-core CPU.
Price$ 4,999.00 (AUD)
There are normal PCs, and then there are statement PCs. Altech's NRG is one of the latter and it's designed with high-end gamers in mind. It's the "don't mess with me or you'll get creamed" statement that's heard loudest from its fans' synchronous whispering, and it's definitely one of the best built and most intimidating machines we've seen in a while.
It stands out from the crowd not only because of its liquid-cooled quad-core processor, but also because it has two Inno3D GeForce GTX 280 graphics cards set up in an SLI configuration. They give the PC enough 3-D grunt to smoothly render pretty much all current games on the market. They propelled the system to a score of 21,700 in 3DMark06, which is a tremendous result, and they also had no problems churning through frames while running at the highest possible graphics settings in the DirectX 10-based Call of Juarez and Lost Planet: Extreme Condition benchmarks; the system averaged 65 frames per second in the Call of Juarez test and 54fps in Lost Planet.
Altech has installed an EVGA 132-CK-NF79-A1 motherboard as the base for this system, and it runs NVIDIA's nForce 790i Ultra SLI chipset. It supplies full-speed SLI performance from its PCI Express x16 slots, and it also accommodates a front-side bus speed of 1600MHz for the CPU and memory. Altech has put this board to good use by running two Corsair 1GB DDR3 memory modules at 1600MHz, matching the front-side bus speed of the CPU. A CPU multiplier of 10.5 has been used to crank its speed up to 4.2GHz, and it's decidedly quick in a straight line.
In the Blender 3D test, the CPU used all of its four cores to render a test job in only 22sec. Meanwhile, it took 38sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s. Both times are very fast, so there's no doubt this machine will suit the keen video editor or anyone else who does a lot of encoding.
Cooling the overclocked CPU is an Alphacool liquid cooling kit, which seems to fit perfectly in the machine's Antec Twelve Hundred full-tower case. Its pump sits at the bottom-front of the machine, and it feeds UV-reactive coolant through green pipes, which are attached to the reservoir at the top-front of the machine, and the radiator, which is attached to the ceiling of the case. The reservoir can be seen from the front of the machine, while the side panel is windowed and exposes the lovely, cold-cathode-illuminated craftsmanship of the interior.
Despite being liquid cooled, it's not a quiet machine by any means. In fact, it's damn loud. There are no fewer than 15 fans in the system when you count all the memory, graphics and power supply fans along with the case fans, but this shouldn't faze most gamers unless they have poor headphones or speakers. It's not a machine that you'll want to leave switched on overnight though. Not only will its lights and fans be bothersome, but it will also consume a lot of power. We measured its power consumption at over 310W when just browsing the Web, over 420W when using all four cores to render a 3-D project, and 590W when running a DirectX 10-based game at high settings. Even when it's switched off, it will still draw 60W from the outlet.
We love the way it has been assembled though. All cabling has been routed between the case's motherboard base and right-hand side panel, which means the system is very much a hallmark of neatness. The combination of blue lights along with the yellowish-green tubing looks quite good and should provide a nice ambience when gaming in the dark, unless you place the unit under a table.
An aspect of the NRG that's a bit of a let-down is its storage. Our test machine shipped with two 7200rpm, 500GB Hitachi hard drives in a RAID 0 array, and while these turned in fast performance (they combined to produce a 49.3MBps file transfer result), a couple of Western Digital VelociRaptor (WD3000GLFS) would make this machine even faster. We think that if you're going to be spending over five grand on a gaming system, you may as well go all the way and put in the faster disk system.
In saying that, the NRG is still a monster and it was a pleasure using it. If you want a pre-built system that's fast and looks great, and it's within your budget, then it's hard to overlook it.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 2 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
- 4 Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Nvidia's new generation of powerful GeForce GTX Battlebox PCs finally embraces AMD
- The Pi Desktop kit transforms your Raspberry Pi into a stylish, SSD-powered mini-PC
- Qualcomm: First Windows 10 ARM PC coming in the fourth quarter
- User-created patch lets Kaby Lake and Ryzen PCs receive Windows 7 updates
- Samsung DeX turns your Galaxy S8 into a shockingly good desktop PC
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Asus ROG Strix Z270F Gaming motherboard review
- The simple RAM buying guide
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTIT Systems EngineerTAS
- CCSenior Systems EngineerQLD
- FTEmail Marketing SpecialistVIC
- CCMicrosoft (Sharepoint) SpecialistNSW
- FTData Analyst | $51 p/hrVIC
- FTSalesforce Marketing ConsultantNSW
- CCChange ManagerWA
- CCTechnical Business AnalystNSW
- TPMS Access/SQL DBAQLD
- FTOperations Manager - NV1 Cleared - Defence Projects - North Ryde areaNSW
- FTFull Stack DeveloperQLD
- FTProject ManagerNSW
- CCSolution Architect/ Technical LeadQLD
- FTProgramme ManagerACT
- FTTest AnalystVIC
- TPBI ConsultantNSW
- TPInformation Management SpecialistVIC
- TPInfrastructure Project ManagerQLD
- CCService DeskSA
- CCSoftware & Applications Programmer/DeveloperACT
- FTIT Data ArchitectACT
- TPReporting DeveloperWA
- CCIdentity Access Management - Business AnalystVIC
- FTPractise Manager - SecurityVIC