- Review Price: £2299.00
It wasn’t too long ago that we looked at a liquid cooled PC from Armari, but this time around we have something much more mainstream. The T900-GT is only the second PCI Express system to make its way to the TrustedReviews offices, which shows that PCI Express is still some time away from taking over the mainstream PC market.
As always, Armari has spent a lot of time and effort on this machine and this is what sets Armari PCs a cut above the rest. But let’s take a closer look at the hardware specifications first and to see what the T900-GT is capable of.
Being a PCI Express system the T900-GT is using the latest Socket-T processor from Intel and Armari has gone for no less than a 3.6GHz Pentium 4. With 1MB of Level 2 cache this is a very fast processor. Add to that 1GB of Corsair XMS2 TwinX DDR2 memory capable of speeds up to 667MHz if you fancy overclocking your system, and you have some very impressive base specifications. The motherboard allows the memory to work asynchronous to the bus speed, which means that you can run it at full speed without having to worry about any of your other components being damaged because of overclocking.
Armari has used an ASUS P5AD2 i925X motherboard, resulting in one of the most over specified PCs you could possibly wish for. If you’ve read our review of the P5GD2 you’ll know that the latest and greatest motherboards from ASUS have a very impressive list of onboard peripherals. As the P5AD2 is the top of the range PCI Express board from ASUS you get even more features than on the P5GD2.
To mention some of the more useful features of this motherboard, there is dual PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet, onboard 802.11g wireless networking, dual onboard SATA RAID with support for eight drives in each RAID array, IDE RAID and FireWire 1394b with support for 800Mbit FireWire devices. However, Armari has decided not to use the onboard sound, instead opting for a Creative Labs SoundBlaster Audigy ES 5.1 sound card. This seems strange to me, as the motherboard supports Intel’s new 7.1-channel High Definition audio, which should offer similarly impressive audio performance.
To go with the sound card is a set of Creative Labs Inspire P580 5.1-channel speakers, which are reasonably good surround speakers for the money. That said, I would have preferred something a little more high-end with a PC like this.
Now it wouldn’t have been much fun if Armari hadn’t taken advantage of at least some of the features of the motherboard, so it’s good to see that you get two Hitachi 250GB SATA hard drives configured in a RAID-0 array. To back these up Armari has fitted a Sony DVD writer with Dual Layer capabilities. Although 8.5GB is a long way off 500GB, you’ll still be able to transfer your important data to a safe location.
As with the T64-LQX, Armari has supplied a Mitsumi floppy drive with a built in card reader for SD,MMC, CompactFlash Type I/II, MemoryStick and Smart Media. The case follows the same styling as well, but this time the CoolerMaster WaveMaster case is black.
The graphics card is unlikely to disappoint anyone – it’s a GeForce 6800GT PCI Express. Armari will be supplying MSI cards in the production machines, although this review system came with a reference board from nVidia. The graphics card is connected to an Iiyama ProLite E481S-B 19in TFT display, sporting a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024, complete with both DVI and D-SUB inputs. Some gamers might be put off by its 25ms response time, but there where no signs of ghosting in any of the 3D benchmarks.
Instead of your average budget mouse and keyboard, Armari has included a Logitech Internet Navigator keyboard and a Logitech MX 310 optical mouse. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, Armari employs impressive attention to detail and the case was fitted with noise dampening material and a low noise Akasa PaxPower PSU. There is however one nagging issue, the CPU fan – strangely, Armari stuck with the Intel stock cooler, which made more noise than any of the other components in the PC all together, but this is hopefully something that will be rectified on customer machines.
Armari doesn’t supply any software with the T900-GT apart from a copy of Windows XP Home Edition. Although this might be seen as stingy, the asking price is already quite high for the T900-GT and any additional software would have increased the price even more.
This takes us swiftly onto the benchmarks and there is indeed very little to complain about here with a SYSmark 2004 score of 207 and some pretty good numbers in PCMark 2004 as well, not least the hard drive score at 7230 which is very impressive indeed. The 3D benchmarks are pretty much as expected for a 6800GT and as this system is targeting gamers we ran Far Cry and Doom3 in addition to our normal 3D benchmarks, both of which it handled with aplomb.
It is never easy to sum up a system like this, as it has more features than most PC user would ever need. The downfall, as always with an Armari PC, is the sky high price. That said, at least this time around Armari has managed to piece together a whole system for £2,299inc VAT, as opposed to the last Armari we looked at which cost that much without a monitor. This is about twice the price of a decent PC, but decent isn’t good enough for Armari, and its customers expect something special and are generally willing to pay for it.
Taking into account all of the new technology in the T900-GT on top of the build quality (I don’t know of any PC manufacturer with tidier cable routing than Armari), and the top notch performance, it’s hard not to love this system even considering the high price. The CPU cooler needs to be sorted out, but knowing Armari this has probably already been addressed.
The Armari T900-GT is an excellent PC with a lot of brand new technology. The price may be high, but if you can stump up the cash, you’ll have a beautifully built machine, made up of some of the best components available.
Score in detail