Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure Gaming/HTPC Review
The best of both worlds
Introduction'A gaming PC in the lounge? There's no way I'm putting up with that noise!'
I would bet that statement describes a lot of people's thoughts on having a Gaming PC in their main living room, well at least this reviewer's anyway. Unless you've gone the full watercooled route, the modern PC can be a very noisy piece of equipment to have whirring away whilst trying to watch Eastenders. Even on idle the noise is still quite noticeable. A dedicated Home Cinema PC is usually setup to provide the best media experience whilst giving out the least system noise possible, but due to this it may then not be up to the task of playing the latest games on high settings.
This review PC is from a Los Angeles based High End PC company, Steiger Dynamics. Their LEET Pure range of PCs caters to Media Center, audio and video enthusiasts who are into casual gaming. To provide the best possible experience you get a very quiet high end system in a desktop case which wouldn't look out of place next to an Amplifier or DVD player offering all the features that you would expect from a Home Cinema and Gaming PC. The review PC houses an i7-4770K overclocked to 4.3Ghz, Nvidia GTX770 2GB graphics, 16GB RAM and plenty of storage in the shape of 2 x 128GB SSDs in RAID and a 4TB Western Digital RED HDD. Read on to see how this PC fares in our testing and if it is really as quiet as it needs to be to pass the living room test.
Design and ConnectivityThe first thing that grabbed our attention was the exquisite case and chassis, immediately slamming home that this is no budget PC but a high end system that has been designed to ooze quality and at $2,900 that's probably the least you should expect! The LEET's Pure chassis is a full aluminium one piece shell with a hefty 5mm thick wall, it's not a light case by any means. Available in a black or silver finish complete with a 7" Samsung LED display to the front (described in detail later in this review) to show various system information and above that is the drive tray. All the exterior parts are hand brushed which Steiger Dynamics claim makes every chassis a one-of-a-kind and all the parts are anodised to provide natural corrosion resistance.
It would not look out of place amongst any other equipment in a Home Cinema or living room setup and the sleek black brushed finish along with the generous size makes it look very similar to some high end amplifiers. It’s a stunning looking design and chassis, perhaps the only thing that lets it down is the drive tray cover. Due to it being just a strip stuck to the front of the drive tray, it doesn’t quite fit 100% perfectly inline, which slightly spoils the overall look. Also the Blu-ray drive is a very tight fit inside the PC due to the 7” screen position, perhaps for a more aesthetic look and to free a bit of space inside a slot loading laptop sized drive would be a better option.
Onto the connections and from the front we find a small flap behind which is hiding 2 x USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader and a microphone and headphone jack. To the rear we have no surprises and what you would expect from a PC, all the display options are catered for such as DVI, HDMI, Display Port and VGA along with several USB 3.0 ports, S/Pdif connection and the 7.1 audio connections to name just a few.
SpecificationsFor a PC costing $2,900 (£1761) you would expect a pretty hefty specification and on the whole this is what we got. The CPU is an Intel i7-4770K which with Steiger Dynamics 'Moderate' Custom overclocking option, bumps the 3.5/3.9Ghz speed up to a nifty 4.3Ghz. An additional $100 gets you their 'High' overclocking option which pushes it to 4.4/4.5Ghz. The graphics card is an EVGA GTX770 with 2GB of GDDR5 RAM, sadly the custom overclocking option does not touch the GPU, so this is just at stock speeds. Using the excellent EVGA Precision X software, this can be easily overcome. The motherboard is an ASUS Z87-A and we have a generous 16GB (2 x 8GB) of Corsair 1600Mhz CL10 DDR3 RAM. All powered by a Seasonic 660W X-Series Gold fully modular PSU.
The storage drives are plentiful here. We find 2 x Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB SSDs in RAID 0 configuration and a 4TB Western Digital Red HDD. Of the 223GB available on the SSD RAID setup we have 184GB after the Windows 8.1 installation and various other pre-installed applications such as the software for the front panel display. As can be seen by the screenshot below the pagefile.sys is currently taking up 2.4GB, this can be easily moved to the HDD and is recommended practice anyway. If you are not likely to use any of the Windows hibernation features then another 13GB can be gained by disabling this feature.
