Introducing the Puget Systems Deluge

It's been a little while since we've had a Puget Systems desktop in, and so far we haven't yet tested any of their big dog gaming machines. Everything else we've tested, we've liked, but what happens when the fine folks over at Puget Systems pull out all the stops and put together a high end gaming machine? The answer: the Deluge, an X79-based rig in a modified Antec P183, employing a custom liquid-cooling loop. It's big, powerful, and expensive. Did Puget Systems hit another custom out of the park, and is Sandy Bridge-E the enthusiast platform we were waiting for?

While we're used to seeing liquid-cooled systems around here, the Puget Systems Deluge is one of the few we've had in with a fully custom solution. Puget Systems modified the Antec P183 enclosure substantially, planting a 360mm Koolance radiator in the top and adding a window to the side (complete with intake fan). This is really the first tricked-out system we've received from them, and it's a doozy aimed at demonstrating what Intel's new Sandy Bridge-E and X79 platform can do. Needless to say, the rap sheet comes packed with all the latest and greatest hardware.

Puget Systems Deluge L2 Specifications
Chassis Antec P183, Modified
Processor Intel Core i7-3960X
(6x3.3GHz + HTT, Turbo to 3.9GHz, 4.6GHz Overclock, 32nm, 15MB L3, 130W)
Motherboard ASUS Sabertooth X79 (X79 chipset)
Memory 8x4GB Patriot Viper Xtreme DDR3-1600 @ 1500MHz (expandable to 64GB)
Graphics 2x NVIDIA eVGA GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB GDDR5 in SLI
(2x 512 CUDA Cores, 772/1544/4008MHz core/shaders/RAM, 384-bit memory bus)
Hard Drive(s) Intel 510 250GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 7200-RPM SATA 6Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) ASUS BD-RE (BW-12B1ST)
Networking Intel 82579V Gigabit Ethernet
Audio ASUS Xonar DX
Speaker, mic/line-in, surround jacks, optical out for 7.1 sound
Front Side Optical drive
Card reader
USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
Headphone and mic jacks
Top -
Back Side PS/2
5x USB 3.0
6x USB 2.0
6-pin FireWire
Optical out
2x eSATA
4x DVI-D
2x Mini-HDMI
Speaker, mic/line-in, surround, and optical jacks
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 19.9" x 8.1" x 22" (WxDxH)
Extras Card reader
Antec CP1000 PSU
Custom liquid-cooling loop with 360mm radiator
Warranty 1-year parts, Lifetime labor and tech support (extendable by up to three years)
Pricing Starts at $3,945
Review system configured at $7,254

Well, I believe that's officially the most expensive configuration I've yet tested, so if you don't need a car but can afford to buy one, Puget Systems is willing to sell you a tricked out desktop in its stead.

We start at the top with Intel's shiny new top-of-the-line Core i7-3960X. Built on a 32nm process, the new chip features eight hyper-threaded Sandy Bridge cores and 20MB of L3 cache, although in this chip 5MB of L3 and two of the cores are disabled. There's an unlocked multiplier and quad-channel memory, and it runs at a nominal 3.3GHz clock speed. Puget Systems, however, pushed this baby to 4.6GHz, and strapped to the four memory channels is 32GB of Patriot DDR3 in eight 4GB DIMMs, running at 1.5GHz due to a tweaked BCLK.

Handling graphics duties are a pair of eVGA GeForce GTX 580s with Koolance waterblocks attached to them. For the first time, I think I'm actually mildly surprised the video cards themselves haven't been overclocked, especially given how much headroom there can be on the GTX 580 (my own is pushing 880MHz on stock voltage). The stock clock speeds of 772MHz on the core (resulting in 1544MHz on the shaders) and 4GHZ on the 1.5GB of GDDR5 is actually kind of disappointing, especially knowing that all of Puget Systems' suppliers offer factory overclocked cards. Even a mild bump, as is found on eVGA's SuperClocked GTX 580, would've been appreciated. But they're running in SLI and the stupefying amount of CPU power on hand should hopefully alleviate any CPU limitations in gaming.

As I've come to expect from Puget Systems, the SSD is an Intel 510. Other manufacturers will use SSDs by Crucial, Corsair, or OCZ, and I personally run a Corsair in my desktop, but Puget is serious about hardware reliability and thus far Intel is one of the best for SSDs. The 510 is rated for 500MB/sec in read speed and 315MB/sec in write speed, making it more than adequate for our purposes. Mass storage is handled by a Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB drive, and given the current shortages in the industry as a result of the Thailand flooding, you pay dearly for the privilege.

Rouding out the Deluge is an ASUS Xonar DX on audio duty and an ASUS BD-RE drive. While I can definitely vouch firsthand for the quality of the Xonar DX (and it's a popular choice among enthusiasts), I'm keen to point out that it becomes a lot less attractive if you're using optical out instead of analog. I use a pair of Antec Soundscience Rockus speakers with the digital out on my motherboard, and found it to be a bit less of a hassle than keeping my Xonar DX installed.

Of course, one of the big things you're paying for is the 360mm Koolance radiator custom mounted to the top of the P183 V3 enclosure along with the 3/8" tubing used for the liquid-cooling loop that runs between the CPU and pair of GeForce GTX 580s. There's also a reservoir mounted in one of the front 5.25" drive bays. It's a very slick and clean installation.

Update 11-30-2011: We've added results for the Deluge in surround gaming.

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  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    While I don't have a 2560x1600 panel to test with, I usually test these high end systems in triple-display surround configurations whenever possible. With this one I wasn't able to as NVIDIA Surround currently doesn't work on X79.
  • wickman - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    Well we'd be happy to yell at Anand for you until he sends you a bigger panel! lol. But thanks for the note, it's a shame Nvidia Surround wasn't working, I'd be very interested in seeing the results and whether or not the new on die pci express channels have any impact on performance.

    Great review though, we all appreciate the hard work!
  • ckryan - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    I think Mr. Sklavos has a Dell 30" laying around, but the testbed is getting kinda old and is limited to 1080p. The surround testing couldn't be tested since nVidia surround doesn't quite work with SB-E yet (or maybe it's the other way arround?).
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    Why would you say you think I have a 30" Dell laying around when I just said I don't have a 30" panel?

    Our testbed is also getting refreshed soon, but we've been delayed by the DX11 support problems in Arkham City.
  • ckryan - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    Whoa, Tiger.

    I posted that first, before you said that. I recalled you saying you had a GTX580 and a Dell 30" in one of your reviews (I don't remember the context, but I'm wrong -- a lot). I'm probably just hallucinating. The point was, it wouldn't be a problem to test {this system} at a higher resolution than 1080p, but the test bed results would no longer be relevant (since there wouldn't be a way to test the previous systems again).
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

    Jarred's the one with the GTX 580 and a Dell 30". Sorry! And no, Dustin, you can't have it! ;-)
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

    Boss man, I'm fine with three 24" 1920x1200 monitors (two *VA and an IPS), thank you. ;)
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 26, 2011 - link

    Oh yeah? What if I have three 30" IPS panels, though? And a partridge in a pear tree!
  • Beenthere - Saturday, November 26, 2011 - link

    I wouldn't stand under the tree...
  • kevith - Thursday, November 24, 2011 - link

    I think the only real concern is the lifespan of the processor. Running it at above 1.4 V is something, that will definitely shorten its life considerably.

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