System reviews are much more than a look at how a system performs. The process allows you to really peer into a company, how they operate and ultimately how satisfied a customer would be with their purchase. This past week I spent a great deal of time talking with Smooth Creations personnel, from the marketing team all the way up to the CEO. It is my opinion that the company is able to fill a void left open by the boutique builders that have seemed to have lost their way.
Smooth Creations is still a young company when compared to Alienware and VooDoo, but this is not a bad thing. The company is hungry with the desire to please their customers instead of just being compliant with their position in the PC market. A good example of this is in their tech support. If you need Smooth Creations you give them a call and talk to someone within a few rings. No call centre, no three hour hold time, you call and you talk to an actual person who is competent enough to answer your questions. It will be interesting to see how the company is able to handle typical growing pains from "making it." For now they are doing a good job and I hope they are able to keep their high level of personal service.
The biggest challenge for Smooth Creations is going to be getting over the stigma of being a paint shop. The fact is that the company has evolved a great deal and in my eyes is more than just a pretty case. Their full systems are very well designed and laid out well.
That said, the LAN Shark we were presented with had some minor nuances that would easily be sorted by the end user. The biggest was the choice of 120mm fans for the LAN Shark. At the front the fans produced 59 Db eight inches from the corner of the case at a 45 degree angle. With a case this beautiful, hiding it under a desk would be almost punishable and you should feel ashamed if you were to do it. However, a 59 Db annoyance may put end users in a position where they feel they may have to. I am sure in the future this will be addressed as Smooth Creations seems eager to gain insight from expert opinions about their products.
If you are a gamer that likes to have unique hardware, it would be impossible not to recommend the Smooth Creations LAN Shark. This is the entry product, so users looking for even more power such as SLI, Crossfire, water cooled and extreme performance systems have the option of moving up the product line. Still, the LAN Shark is starting at a nice price point for a gaming system. The painted case is really just an added bonus from a company that knows how to take care of their customers and produces machines that are able to perform much better than their big box competition.