Scan 3XS Performance GTX £1198
3rd Apr 2012 | 13:55
Sensible here means serious frame rates
Introduction and benchmarks
System builder, and tech retail guru, Scan, has been the first out of the blocks to bring us a machine specced out with the excellent Nvidia GTX 680. This then is that machine, the Scan 3XS Performance GTX.
And it's a very sensible machine. All clean lines, rectangular and black.
Now if that doesn't excite you we can completely sympathise; looking at it you wouldn't think it the gaming powerhouse it really is.
And therein lies the rub, the 3XS Performance GTX's gaming credentials.
The reason it's such a sensible machine is completely down to the fact that it's been designed 100% with its focus on PC gaming. And we can't help but applaud that.
You wont find any gaudy flashing LEDs or cold cathode tubes in this build, you wont see a pointless Blu-Ray drive sitting, mostly redundant in the 5.25in bay and you definitely wont find an unnecessarily feature-bloated motherboard designed for the LN2 crowd and the trickle-down effect.
All you're going to find in this build are the components hand-picked to ensure the highest frame rates the machine can manage.
This is a pure-bred games machine. That's our kind of sensible.
CPU - Intel Core i5 2500K @ 4.7GHz
Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3 Gen 3
Graphics card - EVGA Nvidia GTX 680
Memory - 8GB Corsair DDR3 LP @ 1,600MHz
Storage - Seagate 2TB SATA 6Gbps HDD
OS - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
The slightly higher CPU overclock in the Chillblast machine means that it has the edge in the CPU intensive Cinebench test, but only by a tiny margin.
The difference in graphics performance though is much greater. The Nvidia GTX 680 is the fastest GPU out there in the wild and is our choice for a serious gaming PC.
That said there are occasions where the AMD Radeon HD 7970 of the Chillblast Fusion Marine takes a lead though and that's in the system-taxing Metro 2033.
Elsewhere though it's the Scan rig all the way.
DirectX 11 tessellation performance
DirectX 11 gaming performance
DirectX 10 gaming performance
CPU rendering performance
Twelve hundred pounds is still a lot of money for any games machine, but at least the Scan Performance GTX is spending every penny of your money making sure that this rig hits the frame rates you'd expect.
The bulk of those pennies have been dropped on the new EVGA GTX 680 that's pushing the pixels around in-game.
It's the current top-end GPU in the market and that shows in the benchmarks.
The AMD Radeon HD 7970 throbbing away inside that machine though means it lags a little behind the Nvidia GTX 680 that's powering the graphics in Scan's Performance GTX.
And if you're spending this much on a machine then every frame per second counts so you're going to want the GTX 680 in your gaming rig.
This is one other key difference between the two machines, aside from the generally superior gaming performance of the Scan rig, and that's in the storage setup.
Chillblast has opted to take advantage of the Intel Smart Response technology, using a teeny 30GB Vertex 3 SSD to augment the 1TB HDD increasing its general speed. Scan however has put itself firmly on the side of space in the capacity vs. speed debate.
The 2TB SATA 6Gbps Seagate drive is no slouch in HDD terms, but obviously cannot compete in performance terms with an SSD caching system.
But in a games rig does that really matter so much?
Once you've loaded your game it's the FPS that counts, not how long it took to get there. Of course speedy loading is desirable, but SSDs and SSD caching is still a bit of a luxury – we'd much rather have a GTX 680 and a big fat storage drive than a slower GPU but quicker load times.
It's still a close call though, as the 30GB SSD/1TB HDD of the Chillblast machine is a neat combination.
The rest of the specs list is very simple. The Corsair 300R is a rather basic chassis, more at the budget end of Corsair's excellent range of cases, but functional it most certainly is. Thanks to the GTX 680's relatively low power requirements we can also make do with a 600W PSU.
You also get Scan's private 3XS delivery service for its rigs.
It eschews the usual couriers in favour of a private driver who will also unbox and set the machine up on your desktop too. Your average white van man isn't going to do that.
At the moment though we can't really talk about any PC review without a Yoda-style 'there is another…' The other we're referring to is the spectre of Intel's delayed Ivy Bridge/3rd Generation Core microarchitecture on the horizon.
Scan will of course be updating the Performance GTX as soon as it can, and so long as it stays sensible we should see a budget Z77 motherboard dropped in place of the Z68 here, and we expect the new Core i5 chips are unlikely to cost more than the current generation.
Sadly that means if you're looking for a full rig replacement right now, we'd be remiss in not recommending you wait for Intel to finally drop those chips and new chipset on us.
Still, we'd recommend coming back to check out the updated Scan Performance GTX - it's one hell of a games machine right now and it's only going to get better.
15 best graphics cards
The real star of this build is obviously the graphics card, the Nvidia GTX 680. That's the key component the rest of the system has been built around and it's the part that makes the 3XS Performance GTX such a good games machine.
As good as the stock speeds are you it's also worth remembering that overclocking the GTX 680 is an absolute doddle and can give real, tangible performance gains with the minimum of fuss.
The only real bone of contention is that £1,200 price-tag, but that's not Scan's fault. It hasn't spent the cash in the wrong places, and if you want a machine with a GTX 680 in it, with the components that will allow it to perform at its fullest, you need to spend the money.
The choice to go for capacity over speed in the storage area could be seen as a negative, but it really depends on how you personally stand on it. The Chillblast machine's SSD/HDD combo is a neat solution, but if you've got a huge media and games library then the extra capacity the Scan Performance GTX's 2TB would be far more desirable.
It's a sensible machine, but that is absolutely a good thing - this is a machine built for one purpose: to get you a gaming PC with the very best in today's graphics card market for as reasonable price as possible.