The review system arrived via FEDEX Freight in an enormous wooden crate (the lower one) on a pallet. A Smooth Creations rep stated that the company's high-end systems all ship this way.
A quick note: This particular system has been making the rounds among various publications, which means we didn't receive this system directly from Smooth Creations. As such, some of the packaging might not be what a retail customer would receive. Similarly, the hard drive contained test software from other reviewers, so we aren't able to comment on the software configuration.
The crate is huge. One could easily fit two people (or three contortionists) inside it. After removing the top of the crate, we see much of the interior volume is taken up by foam blocks to stabilize and cushion the system box.
After removing the white fabric cover, we get our first good look at this custom-painted, doublewide chassis. The steam-punkish artwork looks great. Just as we saw on the Battlefield system, the graphics are quite sharp, not grainy or pixilated.
Unlike the Battlefield machine, Smooth Creations shipped this system with the video cards already installed. With all wires and coolant tubes snaking through the machine's internals, they most likely do this to reduce the risk of the customer accidentally knocking something loose.
No shortage of I/O to be found with this system. The front panel sports a multi-card reader, 2xUSB 2.0, a 5 volt power USB (also known as USB Plus Power or Retail USB), a 12 volt power USB, an eSATA port, power eSATA port and headphone & mic jacks.
The ASUS Rampage III x58 LGA 1366 motherboard provides even more places to plug stuff in. We find 6xUSB 2.0, a single PS/2 keyboard input, a CLR_CMOS button for resetting the BIOS, S/PDIF optical out, eSATA, FireWire, Ethernet port, multichannel analog audio outs, and a "ROG Connect" port, which allows on-the-fly overclocking. There's also a small dongle for RC Bluetooth.
We also get a small switch that turns off some of the case lighting.
Things are a bit crowded inside, as there's lots of stuff in there. However, since this system is liquid cooled, unimpeded airflow is less of a necessity.
The left half of the chassis (looking at the system from the front) houses the traditional PC guts: motherboard, GPUs, etc.). The right side houses the bulkier bits of the liquid cooling apparatus.
Documentation & Accessories
The accessories box held a black binder containing software and documentation. We received discs for Far Cry 2 and Nero 8.
The documentation in the binder consisted of various build checklists, benchmarks, system stats and warranty information.