The onboard sound has been disabled in favour of a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 2, which in all honesty is a better solution, but it does add to the cost of the system. The graphics card of choice is a PowerColor Radeon X800 Pro, although Armari will offer a choice of graphics solutions with this system as soon as they are commercially available. As I mentioned earlier, the VPU has also been equipped with a waterblock and Armari has also fitted heatsinks to the memory chips. This has been done to maximise the overclocking potential of the card and our review system was shipped with the card clocked at no less than 540MHz for the core and 510MHz (1,020MHz effective) for the memory, which is a pretty decent overclock.
There is plenty of storage space as well, since Armari has gone for two Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration – not only does this give you the full capacity of the disks, but also provides the performance enhancement of a striped storage system. To back all this data up, Armari has fitted a Sony DRU-700A DVD writer, which can handle both DVD+/-R/RW media and dual layer DVD+R DL media. Surprisingly, there is also a floppy drive, but Armari being Armari has sourced a unit from Mitsumi with a 7-in-1 memory card reader built into the top half of the drive – so even if you don’t use the floppy drive, you’ll more than likely use the card reader.
There are no speakers and no monitor supplied, but you do get a keyboard and a mouse in the shape of the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX bundle – this is a good input device bundle and represents the top of the range from Logitech.
Although the T64-LQX is watercooled there are still three fans residing inside the system, two in the front and one in the rear. These are to help cool the hard drives and to draw any hot air out of the case. There is of course a fan in the power supply as well, but Armari is using the Akasa PaxPower which is very quiet due to its 120mm low rpm fan.
With a fast system like this you would expect very good benchmark numbers and the T64-LQX doesn’t let us down with an overall SYSmark 2004 score of 198, and even though this is not the fastest score we’ve seen from a PC, it is still very impressive. Add to this the 3DMark 2001SE score of 26,073, which is first rate from a Radeon X800 Pro card. At just over 10,000 in 3DMark03 there is clear evidence that the X800 Pro can’t keep up with the faster GeForce 6800 GT and Ultra cards from nVidia, but these are available as an option from Armari.
The benchmarks numbers are all good, but the graphics card is holding the rest of the system back, despite it being overclocked. When you’re paying £2,231.33 for a PC, you might as well go the whole hog and put the fastest graphics card around inside it. But even without adding the cost of a faster graphics card, this is not a cheap PC, especially when you consider that you don’t get a monitor or speakers included in that price. Which is why it’s good to know that a PowerColor Radeon X800 XT will only set you back £64.63 extra – this will boost the performance and place the T64-LQX at the top of the gaming tree where it should be.
Armari has informed us that they will ship the machine with the PowerColor X800 XT graphics card instead of the X800 Pro card that was fitted in the machine reviewed. The hard drives will also be changed for faster drives from Hitachi but the size will remain the same.
The Armari T64-LQX is an excellent PC in its own right, although the high price will put many potential buyers off. The graphics card upgrade is a worthwhile investment, and if I wanted a watercooled system, Armari would be the first company I call.