In the best tradition of games-tuned Windows PCs, Wired2Fire’s overclocked gaming rig is styled with a darkly sinsister-sounding name: the Hellspawn XFire.
We can’t decide if that’s supposed to be pronounced ex-fire or cross-fire – it’s probably down to whether you’re reading with American eyes or not.
Looking over the Wired2Fire website, there’s a bewildering array of options for this PC. You can choose between no less than 16 different cases from manufacturers such as Xigmatek, Cooler Master, Antec, Corsair and Silverstone.
Power supplies runs to six choices, from 850W to 1200W; either Corsair or ‘Modular’. For processors, you’re asked to choose between four chips, all Intel Core-series, while five different coolers can sit on top to help prevent meltdown after they’ve been overclocked by Wired2Fire.
As a games machine, there’s naturally one or two options in the GPU department. All AMD Radeons, there’s a range of six, from AMD Radeon HD 5850 up to HD 6990. Make that 12 choices, since you can double up on any single-card choice to a dual-card arrangement.
Motherboard choices are limited to ‘just’ the three, all older Asus P67 types. And so the list goes on, with just about every component branching into a tree-like choice.
Our back of the beermat calculations suggest that there are 69,120 basic combinations of Hellspawn XFire from just the components we’ve already listed... before you allow for the manifold other component choices such as hard disk, optical drive, speakers, keyboard and mouse, monitor, warranty and delivery service.
Which all begats the question, just what defines a Hellspawn XFire anyway? There’s little common demoninator inside or out for the model bearing that name. Prices for this PC start at £562, and soar to over £4700 if you take most of the top-spec options.
So let’s turn to Wired2Fire’s words, where it’s listed as ‘a high end, ultimate PC that smashes all the records when it comes to performance figures’.
Despite some very considerate packing and boxing by the company, the first sample we were sent did suffer some overheating crisis, after the CPU heatsink had come adrift. Careful consideration in the packing even extended to carefully aligned foam transport blocks around the heavy cooler, and double-box overall packing.
The second sample of Wired2Fire Hellspawn XFire didn’t work either, with no video output to the monitor. This was isolated to a defective Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 graphics card. On the third attempt, with a replacement Sapphire card, we had a testable PC.
This latter Wired2Fire Hellspawn XFire was configured with an Intel Core i5-2500K, overclocked from its baseline speed of 3.3GHz, up to 4.8GHz.
The final review sample had an Asgard case, with Corsair 600W power supply, and a Titan Fenrir processor cooler over an Asus P8P67 motherboard. Memory was made up of 4GB of Corsair 1600MHz RAM, and Samsung made the 1TB hard disk.
In lab tests, this Wired2Fire Hellspawn XFire showed very fast performance – as we’d expect of an already quick Core i5-2500K that’s been wound-up more than 45% beyond its baseline frequency.
In WorldBench 6, the Wired2Fire Hellspawn XFire scored 179 points. Compare this with the fastest £1000+ machines in the PCA monthly charts – currently all running 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K processors – which give scores in the region of 180 points. Note, however, that we test all Top 5 Charts PCs without any vendor hot-rodding.
Gaming performance was very good from the single Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 6970 card. In our ‘low spec’ Crysis test (1024 x 768, High detail) the Wired2Fire Hellspawn XFire played the benchmark through with an average framerate of 126 fps.
At the higher Crysis test (1680 x 1050, Very High), it still mustered an easy 54 fps. And if you want to go full-HD resolution at High detail, expect to see 83 fps.
In Stalker: Call of Pripyat, the Wired2Fire Hellspawn XFire could fly vicariously over the tainted daytime wastelands of Kiev Oblast at 204 fps. That was in our standard low-spec test (1280 x 720, Medium).
It still scored an average of 114 fps with the benchmark ramped up to the more challenging trial of 1920 x 1080, Ultra detail.
In use the Wired2Fire Hellspawn XFire was relatively quiet, helped out by the hugely heatsinked Titan Fenrir processor cooler inside, along with the high-quality Corsair power supply.
It’s worth noting that Wired2Fire’s warranty terms are more inclusive and straightforward than many UK PC vendors. The warranty period is two years as standard, and that is a full parts and labour contract, rather than just one or the other.
As is typical, though, it’s the customer that must pay to courier the defective PC back to the company for repairs. An extra £81 on the purchase price buys you a collect-and-return service on that warranty.