Time for something a little different here at OC3D. Because of the nature of the hardware review business we have to stick to extremely regimented testing methodology to ensure a fair playing field. It's very easy to get so hung up on ensuring that every little detail is replicable, that we overlook why we are all such fans in the first place. Enjoyment.
With that in mind we're diverting from our normal "here is something, here are a ton of graphs and a score" procedure and looking at a full system from Eclipse Computers. Because there is so very much to cover, and the ethos behind it is more about an Eyefinity/3D experience rather than something easily comparable to our wealth of benchmark results, this will be a picture heavy, result light review.
What we have on offer is the top end in the huge range that Eclipse Computers provide. The Stealth FX812R795 Extreme Gaming System forms the backbone of the equation, and to go along with it we have the Stealth Flight Pack, which consists of three Cinema 3D monitors from LG, an XFX Eyefinity monitor stand, and the very finest HOTAS system available today, the Thrustmaster Warthog.
So without further ado, grab your favourite beverage and let's get cracking.
Whenever you're looking at a prebuilt system people have two reactions. Those who just want the maximum power from a plug and play system look at CPUs and GPUs, and those of us who are used to building our own from a parcel of parts look at the bits that we might not necessarily choose ourselves. Scanning through the list of the parts on the Stealth FX812R795 our eye is immediately drawn to the decision to run an AMD Bulldozer CPU in it. Nobody is sadder than us to see the lack of performance available in the latest FX range from AMD, especially those of us who were brought up on Thunderbirds and Bartons, but nonetheless it does at least widen our eyes bit a bit to see one there. Besides that the rest of the choices are exceptional. Our love for the Sabertooth range of motherboards is well known, and well founded, and XFX have been pumping out high quality Radeon cards for seemingly ever. Our review sample didn't include the ASUS CineVibe USB headset, so sadly we'll have to wait until another time to see how that fares.
Stealth FX812R795 Extreme :
Asus Sabertooth 990FX AM3+ Motherboard
AMD Bulldozer FX-8120 3.1GHz AM3+ Black Ed Processor
Corsair Hydro H40 High Performance Water Cooling Kit
TWO XFX 3Gb AMD Radeon HD 7950 DD Ed. PCI-e 3.0 VGA Card
XFX 1000W P1-1000-BL Black Edition 80+ Platinum Modular PSU
MicroSoft Windows 7 Home Premium – SP1, 64Bit
1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm SATA3 32mb Cache HardDrive
120Gb Corsair Force3 SATA3 Solid State 2.5In Drive
TWO Corsair Vengeance 8Gb DDR3 1600 (2x4Gb) CL9 Dual-Chan Kits
NZXT Phantom Red ATX Gaming Case
LG CH10LS28R Blu-Ray Rom, DVD Writer
Saitek Cyborg V.5 USB Gaming Keyboard & Saitek Cyborg R.A.T. 3 Gaming Mouse
Asus CineVibe Rumble Feedback USB Gaming Headset
As well as the FX812R795 we also have the optional Stealth Flight Pack. All three of the items here are high quality choices, with the XFX stand and Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog being probably the best in their field. The LG D2342P monitors are Cinema 3D. Until now our experience of 3D Monitors has been restricted to the active types, so to have the opportunity to look at ones that replicate the experience at the Cinema without needing to charge the glasses really got us interested.
Stealth Flight Pack :
THREE LG D2342P-PN 23 Inch Widescreen LED Monitors
XFX Eyefinity Monitor Stand
Thrustmaster Hotas Warthog Joystick
Up Close - NZXT Phantom Case
As I'm sure Tom will tell you, photographing paint is one of the hardest things to do. Nearly every photograph of the NZXT Phantom ends up with the red looking a different hue, from deep blood red, through orange, and even to pinkish tones in certain lights. So it's worth remembering that the merged image on the right is the closest approximation to how it appears in real life, and any other colours are limitations of the camera.
The case itself is nice with lots of airflow and, as we'll see on the next page, good internals. Personally the plastic front and top let the side down a little but this isn't a case review, and the Phantom is certainly a long way ahead of the Antec offerings that so flood the marketplace.
We love the look of Crossfire graphics cards. There is just something about them that speaks to the 'overkill' side of us. If one is good, two is better, and the XFX HD7950s in the Stealth certainly look the part, and the red DVI ports nicely match the case. Little details.
The Sabertooth motherboard has an almost overwhelming array of connectivity options. No matter what is on the end of your cable, you'll find a hole for it on in the back of the Stealth.
Opening the front flap on the Phatom reveals the LG BluRay reader/DVD Writer, and up the top we have all the useful front audio/USB that make our lives so much easier. Also on the right hand side you'll find a fan controller arrangement which has a handy partition diagram letting you know which area of the case is adjusted by each slider.
