Weve reviewed quite a lot of SmoothCreations gear, the company makes stuff that we guys dream of really. The last system we looked at from SC was the Extreme System Neptune, an overclocked i7 965, dual GTX280 in SLI, and 12 Gigabytes of DDR3-1600 RAM, among other high-end features.
Oh, and it was also liquid cooled with a much more than adequate 4x120mm radiator, all dressed in a custom painted case that Poseidon himself approved. It was extremely fast. It was beautiful. It was also extremely large, loud, and bracingly expensive.
In the global slowdown, downsizing isnt such a bad thing. To that end, the LANShark is actually one of SmoothCreations more affordable ranges of computers. At $3800USD, the LANShark is just about what you would expect to pay for a machine of this level, with a little bit extra for the paint job. And, after taking a look at the specifications, can you figure out if you would be compromising on speed at all?
The Little Box of Skulls:
Processor: Intel i7 965 O/C 3.6GHz
Graphics: BFG GTX295 2GB
Hard Drive: Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB
Optical Drive: Lite-on DVD+/-RW w/Lightscribe
Memory: 6GiB Corsair Dominator 1600
Motherboard: ASUS Rampage II Extreme Gene
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
CPU Cooler: Cool It Pure H2O w/custom paint
PSU: Thermaltake 850W w/custom paint
Case: Danger Den Tower 16 w/custom paint
Warranty: 1 Year on components, Lifetime on paint and art
Nope. Not much to improve upon here. You could swap out some components to bring the price down, like an i7 920/940/950 instead, or a single GTX280 or GTX275, but that would be a compromise. Weighing in at 13.1kg it isn't exactly lightweight, but its simple and very fast. If you are into LAN gaming, this thing is a precision machine. Not a lot of waste, nor a lot of complexity to go wrong on you lugging it around.
It will, at the very least, impress and intimidate your LAN buddies. Just to illustrate the customization that SmoothCreations offers, we gave them a simple directive: make a LANShark as fast and as simple as possible. The resulting email from SmoothCreations gave us the choice of either SLI GTX285 or a single GTX295. Since we had already looked at the potent SLI setup in the Neptune, 2xGTX280, we thought it only right for a LANShark be as light and portable (and dangerous) as possible, and so chose the Wonder Twins activated in the form of a GTX295, from the good folks of BFG Tech.
Nicely hiding the pump and tubing, the Cool It Pures modesty shield also gets the custom paint treatment and the LANShark logo. Naturally. The case does have room for a 2x120 radiator in the front, but here we find the Cool It Pure with its single radiator doing CPU cooling duties.
There are three versions of the LANShark, the Regular with air cooling, the Pro with water and SLI, and the Extreme with CPU/GPU water cooling. This particular LANSHark, named Skully, is a bit of a hybrid of the Pro and the Regular, with a non-standard Stacking Skulls paint job. SmoothCreations doesnt really do cookie-cutter computers, so little differences dont surprise me at all.
That paint job is tits, though.
Again, I apologize to our younger readers for such language.
Lets check out a little rear view action:
Paint in the back. The big grill for the 850W PSU gives you the impression that there are no problems with airflow here. Also notice the audio outputs of the on-board Creative X-Fi.
Suffer me a little more, the top.
The filler cap is just a decoy, theres no tubing connected to it. Otherwise, as you can see, every side of the LANShark has been painted. Ah say, ah say, thats a fine piece of work, son!
SmoothCreations LANShark! SmoothCreations delivers another thrilling custom computer. The LANShark is small, light, and fast. While it is plenty fast, its overclocking potential is limited by its cooling, however. The aim towards durabilty may compromises its full speed, but the custom paint job totally makes up for it.
SmoothCreations Neptune Xtreme Machine Listen up buttercup, King Neptune just mopped the floor. What I thought was going to be a custom case review turned out to a full-on bad-ass PC system to review. OK, I'm game. While it might not be the ultimate to the hardcore, SmoothCreations built an awesome machine, worthy of praise and attention.