Last time we looked at a multi-card PC from Aria it was an HD2-K, based around Crossfire HD6870s and a i5-2500K. It provided very good value for money and performance.
Another year, and we have the Gladiator Juggernaut up for testing. Although the technologies have moved on, the ethos behind it is the same as the HD2-K. Take a good value Intel CPU, bolt two mid-range GPUs inside it, and get it out the door for just shy of £1300.
The recipe was worthy of our Gold Award last time, so we're excited to find out of the Juggernaut has the same success.
Looking through the list of parts that make up the Juggernaut, it's clear that the pricier GPUs have meant that a couple of other areas aren't quite up to the standard we'd expect from a 2012 machine. The i5-3570K is the replacement for the i5-2500K although here it's only at 4.2GHz. Of course that's plenty of horsepower for all but the most demanding users. The price difference between a 1600MHz kit and a 2133MHz one is small enough we'd have preferred to see the faster modules. But we're nit-picking.
However, the big show-stopping part that has led to those minor cuts is probably worth the admission fee. Two EVGA GTX660Ti's in SLI should hopefully give massive gaming heft, especially at the resolutions and image quality settings demanded by modern gamers.
All of this is wrapped up in the usual excellent Aria RTB warranty and technical support.
• Overclocking: Intel i5 professionally Overclocked up to 4.20GHz
• 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ (Ivy Bridge) i5-3570K Quad-Core Processor
• Arctic Cooling Freezer i30 Quiet CPU Cooler
• Graphics: 2x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2048MB GDDR5 Graphics in SLI - Supports DirectX 11
• 16GB 1600MHz DDR3 (4x4096) Memory
• 128GB OCZ Agility 4 SATA 6GB/s Solid State Drive
• 2TB 7200rpm SATA 6GB/s Hard Drive
• MSI™ Intel Z77 G45 Socket 1155 DDR3 PCI-Express Motherboard w/ SATA 6G & USB 3.0
• 630W 80PLUS Bronze Modular Power Supply
• Corsair Carbide 500R White Midi Tower Gaming Case
• DVD +/- RW Drive w/ m-Disk Support
- Pre-Built and shipped safely with ample packaging protection.
- Full 12 Month RTB Warranty - Hardware support included with your PC.
- Telephone technical support on call.
- Resource DVD(s) (Diagnostic & Drivers), periphery items and motherboard manual(s) provided.
- CPU Cooler Multi-socket bracket support included.
We can't wait to open the box and find out what the Juggernaut looks like. So let's move on and see what is in store.
Opening the very sturdy cardboard container we find another layer of cardboard on top. Given how often it rains in England it's nice to have that bit extra security, should your delivery driver end up in a deluge.
With that out of the way we have an awesome bit of dense foam protecting the Juggernaut itself. Both top and bottom have loads of space around them, and it's very thick. Although we wouldn't recommend it, we think you could probably drop this down the steps and it would be none the worse for wear. Exceptional packaging ensuring your prized purchase will arrive in mint condition.
One thing we always like to see is the inclusion of the various manuals and accessories from the hardware in the machine. It's a small element, but given that most users will buy a prebuilt system as a starter, and eventually upgrade it, it's nice to have the cables and things that are otherwise a pain to source.
Our review system came with the fantastic CM Storm Xornet, probably the best value for money mouse on the market at the moment.
The Carbide 500R case comes in the hugely popular white, which is the colour de rigueur of everything since the i-devices first appeared.
We loved the Carbide 500R when we reviewed it at the tail end of 2011 and it's still a very solid performer. The blend of white externals and black internals might be reminiscent of a humbug, but it's a pleasing aesthetic. There is plenty of airflow through the case for applications such as this, and the whole thing is solidly built.
Although the GD45 isn't replete with a wealth of connectivity options, there is still enough for the requirements of nearly everyone, and certainly all we'd expect at such a low price. We never tire of seeing two cards filling the PCI brackets up. As nice and technically clever as a dual-GPU card is, it will never replace the visual glory of two single cards.
Up Close - Internals
One of the very few issues we have with the Carbide 500R was the cable routing options, so Aria have done a good job getting everything tucked neatly away as much as possible. The dangling cable by the drive-bays is for the side fan which has obviously been removed for these pictures.
Two cards of gorgeousness. Even with the rather strange power cable arrangement the cards just visually dominate proceedings. The Be Quiet PSU is one that we've always rated highly, and has plenty of efficient power for the whole Juggernaut system.
The G45 is good enough considering that all of the Z77 motherboards are solid performers. You could quibble about a GD65, but realistically the MSI is plenty. The Exceleram White Sark is a new kit to us at OC3D, but being 1600MHz @ 9-9-9-24 it is dependable if unspectacular.
A small niggle has to be the transparent nature of the PSU cables. Given how well the rest of the system blends together we'd prefer to see either some BitFenix extensions, or even a PSU that has more opaque cables.