Up Close - Internals
The build is very nice indeed. Everything is well laid out with the cables neatly tidied away giving the internals a very clean look. Without a side window it would be easy to just concentrate on getting it in as nobody will see the insides, but all the many routing ports on the Phantom have been taken advantage of.
In the same way that the dual XFX HD7950s look great on the outside, so they still look awesome in situ. The Corsair H40 sits atop the FX8120 and pulls the air out of the rear exhaust port. Although the colour scheme of the Sabertooth motherboard can be considered an acquired taste we know how well they perform and so the dark khaki heatsinks put the same twinkle in our eye that the more typical black and red put in other peoples.
Anyone who follows our Youtube will know the many discussions about the 'right' way to mount a PSU. Modern power supplies are so efficient that it really makes no difference if it's with the fan downwards or upwards, so it's good to see the XFX Pro 1000W in the Stealth mounted with the fan facing upwards.
Memory is dealt with by the excellent Corsair Vengeance. Here we have a full 16GB available to us, so even the most resource hungry user wont find themselves running out.
Up Close - Documentation
One of the most frustrating things when purchasing a prebuilt system is the lack of documentation and driver CDs. So often we find that you have need to consult the documentation and it's not been included. So it's good to see that Eclipse Computers have included absolutely everything that came as part of each individual hardware item.
Far and away the most important one is the Thrustmaster HOTAS manual. This is something so complex that the manual will be very well thumbed by the time you've got to grips with it all.
Up Close - The Monitors
In the same way that the two GPUs get us excited, what's not to like about three 1080P, 3D capable monitors all piled up. As they are all the same we'll only show one for now.
The box contains all you'd hope to find, DVI lead, VGA lead power etc. As well as a pair of the glasses, which we'll look at on a later page.
The 'Stealth' part of the name becomes clear when you look at the base of the XFX Eyefinity stand. It's so close to the looks of a Lockheed F-117 that we almost expected it to fly. It's supremely easy to set up too. Just inset the pole (middle of the left picture) in the base, slide the monitor arms (top of left picture) down, screw on tight, fit the VESA mounts to the monitors and that's pretty much it. It actually took longer to photograph it and hoover the stray polystyrene off than it did to build it.
As for the monitors tehy are all fairly standard to look at. We all know what a monitor looks like by now and the LG one has a nice thin bezel to minimise the blind spots when gaming in Eyefinity.
As the owner of a monitor free from front mounted OSD buttons it's nice to have them back round the front. One of those decisions that seems minor but usability is everything. Remember these have been chosen knowing that they'll be mounted next to each other, so it's imperative that everything is within easy reach. Finally we have the VESA mount, something that not a lot of people pay attention to when sourcing their display, but if you value your ergonomics it's vital, especially given the hideously poor quality of the stands that come with 99% of monitors.
Up Close - Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS Stick
It's perfectly possible that many of you haven't dipped your toes into the water of flight simulations, or if you have you've found a simplistic control method to be more than adequate, so allow me to make a comparison. If your average flight stick is akin to an Argos steering wheel, a good flight stick is on a par with the Logitech G27, then the Thrustmaster Warthog is in the Frex or Fanatec bracket. It's a perfect replica of the controls found in a Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt, known to you and I as the Warthog.
All of the controls have realistic actuation pressure, so it takes the same effort to use them as it would if you were in the twin-engined tankbuster itself. The trigger is particularly nice as if you pull it until the microswitch activates you can assign a different action than you'll get with it fully depressed. Nearly everything is made of metal and the movement and damping on the stick itself is peerless.
In total you have four buttons, a dual action trigger, a 4-way HAT and three 8-way HAT switches. It's mind-blowingly good.
Of course HOTAS, Hands On Throttle And Stick, would be nothing without the throttle component, so let's take a look at that.
Up Close - Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS Throttle
The throttle part of the HOTAS arrangement is built from exceptionally high quality components. The switches are about as perfect as you could ever hope to find, and in fact they are so good that we wouldn't be shocked to discover they were sourced from the same people who supply the actual A10s. It weighs a ton and you definitely wont find it moving even if you're suddenly having to slam the afterburners on.
Controls are bordering on mind-boggling, with an 8-way hat, a 4-way hat, five toggle switches, three push button switches and eight 3-way toggles. That's as well as the three analogue axis available to you.
The throttle also has a very nice feature in that you have to lift them to turn them off, so you can idle the engines without finding yourself plummeting out the sky, and at the other end you have to lift them to engage the afterburners. This has the added benefit of keeping the amount of throttle available easy to gauge, even if you're flying a Cessna 162.
