In early February 2013 information started to be leaked about what could only be described as the ultimate graphics card. The current beast was the Nvidia GTX690 which used dual Kepler GPUs and was proclaimed by Nvidia as the fastest graphics card ever created, but this new graphics card was going to have just a single GPU and was surely going to take that title. But this was not going to come cheap, early rumours on forums were predicting crazy prices such as £1,200. Well when the new card, the GTX Titan, was released, it appeared to meet all expectations and was coming in at a lower price point, just £900. Well we say just £900, but for a single graphics card that's a sizeable sum and most likely costs more than the majority of a PC Gamers' entire PCs.
Scan with their award winning 3XS custom of gaming PCs don't want to be left behind and have embraced the Titan in their latest 3XS range. The PC for review today is the Scan 3XS Z77 Vengeance Titan which uses a 6GB Nvidia GTX Titan as the centre piece of the system along with an Intel i7-3770k CPU overclocked to 4.7Ghz, Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H motherboard and other key components such as 16GB Corsair DDR3 Ram and a 250GB Samsung 840 SSD. All assembled into the smart looking and beautifully designed Fractal R4 black pearl finish case. With the Titan graphics card and the specification of this system, it should wipe the floor with anything we care to throw at it. Let's find out...
Design and Connections
With the Fractal R4 you have the option of choosing maximum airflow or minimum noise. Scan have chosen the minimum noise option and therefore the side panel is completely enclosed with a sound pad covering the grill where you could place an additional fan if you needed extra cooling. The excellent connections of the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H motherboard are shown here with the rear of the case giving us the gigabit network connection, 6 further USB 3.0 ports, 2 more USB 2.0 ports and DVI, VGA and HDMI for the onboard graphics, plus the 2/4/5.1/7.1 channel audio connections and an SPDIF out. You even get an old PS/2 keyboard/mouse port too. Further down the back of the case we have the connections for the Titan graphics card in the shape of a DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI and display port then onto the 5.1 connections for the Asus Xonar DGX sound card.
Heading inside this beast we are greeted with the words Geforce GTX in glowing green letters on the Titan graphics card along with the Corsair name and logo glowing on the H100i cooler. The 600W Corsair GS600 non modular power supply is mounted to the bottom of the case and you get a very tidy installation with all the wiring routed out through to the back of the case leaving just the two pipes for the cooler getting in the way of admiring the internals fully. It's quite empty inside with only one SSD and one HDD taking up space on the 8 bay drive trays. It's definitely a setup to suit this case as there are no unnecessary LEDs on fans or on the motherboard. Although given how much the Geforce GTX Titan costs, you may want to take the side panel off just to ogle at what £900 of graphics card actually looks like.
Power On, Start-up and Initial Setup
The 250GB Samsung 840 SSD has a formatted space of 232GB and arrives to you with 197GB free space. Scan have already moved the pagefile.sys to the HDD giving you the minimum of unnecessary programs and files on the SSD. It's possible to gain a few more GB of free space if you don't wish to use the hibernation feature by disabling it which should remove the several GB sized hiberfil.sys file. Coupled with the 2TB Seagate Barracuda HDD you certainly get enough storage space to be starting with. For a gaming PC the 197GB free space on the SSD should be enough for at least 6 or more games before you start running out of space.
The power supply is a Corsair GS600 600W non modular 80 PLUS Certified unit which we initially thought would not be enough power for a graphics card as impressive as the Titan, but testament to the low power requirements of these modern cards, the power supply is more than sufficient for this system. The storage is provided by a the Samsung 840 250GB SSD and a 2TB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM HDD as mentioned above. CPU Cooling is provided by a liquid closed loop Corsair H100i that never needs refilling or priming. Additional cooling is provided by 140mm front and rear mounted fans. The final pieces of this awesome PC are a Liteon Blu-ray and DVD reader and what is possibly, given the quality of onboard sound these days, the only unnecessary item in this PC, an Asus Xonar DGX 5.1 sound card. But when you have included a £900 graphics card in this system another £20 on a sound card probably won't break the bank!
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
The most recent Call of Duty game, released in November 2012, uses the same engine as the previous Call of Duty titles, but with the addition of DX11 and various other graphics improvements. This is a game that can run on quite low specification machines and therefore should present no problem at all for this PC and it certainly doesn't. Using FRAPS, a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and with the game on the highest settings possible, we can see an FPS of over 200, with the FRAPS benchmark feature giving an average of 232.7 FPS. We've never seen a FPS that high during a review before, but given the low requirements of Black Op2 and the specification of this system it is no surprise.
