We've recently taken a look at some bundles from Aria which were all the basic bits you'd need to build a rig around.
Today we're moving away from the pre-overclocked CPU/Motherboard/RAM combinations and into a full system, the Gladiator HD2-K.
This is a seriously specced bit of kit, only requiring a monitor, keyboard and mouse to be up and running.
Often pre-built systems have a selection of hardware that you feel are a compromise to get the system down to a price, or even if it's at quite a steep price you end up with bits you're unhappy with.
The HD2-K has got a seriously good selection of parts. It starts with the i5-2500K, the best performance per pound processor on the market. That's mounted in an ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard, the best P67 motherboard in the world. Mushkin provide the 8GB of DDR3 and an OCZ SATA 6Gbp/s SSD runs the Windows 7 OS. There is also a 2TB WD Caviar for your storage so there is no lack of either performance or capacity.
Gaming performance is handled by two Radeon HD6870 in Crossfire. With a Samsung Blu-Ray player and the excellent Asus Xonar soundcard you've got all the HD Media dealt with too.
• FREE CPU Overclocking up to 4.80GHz*
• Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandybridge) Socket LGA1155 Processor
• 2x ATI Radeon HD 6870 1024MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card in CrossFire
• 8GB Mushkin Ridgeback #996987 (2x4GB) DDR3 1866MHz 9-11-9-27
• OCZ Solid 3 120GB 2.5" SATA-III Silent Solid State Hard Drive
• 2TB Western Digital WD20EARS Caviar Green 3.5" SATA II Silent Hard Drive
• ASUS Sabertooth Intel P67 (REV B3) Socket 1155 DDR3 PCI-Express Motherboard
• 680W Be Quiet! Straight Power CM BQT E8 ATX2.3 Silent Power Supply
• Corsair Obsidian 650D Midi Chassis
• Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro Dual Fan Silent CPU Cooler
• Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound
• Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit Pre-Installed
• Samsung Blu-Ray SH-B123L/RSBP 12x BD-ROM / 16x DVD Writer Drive
• Asus Xonar DX 7.1 PCI-Express Sound Card
The asterisk upon the overclocking is to indicate that, because not all processors are equal, you'll get between 4.6 and 4.8GHz as your overclock. Kudos to Aria for being up front about this rather than just highlighting the maximum they've ever obtained and hoping nobody notices if your own isn't quite up to snuff.
The HD2-K is housed in the excellent Corsair 650D chassis which is a fantastic starting point for any rig. Good air cooling performance is important in any system, and certainly one with twin GPUs. The black internals really marry well to the black Be Quiet cooler so it all looks gorgeous through the window. Cables are extremely tidy, the NZXT extensions helping Aria to route them through the many cut-outs of the 650D so everything is sleek as you like.
Twin HD6870s provide the graphical prowess of the HD2-K and also look great against the Sabertooth, where you can see how much prettier the ASUS Thermal Armor makes the whole rig look.
Speaking of looks the all-black Be Quiet Dark Power perfectly matches the rest of the system.
With everything being so black it's a bit of a disappointment to see the rainbow effect from the PSU connectors.
Round the back there is definitely no lack of connection options with the multiple headers on the rear of the Sabertooth, the two XFX HD6870s and the ASUS Xonar soundcard.
Round the front we have the superb Samsung BH123L Blu-Ray drive which is a Lightscribe DVD writer and Blu-Ray reader.
Obviously having cable extensions allows for the front to be very tidy, but equally there is a lot of extra cable that needs to be hidden away and Aria have done a good job in tucking them all round the back.
As mentioned on page one, the silicone lottery means you aren't guaranteed the same overclock from every processor. Our HD2-K today has right in the middle of the possible overclocks, 4.7GHz. Still more than plenty for anything you could throw at it. Don't let the fact it's not 4.8 GHz fool you. 2% slower when you've got all this power available it nearly meaningless.
The Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro Dual CPU Cooler is a previous Silver Award winner here at OC3D, and demonstrates its prowess again here as part of the HD2-K.
PC Mark Vantage
We've a couple of graphs today for PC Mark Vantage.
