Digital Storm Aventum X gaming PC review

The Digital Storm Aventum X is an unstoppable gaming PC. Trust us, we tried

Digital Storm’s Aventum X delivers agile performance in an artfully crafted package.
Digital Storm’s Aventum X delivers agile performance in an artfully crafted package.
Digital Storm’s Aventum X delivers agile performance in an artfully crafted package.

Highs

  • Insanely fast performance
  • Beautiful all-glass side panels
  • Excellent upgradeability and repairability
  • Abundance of ports
  • Custom thermal management with liquid cooling

Lows

  • Potential of NVLink and ray tracing not yet realized
  • Outrageously expensive

DT Editors' Rating

The allure of Digital Storm’s Aventum X isn’t all about power. You can find similar levels of class-leading performance elsewhere, and likely at more affordable prices. The Aventum X is about style.

As the Lamborghini of gaming PCs, the Aventum X delivers agile performance in a package that highlights the technology inside as it does the exterior design. Packed with dual-flagship Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards, an unlocked octa-core 9th-gen Intel Core i9 processor, and a custom HydroLux Pro liquid cooling system, the Aventum X is an over-engineered PC that masterfully celebrates gamers.

Custom built to meet individual needs, the Aventum X starts at $3,365, and our upgraded configuration costs as much as a used car at $9,503. But if you’ve got the cash to drop, the Aventum X delivers unbridled performance that will make you the envy of any gamer.

A custom job

Like the Aventum 3 before it, there’s no denying that the Aventum X is built like a tank, and the desktop’s towering stature is needed to accommodate the insane power that’s packed inside this rig. Sharing similar dimensions to the Aventum 3, the X measuring 28.5-inch tall by 25.8-inch long by 10.5-inch deep, making it one of the larger full-sized desktops. Both units can be configured with similar levels of performance, but the X improves on the 3’s tower design, replacing the glass and metal panel design with two all-glass side windows that provide unobstructed views into the unit’s internals. This small design change gives the Aventum X a more modern feel, despite its boxy-shaped body. It’s a thing of beauty.

Chuong Nguyen/Digital Trends

Digital Storm’s online configuration tool offers plenty of options to customize the exterior finish, trim, and interior components. Our review unit ships with a matte black finish, a front plate that’s finished in a Storm Blue exotic paint job, and two tinted tempered glass side panels that showcase the HyrdoLux liquid cooling system. The see-through design lets you peek at the glitzier components, like the GPU card and intricate LED lighting, while at the same time hiding some of the less glamorous pieces, like the cable management system.

Given the weight and size of the Aventum X, we’d like to see Digital Storm add some ergonomic features, like handles or wheels, to make maneuvering this unit easier. Getting this past the front porch is no easy task. However, once you set it up, you’ll easily impress onlookers with the LED light show from behind the glass windows.

Once you set it up, you’ll easily impress onlookers with the LED light show from behind the glass windows.

Our upgraded unit comes with an Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero motherboard with an Intel Core i9-9900K processor and dual Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics with SLI NVLink, making the system both VR- and ray tracing-ready. If you need even more power, you can upgrade to dual-Nvidia Titan RTX graphics or add an HPC processor for more demanding tasks. Adding three Nvidia GP100 GPGPU will add an additional $23,520 to the configuration, bringing your total cost into luxury car realm.

The total cost of your Aventum build will dramatically increase depending on the upgrades you want. Factory CPU overclocking adds $99 to the cost, and Digital Storm also offers cable management options, airflow control, internal lighting, fan choices, and various cooling system upgrades. Our upgraded $760 HydroLux Pro upgrade delivers cooling for two graphics cards along with the processor.

Cool air intake is handled through vents on the rear, and four LED-lit fans on each side of the unit helps with airflow. An additional three fans help push out hot air through grated vents at the top, making a total of 11 fans. Thanks to the HydroLux Control Center software that comes pre-installed, you can even link the LED lighting to the thermal system to give you a quick visual check on system performance by glancing at the tower.

Peeking under the hood

Though the Aventum X lacks the curves and sculpted angles that contour pre-built rigs from competitors, the unit feels very modern thanks in large part to the two large glass panels that take up the entire sides of the tower.

