Hard Stuff: Black Ops|Enix PC review


Ever seen a honey badger? They hunt cobras twice their size and stick their tongues into bee hives. This is much the same with the Black Ops|Enix: it's short but mighty, and it attacks gaming resolutions of 2560x1600 without fear. Tucked within the rugged metal case (that takes up about as much floor space as a full backpack) are two blazing-fast GTX 580s in SLI, a brand-new Core i7 2600K (overclocked from 3.4GHz to 4.7GHz), 8GB of DDR3 Corsair Dominator RAM, and USB 3.0 support. Digital Storm played it smart by including a Corsair H70 liquid cooler to keep the processor overclock stable. It's pretty damn impressive how much high-end hardware they've packed into such a teensy area.

But this doesn't come without tradeoffs. First, it has a small-as-it-sounds microATX motherboard, which means that with two videocards populating the PCI-E slots, there's no room for a discrete soundcard. Instead, you're stuck with the ASUS mobo's less-than-fantastic integrated audio. Second, while Digital Storm did a respectable job keeping all the system cables neatly tied and out of the way, sticking your hands inside the machine to swap parts is rough—there just isn't enough room.

Despite some upgrade-related bruised fingers, the Enix's proprietary case is pretty slick. You can easily remove the red vents for quick internal inspections, it's chock-full of quiet fans, the motherboard's rear connectors all face the top of the case (allowing more efficient cooling), and it's got a sweet, unobtrusive, slot-loading Blu-ray combo drive grooved into the side of the case. There's also an awesome hard drive access panel that pops up with the press of a button, allowing you immediate access without any tools. Don't be mistaken though: this heavy, handleless case is not an ultra-portable LAN PC. Think of it instead as an alternative to enormous cases like the Cooler Master Cosmos.

As you might expect, this PC shreds the benchmarks. However, unless you play games on a 30-inch monitor (or two) with all the graphics' settings cranked, two GTX 580s is overkill—you probably won't notice a difference between 70fps and 150fps, and that difference comes with a hefty price tag: at roughly $3,600, they're not exactly giving these away. Still, if you're not into building your own PCs, and you want an elegant little rig that's as powerful as they come, the Enix will deliver.

Specs ◆ CPU Core i7 2600K OC'd to 4.7GHz ◆ RAM 8GB DDR3 ◆ GPU GeForce GTX 580 (x2) ◆ Storage 128GB SSD, 1TB 7,200 RPM ◆ OS Win 7 Home Premium ◆ 3DMark11/Vantage P10381/P48110 ◆ STALKER: CoP 98 ◆ DiRT 2 148 ◆ Crysis Warhead 72