- Review Price: £2231.00
Watercooling is one of those things that’s usually reserved for the kind of people that are into overclocking their PC or just want to have something to brag about. That said, the Armari T64-LQX really is something to brag about and even though it has a watercooling system from Koolance fitted, Armari hasn’t let a drop of water get near it. This probably makes you wonder what’s flowing around inside the Koolance then, as you’d imagine that a watercooling system isn’t much good without water.
The liquid that Armari is using is sold under the brand name InertX and is Perfluorocarbon coolant which is a liquid that is over 1.7 times heavier than water, but completely non conductive. This means that in reality you could submerge all your components in InertX without damaging anything. The big advantage when using InertX is that even if your watercooling system springs a leak, there is no need to worry – whereas just a few drops of water could fry your motherboard and components.
The Koolance EXOS watercooler is a top notch piece of kit and consists of an external unit that sits on top of the PC case – it’s a clever configuration and takes up minimal space for an external watercooling solution. It also blends perfectly with the Coolermaster case. The Koolance might not be as flash as the Zalman Reserator 1 watercooler, but it takes up a lot less space in your room. Armari has done an excellent job of installing the watercooling kit as well, with a waterblock on the CPU and one on the graphics card’s VPU. The tidiness of the installation is typical of what I have come to expect from Armari and there is no doubt that attention to detail is paramount to all of the PC building staff there.
When the system arrived in the TrustedReviews offices I thought I’d been sent the wrong model – when I removed the PC case from the box there was no sight of the EXOS unit. But I soon realised that the EXOS can be removed for transit and there are two self sealing connectors for the hoses that can be detached and re-attached as required. This will result in a small spillage of liquid when you remove the connectors from the EXOS unit, so you best do it over a bowl or have some tissues handy.
An impressive cooling solution doesn’t make a great PC, but luckily Armari continued to impress with a CoolerMaster Wavemaster aluminium case. But it’s what’s inside the case that really matters and with an AMD Athlon FX53 CPU at its core, the T64-LQX is one of the fastest machines on the market. Not happy with the stock speed, Armari is selling the T64-LQX with the processor overclocked by 100MHz to give it an extra performance boost. Although this might not seem like a massive performance hike, it has been done by changing the CPU multiplier rather than the FSB. This means that there is no risk of damage to any of the other system components and there might still be some headroom for additional overclocking. It’s also worth noting that despite the overclocking, the CPU temperature never rose above 33 degrees.
The processor is accompanied by 1GB of Corsair XMS PC3200LL memory, which should be plenty for most applications. The motherboard is the Asus A8V Deluxe based on the VIA K8T800 Pro chipset with support for 1GHz HyperTransport bus and Socket-939. The board also features onboard Gigabit Ethernet, SATA and IDE RAID, FireWire and 7.1-channel sound. Also bundled is an Asus 802.11g wireless PCI network card that can be set up either as a normal network card or as a wireless access point with some nifty software that Asus provides.
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.
Score in detail