Under (versus over) the top
The Quiet Gaming PC's looks are equally muted. Instead of sports-car-like curves, see-through windows, and scads of multi-colored LEDs lighting up its case like a disco, this glossy-white tower looks relatively understated. A set of LEDs mounted near the top of the case lend a gentle green glow—so it doesn't look too much like a kitchen appliance—but that and the aforementioned fan controller are the only elements of gaming-box bling you'll encounter.
Going under the hood, this tower looks and feels well put-together. The builders tightly seated and secured the cards and other components, and what few cable bundles I found are well harnessed and neatly tucked away. My only concern: The Zalman CPU heat sink cage rotates about ten degrees on its axis. The cage clears the surrounding fan blades by more than half an inch, but I'd prefer the cage didn't move at all.
Most gamers will be pleased by this PC's prowess. Displaying to a Dell 30-inch 30-inch UltraSharp 3008WFP monitor set to 2560x1600 resolution, it played even the most demanding games so smoothly and with such vivid video, I was totally sucked into the action. Playing Grid 2, I never failed to feel the thrill as I blew by another racecar in my Mustang Boss, or got a pit in my stomach as I crashed through the guardrail on the winding California coastal highway and plunged toward the rocks below.
Our benchmarks merely confirm the obvious: At the highest-res settings—the same 2560x1600 I used for my game-playing—the Quiet Gaming PC blasted through our Battlefield 4, BioShock Infinite, and Grid 2 scripts at 55, 67, and 119 frames per seconds respectively. Those frame rates are high enough to yield seamless realistic video even for these graphically intensive games.
AVADirect's rig works as hard as its plays, letting you earn the bread to feed your gaming habit. It delivered a scorching Desktop WorldBench 9 score of 126, 25-percent-better performance than our PC World home-brew reference system, which is decked out with an Intel Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition CPU, 16GB of DDR3/1600 memory, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 video card.
Be aware, however, that your expansion opportunities are limited by AVADirect's sonic pursuits. The boutique builder doesn't recommend adding a second video card, for example, because it would add noise. If down the road you decide to trade a modicum of noise for even better gaming performance with a second video card, you should know that the Asus Z87-C motherboard does not support Nvidia's SLI dual-GPU technology.
It does support AMD's CrossFire technology, but that means you'd need to toss that Nvidia card and buy two cards based on AMD GPUs. You should also know that the Asus Z87-C has just one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot and one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot, but that second slot shares bandwidth with the motherboard's two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots (its default setting is x2 mode). The motherboard does have three available SATA 6Gbps sockets, and the case has four open 3.5-inch drive bays for storage expansion.
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