The adage that beauty matters just as much on the inside as it does on the outside really does apply to Aventum X’s design. The large windows actually let the internal technology and engineering become a part of the overall design. Here, Digital Storm made the circuitry and the components a functional part of the tower’s aesthetics. And because you can see into the entire PC, the company took great care in cable management to make things look tidy. The pipes that deliver liquid cooling looks like a portal to the Mushroom Kingdom.

digital storm aventum x review 6
Chuong Nguyen/Digital Trends

When you need access to the internals, removing the glass panels is a tool-free affair – each window is secured by four large thumbscrews. I did notice a minor hairline scratch in one of the glass panels out of the box. While this small defect in no way affects the performance of the Aventum X, for a unit this expensive, we wished Digital Storm took more care into covering the glass with plastic film to prevent scratches during shipping.

The liquid cooling is the star of the show. If you’ve never used a liquid-cooled PC before, you may be in for a shock when you’re greeted with the sound of trickling water when you power on the PC. The noise disappears after things warm up, but it’s something to keep in mind. Not only does it look amazing, Digital Storm’s HydroLux cooling system does a marvelous job of keeping things cool too.

The adage that beauty matters just as much on the inside as it does on the outside really does apply to Aventum X’s design.

If you need to upgrade the motherboard or graphics cards, the HydroLux Pro cooling system comes with disconnect valves at key junctions to make disassembly easier. Other components, like the 32GB DDR4 G.Skill TridentX RAM, 1TB M.2 Samsung 970 Pro NVME solid-state drive, a 6TB 7200 RPM hard drive, and a 1200W Corsair AX1200i power supply on our unit, are also upgradeable. The unit also comes with eight storage bays.

Our unit came with two RTX 2080 Ti cards, but the Aventum X supports up to four graphics cards. The closest thing to a competitor with a quad-GPU setup is Origin PC’s Genesis desktop. Given the performance of a single RTX 2080 Ti card alone, a setup with four graphics cards would be overkill for most users. Still, it’s nice to know that the Aventum X can be infinitely upgradeable, allowing you to add or swap out existing components as technology evolves.

Though there is no shortage of ports on this system, accessing the rear-facing ports can be awkward, requiring you to lean over the unit’s tall size or reach around to the rear. Fortunately, once you connect your mainstays – like power and display outputs – you have easy access to two USB-A ports, a USB-C port, two audio jacks, and a full-size SD card slot on the top.

digital storm aventum x review 1
Chuong Nguyen/Digital Trends

On the rear, each of our GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cards gave us access to three DisplayPorts, a single HDMI port, and a USB-C port for connecting monitors or VR headsets. The motherboard itself will give you access to another set of HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB-C ports. Additionally, you’ll find five high-speed USB-A ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a serial port, Ethernet connector, WiFi antenna connectors, and your audio input and output ports.

Agile performance

Loaded with some of the best specifications on the market, the Aventum X has the horsepower needed to deliver outstanding performance. Processing performance is in line with systems similarly configured with Intel’s 9th-Generation Core i9-9900K CPU, like the Asys ROG Strix GL12CX. Both systems delivered similar Geekbench results in single- and multi-core benchmarks, and the 9th-gen processor is more powerful at multi-core tasks than the Falcon NW Tiki, which falls approximately 6,500 points short. This is to be expected, however, as the Falcon NW Tiki is a compact desktop that ships with an older Intel Core i7-8700K processor.

This performance difference becomes noticeable in our video encoding test using Handbrake. When we encoded a short video file, the Aventum X and the Core i9-equipped Asus ROG Strix GL12CX was able to complete the task in under 1 minute and 20 seconds. The Falcon NW Tiki took more than twice as long.

The Aventum X’s speedy performance is further aided by the use of a 1TB solid-state drive. Though the drive that shipped inside our system isn’t the most spacious of the systems we’ve tested — that honor goes to the Falcon Tiki — the Aventum’s SSD is still speedy. The Samsung 970 EVO Pro in our unit handily beats out the Samsung 960 EVO SSD on the Digital Storm Equinox in both read and write performance. However, it’s still a bit slower than the Falcon Tiki’s Intel SSD, clocking in with 1,444 and 1,249 for read and write speeds, compared to the latter’s 2,867 and 1,504 marks, respectively.

