Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
AVADirect is a well-established custom computer manufacturer specializing in systems for gamers and power users. They recently sent us an Avant Mini Cube mid-sized gaming PC. The Avant Mini Cube line can be customized with different CPU, memory, storage, accessory, and GPU options. It's built with an ASUS ROG mATX motherboard based on the Intel 100 series chipset and NVIDIA's GTX 1000 series high-performance GPUs, so you have a limited number of customization options, which makes the process of picking out specifications a little easier. One of the most notable customization options is an option to have the CPU overclocked.
For many of us, building a PC is as easy as tieing our shoe laces, but even tieing shoe laces takes practice. Many people fear the prospect of screwing up expensive hardware, and gaming systems like the Avant Mini Cube become much more appealing, especially since they offer a three-year parts and labor warranty with lifetime technical support. The unit shipped to us uses high-performance brand named parts and isn't priced outrageously. Today we take a look at the Avant Mini Cube from AVADirect.
The Avant Mini Cube is a fully built custom PC and uses very high-end components. The unit we have today uses a Corsair Carbide series AIR 540, an Intel Core-i7 6700K overclocked to 4.6GHz (but out unit is using an air cooler instead of an AIO water cooling unit), an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition, 16GB (2x8GB) Kingston Fury memory at 2400MHz, a 500GB Samsung 850 Evo SSD, a 1TB Seagate HDD, four ThermalTake blue LED ring case fans, 20-color RGB LED lighting with remote, and white sleeved cabling for the PSU.
The Avant Mini Cube gaming PC is designed primarily for gaming (including VR gaming), but can also handle workstation and power user workloads. With its overclock and top of the line components, the Avant Cube Mini should be able to handle almost all AAA games without issue.
The Avant Mini Cube in this configuration costs roughly $2449.
The unit is shipped inside the box of the case, which is placed inside an AVADirect box for further protection. The shipping package is designed to ensure the case is safe. AVADirect also uses pink foam on the inside of the unit to ensure that the GPU and wires don't get tossed around.
There is also an included yellow paper instructing buyers on how to prepare the machine for first take off. Our unit arrived in pristine condition, and no wires were unplugged. You will need to remove the side panel with a window to remove the pink foam before use.
The front of the unit features two USB 3.0 ports, power and reset buttons, status LED, headphone jack, and microphone jack. The back of the unit features the IO panel of the Maximus VIII Gene, which includes BIOS flashback button, ClearCMOS button, USB 3.1 type-A, USB 3.1 type-C, six USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, RJ-45 1Gbit NIC, and 7.1 audio outputs with S/PDIF optical.
You shouldn't plug your monitor into the rear IO panel of the motherboard. Instead, you want to plug into the GTX 1080 FE outputs, either through HDMI, DisplayPort, or DVI. The EVGA power supply has a switch for an economy mode, which is meant to improve efficiency.
The top and bottom of the unit are designed to be removed easily so you can clean the vents.
One of the side panels features a window so you can see the guts of your system. Our unit uses an ASUS Maximus VIII Gene microATX motherboard as the backbone of the system. AVADirect can add in an AIO water cooling unit when they overclock the CPU, but in this case, they used an air cooler for the overclocked 6700K.
Physical Overview Continued
The other side panel features a magnetic vent cover to catch dust particles and the like. Opening up the side panel reveals the wire extensions and EVGA 750W PSU.
I wanted to see how well the CPU cooler was mounted, so I removed the cooler to see the thermal paste distribution pattern. AVADirect did a fine job of using the right amount of paste.
The RGB LEDs are controlled by a remote included with the package. The Logysis LED controller box is in the area where the wire extensions are located. The RGB LEDs are mounted all along the interior edge of the case.
The SSD and HDD are located in bays. You can locate the storage bay from the rear of the case if you want to upgrade or replace the existing storage configuration. The blue LED ring fans are from Thermaltake (TT-1225).
Software and BIOS
AVADirect didn't include much software other than Windows 10, but I did find these test reports on stability and overall configuration of the system.
The BIOS is that of the ASUS Maximus VIII Gene. The CPU is overclocked to 4.6GHz on all cores, with a slight core voltage offset. Memory is set to 2400MHz XMP. I tested the stability of the system and found that it was stable. The BIOS contains everything you need if you want to change boot order or alter the speed of the fans.
Test Setup & System Performance Benchmarks
Steven's Gaming System Test Setup
- System: AVADirect Avant Mini Cube
- Monitor: ASUS PA328 ProArt 32" 4K
- Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX
- Mouse: Corsair M65 PRO RGB
- Headset: Corsair VOID RGB Wireless
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
AIDA64 AES and HASH
Handbrake 4K and 720P Transcoding
The overclocked 6700K is a beast. The CPU runs at 4.6GHz instead of its default 4/4.2GHz Turbo speed, and the memory is also overclocked with its XMP profile.