The little slide lever below the red button allows you to lock the two throttles together, should you so desire. Indeed the only thing missing from the package are rudder pedals, but with seven axis available to you it's easy enough to find one that will suffice.
Keyboard, Mouse and Glasses
Finally we have the keyboard and mouse. Both of which have been taken from the Cyborg Gaming range. They keyboard has a nice red backlight to it which follows the red theme of the Stealth system, even if it doesn't match the bright green backlight of the Warthog HOTAS. It's not the greatest keyboard in the world but it's perfectly serviceable.
The included mouse is the RAT 3. The Cyborg RAT is never in danger of leaving people on the fence. You definitely either love it or hate it. Everyone who passed by whilst we were testing pretty much hated it, but whilst it's not the most comfortable rodent around, or indeed the most aesthetically pleasing, it has an audience and there will be people right now looking at it and drooling.
With a decent amount of buttons all sitting where you'd expect, the RAT 3 is perfectly fine. Personally there are dozens of mice I'd rather see, but that's just because the RAT 3 is such a Marmite mouse it would make more sense to go for something that backs up the quality of the other parts.
Finally we have the 3D glasses. Each monitor contains a pair that will be familiar to anyone who has been to the Cinema and paid through the nose to watch a dark picture, and for those who are as myopic as myself you'll find a clip-on pair too. They are both very light and comfortable, and it's nice to not have a pair that require charging prior to use.
Up Close - All Together
As you can see when it's all put together the decision to include the XFX Eyefinity stand is extremely wise. It has full VESA compatibility, so you can mount the monitors either landscape or portrait, have them as high or low as you like and anywhere from flat, to nearly a 90° box. The second big benefit is the small footprint. Rather than have three stands taking up lots of precious real estate, you can mount three monitors on something small enough to hold one. Finally the looks keep up the 'Stealth' theme nicely.
It would obviously be impossible to show you 3D in action, but we can do Eyefinity. The Stealth FX812R795 is perfect for flight simulations, and here you can see the gorgeous Boeing Stearman flying high above Hawaii in Microsoft Flight. A testament to the stability of the airframe and quality of the HOTAS that this is in live flight rather than a paused shot. The LG monitors provide a very crisp display with no noticeable ghosting or shearing. It's worth noting that this was an initial shot prior to bezel compensation, hence the slight disparity in the positioning of the cables keeping the wings rigid.
The extra FOV available from an Eyefinity setup really helps with immersion. If you've ever been wondering about the wisdom of moving from a single screen setup to a multi-screen one, then hopefully these will go some way to convincing you. The picture quality available from these very affordable LG monitors is a lot better than you'd expect.
As we'd expect the FX8120 comes with a serious overclock to keep the XFX HD7950s working hard. Equally as we've known from our previous dealings with the latest generation of AMD processors it sadly doesn't come close to available performance available from almost anything Intel are producing and this is reflected in the PC Mark Vantage score. The memory bandwidth in particular just cripples the result.
Testing Thoughts - LG Monitors and 3D
As I said at the start, because there is a lot to cover here and it's a very different setup to anything that we've got a bunch or results for, this is more about thoughts during our limited testing time, than hard numbers.
Because of the inclusion of everything you could need, building the Stealth is a breeze. To get the system from a load of boxes in to a ready to go system probably takes around twenty minutes, and getting it fully set up with the monitors level and calibrated another ten. Affixing and adjusting the monitors in understandably the more time consuming element, especially as they need to be in the right place for the passive 3D to work.
3D does two things really well. You have depth, and the more 'showy' stuff coming out of the screen. Anyone who remembers the old anaglyph style 3D knows that people do enjoy pointing things at you to get the moneys worth out of the 3D. The active 3D with glasses that need charging and a synchronised beam do the pointing things very well, and also give a much brighter image, but at the cost of weight and complexity. These LG D2342P-PN monitors support Cinema 3D, which is entirely passive. Instead of splitting the screen horizontally for a stereoscopic effect, it used different polarised light. This does have the downside to lessening the brightness of the image because you're basically wearing shades, but it has the huge benefit of not requiring complex setting up, or being difficult for glasses wearers to use.
Once you've got the monitor and yourself in the right position the effect is just as good as it is with active 3D. If anything it's better at depth and not quite as good at the 'popping out' effect, but that leads to a much nicer experience without some of the queasiness that it's possible to get.
Of course the other big feature, and one that is compatible with more titles, is the Eyefinity. The two HD7950s have plenty of oomph to run at the extreme 5760x1080 resolution. Even with everything set to maximum and in an Eyefinity resolution we still see 67.11 average FPS in Dirt 3, which is about half of the 113.88 FPS average we saw on a single screen.
