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Review: Scan 3XS Carbon SLI

by Parm Mann on 15 June 2012, 14:34 4.0

Tags: SCAN

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabibf

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Introduction

We've seen our fair share of immense gaming PCs in recent months, but let's tell it how it is; none of them can hold a candle to Scan's 3XS Carbon SLI.

This £3,840 beast is Scan's premium air-cooled machine and it's designed to satisfy the needs of a gamer who'll spend top dollar on a rig that's capable of... well, playing Crysis, amid other things.

Gunning right for the top is extravagant and fun, and it's allowed Scan's engineers to pick and choose what they deem to be some of the very best components currently on the market.

 

Working through the specification is almost as much fun as using the machine. Let's reel off some components, shall we? Starting at the top, Scan has opted for the latest revision of SilverStone's 90-degree-rotated Fortress FT02 chassis. Using a bottom-to-top airflow, this formidable-looking tower touts plenty of room and top-notch performance, but more importantly, it's equipped with a massive windowed side panel that's ideally positioned to show off what lies within.

And here's where the 3XS Carbon SLI gets really tasty. Building on top of an ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard, this monster machine touts a 12-thread Intel Core i7-3930K processor, 16GB (4x4GB) of generic Corsair Vengeance memory, a 1,200W Corsair Professional Series power supply and a highly-rated 256GB Corsair Performance Pro SSD.

Scan's decision to choose Sandy Bridge Extreme over newer, shinier Ivy Bridge is an interesting one, but you can see the reasoning; those who are willing to pay will no doubt appreciate that six Sandy Bridge Extreme cores sound more impressive than just four from Ivy. And, of course, Sandy Bridge is known to overclock particularly well, so Scan has no hesitation in bumping the i7-3930K up to 4.6GHz. Keeping the 130W chip cool under load at these speeds can take some doing, and that's the primary reason for having a dual-fan Phanteks PH-TC14PE_BL CPU cooler as standard. The second reason is that it looks friggin' cool.

 

The SilverStone chassis provides just the right amount of quirkiness - having what's traditionally the PC's rear end pointing up at the sky seems odd at first - but it's very easy to live with and it provides quick access to every port and connector. This unusual layout should also assist airflow, as three bottom-mounted fans help hot air take its natural route up and out of the enclosure.

The 3XS Carbon SLI's 616mm-deep frame certainly looks impressive, but what's really making this system tick is the default graphics card configuration. Whereas most users are quietly content with a single GPU, Scan's armed the Carbon SLI with four GPUs spread across two EVGA GeForce GTX 690 graphics cards.

We've previously described the GTX 690 as 'the best graphics card around', but in employing two of them, Scan has served up a quad-SLI configuration that consists of four 28nm GK104 Kepler GPUs each clocked at 915MHz, a total of 6,144 processor cores, a massive 512 texture units, 128 ROPs and 8GB of memory dished out as 2GB-per-GPU.

That's about as good as it gets on the graphics front, but there is room to throw in a few extra niceties, so by default the 3XS Carbon SLI also includes a 2TB Seagate Barracuda hard disk (that's in addition to the SSD), a dedicated ASUS Xonar Essence STX sound card (because, clearly, onboard sound is a poor man's solution) and a Blu-ray writer (you may never write a Blu-ray disc in your life, but you'll want the option at this price point).

 

Going all out is the easy bit - most system integrators would have settled on similar components for an extreme air-cooled PC - but what's likely to set Scan's system apart is the excellent build quality. In keeping with most 3XS machines there are a multitude of configuration options available, and in its default £3,840 guise, the Carbon SLI looks fantastic. Cable management, as you'd expect, is first rate and the entire system looks and feels like a quality product. Though, for this amount of money, we'd expect nothing less.

All the usual 3XS promises are here; delivery is made by in-house drivers as opposed to a national courier, at-your-desk installation is available, and a 64-bit copy of Windows 7 Home Premium is pre-installed with all the latest drivers and updates. It arrives ready to rock and roll, but Scan has made an important tweak to ensure that it rocks and rolls for many years to come. The warranty, you see, has been upgraded from two years to three. Whereas the previous two-year 3XS warranty offered a year of on-site cover followed by a second year of return-to-base support, the new standard warranty offers a year of on-site cover, a second year of return-to-base cover with parts and labour included, and a third-year of return-to-base cover with labour included but not parts.

Handy to know, but there's still one thing we're itching to discover; what does this gaming monstrosity spit out after a run of 3DMark 11?