Together they produce a very fast and capable system. The overclocked 6700K should help alleviate CPU bottlenecks on the powerful GTX 1080 Founder's Edition GPU.
Gaming Performance Benchmarks
UNIGINE Heaven 4.0
AIDA64 GPU Memory
Ashes of Singularity
Final Fantasy XIV
The GTX 1080 Founder's Edition is a very powerful graphics card. Even in Ashes of Singularity, by far our hardest benchmark, the system was able to maintain 60 FPS average frame rate at 4K resolution. That is quite impressive, as is gaming performance in other benchmarks. The GTX 1080 FE also makes smooth VR gameplay possible.
System IO Performance
System IO Benchmarks
Internal Storage Read Test:
Internal Storage Write Test:
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The Avant Mini Cube uses a Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD for the OS and a Seagate 1TB HDD for storage. Both drives are strong performers, and upgrading the storage in the future should be simple and straightforward due to the easy access bay for 3.5-inch drives.
Thermal Performance and Power Consumption
The idle and load shots above are from the back of the unit. The system operates very coolly when at idle, partly due to the extreme power saving modes of the individual components. The GPU and CPU both will throttle down to lower frequencies, thus use less power, and not turn that power into heat.
The idle and load shots are of the inside of the computer after removing the side panel. After allowing the system to run IBT and Furmark for 30 minutes, the side panel was removed and then I immediately took the thermal image. The GPU gets warmer than the CPU, and this is common among many systems. Airflow was good, and there is nothing to worry about.
While the AVADirect Avant Mini Cube is an mATX system, it does utilize high-end components. These components use a decent amount of power to produce blistering fast speeds, and that is why this system has the highest power consumption.
What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts
Here are key points about the Avant Mini Cube.
Gaming Performance: The GTX 1080 Founder's Edition is one of the fastest consumer GPUs, and AVADirect has matched it with the right configuration to milk every last drop of gaming performance out of the system. The CPU is the top of the line Skylake i7-6700K and also overclocked. System memory and storage are more than enough to facilitate excellent performance and response times. The final touch is the cooling, which is configured to keep the components cool during heavy loads without sounding like a jet engine.
CPU Overclocked: The overclocked 6700K adds a nice touch to this pre-built gaming PC. The overclock was stable, the CPU core voltage wasn't too high (a modest offset was added), and AVADirect was able to successfully cool the CPU with an air cooler. The CPU cooler fan didn't get loud either. So why would you want an overclocked 6700K since it's already very fast? The short answer is because it helps alleviate the bottleneck posed by the 6700K in some games with a GPU like the GTX 1080 FE. At some point, CPU intensive games will become CPU bound (we see this at lower resolutions in GTA:V and AoS), and to help push FPS further, the CPU is overclocked.
Component Quality: AVADirect did a solid job of picking the right parts, many of which provide very high value for DIY builders. However, most of the parts are top shelf including the ROG motherboard, the i7-6700K, and the GTX 1080 Founder's Edition. You just can't do much better than what AVADirect has already chosen.
Aesthetics: From the RGB LED strips lining the windows area to the white cable extensions with cable combs, the unit looks sleek and seductive. The blue LED ring fans from ThermalTake also add a nice touch since you can see their hues from the vents on the Corsair case. AVADirect's cable management was also well-done, and I didn't see much slack that would introduce an eye sore.
Note and Support: After removing the case box from the AVADirect box, you will notice a bright yellow piece of paper taped to the case's box. That note provides instructions on how to inspect the system and offers assistance for buyers in case they are worried about something. The unit also comes with a parts and labor warranty, as well as a lifetime technical support.
You will need to open the case window panel: Since the system is fully built, and the majority of components aren't soldered in place, AVADirect uses a large pink foam insert that molds to the shape of the interior of the system. It provides support and keeps cables from popping out, but you will need to open the side panel of the case to remove it before powering up.
The Avant Mini Cube is configurable and can take many different forms, but ours is one of the most robust when it comes to gaming performance and quite pricey at $2449. The unit we have with us today topped all of our charts in gaming performance, mainly due to the GTX 1080 Founder's Edition and overclocked 6700K. AVADirect did an excellent job with configuring the overclock and building the system. Cable management is pristine, and cables are arranged to remove obstructions that could impede efficient airflow.
The system doesn't just provide solid 4K gameplay, insanely high FPS at 1080P, and full VR capabilities; it also looks great. The RGB LEDs are positioned so the light shines indirectly and illuminates the internals of the system in a tasteful manner. Overall, I was impressed with the build quality and performance of the Avant Mini Cube, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a blazing fast gaming PC.
|Quality including Design and Build||94%|
|Bundle and Packaging||90%|
|Value for Money||90%|
The Bottom Line: AVADirect's Avant Mini Cube is loaded to the brim with high-performance and quality hardware and topped our charts in almost all benchmarks, especially when it came to gaming.
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