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Scan 3XS Carbon Fluid Extreme SLI – Review

Scan 3XS Carbon Fluid Extreme SLI – Review

The latest desktop from Scan is the most expensive PC we’ve ever seen. The Carbon Fluid Extreme SLI costs £4,950, and it mixes incredible design with benchmarking-beating components.

It’s got bespoke water-cooling, for starters, and graphical power comes from two of Nvidia’s best cards. There’s also the little matter of one of Intel’s powerful new Core i9 processors.

Components

This machine’s headline components are a pair of Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards. The GTX 1080 Ti is one of Nvidia’s fastest and most expensive consumer cards, and pairing two of them together makes for a fearsome set of figures.

The two cards have been overclocked, for starters, so their cores now run at 1,630MHz rather than 1,480MHz – which means they’ve got a boost peak of 1,795MHz.

The two cards deploy a monster 7,168 stream processors and 24 billion transistors, and they share 22GB of GDDR5X memory. And, of course, they use the Pascal architecture, which means more performance than any previous Nvidia cards.

The graphics cards are paired with an Intel Core i9-7900X processor. It’s one of the firm’s new Skylake-X processors, which ramp up the core counts and clock speeds to provide huge performance levels.

The i9-7900X has a ten-core processor with Hyper-Threading, and Scan has raised its stock speed from 3.3GHz to a mighty 4.6GHz. The chip is further bolstered by 32GB of quad-channel memory clocked to 3,200MHz, which is about as high as consumer systems tend to go with DDR4.

It’s a vast amount of power that most users just will not need. The only gamers who need two GTX 1080 Ti cards are those who want to run the games at 4K or 5K, or on top-notch multi-monitor rigs. When it comes to work, a machine with this many cores will only be used properly by creative professionals, video producers and designers, rather than those who use Microsoft Office or Google Docs.

The rest of the specification is similarly beefy. The Asus ROG Strix X299-E Gaming is dominating Skylake-X rigs right now, and for good reason. It looks the part, with its chunky heatsinks and RGB LEDs, and it’s got SupremeFX audio and dual-band Wi-Fi. There’s a spare M.2 socket, and it has the full selection of on-board buttons and diagnostic LEDs.

At the back it’s got USB 3.1 type-C ports and conventional USB 3 sockets, and its range-topping processor means it wields the full complement of PCI lanes – perfect for adding more storage later.

It’s a packed board, which means upgrade paths can be difficult to reach, with PCI sockets and SATA connectors blocked by the graphics cards and cooling hardware.

Elsewhere, Windows 10 is installed to a 512GB Samsung 960 Pro SSD, and it’s accompanied by a 2TB hard disk. There’s also a Corsair RM850x power supply, which boasts a modular design and an 80Plus Gold certification.

Full Specification

CPU: 3.3GHz Intel Core i9-7900X overclocked to 4.6GHz
Memory: 32GB 3,200MHz DDR4
Graphics: 2 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB
Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix X299-E Gaming
Sound: On-board
Hard disk: 512GB Samsung 960 Pro SSD, 2TB Seagate Barracuda HDD
Ports: Front: Front: 2 x USB 3, 2 x audio; rear: 6 x USB 3.1, 2 x USB 2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x optical S/PDIF, 5 x audioCase: Corsair Crystal 570X White
Dimensions: (W x D x H): 480 x 512 x 234mm
Extras: Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Corsair RM850x PSU
Warranty: 3yr parts & labour (1st yr on-site, 2nd/3rd RTB)

Design

The Scan is hugely expensive, and not all of its budget has gone towards the components. The Carbon Fluid Extreme is a stunning-looking machine, and building a system that looks like this obviously takes plenty of time and also involves spending extra cash on cooling gear.

The machine is designed around a monochrome theme, and it’s one of the best-looking systems we’ve ever seen. The Corsair Crystal 570X case is the white variant, which means white metal and plastic is used throughout this imposing enclosure.

It’s a large, stunning case, with honeycomb plastic and dust filters across all of its panels, tempered glass everywhere and thumbscrews that can be easily used to remove any of the panels. It’s rock-solid, too.

