Digital Storm isn't just a boutique PC shop — it's a group of engineers striving to innovate in the PC space. Now those engineers have unleashed the Bolt, a 14 inch tall, 3.6 inches wide marvel of space economy and power, with one rather noisy downside.
This is not an all-in-one PC box, with components custom-made to fit into a tiny space. The Bolt has enough room inside its cramped quarters for a full-sized graphics card, three hard drives (two SSD drives and one mechanical), and a copper-pipe cooling system capable of keeping an Intel i7 3770K CPU overclocked at 4.6 GHz frosty. It's got a special 500W power supply, which can handle a fair amount of today's higher-end video cards.
It's everything a PC gamer needs, wrapped up in a sleek and sexy black package with a bright red stand.
"Gaming PCs have always been housed in massive towers, but we've seen that more and more consumers are moving towards smaller and more efficient machines," said Rajeev Kuruppu, Digital Storm's Director of Product Development via today's official announcement. "We wanted to develop a slim affordable gaming PC that could play the latest titles, while still being a powerful desktop PC that kept future upgradability in mind."
The Bolt is indeed upgradeable, and it's also rather affordable, considering the premium consumers are used to paying for power in a small place. The system starts at $999 and runs all the way up to $1949, not pocket change but not outrageous.
The unit I tested was the fourth level machine, loaded with a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti and fitted with a Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI, making it incredibly convenient for folks looking for a living room PC.
Note that even next to Razer's mini Tournament Edition BlackWidow keyboard the system still looks pretty tiny. It's a strikingly small system, though rather heavy — it'll fit in a backpack, but you wouldn't want to carry it.
As for power...
Metro 2033's benchmark gave the system a bit of a workout at 1920x1080, still within playable parameters, but I prefer over 60's, which the Bolt delivered in both Arkham City and Shogun 2.
At 720p (for those of you looking at running Steam's big screen mode on an older television, perhaps) the Bolt kicks all of the asses.
There is a downside to all of this power in such a tiny space, and that problem is noise. The unit I've been testing sounds like my wife is blow-drying her hair in the next room whenever mildly strenuous games are in play. There's not a lot of room for insulation in the cramped case, so when those fans blow they blow hard. I've not had any heat problems, so at least they are getting the job done. It's just sad to think that such a pretty piece of hardware might be hidden away to dampen the noise.
Update: Digital Storm informs me that there is a new Gold Plus version of the 500W power supply that came with my review unit that is significantly less noisy.
Noise aside, the Digital Storm Bolt is a tiny marvel, a 3.6 inch wide gaming PC with plenty of power and upgradability. For PC gamers with plenty of space it might be nothing more than a striking curiosity, but for those with limited electronic real estate it could be exactly what they were waiting for.