Max Payne 3
Now moving on to a slightly more demanding 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. Again using FRAPS, a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and with the game on the highest settings possible, we can see an excellent FPS of 90. The average FPS given from FRAPS was 98.6. This is an excellent result and shows just what the Titan graphics card is capable of. The bullet time feature in this game plays to another level when the game runs as smooth and fast as it does with this system.
Released in late October 2011, Battlefield 3 was the long awaited sequel to the hugely popular Battlefield 2. Building on the original Frostbite engine used in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Frostbite 2.0 aims to test PC hardware to the maximum. With the i7-3770K processor running at 4.7Ghz and of course the GTX Titan graphics card, this system performed as we hoped with this game. Using the same 1920 x 1080 resolution and on Ultra settings we saw an FPS of 90 with the average of 107.83 FPS.
Released in March 2013 to a disastrous and buggy start, this long, long awaited sequel to the excellent Sim City 4 provides hours of disappointment for gamers alike who just get a city started only to find a game breaking bug appear and mess it all up. But back to the performance with this PC. With Ultra settings and 1920 x 1080 resolution we saw an FPS of 71, with the average reported as 71.067. Compared to our own GTX570 system the game is extremely smooth and fast, zooming in to areas quickly is considerably smoother than with the GTX570. Again, another title that the Titan has no problems with at all.
Far Cry 3
The latest sequel to the amazing Far Cry and the less amazing Far Cry 2 was released in Nov 2012 to critical acclaim. It's another first person shooter game that also offers role playing elements and offering stunning graphics this should give the Titan a good workout. We saw an FPS of 60 here, with the average via the FRAPS benchmark coming out at 54.50 FPS. This is the lowest of the FPS seen here across the games tested but comparing this with other systems running the same game, this is again an excellent score with the game on running on Ultra settings.
As we can see from the gaming scores above, this system performed superbly with everything we threw at it. From the huge FPS seen in Black Ops 2 to the more useful results with Sim City, Max Payne 3 and Battlefield 3, the GTX Titan is clearly a thing to behold. Currently the fastest single GPU graphics card by a long distance, the only competitor in this crazy £900 price range is the recent AMD Radeon 7990 which uses two 7970s on a single card.
Home Cinema Integration and Blu-ray Playback
Windows 8 follows on from Windows 7 with the automatic display configuration and simple networking that is much easier than it used to be on previous versions. We connected to our amplifier via the HDMI port on the Titan and upon boot up the Windows desktop appeared on our HDTV with no additional changes or configuration needed. There was no messing about with resolutions or other display settings and it also automatically detected the amplifier for the sound output, which was nice.
Temperatures and Noise
Moving on to temperatures, again we were very impressed here. The GTX Titan graphics card really is a superb piece of kit, given the power involved and especially with the overclock the temperatures involved were excellent. At idle it measured just 27°C maxing out at 75°C. The i7-3770k CPU temperatures were also impressive given the overclock to 4.7Ghz, measuring between 27°C and 34°C at idle and maxing out at 65°C to 70°C during our tests. You can also see from the screenshots that the other temperatures being monitored were also very favourable. As a test we disabled the front and rear mounted case fans which lowered the noise by a couple of dBs but the temperatures surprisingly only rose about 5°C to 10°C across the various components. Given that with those disabled the only fans running were exhaust fans and the GPU's fan and coupled with the closed design of the R4 case, this was very impressive.
Taking the individual components and using pcpartpicker.com we get a total price of about £1950+ if you bought all the items and built it yourself. The price of the system from Scan is £2,088. Is £130 a fair price for the system to be professionally assembled, a smart and tidy wiring installation and the GPU and CPU overclocked and fully tested for stability, not to mention the system is delivered by a PC technician who will unbox and setup the system for you - maybe? If Scan dispensed with the PC technician setup and delivery, which if you were spending £2K on the PC you probably can do that little thing yourself, this could knock a decent chunk off that £130 premium and make the build cost very reasonable. With all the above in mind we have no issues with giving the Scan 3XS Z77 Vengeance Titan PC our Highly Recommended Badge.
Benchmarks and System Information
The above screenshots are from freeware programs CPU-Z and GPU-Z, showing the CPU clock speeds and voltages together with memory and other system information. Here we can see the overclocked 4.7Ghz of the Intel Core i7 3770K processor running at 1.308v and the excellent specifications of the Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan graphics card.
