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Scan 3XS OC PC system review. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 SLI graphics

by Tarinder Sandhu on 19 November 2010, 07:00 4.0


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Bring the rain

Scan Computers is no stranger to creating high-end PCs based on the latest technology. Its 3XS line of systems span practically all budgets and tastes, with internal components being user-customisable to the nth degree.

Appreciating that the potent NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 graphics card launched last week, Scan has taken the opportunity of putting a couple into a suitably high-end machine for our delectation. Enter the 3XS SLI 580 OC PC.

We'll take a look at the specifications, go for a visual tour and then compare it against our top-line test rig for 2010.

Scan 3XS SLI 580 OC PC
Chassis Cooler Master HAF X
Processor Intel Core i7 950 (3.06GHz) @ 4.0GHz (20 x 200MHz BCLK)
Cooler Prolimatech Megahalems Super 6
Mainboard ASUS Rampage III Extreme, X58, LGA1366
Memory 6GB (3 x 2GB) Corsair DOMINATOR DDR3-1,600 @ 9-9-9-24-1T 
Hard disk(s) Boot: Corsair Force F120 SSD
Storage: 2 x Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB, 32MB cache, 7,200rpm, in RAID1
Display None, optional extra
Graphics hardware Dual EVGA GeForce GTX 580 1,536MB in SLI
Optical drive 1 LG CH10LS20 Blu-ray reader and DVD-ROM combo-drive
Optical drive 2 None, optional extra
Sound hardware Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional
Speakers None, optional extra
Modem None
Networking hardware 10/100/1000
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit
PSU Corsair AX 1,200W
Input devices None, optional extras
Additional software Acronis True Image Home 2011; rest to be confirmed
Notable items Pre-overclocked CPU, dual GeForce GTX 580 graphics cards, extra lighting 
Included warranty Two years; first year on-site; second year RTB + labour and extended parts warranty
Price £2,549.74, including VAT
Shipping Free for HEXUS.community members


Reckon you've seen something similar from Scan? Chances are that you have, as the company dutifully obliged NVIDIA by releasing the 3XS SLI 480 OC, complete with twin GTX 480 cards tied together via SLI.

This time around, £2,500 buys you genuine upgrades on the May-priced £2,749 480 OC's specification. In comes the enthusiast-orientated Cooler Master HAF X tower chassis; a better Core i7 chip; improved boot SSD; higher-spec. motherboard; improved PSU, and, most telling of all, two GeForce GTX 580 cards in SLI.

Taking it from the top, the HAF X is full-tower chassis that does a decent job of keeping quality kit cool. Peering inside, prices of Intel Core i7 chips have dropped to an extent where the 3.06GHz-clocked part is now available for £230. Scan straps on the oft-used Prolimatech Megahalems cooler and cranks up the speed to 4GHz, achieved by dropping the multiplier to 20x and raising the base clock to 200MHz.

The memory and primary SSD come from Corsair's performance stable, so no complaints here, and the soundcard is a solid inclusion in a high-end PC. Appreciating the nature and price of the system, we reckon that a Blu-ray writer is the minimum requirement for the optical drive; the LG CH10LS20 simply reads Blu-ray discs.

Getting to the meat of the PC, over £1,000 of the budget is taken up by the motherboard and twin graphics cards. NVIDIA's GTX 580s are the best-performing single-GPU cards on the planet; enough said.

Scan has played the GPU cooling game with some thought by specifying the £285 ASUS Rampage III. There are half-priced X58 boards with most of the performance trimmings, sure, but the R3E is one of a handful that provides adequate spacing between two cards as well as the possibility of adding in a third GTX 580, should funds permit. We're of the thinking that anyone dropping £2.5K on a base unit won't mind paying the extra £140 for a quality motherboard. The same future-proofing rationale is applied for the inclusion of Corsair's best PSU, the AX1200.

Warranty is standard for a high-end Scan system, that is, one-year onsite (next-day call-out) and return-to-base for labour in the second year together with any extended warranties the parts may ship with.

The system takes a total of four days to build and qualify from the point that engineers begin assembly, according to Scan, and the company employs a 10-step process that includes a 24-hour stress-test (48 hours if overclocked) and a number of quality-control checks. Assembly is an ongoing business, naturally, and it's possible to have a system despatched within a couple of days of ordering.

Totting up the components we arrive at a figure of around £2,400, including VAT, which excludes the warranty, building, and overclocking applied by Scan. The £150 premium, then, is justifiable.

First-page summary

HEXUS errs on the side of the enthusiast when evaluating hardware. We go through the specification and see what could be changed for the better, given the budget. Skewed towards the gamer, the Scan 3XS 580 SLI OC uses top-notch components that we'd be content to have in our system. There's very little we would change, and any component swap would be a sideways move rather than an improvement. Based on the specifications, the 3XS SLI 580 OC is off to a good start.