The theme continues to the extensive water-cooling. A 360mm EK CoolStream SE radiator with three white-lit fans is attached at the front of the Corsair, aligned vertically, and its rigid acrylic pipes lead to the two GTX 1080 Ti cards. The GPUs are augmented by clear EK waterblocks.

The coolant emerges from the top graphics card and is pumped to a 240mm radiator installed in the roof. Once it’s chilled again, the liquid heats to the transparent CPU waterblock, and then back to the 300mm pump and reservoir that dominates the middle of the case.

It’s a stunning setup, completed by Mayhems Ice White coolant, and the rig is illuminated by RGB LEDs in the roof and many of the case fans. They’re controlled by three buttons on top of the chassis.

There’s loads of hardware inside this system, and Scan has done a stellar job with putting it all together. The Corsair’s cables are individually braided in white, and they’re routed very well at the front and rear of the machine.

Scan hasn’t stopped with neat cabling, either. There’s a temperature sensor in the coolant that allows the pump speed to dynamically change, and a custom BIOS profile is used to stop the rear and roof fans spinning when the system doesn’t need the extra air. Both of those changes mean the system can deliver cooling when necessary, but that the noise is reduced the rest of the time.

The wealth of cooling gear and graphics hardware mean difficult to reach this machine’s upgrade paths, but that’s a trivial issue in a system that’s this powerful.

Performance

The two graphics cards delivered incredible performance, but that’s hardly a surprise.

The Scan’s 3D Mark Fire Strike Extreme score of 22,089, for instance, is absurd: our previous record holder was Scan’s own 3XS Carbon Aura, which had a single GTX 1080 Ti, and it scored just 13,692 in the same test.

That incredible pace translated to jaw-dropping speed in our games tests. The Scan’s weakest 4K minimum was 58fps in Shadow of Mordor, and it zipped through every 4K game with an average between 81fps and 169fps.

It’s ridiculous pace, and it means that any game will run smoothly on a 4K monitor, or on a multi-monitor setup or a VR headset. It also means that this rig has the power to scythe through any intensive graphical work application.

It’s a similar story in CPU tests. The Scan’s Cinebench application score of 2,437cb is the best we’ve seen, and is about 300 points faster than the Chillblast Fusion Halcyon – a system that also had the Core i9-7900X, but with the chip running at its stock speeds.

The Scan wasn’t the fastest machine we’ve seen in Geekbench’s single-core test, but that’s no surprise – other rigs have had better overclocks on individual cores and the newer Kaby Lake architecture. In the multi-tasking test, though, the Scan scored 30,979 points – a score that few other machines have beaten.

It’s stellar pace, and it further illustrates this machine’s multi-threaded ability. It might not set the world alight in single-threaded tasks, but it’s able to handle tougher applications with more aplomb than almost anything else.

The SSD is quick, too: its read and write speeds of 2,629MB/s and 1,930MB/s are world-class, which means you’ll never be waiting too long for apps to open.

There’s only one area where we’re concerned, and that’s the thermals. The Scan was practically silent when idle and hardly louder during benchmarks, and the graphics cards hit a solid peak temperature of just 58°C.

However, a CPU stress-test saw the processor top out at 89°C, and adding the GPU to the stress-test rose the processor temperature to 101°C.

It’s rare that the Scan will achieve that temperature during daily use – most people don’t run the components at 100% load for such long periods of time, and the processor never got that hot during any test. However, this is a workstation system, so it’s worth bearing in mind.

Conclusion

That temperature issue aside, though, this is a stunning bit of kit. The water-cooling looks fantastic, and the rest of the build is world-class. The components are world-class, too: the two GPUs combine to produce fearsome graphical power, and the ten-core processor is a multi-threaded beast.

This system is undeniably impressive in virtually every department, but it’s undeniably expensive, too – and a lot of the budget has gone on the Scan’s cooling, rather than the components.

That puts the 3XS system out of the reach of most buyers, but it’s not designed for most buyers – it’s built for a niche of power users who genuinely need this level of power. If that’s you, and if you’re willing to spend a little extra to get a machine that looks this good, then few are better than this.

The Scan 3XS Carbon Fluid Extreme SLI is available to buy at this link.

About Author

Mike Jennings

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