Aimed squarely at today’s PC Gaming enthusiast this machine, on paper, should cope with the latest games at high settings, as well as not looking out of place underneath a TV as part of a Home Cinema setup due to its size and sleek black finish.
The 3XS custom machines by Scan are perennial award winners, but we shall see if this new Nanu series is worthy of the 3XS brand and will laugh in the face of Battlefield 3 on Ultra settings.
Connections and switches
The graphics card has two DVI ports and a mini HDMI.
Also on the rear you have six USB ports, four being 2.0 and two being 3.0. Plus two HDMI ports for connection to the onboard Intel HD graphics, SPDIF optical audio out, mini display port, PS/2 (just in case you want to revisit the 90s), network connection, the usual coloured audio connections and finally the two connection points for the wireless antennas. Every connection you could possibly wish for!
Power on, Start-up and initial setup
The 60GB (useable space 55.5GB) Corsair Force Series 3 SSD has the windows installation on it, leaving enough space for a couple of games and a few other programs that you want to run at the best possible speed. With Battlefield 3 installed this leaves 22GB which is more than enough to cater for the greedy, ravenous monster that is the Windows folder along with another game or two.
The on-board wireless - using the two supplied antennas - gives a solid connection to the two wireless points I have available. I tested both Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 via this connection and suffered no issues or dropouts.
Taking off the cover continues the feast for the eyes. Inside you have two DDR3 (2133) ram slots, together giving a maximum capacity of 16GB.
With over 110mm of space between CPU and the top fan, this gives ample room for CPU cooling. The Akasa AK-960V2 CPU Cooler that comes with this system gives excellent cooling, a top facing fan pushing the hot air straight into the 180mm case fan and then out of the case.
Moving to the graphics card highlights the sterling design job Silverstone have done with this case. With almost 300mm of space the case will take the biggest of single and double slot graphics cards and with 400w of power available will not struggle with whatever you care to throw at it.
The Nvidia GTX560ti fits with no problems at all. The vents are right next to the graphics card fans meaning hot air is drawn straight out of the case, again to optimise cooling. On a cold winters night, don't bother with the heating, just put it near your feet and enjoy.
The overall build, as you can see below, is finished to a high standard. Given how small the area is, the wiring is routed and finished off a treat.
With the i5-2500k CPU overclocked to 4.2 GHz and the Nvidia GTX560Ti graphics card; this system coped well with the demands of this game.
Installed to the Corsair SSD, this resulted in a very fast load up of the game. Not that it does you any good as you have to wait for the timer to get to zero before loading a map, but it means you can still laugh at the HDD users who, after spending ages loading the map, only get to watch the timer for a few seconds, not 30. (damn you Dice!)
On Ultra settings, FPS averaged around 30, which is not ideal and did cause slowdowns at various points on different maps, especially the larger ones along with numerous deaths of a varied and unpleasant nature. A slight (and not massively noticeable) drop to the High settings gave a much better average and playable standard of 50 FPS. The graphics card is running at stock settings and can easily be overclocked to give a few more FPS if you desire. (go on, I know you do)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Released shortly after Battlefield 3, in November 2011, Modern Warfare 3 is the latest annual release from the Call of Duty franchise. A hugely popular game but sadly not a demanding title for PC hardware, being a straight console port.
On maximum settings 125FPS was returned showing this system will have no trouble with anything this game can throw at it.
No crashes, BSOD or other problems were encountered during any of the gaming tests run on this system.
Home Cinema Integration and Blu-ray playback
With Windows 7, display configuration and networking is much easier than it used to be on previous versions of windows. Connecting via HDMI to my amplifier, upon boot up the Windows desktop appeared on my HD TV with no additional changes or configuration needed. No messing about with resolutions or other display settings. It also automatically detected my amplifier for the sound output, which was nice.
Power DVD 10 trial version is installed on the PC. It is very user friendly with a multitude of options including setting the correct sound output to ensure my amplifier received the HD audio signal.
I tested with both Transformers and Star Trek. The Blu-ray discs both loaded very fast compared to a standalone player, as you would expect.
