Nirv's Pro SLI is one of the most powerful and perfectly constructed desktops we've seen

Recommended
Nirv's Pro SLI is one of the most powerful and perfectly constructed desktops we've seen
Rating
Overall:

It’s not cheap, but it’s powerful and cleverly constructed to make the most of the components.

Performance:
6
Features & Design:
5
Value for money:
5
Price
Price: $5755
> Pricing info
Specs
Product name Nirv Pro SLI
Vendor Nirv
CPU model/brand Intel X58 Express

A few months ago, when we saw the $8000 Altech NRG system, it took us back to the good old days when we reviewed $8000 systems regularly. The performance gains for an $8000 system these days are nothing like the gains you could achieve by spending double or quadruple your budget back in 2002.

It's tough out there on the bleeding edge. And yet Core i7 brings out the show-off in a number of manufacturers, if our labs are anything to go by. We've seen both the extreme i7 system and the extreme-budget i7 system, and both have points to recommend them.

Which brings us, in a very longwinded fashion, to the NIRV Pro SLI. The first thing you notice about the NIRV is the imposing-looking Antec "1200" case. Our chums over at Atomic were impressed with its ability to fit an astonishing twelve 5.25in bays.

The interior is spacious with excellent cooling - mostly fans installed into the space provided by those 5.25in bays. The NIRV Pro SLI setup involves lots of blue LEDs and it glows in the dark like a 3-eyed fish. But shade your eyes from the glare through the case-window, and you can see how cleverly the system is put together.

Take the hard drive arrangement, for example. Nirv has rigged up a 300GB Velociraptor drive - at 10,000rpm it's far and away the fastest platter drive out there - to use as the main system drive. Boot times and application loading times definitely fly.

But for additional storage, you need something not quite as fast - and certainly not as pricey - but more capacious. Nirv has solved this with a 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda.

We weren't surprised that Nirv included two of the best drives out of our recent roundup, even though we received this rig before those results were published. It's confirmation of the careful construction.

Beyond the hard drives, the rest of the system is also outstanding. 6GB of high performance G-Skill RAM ensures good performance on the installed Windows Vista 64-bit OS - it's a shame it's only Home Premium, but it's the only corner that's been cut.

The included Core i7 920 has had what Nirv calls "NirvTuning", essentially overclocking the system for retail sale. Windows mistakenly believed the system to be running at stock speed, but a dip into the BIOS told us that it runs at 4GHz..

The risk with pre-overclocked systems is that you may have reduced system stability and increased heat - which also leads to a shortened system lifespan.

Our intensive multi-application test generally reveals instabilities that might cause you problems during routine use. We also measure heat output, but even with all the fans on minimum speed, the GPU temperature was 85º, 70º for the CPUs. That's a great result, and speaks to the superior airflow of the 1200 case.

But enough about the design: the NIRV Pro SLI is an impressive performer, too. Not only did we see a phenomenal 2.84 result with our performance benchmarks - second only to an i7 965 - but the combined might of two GeForce GTS 295s achieved an astonishing 69fps on Crysis Very High settings with all details turned on.

That's the first time we've seen a system with Crysis full detail frame rates higher than the average monitor refresh rate. There's no doubt this system will handle games capably.

The two GTX 295s in SLI also mean masses of connectivity - try 4 DVI ports and two HDMI on for size. Eight USB ports in total (2 in front, 6 at rear), FireWire, 2 eSATA ports and a selection of audio connections round out the options. Gigabit Ethernet is included, but no wireless.

There are some downsides. The two graphics cards both take up double-slots, meaning that there's little room left to add components to the existing package. GTX 295s are high- performing cards, but they're poor bang for buck. Their inclusion adds a hefty $2000 for what amounts to a couple of dozen fps.

The other sticking point is the pre-overclocking. Given the amount of tuning in the system, there's little headroom to improve performance further. An alternative choice of motherboard, such as Gigabyte's EX-58-Extreme - which has more overclockability - might provide a little more wiggle room for the enthusiast.

Still, this is a system that is at the top of the i7 920 performance tree, and probably the most powerful air-cooled system you can buy.

Even with our caveats, we're impressed at the thoroughness of the build, from the tidy cabling and G-skill high performance RAM through to the cool-running case, and monster Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme heatsink for the 4GHz CPU. The only stickler is that price, but if you have the budget for it, you can't really go wrong.

This Review appeared in the December, 2009 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

See more about:  nirvs  |  pro  |  sli  |  one  |  powerful  |  perfectly  |  constructed  |  desktops  |  weve  |  seen
 
 

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Comments: 9
Gibsmagik
5 November 2009
Hey, Albeit so that being a nice machine, I would be careful when purchasing a PC from Nirv/Alpha1 PC's.

I'm a customer who recently spent over $4000 on a machine with Nirv, part of that cost including a 'return to base warranty' which I paid for 3 years.

Now when I initially received the PC there were several screws missing in the motherboard so after an email to which I received no reply, I replaced the screws myself and continued using the pc.