The Aventum X, like its predecessor, can be configured with either AMD or Intel processors. If want to max out your unit, you can add up to 128GB of DDR RAM, either a standard 4TB solid-state drive or a 2TB SSD in the M.2 form factor, and up to eight additional drives.

Turbo-charged graphics

Where the Aventum X shines is in the graphics department, thanks to its multi-GPU support. Our unit is configured with two Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards with 11GB video RAM each, which delivered the highest 3DMark results of any system that we’ve tested to date.

When benchmarked with Underwriters Laboratories’ graphics tests, the Aventum X leaves the Asus ROG Strix with its single RTX 2080 GPU and older dual GTX-1080 GPU systems like the Alienware Area-51 R5 in the dust. Though the Aventum X’s dual-card setup certainly didn’t produce results that were twice as high as the Strix in every benchmark, Digital Storm’s flagship performed 20 percent better than the Strix on the Sky Diver test, 46 percent better on Fire Strike, and more than 100 percent better on Time Spy. That’s impressive.

The two graphics cards on the Aventum are linked by Nvidia’s SLI NVLink bridge, which, in theory, delivers impressive performance thanks to a latency architecture. Outside of benchmarks, however, the increase in performance isn’t nearly as large, given that not many games support NVLink at this time. Gamers won’t be able to immediately unlock the potential of an NVLink-bridged multi-GPU setup until developers build in support, not unlike the situation with the ray tracing feature on RTX graphics.

Gamers won’t be able to immediately unlock the potential of an NVLink-bridged multi-GPU setup until developers build in support

In gaming benchmarks, titles like Civilization VI and Rocket League, performed equally as well on the Asus ROG Strix’s single-GPU setup as they did on the Aventum X’s dual-GPU configuration. Given how impressive performance is in general on Nvidia’s high-end card, the similarities in results aren’t worrisome from a performance perspective, but it just means that that you’re not realizing any gains for the additional GPU, which costs around $1,199.

On the other hand, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, performed better on our dual-GPU system. Here, the Aventum X readily beats out the single-GPU setup of the Strix by more than more than 50 percent on 1080p resolution at high settings, and the difference extends to more than 100 percent when the game is played in 4K in ultra performance.

Similarly, the Aventum X was still able to edge out competing systems in our Battlefield I test. Compared to the ROG Strix GL12CX, the Aventum X delivered 75 percent more frames per second when the game was played in 4K with the highest possible settings. At lower 2K settings when the game was played under medium settings, the Aventum X outperformed the ROG Strix by 26 percent. In other words, the Aventum X’s potential becomes clearer when the system is under heavy stress.

Titles like Fortnite and Battlefield V appear buttery smooth, but no one should be surprised by that. We decided we had to throw the hardest gaming test we could at it: Battlefield V with ray tracing. That’s when the Aventum X flexed its muscles. Compared to our single-RTX 2080 benchmark, the dual-RTX 2080 Ti cards on our Aventum X showed little perceptible loss in frame rates when Battlefield V was played at up to 2K resolutions at 60Hz with ray tracing enabled. And even though you’re not getting a 100 percent improvement when doubling the number of graphics cards, we found that the Aventum X won’t slow down as much as a single-RTX setup when the system is stressed.

digital storm aventum x review xxl

But not even the Aventum X could stay over 60 FPS in 4K with ray tracing cranked. That might change if DLSS anti-aliasing finds its way to more games, but again, that could take a while.

Creatives looking to pick up the Aventum X for work will be happy to know that video editing using Adobe Premiere Pro CC was similarly snappy. Still, with a high sticker price and what really is a marginal improvement in performance compared to single-RTX setups at this time, the Aventum X and other multi-GPU systems won’t make sense for most people, especially since so few games currently support ray racing. Until more games and applications support the capabilities of Nvidia’s RTX graphics and unlock the potential behind the faster NVLink bridge, the dual-GPU setup remains a bit excessive. In the future? Who knows — maybe this much power will have a stronger use case.