Running at 1080P 24FPS the image was crisp and clear and no stuttering, slowdowns or system freezes were encountered. As previously mentioned, the noise level from the system and graphics card fans are not obtrusive or overpowering during the film playback. The amplifier reported the correct Dolby True HD 5.1 audio signal.
Connected as part of my home network, streaming audio or video files again presented no problems. With the integrated Windows Media Centre, video files, pictures or anything that takes your fancy can be played back with minimal effort.
Windows 7 really does make it very easy to have a PC integrated into your Home Cinema. With a quiet system such as the 3XS Nanu Gamer you can really open many avenues of entertainment that previously you may not have considered.
Missed that crucial cliffhanger episode of your favourite series? No problem, just stream it from a service such as Netflix or download it from iTunes or other legal providers and playback direct on your TV.
The graphics card is probably the most likely candidate for a future upgrade in most PC Gamers systems and, as stated previously, the 300mm space and 400W of power available from the 600W PSU will allow you to fit any of the current crop of graphics cards such as the AMD 7970 3GB behemoth or any of those lovely Nvidia cards.
Benchmarks and System Information
The above screenshots are from CPU-Z and GPU-Z. Excellent free programs showing the CPU clock speeds and voltages together with memory and other system information. Note the overclocked 4190mhz speed, this drops to under 2 Ghz when idle to save power.
Time to desktop – 17 seconds
Bootracer 3.1 is another free program that allows for an accurate test of the time it takes to get to the desktop.
With Windows 7 installed this machine reports an excellent boot up time of 17 seconds. Given the 60GB Corsair Force Series 3 SSD that Windows is installed to, this is what I would expect. I did get as low as 13 seconds, prior to installing a few more programs.
Bootracer will keep a history of boot up times, allowing you to check should the time suddenly change for the worse (or better) following the installation of a new program or piece of hardware. It is also affected by programs that load on start up such as Steam, Origin, Anti Virus etc.
Super Pi – 1M – 9.032 seconds
Super Pi (again, another free program!) calculates Pi to a specified number of digits. It is used to test the CPU power and is a favourite among overclockers to test their speeds against the World Record times and the stability of their computer following an overclock. Super Pi is not optimised for dual or quad core processors and is purely a test of core clock speed. I have used the 1.5 mod version as it shows more detailed timings.
Scan’s overclock of the i5-2500k from3.3 to 4.2ghz translated to impressive results in this test.
9.032 seconds is the result from the 1M test run, which is an excellent time and as expected for this CPU speed.
Windows Experience Index
A standard test included in Windows 7, it gives a quick performance score of the current system. It is a simple test and is not favoured as a benchmarking tool, but is a quick and easy way to see how your computer fares.
The result here is an impressive 7.5. The graphics and SSD provide top marks, the 8GB memory almost reaching the top and leaving just the CPU to spoil the party. Although don’t bin the CPU yet as you won’t reach 7.9 on the CPU score unless you have at least an 8 core processor such as the i7 range, overclocked too.
3D Mark 11
The latest version of Futuremark’s popular benchmarking tool is freely available to download, although to unlock the full functionality of it, they ask for just a small fee of $19.95.
It is particularly GPU intensive and is one of the favourite programs for PC gamers, in particular, to test their system and compare it against a wide range of scores widely available on the internet -especially following the introduction of a new piece of hardware to their system.
The system arrived from Scan with 290.36 Nvidia beta drivers installed. 3D Mark11 completed the test with these, although would not upload to the internet for comparison due to the beta driver. A quick download of the last WHQL certified 285.62 drivers solved this issue.
It also resulted in an increase of the score from 5049 to 5093 3D Marks.
The Nvidia 560ti graphics card performs well here and compares with similar results on Futuremark’s website. Whilst being GPU intensive, overclocking the CPU further can result in much increased 3D Mark 11 scores. For example, an overclock to 5ghz (if you can keep it stable!) will result in an additional 1000 3D marks.