It would be churlish to have a system called the Stealth, that comes with a Flight Pack, and not focus upon flight simulations. To this end we tried Microsoft Flight, the free sequel to Flight Simulator X although it's seriously lacking in content, IL2 - Cliffs Of Dover, the sequel to the truly magnificent IL2 Sturmovik, and DCS: A-10C Warthog which is the ultimate hardcore simulator and neatly ties in to the Thrustmaster stick. Microsoft Flight is, at best, disappointing. With a couple of planes and a single area to fly it's not much fun at all. That isn't a detriment on the Eclipse Computers Stealth though, as it looks gorgeous, plays fairly smoothly and the Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS makes everything a joy to use.
Firstly all the titles have a lot of physics going on beneath the hood which places a huge strain upon the CPU, and the relatively gutless nature of the AMD FX really shows up here with frame-rates really dropping at times. IL2 COD has never been the most resource friendly title around, but even with a 4.5GHz Bulldozer and Crossfire HD7950s you can't run with everything to the stops if you wish to take advantage of all three screens. And you will, because the biggest benefit is the Eyefinity which makes the need to padlock targets far less of a concern than it is with a single screen. If a multi-monitor setup makes FPS and racing games more enjoyable, they revolutionise flight sims. DCS: A10C, which is as difficult to fly as the real deal, makes maximum use of everything that we have on offer here. With the controls perfectly matching the actual plane thanks to the Thrustmaster stick it's a breeze to lock your Mavericks on with some judicious manipulation of the coolie switch. All in all if you're even remotely interested in flying, then you will be well served with the Stealth Extreme and Stealth Flight Pack combination.
Let's start with the Stealth FX812R795 Extreme. Firstly it's not the most affordable system around, currently retailing for 4 pence shy of £2000. That's a hell of a lot of money. No matter how good the hardware choices are in the system, and they are all items that most of us would choose, it's tough not to query the decision to base it upon the AMD FX8120. Even with the heavy overclock Eclipse Computers provide it still only just matches up to an overclocked 2500K (both score around 7CPU Pts in CineBench with the same overclock), and the memory performance is a lot worse. However besides from that there is a lot to like. The case is a bit of an acquired taste, but it keeps everything cool and has a lot of airflow without producing loads of noise. The XFX PSU is similarly quiet, and even the Seagate Barracuda doesn't vibrate the case to bits. Cable management is well sorted and the whole of the internals are laid out. Perhaps most importantly you get all the documentation and driver discs in a comprehensive package, and the packaging is sturdy enough to keep your pride and joy spick and span until it turns up on your doorstep. Of course graphics are the big selling point and with the two XFX HD7950s you've got some of the best graphics cards around to keep your eye-candy smooth and flowing.
However, we do feel that it's just too expensive for the level of performance you're obtaining. If it was based around a 2700K/Z68 then the performance increase would definitely put this in the must buy category. As it is even the great build quality and choice of other hardware, it's just not good enough value to be worthy of anything other than our OC3D Bronze Award.
As for the optional Eclipse Stealth Flight Pack things are much clearer. All three items are of exceptional quality and value despite the price being £1100. The XFX Eyefinity stand is very easy to put together and perfectly balanced. As well as the obvious capability to give you triple-screen gaming but with a single screen footprint, it's also got connectivity to allow for USB and headset connections in the middle. Built like an absolute tank and with all the adjustments you could ever require, it's a superb piece of kit.
The LG monitors are of equally good quality. The Cinema 3D is more than just a good name to drag the punters in, but rather it provides good 3D depth in a very easy, no fuss manner. Without needing to find a place for the active sensor that controls the glasses, or indeed the need to recharge the glasses, it makes 3D something you can always use without worry. Of course the methodology means that the brightness of the picture is reduced somewhat, but nothing worse than watching 3D at the movies. The only slight mark against them is dependant upon how sensitive your eyes are, in that of the five people we had using them, two could see a slight 'scanline' effect in normal use which made small text a little difficult on the eyes.
Finally the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog. This is simply stunning. It's built like an absolute tank. All the switches and buttons have a feel of enormous quality to them and the Thrustmaster TARGET software allows up to six layers of control. It's an absolutely staggering HOTAS system and of the very very highest quality.
The combination of the three items work perfectly together and even the pricing is very reasonable, especially when you look at the price of the items if purchased separately. It is unquestionably a Gold Award winning option that we recommend even if you are already happy with your current tower.
Thanks to Eclipse Computers for providing the Stealth FX812R795 Extreme and Flight Pack for review. Discuss in our forums.