Warranty

Although Digital Storm’s limited three-year warranty appears to fall in line with what rivals offer, reading between the lines reveal a different story, as there are separate stipulations for parts and labor. The warranty only covers labor costs for three years, while defective parts are only backed by a one-year limited warranty. Some parts, however, may carry a longer warranty period, depending on the manufacturer of the component.

Given the cost of the Aventum X, users may want to opt for Digital Storm’s optional extended warranty upgrades. Like the base package, these extended warranty plans also come with staggered parts and labor coverage periods. Some competing boutique PC builders offer more generous and straightforward warranties. Falcon-NW, for example, offers a three-year warranty on both parts and labor, while Origin PC offers a generous lifetime labor and one-year parts warranty on its Genesis system.

Our Take

The Aventum X is a gaming rig that feels larger than life. Built to satiate the demands of the enthusiast gaming community with support for the latest Intel Core i9-9900K processor, up to four graphics cards, and up to three HPC processors, the Aventum X is the most powerful desktops we’ve tested. Priced starting at $3,365, Digital Storm delivers with exceptional build quality and more power than what most gamers will actually utilize or need in this over-engineered PC. If you have the need for speed, be prepared to shell out a hefty premium for all the upgrade options to fully kit out this rig.

Is there a better alternative?

Though you’ll be able to configure other build-to-order PCs with similar specifications as our dual-GPU Aventum X review unit, none can match the power and capabilities of Digital Storm’s flagship with its support for HPC processors. Our $9,503 review unit is, for example, $1,845 more expensive than a similarly configured Falcon NW Mach V with an Exotix paintwork finish. You just won’t find see-through glass panels on the Mach V, leaving Falcon Northwest’s design to hide, rather than showcase, the insides.

If you don’t need a dual-GPU setup, HP’s Omen Obelisk comes with a large, single-glass side panel and can be configured with up to a single RTX 2080 GPU starting at $1,999. Given that most games won’t be able to unlock the potential of an NVLink-bridged multi-GPU setup just yet, going with a single-GPU setup may negate the need for more complex liquid cooling designs and save you significant money in the process.

Asus’ ROG Strix GL12CX, which comes with a slightly weaker 9th-Generation Intel Core i7-9700K processor and a single RTX 2080 GPU, is priced at $3,299, but comes bundled with a mechanical keyboard and mouse. Asus’ pricing is more comparable to the base Aventum X. At a similar price, the entry-level Aventum X comes with weaker specifications that include a single GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, making it pricier and bulkier compared to the Strix. When compared to our upgraded review unit, the Strix is a third of the price, while delivering similar performance under most situations.

With support for four liquid-cooled GPUs and two all-glass side panels, Origin PC’s Genesis is the Aventum X’s closest competitor. When configured similarly to our Aventum X unit, the Genesis costs $8,203, which is $1,300 less than what Digital Storm charges. The Genesis comes with a more generous lifetime labor warranty, but falls short in terms of pure performance. It has just five storage bays instead of the Aventum X’s eight and doesn’t ship with factory overclocking options or HPC support.

How long will it last?

For serious gamers who want to hang on to their investments for the long haul, the Aventum X comes with the potential and performance that will last you for years of gaming. It’s equipped with the latest processor from Intel and comes with two of Nvidia’s most powerful consumer graphics cards. As more games unlock the potential of Nvidia’s RTX series cards, like ray tracing and more advanced AI-based rendering, the Aventum X will begin to show its value as a future-proof system that you can buy today for tomorrow’s games. And when newer components arrive, the Aventum X comes with plenty of room  for upgrades.

Should you buy it?

The Aventum X is an insanely powerful PC that won’t slow down no matter what you throw at it. But by crafting the most powerful PC, Digital Storm has priced the Aventum X out of the reach of most gamers. If you do have the cash, for all of its excesses and decadence, the Aventum X is an unrivaled performance in an attractive design that will not leave you wanting for more. Until developers build in NVLink and ray tracing support, the Aventum X remains a beautifully expensive proof of concept that showcases the potential for the future of gaming.

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