Microsoft and Sony boast how their latest video-game consoles can form the core of your home-entertainment system, delivering the best in games, movies, and music. But the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 look like dime-store toys compared to Steiger Dynamics' supremely powerful LEET Home Theater PC (LEET being gamer slang for "elite"). If you can swing the budget, this monster will deliver the best entertainment experience you can imagine, in an elegant enclosure that you'll want to show off.
The system reviewed here is a no-holds-barred, do-everything exercise in excess, featuring one of Intel's most powerful CPUs: the Core i7-4930K, which Steiger Dynamics overclocks to 4.4GHz (from its stock frequency of 3.4GHz). But Steiger Dynamics is a boutique PC manufacturer, so you can have them stuff whichever components you crave inside the LEET's case. And this is no beer-can enclosure: Fabricated from copious amounts of brushed aluminum, its walls are nearly a quarter-inch thick.
Getting back to the Core i7-4930K, this processor is based on Intel's Ivy Bridge-E microarchitecture (which is more powerful — and less fussy about power consumption — than Intel's Haswell architecture). Ivy Bridge-E chips don't have an integrated GPU, but they are outfitted with four memory channels. And the LEET comes with with no less than 32GB of DDR3/2400 RAM (using four 8GB sticks of Kingston HyperX Beast memory to take full advantage of the CPU's interface to memory).
The Core i7-4930K is a six-core chip and it supports hyper-threading, which means it can support 12 execution threads simultaneously. While that feature won't have a big impact on overall gaming performance, it will make a significant difference in other applications. If you like to rip Blu-ray movies and encode them to other formats using HandBrake, for instance; or if you're a heavy-duty Photoshop user; or if you enjoy whiling away the hours creating complex 3D models with Autodesk's Maya; or... well, you get the picture. This is one of Intel's beefiest CPUs, and it's designed specifically for power users.
The LEET's heavy-duty computational horsepower is buttressed by the presence of two Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan video cards running in SLI. Each of the Titan cards — these particular models are manufactured by EVGA — has 6GB of memory all its own.
These massively parallel GPUs will accelerate image-editing tasks, and they can decode just about any video stream (the LEET is equipped with a Blu-ray drive for playing — and ripping — high-definition movies). But their bigger task in this rig is to deliver AAA games like BioShock Infinite and Battlefield 4 at very high resolutions and high frame rates.
How fast is fast? How about churning out BioShock Infinite at a resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels, with visual quality set to Ultra, at more than 110 frames per second? The LEET delivered Battlefield 4 at more than 66 frames per second at the same resolution. And it's amazingly quiet, even while handling heavy computational loads. I could barely hear the whir of its cooling fans even when my ears were right next to them.
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