Time to Desktop – 22 seconds
Now with the release of the Windows 8 friendly Bootracer version 4.0, we can continue with the accurate and reproducible tests of the time it takes to get to the desktop that we have used in previous reviews. The result of 22 seconds is an excellent time and shows what a decent SSD can do, although it's not the best boot up time we have seen during a review which was 17 seconds for the Scan Nanu Gamer PC we reviewed in 2012.
Super Pi – 1 million decimal points – 7.764 seconds
Super Pi calculates Pi to a specified number of digits. It is used to test the CPU power and is a favourite amongst 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 a CPU's single threaded capability. We used the 1.5 mod version as it shows more detailed timings.
The result here of 7.764 seconds is one of the fastest, if not the fastest we have ever seen here at AVForums. Given that the overclocked 4.7Ghz clock speed of the i7 chip is the fastest in a PC we have reviewed it's a result that shouldn't really come as a surprise. Compare this result with the 9.032 seconds of the i5-2500K @ 4.2Ghz overclocked CPU in the 3XS Nanu Gamer we reviewed previously and also our own i5-2500K @ 4.5Ghz score of 8.3 seconds.
Windows Experience Index - 8.1
A standard test included in Windows 7 - and now with Windows 8 – WEI gives a quick performance score of the current system. It is a simple test and is a quick and easy way to see how your computer fares. The overall result here is a superb 8.1 with only the SSD at 8.1 stopping the result being 8.3. With the specification of this system, again that is no surprise. The overall rating is determined by the lowest scoring component, rather than a weighted average score that you get in programs such as the Passmark Performance Test. We include this test purely for comparison purposes.
3D Mark 11 - 13272 3D Marks
The latest version of Futuremark’s popular benchmarking tool is freely available to download, although to unlock the full functionality of it, they ask you to part with £15.10. It is particularly GPU intensive and is one of the most common programs for PC gamers, in particular, to test their system and compare it against a wide range of scores available on the internet.
Keeping with the theme of impressive results the score here of 13272 3D Marks is outstanding and shows the huge power of the Titan graphics card. Compare this result with the GTX560 and GTX660Ti in the recent Scan 3XS desktop reviews that scored 5093 and 7884 3D Marks respectively and you will see just what an amazing card this £900 Titan actually is. Other factors such as the CPU power also come into play but the whole system performs excellently here.
Atto Disk Benchmark - SSD
The 250GB Samsung 840 6Gb/s SSD claims to offer an excellent 'up to' 540 MB/s read and slightly disappointing, but still very fast 250 MB/s for write (for example the previous Samsung 830 model offered up to 400MB/s for write) with an IOPs of 96,000. As you can see from the ATTO Disk Benchmark test result, the maximum read speed received was 559 MB/s and a write of 258 MB/s. Whilst you are not guaranteed to get the speeds manufacturers' quote, this result is excellent and on par with the manufacturer's quoted speeds, in fact better by almost 10 MB/s for both the read and write results. The second screenshot shows the relative good performance of the 2TB Seagate Barracuda drive.
PassMark Performance Test 7.0 - 4712
This next benchmark test gives an overall system performance score following tests run on the CPU, GPU, Memory and disk drives. It is a weighted average score based on over 28 individual tests and therefore a low performing component will drag the score down. With another superb score of 4712 we can see the overall system specification performs well here. Compare that with scores of 3857.5 for the Scan i5-2500K/GTX660Ti system, 3087.90 for the Scan i5-2500K/GTX560Ti system and also 3355.3 scored by our own i5-2500K/GTX570 system.
Cinebench 11.5 - 65.56 fps/9.50 pts
Cinebench is another free benchmark program that is ideal to test CPU and GPU performances across different systems and platforms. The scores here being 65.56 fps for the OpenGL test and 9.50 pts for the CPU test. The CPU score is excellent and again the best we have seen but the OpenGL score is lower than previous systems we have reviewed such as 73.53 fps on a Radeon 7970M. It would appear Cinebench 11.5 is not yet optimised for the Titan graphics card and similar results available online would suggest this is the case.
Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0 - 5236
The most recent additions to our benchmarking suite are the Unigine Heaven and Valley benchmarks. These are GPU intensive benchmarks that also offer extreme hardware stability testing along with benchmarking. As with the other benchmarks we have tested with this PC, the results are again nothing short of impressive. With scores on the Heaven 3.0 benchmark of 4686, Heaven 4.0 benchmark of 1867 and Valley 1.0 benchmark of 5236.