The first is the standard PC Mark result that you're all used to, and as you can see the Gladiator HD2-K gives us some serious scores indeed across every test.
Regardless of the task you wish to perform the HD2-K has enough get up and go to deal with it.
Our test rig has a standard Samsung Spinpoint behind it, whereas this HD2-K is running with a SATA-III SSD.
In case there are any people left wondering if having even a small SSD as your OS drive can provide any benefits, here are the comparison scores between the Sabertooth on our bench rig with a similar overclock, and the Aria.co.uk Gladiator HD2-K with the OCZ SSD.
PC Mark 7
Further highlighting how much of an all-rounder the HD2-K is, PC Mark 7 really hasn't got any weak links at all in its suite of tests. This really is a seriously power-packed system.
3D Mark Vantage
Pushing nearly 30000 P Score in 3D Mark Vantage, the HD2-K is clearly capable of some great gaming performance too. Given the preference of Vantage for nVidia based hardware the scores here are very good indeed.
3D Mark 11
A far more realistic test of potential performance in current games, 3D Mark 11 makes full use of the 6870 CF setup in the Gladiator HD2-K. Matching the pricier GTX560s and being close to the very expensive GTX590.
Far Cry 2
With so much performance available from the combination of the heavily overclocked Core i5-2500K and the HD6870 CF, Far Cry 2 is clearly no match and the results reflect this with the HD2-K beating both of the powerhouse twin-GPU cards.
This incredible performance is further emphasised by Metro 2033. The HD2-K beats the HD6990, the GTX590. In fact it's on a par with the everything except the insanely pricey GTX580 SLI setup.
The Unigine Heaven benchmark is extremely hard on absolutely any system, and here with the image quality settings as high as possible we start to see the limitations of the HD6870 architecture. This is, as demonstrated by our previous graphs, just too intense for this setup but not actually a reflection of gaming performance as the HD2-K is up there at the top in all our game charts.
Alien vs Predator
Finally Alien vs Predator, and the Gladiator HD2-K is once again not disgraced in any fashion.
So if you are in the market for an entirely pre-built, pre-overclocked system, is the Aria.co.uk Gladiator HD2-K the one for you?
We definitely think so.
There is plenty of extremely high-end hardware on show. Starting with the case, the excellent Corsair Obsidian 650D in a gorgeous matte black with black internals too. It unquestionably looks the part and has good thermal performance too.
The basis for the whole system is the outstanding ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard. We believe this is the best P67 motherboard on the planet, so understandably we love it here too. Worth noting is how much of a difference the ASUS Thermal Armor makes to the overall looks of the HD2-K. By covering up those unsightly circuit boards and chips the whole design is much more aesthetically pleasing.
Processing is handled by the Core i5-2500K, one of the best value processors around. Easy to overclock and giving excellent performance the heart of the HD2-K certainly isn't found wanting.
It would be very easy to look at the specifications of the HD2-K and scoff because a couple of medium range cards haven't got the same Kudos as one ultra-high-end offering such as the HD6990 or GTX590. Then you see that it's as good as either of those two cards in our gaming tests and only the synthetic offerings of 3D Mark Vantage and Unigine find it wanting.
Overall performance of the HD2-K is truly exceptional. The use of the OCZ SSD, a SATA-III model too, really helps the whole machine fly in use. This combination has enabled us to see some of the highest PC Mark scores we've recorded. Even the big storage drive doesn't exactly slack.
The downside is, of course, price. At £1399 the Gladiator HD2-K is a fair chunk of change, but the exceptionally high quality of the parts contained within mean there really isn't an element of it we'd want to swap-out, or feel compromised by. So often when you are looking at the specifications for a pre-built system there is something about it that is either disappointing or pointless. Yet the HD2-K has everything you could want and the results of our testing back up that fact. No frippery, just performance. Of course you could do it yourself for a little bit less, but that's been true for years.
Everything about the Gladiator HD2-K exudes quality and is a combination of some of the finest hardware around. For that it wins our OC3D Gold Award.
Thanks to Aria.co.uk for providing the Gladiator HD2-K for review. Discuss in our forums.