Atto Disk Benchmark - SSD
The Corsair Force 3 Series drive is quoted by Corsair as offering a read speed of 525MB/s and a write speed of 490MB/s. The write speed here is superb as a lot of SSDs offer high read speeds, but then very low write speeds.
Using the Atto Disk Benchmark program, you can see below that speeds of 559MB/s are achieved for read which is above Corsair’s quoted speed, whilst 426MB/s are achieved for the write speed, down on the 490MB/s it should be; but this is still a very fast SSD.
It is worth noting that it’s not recommended to run these benchmarks too often on SSDs, although they are a good indication to check that your SSD is running close to the manufacturers quoted speeds. Whilst you are very unlikely to achieve them, you should be close as shown in the results of this benchmark.
PassMark Performance Test 7.0
The final benchmark test gives an overall system performance following tests run on the CPU, GPU, Memory and disk drives.
Providing comparable results to the baselines scores provided by Passmark for alternative systems. Not the highest of scores, but certainly no slouch and this is another test that can be run periodically and also compared to other users on the internet to see how your system fares against theirs.
Temperatures and Noise
The CPU cooler copes admirably reporting a maximum temperature of 65deg C and the GPU showing a maximum of 79deg C.
You should also note the excellent system idle temperatures of both the CPU and GPU.
Eagled eyed readers should ignore the 128deg C temperature reported by the Corsair SSD, this is a known bug and rest assured the SSD wasn’t sitting there gradually setting fire to everything around it!
As for noise levels, during gaming, particularly with Battlefield 3, the system and graphics card fans are mostly on high and this is noticeable in the increase in noise. But unless you are playing without sound, the noise level is not unusually high or enough to become a nuisance.
At idle, using non intensive programmes and browsing the internet the system is very quiet.
Watching a Blu-ray disc meant the noise level did increase, although using the HDMI port on the graphics card resulted in the quietest operation. The fan could be heard but only as a background noise and usually only during the quiet scenes of a movie. I certainly couldn’t hear it at any point during Transformers!
System tools and benchmark links:
- Excellent Build Quality
- High Specification components
- Fully upgradeable
- Can support graphics card up to 12 inches in length
- Space saving
- Doesn’t look out of place in a Home Cinema
- Not ideal for extreme overclocking due to cooling space
- Graphics card could be a little quieter
Scan 3XS Nanu Gamer PC Review
At £1139.99, including VAT, delivery and setup it compares well to the traditional desktop systems with the added benefit of a professionally overclocked CPU and stress-tested system, a very tidy install and wiring job and that glorious looking Silverstone SG08B case. You’ll probably want to give the case a little cuddle, it’s that nice!
For your money, you get a system that will cope with the latest PC games at high settings, Blu-ray playback without any stuttering or issues at Full HD 1080P 24FPS and seamless integration into your home network for streaming of audio or video files. Together with the knowledge of having a ‘future proof’ system that offers no restrictions on upgrading components such as the graphics card.
It arrives from Scan ready to turn on and enjoy. No messing about with install discs or upgrading of drivers or any other time consuming rigmarole. Just press the power button (do remember to plug it in first) and within 20 seconds you can be installing your favourite game or watching a Blu-ray and DVD.
With a footprint of just 22cm wide by 35cm long (allow an extra 5cm for cabling and connections) and just 19cm in height, this little black box of pleasures will integrate itself into your Home Cinema or unassumingly sit under your desk without betraying the delights that it’s capable of, until you turn it on and the awesome power of the i5-2500k processor running at 4.2ghz and the GTX560Ti graphics card comes to life (along with all the other components, hopefully).
With its high specification components, attention to detail build, relatively quiet operation and excellent Blu-ray playback, the 3XS Nanu Gamer will have no trouble in being the new centrepiece of your Home Cinema for many years to come.
If you are looking for a dedicated gaming PC, but also want a small box solution that won’t look out of place under the TV then this 3XS Nanu Gamer is a system worthy of a high level of consideration.
The best things really do come in small packages!
Benchmarked Performance (averaged)
Video Playback Performance
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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