Now fast forward a year I've had some issues with the hard drives in the PC, so I decided to see what could be done about a warranty claim. They said to send the pc in and gave their address. I replied asking about the 'return to base' part of the warranty to which I received no response.

Being eager to get my computer fixed I paid $100 for frieght and insurance to send the PC back to their workshop. Over the next week and a half I make 3 phone calls to check to see if they've received my pc and if everythings ok. The sales person on the phone offered the cue card rhetoric of "I'm putting someone in service onto it, they will call you back this afternoon." To which I never received a phonecall.

After my third phone call I received an email outlining that the pc has been altered from the factory configuration, meaning that I had apparently removed the motherboard and dvd drive, not only that it has taken physical damage to the motherboard, graphics cards and the case. In short the pc wasn't covered by warranty and was being shipped back.

Regardless of what is or isn't covered by warranty I wasn't even offered a quote on the damaged parts and seeing that they signed for the pc in good condition and didn't communicate to me that my pc had taken damage in transit for 2 weeks the frieght insurance is voided. I've already fixed the pc myself now and probably should of done so myself before sending it to them, however I just thought I'd let the readers know just how well Nirv/Alpha 1 treats its valued customers.

Buyers beware,

Gibsmagik


Comment made about the PC Authority article:
Nirv's Pro SLI is one of the most powerful and perfectly constructed desktops we've seen?
It’s not cheap, but it’s powerful and cleverly constructed to make the most of the components.

What do you think? Join the discussion.
Slatts
5 November 2009
Wow!
You can't buy advertising like that.
.:Cyb3rGlitch:.
6 November 2009
That's at most a 4 star PC. Overpriced and unbalanced.
totoaus
9 November 2009
For roughly $150 less, you could get a fullt optioned iMac with a 27 inch screen, 2.8 GH Quad i7, 16 GB RAM, 2TB HDD, iWorks, remote, keyboard & 3 years AppleCare. I'd be very tempted by the Mac, it saves space & can run your old copy of Windows and its software, plus has no service costs for 3 years.
blockcentre
10 November 2009
totoaus wrote:
For roughly $150 less, you could get a fullt optioned iMac with a 27 inch screen, 2.8 GH Quad i7, 16 GB RAM, 2TB HDD, iWorks, remote, keyboard & 3 years AppleCare. I'd be very tempted by the Mac, it saves space & can run your old copy of Windows and its software, plus has no service costs for 3 years.


You're missing the point. That system above is, first and foremost, a gaming rig. An iMac can't go anywhere near that level of gaming performance. Anyone considering buying that system wouldn't be comparing it to any Apple product.

CoalM!NER
4 June 2010
Don't know how this is still on the A-list. Alienware's dual 5870's and Core i7 960 put this rig to absolute shame for $5000. GTX 295's are yesterday's hot, expensive GPU's. Not to mention I can build this system for $3245 with 1200w antec power and Thermaltake liquid cooling.
CoalM!NER
4 June 2010
Oh sorry forgot the link, just go to customize on Area-51 ALX Desktop on Alienware's desktop page.
http://www1.ap.dell.com/au/en/home/desktops/alienware-area-51-alx/pd.aspx?refid=alienware-area-51-alx&s=dhs&cs=audhs1
blockcentre
11 June 2010
CoalM!NER wrote:
Oh sorry forgot the link, just go to customize on Area-51 ALX Desktop on Alienware's desktop page.
http://www1.ap.dell.com/au/en/home/desktops/alienware-area-51-alx/pd.aspx?refid=alienware-area-51-alx&s=dhs&cs=audhs1


Obviously you didn't read their review of the Alienware Aurora

Expensive, noisy, hot.... but it looks nice.

Alienware have been a shadow of their former self after the DELL buyout.

Better off to find a local builder that specialises in gaming rigs or build one yourself.



CoalM!NER
22 June 2010
It's actually cheaper, and you are referring to a single GPU model. It sacrifices crossfire and a faster CPU for over-priced RAM and HDD's. No game uses more than 4GB RAM unless you are running some serious background processes, the test rig was terribly optimized for bang-for-buck. Yes it was a test rig most likely sent by Alienware but serious gamers would not have chosen those options given the same price.

For $100AUD less you get a faster CPU and much better gfx cards. My first Alienware lappy was an XPS m1710, when Dell first took over. The mobo and 7900gs died twice, then the 160GB HDD died a year later. They replaced it with an m17x (Dual GTX 280's) which is still running cool 18 months later.

Long story short I was disappointed with Alienware for selling out to a crap company that make gear to fail, but they are still the top competitor for pre-built gaming systems and making improvements in quality. I would never buy one, as I build my own (XPS was free from my employer) desktop gaming systems. But compared to the system posted in the A-list, it is cheaper and vastly out-performs Nirv's desktop.

For the $100 you saved you could upgrade the fans to keep it cool. Just my 2c but if I was going to waste $5000+ on a gaming rig I would go for the rig that performs better and is cheaper, then customize it with the money I saved.
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