Desktop PC

Wired2Fire HAL Review

Wired2Fire HAL Review

The estates of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke can rest easy, this isn’t a PC named after the crazed machine that attempted to extinguish the crew of the Discovery One.

According to Wired2Fire, this rig is named because of its dual-use functionality as a home and LAN party PC. So relax, it’s not going to try to fire you out of the nearest airlock in a fit of resentment.

This is a beautifully built little machine that doesn’t skimp on the performance components. That size and spec mean it’s as at home in, well, your home as it is at any LAN event you could name.

So what’s the spec? Well, it’s an i5 – the 3570K running at 4.56GHz to be exact. You’ve also got a standard GTX 670 doing the graphics duties and a healthy amount of DDR3 RAM, mounted on Asus’s exceptional P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard. It’s the finest, most feature-packed mini-ITX mobo I’ve ever had the fortune to play with.

It’s these performance components that let the HAL keep pace with any full rig. The chassis deserves its share of the plaudits too. After all, the fact that it can house a full PSU, graphics card and decent CPU cooler is very impressive.

Benchmarks

CPU rendering performance
Cinebench R11.5: Index score: Higher is better

WIRED2FIRE HAL: 10.9
FUSION PILEDRIVER: 10.4

Video encoding performance
X264: FPS: Higher is better

WIRED2FIRE HAL: 51
FUSION PILEDRIVER: 49

DirectX 11 gaming performance
Max Payne 3: FPS: Higher is better

WIRED2FIRE HAL: 119
FUSION PILEDRIVER: 117

After my antics building a review PC without an optical disk drive last issue, it’s interesting to see that Wired2Fire is selling the HAL in this ODD-less spec. The brushed aluminium frontage is all the more beautiful for the fact that it has no optical drive messing up the clean lines.

Living loud?

When we first pulled it out of the box and opened up the chassis, the general consensus of the team was that, as well-built as it is, the HAL would surely be one noisy-ass beast once you started ramping up the processing and graphical demands. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

Well, if we’d bet that Yoda would burst forth from the chassis riding a unicorn as we pressed the power button, we would have been more wrong. Or just plain morons. But pedantry aside, this is an impressively quiet machine, even with Heaven running on full settings at 2,560 x 1,600 for a couple hours.

Chuck it in a sweaty LAN party, stinking of unwashed adolescent boys and stale pizza, and it will still keep rocking your gaming world without making your ears bleed.

Aside from the impressive build, it’s also one of the first full review PCs to turn up at the office with Windows 8 pre-installed. But Wired2Fire is obviously not 100 per cent convinced gamers are going to relish the new OS, because it’s installed Classic Shell to remove the ‘boot into Start screen’ shenanigans and add a Start button to the desktop taskbar.

It’s not the only SI hedging its bets on Windows 8 – we spoke to PC Specialist too, and it’s still offering Windows 7 as the default install option. At an evening-at-the-cinema over a grand, the HAL is decent value for money too.

That ODD is all you’re missing out on and, with the SSD/HDD pairing filling out the specs list, it has all the gaming chops you need. An impressive wee beastie and no mistake. Now, open the pod bay doors, HAL.

By Dave James, TechRadar

Desktop PC

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