Once a new trend develops in the computer gaming world, it’s not long before computer OEM’s come out with their variations. AVADirect has done just that with its entry into the mini-ITX gaming arena, a mini-ITX gaming rig aptly titled the “Nano Cube”. Housed in a modified Silverstone Sugo SG05 case and touting a 300w power supply, the base configuration is listed on the AVADirect website for $867 USD. This price gets you:
- Intel DH57JG Motherboard
- Intel® Core™ i5-750 Quad-Core Processor
- 2 GB DD3-1066 RAM
- XFX GeForce® GTS 250 512MB Video Card
- 320 GB Western Digital Hard Drive
- Sony Slim 8x DVD Burner Drive
- Microsoft® Windows 7 Home Premium
Now, this Nano Cube certainly doesn’t seem to have a particularly powerful list of components, but AVADirect allows buyers to customize the Nano Cube with a wide selection of retail hardware. As power is the limiting factor in how much your system can run, the Nano Cube is offered with up to a 750w 80-Plus certified power supply. You can upgrade to a Gigabyte® or Zotac® motherboard. You can then max it out with an Intel® Core™ i7-875K and up to 8 gigabytes of DDR3-1600 RAM from OCZ, Mushkin, Corsair, Crucial or Adata.
The Nvidia GeForce GTS 250 might not be a graphical powerhouse, but AVADirect offers over 115 different video card options for the Nano Cube from 8 manufacturers in both ATI and Nvidia flavors. At the top of the list is an ATI Radeon 5870 or an overclocked Nvidia GeForce 460 GTX.
The list of available hard drives is just as long with both standard and solid-state models to choose from. With a few quick clicks, it’s possible to option out a Nano Cube that is over $3,500. That’s a lot of cash for any computer, especially one that’s less than 9” wide and only 5” high.
Regardless of the price, the question that needs to be answered is can the AVADirect Nano Cube do what it was intended to do. Can it play games? Several reviewers were given the chance to take a look at a Nano Cube with an Intel® Core™ i5-750 processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 128 GB solid state drive and a Radeon HD 5850 video card. Here’s a summary of the gaming results:
- WorldBench 6: 134
- Unreal Tournament 3 (2560x 1600): 102 fps
- PCMark Vantage (1024 x 768 / Default): 13,593
- 3DMark Vantage (1280 x 1024 / Entry): 31,840
- 3DMark Vantage (1920 x 1200 / Extreme): 8,252
- Crysis (1920 x 1200 / Very High / 4xAA / 4xAF): 33 fps
- World in Conflict (1920 x 1200 / Very High / 4xAA / 4xAF): 53 fps
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (1920 x 1080 / High / 4xAA): 59 fps
- DiRT 2 (1920 x 1080 / Ultra High / 4xAA): 69 fps
- Mass Effect 2 (1920 x 1080 / Max / 4xAA): 99 fps
- STALKER: Call of Pripyat (1920 x 1080 / Extreme / 4xAA): 31 fps
- StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty (1920 x 1080 / Ultra / 4xAA): 41 fps
PCMag.com says the Nano Cube is a serious contender for those needing gaming power and portability be it for LAN parties or hotel rooms, but go on to recommend two other systems as better buys. Neither of which is a mini-ITX system.
PC World describes the Nano Cube as promising, saying what it lacks in finesse it makes up with raw power. If you’re not looking for an easily upgradeable machine and can handle the limitations of that much power in such a small package then the near category-leading power of the AVADirect Nano Cube might be the mini-ITX system for you.
Anandtech really put the AVADirect through its paces with a very thorough review. Even though the Nano Cube placed lower than other high-end gaming systems, they showed that all of the games they tested played fluidly on the Nano Cube. Anandtech’s only gripes involved the lack of features on the DFI motherboard (which is no longer an option) and the poor overclocking that proved to be no benefit to the performance.
It would seem that the AVADirect Nano Cube is what it is promised to be. A highly capable gaming system packed into a small package. Although it might not get a second look from enthusiasts who will prefer their own builds, the Nano Cube offers the same kind of custom build for those gamers who don’t have the desire or the ability to construct their own systems.
The AVADirect Nano Cube is also proof that the idea of ITX gaming is catching on and hopefully more OEM’s will see fit to try their hand at mini-ITX gaming.
Check out the above reviews for more information.