Thanks to the RAID configuration for the two SSD drives the speeds seen when using ATTO Disk benchmark were a mouth watering 1042 MB/s for write and 1071 MB/s for read. The 184GB should give you plenty of space to allow your favourite games and applications to be installed to the SSDs for maximum performance. Then of course we have the huge 4TB HDD to fall back on. Whilst not to the same levels as the SSD drives, the WD Red drive still gave decent scores of 155 MB/s for write and 170 MB/s for read. The disc drive is a standard 12x Blu-ray reader and DVD/CD writer.
Gaming TestsCall of Duty: Black Ops 2
Released in November 2012, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 uses the same engine as previous COD games, albeit slightly tweaked to allow for various DX11 features. Based on at least a 7 year old engine this game can pretty much run on anything so this system should easily cope with what it has to offer and it does so in spades. With a 1920 x 1080 resolution and maximum settings we see an average score using FRAPS of 195 FPS. The game really does fly along.
Max Payne 3
Our next test is a game that offers a slightly more demanding engine than a Call of Duty game, released on the PC in June 2012 and complete with the excellent bullet time feature, this is another critically acclaimed first person shooter that this system should have no problems with. With a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and on the maximum settings, we saw an average FPS of 72. An impressive result and certainly helps to give the bullet time feature a really smooth feel.
Not the most recent Battlefield game, but given the numerous issues with Battlefield 4, we felt keeping with Battlefield 3 as a test game was probably a wise decision for the time being! Using Frostbite 2.0 this game is an excellent test for PC hardware. Using the same 1920 x 1080 resolution and on Ultra settings we saw average FPS of 73. Again another good result.
Whilst the results seen here are not quite as impressive when compared to Scan's GTX Titan system we reviewed last year, the Steiger Dynamics still allowed us to play all the test games on maximum settings with excellent FPS results.
Benchmark Score Summary N/A 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Time to Desktop 38.53 Seconds Super Pi @ 1M 8.578 seconds 3D Mark 11 10111 3D Marks Passmark Performance Test 7.0 4472.20 Cinebench 11.5 Open GL 78.90 FPS - CPU 9.01pts Unigine Heaven 4.0 1263 Unigine Heaven 3.0 2020 Unigine Valley 1.0 1967 PC Mark 7 6914 PC MarksThe benchmark tests shown in the table above give a good picture of the overall performance we received during our testing. Mostly very positive with particularly good scores from PC Mark 7 and Cinebench 11.5. The GTX770 whilst a very good card, is no Titan or GTX780 and this showed in the 3D Mark and Unigine tests. Still good scores, but not top end. The Super Pi @ 1M is again a good score thanks to the overclocked4.3Ghz i7 CPU speed.
Perhaps our only disappointment with this system as far as performance is concerned is the Time to Desktop score. This is a manually timed score from pressing the power button to reaching the desktop. Whilst Windows 8.1 loads very quickly, it took roughly 25 seconds to get past all the bios screens and to the Windows loading icon. 38.53 seconds is no disaster, but we would like to have seen a quicker time here. Also, Steiger Dynamics include custom overclocking of the CPU, but the GPU is untouched. Using a program such as EVGA Precision X you could probably tweak a bit more out of this system whilst keeping an eye on the GPU temperatures.
Home Cinema Integration and Blu-ray PlaybackSince the release of Windows 7, using any PC to provide media to your Home Cinema has never been easier. Gone are the days of messing about with the video settings or that annoying struggle to get sound to an amplifier in the correct format, or at all. Now you simply connect via HDMI from the PC to your amplifier or TV and instantly your PC is ready to playback whichever media you choose. With a capable system that includes a Blu-ray player and plenty of storage, a modern PC can replace several different components.
Thanks to its stunning looks and very quiet operation, the Leet Pure PC makes it the perfect system to act as the centre piece of your Home Cinema. With 4TB of storage it can also act as your home server. Sadly not compatible with UK cable, but US cable users are lucky enough to have a system that can also record 8 channels simultaneously via the use of TV tuners. Thanks to the supplied remote control you actually don’t even need to have a mouse or keyboard. The remote control replaces every basic function that you would need a mouse or keyboard for, right down to switching tasks, display options and entering text. It’s probably not as quick, but it works perfectly and for watching Blu-rays or other videos/music it provides all the functions you need and saves having a mouse or keyboard plugged in.
