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Monday, 06 October 2008 11:18

Smoothcreation's Hellcat Xtreme Machine tested

Written by Sanjin Rados


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Review: And now for something completely different

 

Hellcat Xtreme Machine is a product coming from Smoothcreation, Premier Boutique system builder, so you can be sure that this baby will serve you well. The secret behind the sheer power of this rig is that it uses the best available hardware and Danger Den water cooling. It packs two Diamond HD 4870 XOC Black Edition cards with Koolance water blocks, but there’s also the upgrade option for two Diamond HD 4870 X2 cards. Basically, you can customize the whole system to fit your needs.

Today, we follow up with a full review of Hellcat, a gaming computer made by a company called Smoothcreation. Since our preview many things have changed for better. We often talked to the guys from Smoothcreation and almost all our critiques of early Hellcat samples were taken into account and solved.

Hellcat gaming computer is one exquisite piece of equipment and the paintjob stands as a testament to that. After you receive a case with artwork of your choice, giving this baby up will be very difficult. Eventually you’ll probably replace some components (not everyone does that, but those who’d buy this computer in the first place do) but we guarantee that you’ll keep the case. In case you decide to replace some or all the components, Smoothcreation can do that for you. Their computers come with lifetime technical support, whereas the warranty on components and labor is good for one year. Shipment is completely free of charge.

There's also an option to send your own computer in to get it airbrushed and, if you wish, replace all your components that aren't up to date.

The motif-sample gallery is huge, but these guys don't mind going out of their way to fulfil your special requests. All the currently popular motifs can be viewed here. Furthermore, these guys will airbrush your peripheral devices if you wish, just in case you want your entire workspace in one theme.

Our tested rig comes with Hellcat image, which means it's one mean piece of hardware.

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You'll get a lifetime warranty on the airbrush-job, and there's also an additional available method of applying paint. Since all the side panels are transparent, there's an option to airbrush the image from the inside. This makes the painted side almost completely isolated from the outer elements, so scratching the outside won't affect the artwork.

The next photo shows Lan Shark featuring the same motif like the Hellcat rig, and you'll notice that the paintjob is done from the inside. Lan Shark is half the size of Hellcat Xtreme Machine, and this tiny 16-inch desktop computer starts at $1,300.

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Compared to the more affordable Lan Shark series, Hellcat is aimed at gamers and enthusiasts that won't settle for anything but the best. It takes a lot of work to assemble and airbrush this rig, so $8,000 might sound like a lot, but given the hardware quality it's definitely worth it for those who can afford it.

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This is the first time we held a computer made of Plexiglass, and this enables the rig to feature custom dimensions. Hellcat Xtreme Machine is one giant rig and although it's quite tall, it's not nearly as lengthy. Dimensions are adapted to the Danger Den water cooling system that features a large radiator.

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The glass panel shows the insides and the already mentioned Diamond HD 4870 graphics cards. Since we recieved the early sample of this system, the cards in question aren't the Black Edition cards, but rather Diamond's standard edition cards. The cards run at 780MHz, which is 20MHz less than Black Edition cards can churn out. Still, there's plenty of room for overclocking in both cases.

The front shows four "S.C" symbols placed in front of the four 120mm fans. These are the only fans in this case, but since the airflow is virtually unobstructed, additional fans are not needed. In case you doubt this, just hold your hand over the air outlets and this rig will surely turn you into a believer. The test sample features some high-speed fans that are incredibly loud, but retail version of Hellcat Xterme Machine will feature new fans that are quiet. It's important to note that this was the biggest flaw of this rig, which paints the picture of just how close to perfect this machine came.

All the cables are neatly arranged, and if you want to locate the nicely hidden radiator, you can simply follow the pipes. Due to the radiator's size, it had to be fitted vertically, which is the reason why the case is so tall.

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The radiator is cooled by the fans mounted on it. Since it’s so large, there was room left for only one optical drive and Matrixorbital GX LCD panel that shows the readings and the state of the computer. This is only one of many available panels to choose from when configuring your rig. Through the GX panel and the LCD studio software that comes with it, you can easily customize what information you want the panel to display. Thanks to the Danger Den water cooling system, the temperatures are so low that you don’t even have to monitor them – so put on the winamp look and enjoy the music.

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Power and restart buttons are on the upper panel, and the only thing missing is the USB connector panel. All the panels on this rig are airbrushed, so every angle will give you something to look at. Artwork transitions are very well done and there’s no visible start/finish where the airbrushing work started.

If you’re not into scary horror themes, then refrain from looking at the opposite panel as the large agitated “cat from hell” looks really nice.

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The back panel of the case reveals some additional details. Due to the weight of the PSU, the same is positioned on the bottom, whereas the hard disks populate the upper part. Intel DX48BT2 motherboard doesn’t feature PS2 ports for the keyboard and the mouse, and since there are no front or top USB panels you’ll have to use your USB connections wisely and sparingly.

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The airflow is excellent and there are many visible air outlets. This panel also features a regulator that you can use to turn off the lights or just tone them down. Although we might just be picking hairs, we’d still like the option to turn off the radiator lights and not just the green cold cathode tube one.

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This case looks particularly nice in the dark.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 07 October 2008 03:34
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