In 2002, Digital Storm made their entrance into the world of gaming computers, starting out in a garage. Since their humble beginnings, they have moved into a large facility and have grown into a main contender against companies like Alienware, CyberPower PC, Velocity Micro, iBUYPOWER and Falcon Northwest. They claim to focus on performance, support and value, and we think they excel in each of these areas. Digital Storm's gaming computers have earned an excellent reputation because of this focus.
Recently, we reviewed the Digital Storm Hailstorm, which is one of their most impressive gaming computers. The Hailstorm is a great addition to our reviews of gaming computers and received our TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award for its exceptional performance and quality hardware. It incorporates high-end components, maximum gaming speed and attractive design elements to make even the most hardcore gamer smile.
Gaming computers focused on maximizing the quantity of information a single piece of hardware is capable of producing. As such, dual graphics cards will be able to produce twice as much power than a single card. The Digital Storm Hailstorm uses dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580s. Although technically the ATI Radeon HD 5970 is a superior card, it seems that NVIDIA has captivated the hearts of many with their new Fermi technology, PhysX and 3D Vision. NVIDIA obviously invested a lot of time and research into the adaptation of DirectX 11 since they are the current leaders in tessellation.
The tessellation capabilities of the GTX 580 cards are just one of the major perks of the card. The issue of this card not being the best for raw power is overcome by adding a second card. For that reason it is our belief that this will be the hardcore standard among gaming computers until the next best thing comes along. From what we've seen from gaming computer companies like Digital Storm, they must think the same thing since their big rigs all come with this dual NVIDIA card standard. There are always options that allow you to customize the video cards, but this seems to be the best overall choice for hardcore gamers.
The audio is just regular 7.1 surround sound that comes standard with the motherboard, and that is about all you need for getting started. Competitive gamers will sometimes get a sound card. Due to the superior sound quality, most sound cards allow you to hear subtleties like footsteps behind you. In addition, most offer better 3D sound so you can hear and know where you're enemy is shooting from before you even turn to face them. However, a sound card is not included in this particular gaming computer, which is not a big deal since most gaming computers do not come with a soundcard.
The Digital Storm Hailstorm uses an Intel Core i7-970 processor. This was a bit surprising considering that everything else on this computer is pretty much top of the line among gaming PCs. The i7-970 is only one-step down from the i7-980x processor, which is one of the best CPUs on the market. With six cores and 12 threads, the i7-970 will have no problem running any game on the market. The benchmark tests that have been run on this system show that the 970 is just slightly less powerful than the 980x but will have no problem keeping up with the other high-end hardware in this gaming machine. However, as with almost any gaming computer, if you really want a higher-end processor it only takes a few seconds – and a small investment – to make the change.
The Digital Storm Hailstorm gaming computer comes with 16GB of RAM. This particular set of triple-channel DDR3 RAM was clocked at 1600MHz without any overclocking, which is perfect for anyone looking for fast RAM that will not only get the job done but will keep most people happy for years to come. If you wish to double the memory, 32GB is also available and will be more than enough for any gaming PC on the market today. If you want to save $50, you can also opt for 8GM of RAM, instead of the standard 16GB.
As for storage space, this gaming computer comes with a 120GB SSD (solid-state drive) for the operating system and a few other programs that you want to load a little faster. HDDs (hard-disk drives) provide load times that are not quite as fast as the SSDs, but they are significantly less expensive. It also comes with a 1TB HDD. This style of using two different storage drives has become standard for any quality gaming system.
The ASUS Sabertooth X58 motherboard is one of the best on the market and allows for future upgrades. It's capable of handling about anything you can throw at it, including overclocking. Like most motherboards, it can handle up to 24GB, which is way more than any gamer will need for quite some time.
This ASUS board has multiple PCIe and PCI expansion slots. There are six serial ATA ports for your hard drives, and they support all the main RAID setups like RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and 5. There is a PS2 input for your keyboard if that's your style. If not, there are plenty of USB ports to cover all your peripheral needs.
The Digital Storm Hailstorm is one of the best gaming computers. We were impressed with the extremely high-quality hardware used in this system, though we would like to have seen a higher-end processor to match the other components. The lack of driver downloads on their website is a surprising oversight, but the additional customer support options and incredible performance of this system more than compensate for that small shortcoming.
The Hailstorm's dual video cards and solid-state drive make this gaming computer extremely powerful.
The lack of driver downloads makes updating your drivers rather difficult.
If you're looking for a gaming computer with dual video cards and other high-end hardware, the Hailstorm is sure to please.