During the testing session, our Onkyo amp was instantly detected and the display appeared on the TV as the PC booted up. A small configuration to enable HD audio within Power DVD 12 and a small tweak of the monitor settings to enable 24Hz and we were all set to go. The Blu-ray playback was flawless and without any stuttering or image breakup. Thanks to the ultra-quiet system, we could not hear any of the system fans during playback, even on very quiet scenes. In fact we had to pause the movie completely just to try and hear the system noise.
Touchscreen DisplayOn the front of the LEET Pure chassis we find a Samsung 7’” LED touchscreen display. This has been customised by Steiger Dynamics to give several switchable screens providing various system information such as drive storage space, CPU and GPU performance information and even the ping result to Google. This can be configured to display various different system settings and can also display any image of your choice. The remote control and the screen with the relevant backup systems stem from Soundgraph with their iMON manager, so you can also download and use their touchpanel software to provide additional functionality for the screen.
It makes for an interesting addition to a PC case and certainly makes it stand out. The quality is impressive, particularly when you display a HD image on the screen. It can be dimmed or disabled completely, should you be watching a Blu-ray movie in dark environment. Steiger Dynamics are currently working on a new media info screen for this display to show information such as the movie title and playback/remaining time as you would normally see on a Blu-ray player for example. With a few tweaks we are sure you could probably get the screen to display anything you want in time.
Temperatures and NoiseThe screenshots below from HW Monitor shows the temperatures the various system components reached during our gaming and benchmark testing session. At idle the CPU is sitting around the 25-30°C range and under test conditions reaches a maximum of 64°C. An impressive result thanks to the excellent Corsair H80i closed looped water cooler. The EVGA GTX770 graphics card sits at around 30°C idle and reaches 81°C under load. Given the additional acoustic sound dampening option that this system has been supplied with these temperatures are impressive and on par with similar systems we have reviewed.
Picking up on the sound dampening option fitted by Steiger Dynamics to the lid of the case, they certainly have done an excellent job at reducing the noise levels. This is by far the quietest desktop system we have ever reviewed. It's so quiet that even under full load it fails to register on our sound level meter which starts at just 30dB (considered a whisper level). The Corsair H80i closed loop water cooler uses a chunky 38mm thick x 120mm x 152mm radiator and with a single 120mm fan exhausting the air. The stock Corsair fan has been replaced with a Gentle Typhoon high precision fan for even quieter operation. Excluding the graphics card fan the only other fans are two 120mm BitFenix Spectre fans fitted to the side of the case pulling in air directly onto the graphics card and a single 100mm Steiger Dynamics branded exhaust fan located beneath the hard drive bay.
We always expect the system noise to increase significantly when you are gaming or running a few benchmarks but even though you can hear a very slight increase it barely registers at all. We've had standalone Blu-ray players that are noisier than this system. As far as reducing noise to as minimum a level as possible this system really comes up trumps here. Apart from going to a full water-cooled route, we doubt that we will come across a quieter similarly specified system for a long time to come.
UpgradeabilityAs with most desktop PCs you would expect a fully upgradeable system and for the most part that is true. The literature claims the stunning Steiger Dynamics LEET chassis allows for up to an E-ATX motherboard and 3 full size graphics cards up to 280mm long x 115mm high, but in this system’s current configuration you will only have space for 2 graphics cards as the third slot is obstructed by the double 120mm fans mounted to the side of the case. There is space for up to 3 x 2.5” drives and 4 x 3.5” drives.
The main restriction is with the CPU cooling, due to the limited space above the CPU, the only viable options are to use the closed loop water coolers, because air coolers will not fit. The space for the memory is also very restricted so low profile memory is probably the best option here. Other than those few minor restrictions, there should be no real issues in upgrading this system for some time to come, which given the premium associated with the chassis, this is good to see.
