Scan 3XS Z97 Performance GTX review

Scan 3XS Z97 Performance GTX

There was a time when a gaming PC based around a new Intel chip would have had throngs of excited journalists rushing to shout its achievements from all convenient rooftops. These days, though, new chips have become, well, a little safe. See what's the best gaming PC?

Gone are the endless shattering of records. It's now more about how much you can save - both in power and in pounds. This Scan PC comes with a piece from the new Devil's Canyon range and, as with Haswell, provides an increase that's merely incremental rather than revolutionary.

Admittedly, the 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5-4690K is the lesser of the new chips, and is designed to replace the 3.4 GHz Core i5-4670K. For more explosive results, you might want to opt instead for the 4.0 GHz Core i7-4790K, designed to build on the 3.5 GHz i7-4770K.

But if the 4690K in this Scan machine is hardly the last word in PC-induced excitement, it still offers a decent lick of speed. One of the virtues of these chips is that their more conservative power generation allows them to be kicked up to towering figures using the dark art of overclocking. (See also: Best compact gaming PCs 2014.)

Few companies are as adept at getting beneath the bonnet as long-time component retailer Scan, and this 3.5 GHz chip has been pushed up to a quite astonishing 4.7 GHz. By way of comparison, no more than 4.4 GHz seemed to be possible with the 4670K, so given the slightly increased clock speed of the 4690K, it seems that the newer chip has an extra 0.2 GHz or so of elbow room.

Scan 3XS Z97 Performance GTX review: benchmark scores

That helped this PC to generate a PCMark 7 score of 6747 points. In the annals of PCMark, that isn't a particularly outstanding score. But given that the machine comes with just 8 GB of memory on board - albeit high-quality Corsair Vengeance Pro, driven at 2133 MHz - anything in the high 6000s is highly impressive.

This isn't, then, the most mind-blowing of gaming PCs. But every component has been carefully picked. The 256 GB SanDisk Enterprise X110 SSD is there to turn out the gigabytes at scintillating rates, while mass storage is taken care of by that old friend, the 2 TB Seagate Barracuda hard drive. The rich drive options are completed by the smooth Samsung SH-224DB burner, and the front-mounted flash memory unit.

Moderate on-board sound is all too common nowadays, but that's not good enough for Scan's customers - this machine comes armed with Creative's Audigy FX 5.1, generating audio and atmospheric soundtracks and effects.

You'll want an aural feast to go with the highly capable EVGA GTX 770 graphics card. The latter offers some sterling game frame rates, almost hitting 300 fps at the lowest settings in our Sniper tests. It's not quite so stellar at high resolutions, but mid-detail levels should allow you to register significant three-figure frame rates, such as the 154 fps in Sniper, and 128 fps in AvP.

Scan 3XS Z97 Performance GTX

Everything is packaged up inside the meaty Corsair Graphite 230T chassis, and the ethereal blue glow even lights up the impressive-looking Scan logo at the top of the case. Underneath the lid, the array of components is beautifully laid out, and the black-and-gold colour scheme seems to be mirrored across the entire PC.

More to the point, it's easy to access each and every component. The tidy but effective H75 CPU cooler doesn't dominate, and there's plenty of room for further cards and drives. The 600 watt Corsair PSU will allow for appropriate upgrades.

Scan 3XS Z97 Performance GTX review: quiet fans

The sizeable fans aren't totally quiet, but are relatively peaceful for a gaming PC. The system does draw around 81 watt even when idling, and pushes up to 352 watt during intensive testing.

The system, then, isn't the most modest in terms of its power requirements. The idling figure, in particular, seems a little high.

The warranty is relatively comprehensive, though, covering you for three years. The first of those is onsite, but even though the second and third years are RTB only, that does cover both parts and labour. Scan conducts heavy stress testing before PCs are sent out, so its returns rate should be relatively low in any case. (See also: 6 best budget gaming PCs 2014 UK.)

Scan 3XS Z97 Performance GTX

Scan 3XS Z97 Performance GTX: Specs

  • 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5-4690K @ 4.7GHz
  • Corsair H75 CPU cooler
  • 8 GB Corsair DDR3 2133 MHz
  • 2 TB Seagate Barracuda hard disk (7200 rpm)
  • 256 GB Sandisk Enterprise X110 SSD
  • Corsair CX 600 W PSU
  • Asus Z97-K motherboard
  • Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 770 Superclocked (2 GB) 1163 MHz/701 0MHz Memory Clock
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy FX 5.1 sound
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 8x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
  • 2x DVI
  • HDMI
  • 5x audio
  • Corsair Graphite 230T case
  • flash memory drive
  • 24x DVD-RW drive
  • 3-year warranty (1-year onsite, 2-year RTB parts and labour)
  • 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5-4690K @ 4.7GHz
  • Corsair H75 CPU cooler
  • 8 GB Corsair DDR3 2133 MHz
  • 2 TB Seagate Barracuda hard disk (7200 rpm)
  • 256 GB Sandisk Enterprise X110 SSD
  • Corsair CX 600 W PSU
  • Asus Z97-K motherboard
  • Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 770 Superclocked (2 GB) 1163 MHz/701 0MHz Memory Clock
  • Creative SoundBlaster Audigy FX 5.1 sound
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 8x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
  • 2x DVI
  • HDMI
  • 5x audio
  • Corsair Graphite 230T case
  • flash memory drive
  • 24x DVD-RW drive
  • 3-year warranty (1-year onsite, 2-year RTB parts and labour)

OUR VERDICT

The combination of a brand new chip and carefully picked components still doesn't make this the most show-stopping of gaming PCs. What it does, though, is to give you a suitable selection of finely honed features that help make this a richly rewarding system for those who value overall performance and value above devastating specifications.