General Hands-On Usage
Here's a CPU-Z screenshot showing some detailed specs of what's running under the F131's hood:
And here's a GPU-Z screenshot showing the status for the graphics card.
As you can see in the CPU-Z screenshot, the Phenom II X6 1090T is overclocked up to 4GHz from the standard 3.2GHz clock speed. We didn't experience any problems related to the overclocked processor. Having a Corsair liquid cooler on the CPU really helps with thermal stability, which in turn provides solid overclocked performance.
As we saw with the Maingear F131, a properly overclocked and stable CPU adds significant value to a system since you're getting a performance boost without having to buy a more expensive CPU. This is definitely something we expect from boutique builders, and Smooth Creations certainly gets it right with this system.
Along with the oc'd processor, the incorporation of a solid-state hard drive (SSD) delivers super-fast OS performance, including any programs installed on the SSD. Our review model has the best of both worlds in terms of storage-the speed of the SSD and the large capacity of the 2TB spinner.
The system proved pleasurable in terms of everyday computing tasks. Programs opened and closed quickly, and we didn't experience any crashes or hangs during the review process.
From a usability standpoint, we really liked having USB ports and the headphone jack on the top side of the chassis. With the system sitting on the floor, this configuration made it quite easy to use a thumb drive or plug in a pair of 'phones for some late-night gaming.
The system took 48 seconds to boot, a time on par with the other SSD-equipped systems we've seen.
This machine idled at 174 watts and jumped up to 433 watts under load.
We ran this custom rig through the standard media encoding test regime here at TweakTown, which includes music and video transcoding.
All systems are tested "as is", which means operating systems and drivers can and do vary and some come pre-installed with applications that may or may not affect performance.
Any anti-virus or security applications are disabled and uninstalled before any testing is started, as they can affect test numbers.
For the iTunes encoding test we took the White Stripes - Under Great White Northern Lights album in MP3 format and encode it to AAC format using iTunes and time the results with a stopwatch.
The computer performed this task in 67 seconds.
For the movie-encoding test, we took the Microsoft Magic of Flight VC-1 WMV (1080p HD) video with six-channel audio and transcode it to XviD (1080p HD) with LAME MP3 two-channel audio and an MP4 container using MediaCoder 0.7.3.4616 32-bit edition.
The machine took a mere 71 seconds to complete this, which is remarkably fast. The video itself is 122 seconds long, so we're getting better-than-real-time transcoding speed on this task.
This system didn't come with a Blu-ray drive, but we did watch some excellent DVD footage of The Secret to a Happy Ending - A Documentary About the Drive-By Truckers using the included Nero 8 software.