ValueAn important part of any Custom built PC purchase is to carefully look at the individual component prices and see what sort of value for money you are actually getting. With the idiot proof nature of most modern PC components building your own PC has never been easier, so comparing costs against a pre-built system is a must. This LEET Pure system from Steiger Dynamics comes in at £1,761, using one of our favourite websites, PCPartPicker.com, taking the components purely on their own we get to a sum of £1,325, excluding the case. This therefore leaves a difference of £436 for the custom build and the case itself. Lending itself to a HCPC case, we found similar designs with touchscreen displays from the likes of Silverstone with their Grandia GD02 desktop case with a smaller 4.3” touchscreen at £265 and very similar cases from OrigenAE coming in at £300 up to £700 for a case with a 12” touchscreen display.
So as far as value for money is concerned this system from Steiger Dynamics is very reasonable. The standard warranty provided with this system is a 3 year policy, as with most overseas suppliers you are expected to ship any faulty components back to the US at cost for a replacement although their customer care service will provide free support to assist you in finding the fault. We don’t particularly fancy footing the bill for shipping the whole PC back if any major issues arose, but most common faults are down to one or two components, not the whole system.
Couchmaster ProSteiger Dynamics recommend the use of a Couchmaster with their system and they supplied the Pro version along with this PC for us to test. From German manufacturer, Nerdytec Engineering, it is an additional $228.00 (about £140) and provides a comfortable platform for using a PC in the living room. Comprising two side support cushions in imitation leather, palm rest cushions and a solid plastic top board with integrated cable management along with a 5mtr Active USB 3.0 extended cable with hub for connecting your mouse and keyboard to it.
During our testing we found this an extremely comfortable way of using the PC on a sofa as our body seemed to be at all the right angles and supported in all the right places. The plastic top did feel a little cheaply made for £140 but overall for long gaming sessions on the sofa, this looks to be the perfect accessory. You even get side pockets for storing other gaming accessories or booze/crisps for example.
- Exceptionally Quiet
- Stunning Case
- Impressive Specification
- Useful Remote Control
- Good value for money
- Drive tray cover lets the look down
- Slightly slow to boot
Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure Gaming/HTPC Review
Before our review of this Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure custom built PC we had a misconception that you either had a HTPC or you had a Gaming PC, not both. Non-fully water-cooled gaming PCs are often very noisy and not something you want to be distracted by during that tense scene of a movie or that endlessly depressing scene in Eastenders. To keep HTPCs as quiet as possible, they don’t usually have the power and specification to play current games at any decent settings and also Gaming PCs often have cases that many partners would never approve of having in the living room. Well after this review we can say you can definitely have both a Gaming and HTPC in the one box.
With the LEET Pure’s stunning brushed finished aluminium chassis complete with the Samsung 7” LED touchscreen display it wouldn’t look out of place alongside any high end Home Cinema equipment and should keep even the fussiest of partners happy!
For your $2,900 (about £1,761) you are getting a system offering pretty good value for money. Pre-built system providers always add a premium as you are obviously paying for someone to build if for you, but the premium in this case with Steiger Dynamics is hardly there at all. The components alone come to £1,325, then throw in the case which similar designs retail for about £400 and you get about £40 left over. The specification including the i7-4770K CPU overclocked to 4.3Ghz alongside 16BG RAM and an EVGA GTX 770 graphics card gives you a system that can comfortably play the latest games on high settings, provide flawless media and Blu-ray playback and also with the two SSDs in RAID and the 4GB HDD provide a platform for a hefty Home Media Server too.
It’s not the fastest system we’ve reviewed as that mantle goes to Scan’s GTX Titan system with a i7 CPU overclocked to 4.7GHz, but then that was significantly more expensive at £2,088. Perhaps a GTX780 graphics card would have pushed this system even further into our good books but for £1,761 the Steiger Dynamics LEET Pure system with its incredibly low noise levels and stunning looks make this a system we can easily give our AV Forums Recommended award to. If you are looking for a pre-built system to be used as both a HTPC and a Gaming PC then this is one we would recommend you consider.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,761.00
Benchmarked Performance (averaged)8
Video Playback Performance9
Sound Playback Perfromance9
Value for Money8
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