Speaking of blending together, the combination of the white RAM, white Arctic Cooling CPU fan, and the white surrounds on the Corsair AF120 quiet edition roof fans, really looks awesome. It would be easy to just throw bits in a case when the main event (SLI GTX660Ti's) is so appetising, but Aria have gone the extra mile.
As is always the case when you have a dual-card system the top card does take a small thermal hit thanks to heat rising, but the Juggernaut does a good job of keeping things reasonably cool and, most importantly, quiet. The EVGAs are only between 2 and 5°C warmer than the solo, aftermarket cooled, GTX660Ti's we reviewed recently.
Here is the 4.2GHz i5-3570K in all its glory. It's nice to see that Aria have kept the voltage low rather than take the easy "slap some volts on and push it out" option. It's those little things that make the difference. The EVGA cards are stock models, and as we've seen you can clock them far higher should you choose.
With only four cores and no hyperthreading the Juggernaut isn't going to be a number-crunching behemoth, but it still puts up a good showing, especially in the Multi-Media benchmark.
Again we see that the mild overclock on the Core i5-3570K in the Juggernaut hasn't quite got the pure grunt we saw from the heavily overclocked i5-2500K in the HD2-K, but it still has plenty of get up and go for regular users. The Memory benchmarks are exactly where we're used to seeing a CAS9 1600MHz kit, and we still think that a 2133MHz one would be a worthwhile upgrade.
PC Mark Vantage
The Juggernaut is consistent throughout the tests in PC Mark Vantage, with the OCZ Agility 4 SSD really make mincemeat out of the benchmark. The gaming result is only decent, considering that we have a SLI arrangement.
PC Mark 7
One of the most consistent results you're ever likely to see. PC Mark 7 really emphasises how well rounded the Juggernaut is, with every test giving over 4600 points.
We often comment upon how the performance score is largely dictated by the speed of the CPU in the system, and the real test is the Extreme benchmark, which is conducted at a resolution and anti-aliasing level most likely to be used in modern desktop gaming. So it proves here as the P scores are only middling, but the X results are particularly impressive. In fact the 3D Mark 11 X mark is equal to that we obtained from a GTX680 SLI arrangement and not massively behind a single GTX690.
As we'd expect the GTX660Ti SLI setup at the heart of the Juggernaut happily munches through any game we throw at is. Only Metro 2033 is below 60FPS, and that's notorious for its poor performance on nVidia GPUs. Everything else is chewed up and spat at, even with the games at the maximum possible settings and full HD resolution.
There are many things to love about the Aria Gladiator Juggernaut.
Let's get a few things out of the way first. Of course it's not as good value for money as it would be if you'd purchased the parts yourself and built it. We know that. No pre-built system will even be as fiscally viable as a home build. BUT, you also don't have any of the worries about a piece of hardware needing an RMA and thus delaying your build, and you get 12 months of RTB warranty which helps ease any concerns. Finally we understand that not everyone wants to build their own computer, either for time or talent reasons, so this is a great way to obtain a lot of performance for a fair price.
So is it a lot of performance? Yes it definitely is. In a couple of areas, notably CPU, it's not quite at the level we've seen from Aria themselves even with a similarly spec'd i5-2500K. The 4.2GHz Overclock is on the low side, but how much of that is a limit of the CPU and how much is the MSI Z77 G45 is up for debate. However, we understand that we're just overclocking whores here at OC3D. The clue is in the name. Realistically a 4.2GHz CPU will be enough for anyone but the most power hungry, and you wouldn't expect any more for this price, especially considering that clockspeed is so dominant to the lay person that the price of other company's systems climbs astronomically for only a 100MHz more.
The memory choice is average. 1600MHz is good enough, and Intel have got a lot of bandwidth available on the LGA1155 platform so the big capacity chosen by Aria makes for a sensible decision. It looks nice and performs well, but it wont set your hair on fire. The same cannot be said for the OCZ Agility 4 which was fast and responsive at all times, regardless of loading.
But if you choose the Juggernaut you're doing so on the basis of those two EVGA GTX660Ti's. As a single card we wondered why anyone would buy one over a GTX670, but paired up they work tremendously well. They gave us outstanding performance throughout our testing, whether it was the purely synthetic world of 3D Mark, or the actual gaming of our many eye-candy options.
A very well-rounded system that will suit anybody who wants a system for daily use that will handle anything thrown at it, the Aria Gladiator Juggernaut comes at a good price for a gaming system, looks the part, and is quiet and solidly put together. It would be very easy to assume that the two nVidia cards dominate things so much that the rest of the system will be only average, yet Aria have chosen their parts very well indeed.
If you are one of those people who wants a gaming rig without either building yourself or paying through the nose, it's highly recommended and a worthy winner of our OC3D Gold Award. It's might not quite be 'The Juggernaut, bitch', but it's damn close.
Thanks to Aria for supplying the Gladiator Juggernaut for review. Discuss you thoughts in the OC3D Forums.