PC Specialist has updated its range of gaming rigs with the introduction of a high-end model dubbed the Vulcan 440. Designed to be a "go-to gaming system for a great price," the new machine arrives at £1,499 and touts many of today's top-tier components in a pre-built package primed and ready for deep-pocketed enthusiasts.
Not a small amount to pay by any means, but if you don't want to cut any corners, PC Specialist reckons this is the ideal PC for high-quality gaming at extreme resolutions up to and including 4K UHD.
So with so many potential combinations, which components has one of the UK's premier system integrators settled upon? Starting with the chassis, it's no surprise to find that NZXT's popular H440 is the enclosure of choice. One of sleekest performance towers of recent years, the H440 - from which the Vulcan 440 gets its name - made waves by ditching 5.25in optical drives and showing off internal hardware in an eye-catching design.
One potential stumbling block for builders and system integrators alike was the matte-black finish, which we found to be particularly prone to scuffs and fingerprints. No such trouble here, though, as PC Specialist has clearly taken care during the build process - our review sample arrived in pristine condition, which is easier said than done where the H440 is concerned.
Remove the side panels and you can almost guess what's going to be inside. Intel Core i7-4790K? Check. Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics? Check. A good-sized SSD? Check. All the main ingredients for a high-end rig are present and accounted for, and there's a good amount of attention to detail when it comes to the supporting cast.
The Intel chip is overclocked to a brisk 4.6GHz and cooled by a Corsair Hydro Series H100i liquid cooler, and it's paired with 16GB (2x8GB) of Kingston Hyper-X Fury Red DDR3-1600 memory. An Asus Maximus VII Ranger Z97 motherboard is used to maintain the black-and-red colour scheme, but it's a shame the graphics card is a reference GTX 980. An overclocked and custom-cooled card would have been preferred, with an Asus Strix or MSI Twin Frozr being an ideal aesthetic match.
In the storage department, a spacious 500GB Samsung 850 Evo SSD serves as the primary drive and is joined by a 2TB WD Caviar Black hard disk for secondary storage. Nothing particularly extravagant on either front, but a good fit for a high-performance machine and all of the aforementioned is serviced by a similarly capable Corsair RM850 power supply.
The 850W supply offers decent headroom should you choose to add a second graphics card further down the line, and PC Specialist's build quality is tidy throughout. Cable management is decent, the system comes pre-loaded with a clean and fully updated install of Windows 8.1, and all the manuals and spare parts are included in the box.
Overall, the Vulcan 440 is touting an impressive-yet-predictable array of hardware. There isn't a great deal we'd change if we happened to be spending this amount of money on a gaming rig, but we would attempt to make the system quieter. As it stands, the constant hum of the internal fans measured a clearly-audible 39dB on our noise meter and rose to a loud 49dB when gaming. Not a deal breaker for the hardened gamer, but for those who care to frag peacefully, the system perhaps could and should be quieter.
Adding up the off-the-shelf cost of all the individual components suggests that an end user could put together an identical rig for around £1,520. However, while there's no major saving for going the pre-built route, you do gain the added peace of mind of a three-year warranty as standard. Always worth having on an overclocked rig, and PC Specialist includes free collect-and-return cover for the first month. Note that parts are only covered for the first year, but a second year's cover is available at an additional cost of £69.
On the subject of cost, readers should also be aware that the £1,499 price applies only to the pre-defined specification and is available via a dedicated promotional page. Make any changes to the spec and you're likely to see costs escalate, so if you're planning any alterations, it may be more cost effective to buy the system as is and independently carry out modifications.