MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
Scorpion Technology Stinger
- Performance, Stylish, Dedicated X-Fire sound card (as opposed to onboard), Overclocked DirectX 10 graphics card
The Stinger is as powerful as you could hope for without going overboard, and offers some upgrade options for the future. The case is a little noisy, but looks stylish and is functional in design.
Price$ 3,999.00 (AUD)
Scorpion Technology's Stinger PC is another tasty yum cha of gaming hardware built to satisfy the eyes and ears of gaming enthusiasts. Running Windows Vista Home Premium and a host of powerful hardware, it scored well in our PC and gaming benchmarks. It also ran the Lost Planet: Extreme Condition DirectX 10 demo comfortably, a PC version of the popular Xbox 360 title and our first look at playable DirectX 10 content.
The Stinger uses Thermaltake's piano black and curvy Soprano case, packs an Intel Q6600 2.40GHz Quad Core CPU, an XFX 8800 GTX Extreme Edition graphics card, 2GB of DDR2 800MHz Corsair RAM and comes with a more than adequately sized 24in Acer monitor, supporting a resolution of up to 1920x1200. Also included are a Creative X-Fi sound card and a set of Logitech X-530 speakers.
For a gauge of overall performance we ran our WorldBench 6 benchmark software. The Stinger scored 107, an excellent result. WorldBench 6 is an application-based benchmark that tests the system's ability to run popular tasks in Windows Vista. The individual test results indicate that the Stinger is suited for just about any task; from photo editing and rendering movies, to office applications and Web browsing.
Thanks to the release of the Lost Planet: Extreme Condition DirectX 10 demo for PC, we were able to test this PC's ability to run a game title with DirectX 10 features, as well as the usual tests. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is a portal from the Xbox 360 and although it hasn't been built from the ground up using the new DirectX 10 API (application programming interface), it has had some features added. This title requires a DirectX 10 supported graphics card (such as the XFX 8800 GTX Extreme Edition card installed in the Stinger) to run.
The XFX 8800 GTX Extreme Edition isn't one of the newest 8800 Ultra cards, but it is the 8800 GTX with an overclocked core speed of 600MHz (as opposed to the standard 575MHz) and memory overclocked to 1.9GHz (as opposed to 1.8GHz in the standard edition). Using the in-game performance test of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, the Stinger averaged 65fps (frames per second) indicating it will handle similar games. We also ran the DirectX 9 version of the same game, and the Stinger scored an average of 72fps. In both instances of the demo, actual game-play was smooth and visuals were stunning.
Developers of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition insist that visual DirectX 10 features are minimal and rather, the implementation of DirectX 10 has been geared towards speeding up the game's engine for better frame rates. Our tests don't support this claim, but the demo is a sample of a game still in development and the final product may show different results. We did notice some small detail improvements in the DirectX 10 version and expect to see more in future titles, so owning a system like the Stinger with its DirectX 10 ready graphics card is essential for enthusiast gamers.
We ran 3DMark 2006 at default settings (1280x1024, no anti-aliasing and no anisotropic filtering), and the Stinger scored 11016, an indication that most current DirectX 9-based games will run without any issues. At the native resolution of the included 24in Acer monitor (1920x1200) and with 8x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering on, the Stinger scored 5303; a slower but still impressive result.
Two 320GB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm hard drives have been combined in a raid-0 array for speed. To test the speed of this drive configuration we copied 4.12GB of raw data in varied sizes from one spot on the raid drive to another. This task took the Stinger just 137 seconds or 30MB/s. A DVD re-writer with dual layer ability is also installed for further storage needs.
The Soprano PC enclosure isn't exactly quiet, but should remain fairly cool. Two 120mm fans at the front and rear of the case ensure airflow from front to back. The CPU is cooled by an Arctic Cooling fan and a 90mm fan on the transparent side panel also blows air directly at the CPU from outside the case. The 650 watt Seasonic power supply also has its own 120mm extraction fan.
The ASUS P5N32-E SLI n680i motherboard is a cream of the crop SLI chipset. The rear port cluster is fairly bare, with four onboard USB ports, plus an extra two that have been added by Scorpion. Two gigabit Ethernet ports are available as part of the motherboard, and a FireWire port is also present. For quick connectivity there's another FireWire port and two USB ports on the top of the case beneath a spring loaded cover door. Scorpion also includes a Logitech Media Keyboard Elite and G5 laser mouse.
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