The final benchmark test is designed for Windows 7, but is also compatible and fully functional with Windows 8. It combines more than 25 individual tests covering all aspects of the system such as storage, CPU, graphics, web browsing and gaming. The result with this system is an outstanding 6886 PC Marks. Compare that with the 4709 PC Marks result seen on the recent Toshiba Qosmio laptop with an Intel i7-3610QM CPU and GTX670M graphics review and a desktop i5-2500K with GTX 670 system review which scored 6123 PC Marks. In fact according to the 3DMark website (as you can see in the screenshot), for a test with a Titan graphics card 6886 PC Marks is the 6th best score in the world out of the many hundreds they have registered.
As mentioned in the main review page, part of the premium you are paying Scan for with this system is for their engineers to overclock the CPU and GPU. The i7-3770k they have overclocked from the stock 3.5 up to 4.7 Ghz and the GPU they have overclocked from 837MHz to 1,026MHz. Along with this they have adjusted they voltages to suit the overclocks and carried out stress tests to ensure the system is stable at these settings. The question frequently asked is what improvements does an overclock actually give to a system? To answer this question we set the system back to stock levels. That's no overclock on the GPU at all and the CPU just set back to the normal stock levels of 3.5Ghz and 3.9Ghz in turbo mode. The results shown below together with the percentage reduction from the overclocked benchmark results.
Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0 - 4608. 12% reduction.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark 3.0 - 4240. 9.5% reduction.
Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0 - 1691. 9.5% reduction.
Cinebench OpenGL 54.20 fps, CPU 7.87pts. 17.3% and 17.1% reduction
Super Pi 1M - 9.331s. 20% difference.
PC Mark 7 - 6341. 8% reduction.
3DMark 11 - 11600. 12.6% reduction
Therefore as you can see above removal of the system overclocks has reduced the system performance by 8-20%. Similar results were also seen across the gaming tests with Max Payne 3, for example, dropping from 90 to 70 FPS in the identical place.
System Tools and Benchmark Links:
- Glorious GTX Titan Graphics
- Very quiet
- Superb specification
- Branded components
- It's a lot of money!
Scan 3XS Z77 Vengeance Titan PC Review
We firstly need to address the price of this system, which is £2,088. Now when you consider that £900 of that price is the graphics card alone, you begin to see where that figure comes from. Clearly this PC isn't going to fit everyone's budget but for those who can afford it, be prepared to be amazed. Is £900 on a graphics card really worth it? When you see some of the results, it just might be!
The system arrived from Scan pre-overclocked to squeeze that extra bit of juice from the 3XS Z77 and it was all set up and ready to go. In every benchmark test we ran the system performed superbly, particularly with PC Mark 7, which tests the whole system rather than just a graphics intensive benchmark. The score in that test is currently the 6th highest for a system with a single Titan in the entire world. Similar excellent results were seen from 3D Mark 11 scoring 13272 3D Marks and other high scores from the Unigine Heaven and Valley benchmarks, all of which you can see in greater detail on our test results page.
With the gaming tests, as you will see later in our review, the PC also performed brilliantly with smooth gameplay at outstanding frames per second on all the games we tested it with - particularly the likes of Battlefield 3 and Max Payne 3. We were also able to get an excellent 60FPS in Far Cry 3 on the highest possible settings. This high performance doesn't come at the sacrifice of excessive noise or temperatures either. The system is extremely quiet when idle, barely registering more than 35 dBs and only rising to a steady 45 dBs under full load with the temperatures in this overclocked system also impressive, just 27°C when idle and 75°C with the GPU at full load and for the CPU it averaged 30°C when idle and 70°C under full load.
All the components used in this system are, as you would expect for a £2K computer, of a high quality and a high performance. From the sleek black Fractal R4 case, Corsair GS600 80 Plus certified PSU and the Corsair H100i closed loop liquid CPU cooler to the overall excellent build quality and very tidy wiring and installation by the Scan technicians, everything screams high end with this system, fully justifying the £2,088 price tag. By a good distance this is the most powerful PC we have ever reviewed at AVForums. Taking all these factors into account we have no issues at all with awarding this our Highly Recommended Badge. If you have £2000 to burn and are looking for a high performing single GPU solution gaming PC, then this system should definitely be at the top of your list.
Benchmarked Performance (averaged)
Video Playback Performance
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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