Digital Storm Bolt -- Titan Edition: The Kotaku Review

This week NVIDIA released its latest high-tech graphics card, the GeForce GTX Titan. The announcement was accompanied by the usual flurry of press releases from boutique PC makers, eager to get their name associated with the next big thing.

Normally these me-too systems don't garner more than a passing mention, but Digital Storm's offering is a special case. The addition of the GTX Titan card doesn't simply make the super-thin Bolt gaming PC better at pumping out graphics — it's the ultimate realisation of the system's core concept.

The first edition Bolt, as I reviewed it, was an incredibly compact gaming PC. At only 9.1cm wide and a little deeper than a standard video card, it didn't take up much more room than an original Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. If the red-and-black case design wasn't so striking you'd have hardly noticed it on sitting on someone's desk or in their entertainment centre. That is, unless it was on.

The system tore savagely into most PC games I pit it against, but that heated savagery was accompanied by an equally savage roar from the Bolt's power supply fans. Soon after release Digital Storm got hold of a better power supply that significantly dampened the noise, but it still wasn't quite optimal.

So the Digital Storm engineers went back to the drawing board, redesigning the case to improve airflow and address customer concerns over that glossy, fingerprint-attracting enclosure. In December they relaunched the Bolt in a sexy new case with an additional side vent, a specially-designed server-class 500W power supply with a reduced fan profile, and a paint finish less likely to make crime scene investigators weep with joy.

Is that pretty? Here I have the case partway off, in order to show you the amazing balance of functionality and space economy Digital Storm's engineers have achieved with this system. Everything component has a place, each is easily removed and replaced when it's time to upgrade. It's not some closed system with proprietary components — it's a high-powered gaming PC with all the goodies in as little space as possible without it melting.

And Digital Storm doesn't skimp on the goodies, either. Along with the aforementioned $US1000 video card there's an Intel Core i7 3.5 GHz quad-core CPU, 16GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory, 120GB of SSD storage along with a terabyte of standard space — they've even included a DVD drive, and that's almost completely unnecessary these days.

All of that, tucked inside this diminutive cage. Here's the back panel and my filthy desk:

Here's the right side and my filthy desk:

And here's the system compared to a unit of measurement that should be familiar to any lazy PC gamer.

I would have used all the empty diet soda cans on my desk, but I wanted you folks to still be able to see the system.

The Titan Edition Bolt is a lot of power (I already ran benchmarks over here) in a small space, but small is only one element necessary to make the system live up to its full potential.

The goal here isn't to just take up a small amount of room. It's being unobtrusive, and there's more to that than physical footprint. If I am under your bed where you cannot see me (and I've bathed recently), my impact on your environment is negligible. If I start screaming at the top of my lungs, which I often do in such a position, I am no longer unobtrusive.

That's where the GeForce GTX Titan comes in. This supercomputer-powering beast has been designed to purr like a particularly quiet kitten under the heaviest loads. Using NVIDIA's GPU Boost 2.0 technology, the card's performance is weighed against a temperature target, rather that the power target of GPU Boost 1.0. With the GPU temp remaining at or above a predefined limit, the fans never have to kick into overdrive, so the overall acoustic profile is much quieter than say, NVIDIA's other $US1000 card, the GTX 690. Combined with the card's vapour chamber and extended fin stack for physical cooling and heat dissipation, this is one cool-running piece of technology.

Take a card designed for power and temperature control and combine it with a case specifically engineered for cooling components in close proximity, and you've got the best possible marriage of power and profile. The Bolt is right next to me on my desk as I type this, idling in Far Cry 3 at max settings. It's whisper quiet. Hot air isn't billowing forth from the vents. It's just discreetly sitting there, quietly waiting for me to play. Seems to me that's what the Digital Storm Bolt was meant to do.

The Titan Edition Bolt is available at Digital Storm's website starting at $US2499.


Comments

    Pretty gutsey to go with a 500w power supply with a setup this powerful.

      Agreed,, the Titan uses 250watt max, as long as it is a true 500 watt it will be okay for a year or two before capicitator ageing reduceses the ouput by 10-20% then it will blow or intermittingly cut out or worse damage the system.
      Also power supplies run most effiecntly running at 80% load.

      The two biggest power draws there are the CPU and GPU, and both Intel and nVidia recently have made really good headway on reducing the power profile of their hardware. The GTX 600 series was a good example and Titan looks like it has a decent peak draw as well.

      Totally, mine is nowhere near that powerful and I've got a 550w.

    Thanks for reviewing a product on the AUSTRALIAN version of Kotaku when the product is actually not available for shipping to Australia ! Awesome ! Especially when you are looking to buy a small (in size) gaming setup for a few weeks now and keep being stuck at the checkout page of every website because they don't ship to our big ass island... damn frustration

      There are plenty of forwarding services available in the U.S. that will ship safely to Australia with prompt delivery. E.g. Shipito. Myself and many other friends have used these sites on many occasions for all sorts of items and they are very reliable! Give them a look.

      Last edited 25/02/13 2:15 am

        Never heard of this before, thanks heaps !

          I would strongly suggest against taking that path with a boutique PC. You'll lose any real ability to claim on warranty. I would advise against boutique PC's in general (granted this is a nice one :P), building your own is easy and cheap ^_^.

          If you definitely want the extra design features this offers then look closely into how well your covered if it stops working in a month or even DOA, you may find you have to cover all the shipping to the US and back for warranty repairs and that will really sting >_< You may get lucky though certain companies offer international warranties but that's usually on business line products not gaming :(

          I've never looked into pre-built systems over here but for finding prices on individual parts www.staticice.com.au is your friend ^_^

            Yes, that is a fair point. I would look carefully into the warranty that Digital Storm offer. By the looks of it though this thing is fairly customisable/future-proof in regards to the internals, i.e. if something breaks down the track you can replace it with a standard component purchased locally as there's nothing particularly customised about the actual components. It is more about getting that one-of-a-kind custom-designed case and then using it as you see fit in the long run.

            Edit: The warranty is fairly basic, it doesn't mention anything specifically about needing to be in the U.S. nor for that matter anything about worldwide coverage. 45 days seems to be the end point for free shipping and repairs. http://www.digitalstormonline.com/warranty.asp

            Edit 2: I just found a thread on their forums regarding international shipping, granted it's 4 years old but a rep confirmed that Digital Storm will in fact ship to Australia, I would give them a call if I were you Uneaten and ask about the shipping/warranty.

            Here's the thread: http://www.digitalstormonline.com/forums/international-shipping-tidf8628/

            And another promising one: http://www.digitalstormonline.com/forums/do-ds-ship-to-australia-tidf15024/

            Both sound very positive on the Aussie shipping front.

            Last edited 25/02/13 2:21 am

    Brings to mind what Tycho (aka Gerry) of Penny Arcade said in a recent news post:
    Dedicated PCs with custom operating systems are the future, if not the present; it might be worth taking a moment to really let that soak in.

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