There’s no doubt Scan’s 3XS Carbon SLI is a beast, but can it justify that monstrous price tag? We hover over the buy button while weighing it up
Scan 3XS Carbon SLI – overview
Ever stopped to wonder what the best part of £4000 will buy you in PC terms? Well now you’ve got your answer: Scan's latest boutique build is a majestic giant of a computer that's tricked out with the latest and greatest components on offer. But as even budget machines are competent gamers these days, is there any point to these excruciatingly expensive PCs any more?
Scan 3XS Carbon SLI – processor and motherboard
The six-core processor at the heart of the 3XS Carbon SLI is mighty indeed. It's been overclocked by Scan technicians to a massive 4.5GHz and is fed by 16GB of quad-channel RAM; left to its own devices it could probably work out a cure for cancer. The problem is that that sort of number crunching needs a lot of cooling, and even when idle the 3XS is quite an audible machine.
Scan 3XS Carbon SLI – graphics hardware
The 3D rendering is carried out by four of NVIDIA's awesome GK104 chips, arranged in an esoteric set-up known as 'quad SLI'. That gives it more than 11 teraflops of computing power through the graphics cards alone, which can be applied to video editing, photo manipulation or making the internet currency Bitcoins, if you so wish. Make no mistake, though, it's games that this machine was designed for – and it's around three times faster than the 'average' PC. That makes it perfect for playing on three large screens wrapped around your desk for truly immersive worlds.
Scan 3XS Carbon SLI – gaming performance
The 3XS Carbon SLI will run Battlefield 3 on a 30in screen at 2560x1600 with every setting maxed out and still beat 100 frames per second. To put that in perspective, a more affordable machine like the Wired2Fire Hellspawn Ultima we reviewed recently will net you just 50fps on a display with half as many pixels (1920x1080). The snag is, of course, that there's not a lot perceivable difference between a steady 50fps and 100fps to the human eye.
Scan 3XS Carbon SLI – design and case
The Silverstone Fortress case that houses the 3XS Carbon SLI is a tried and tested favourite. At half a metre high and even more in length, it dwarfs most other PCs when stood beside them, but its near featureless chassis gives it a dignified rather than overbearing presence.
Size isn't why we love it, though: the motherboard is rotated 90 degrees to the usual layout, so all of the 'rear' ports point upwards for easy access, which is a stroke of genius. There's a removable mesh lid to stop snaking cables from interrupting its looks.
Scan 3XS Carbon SLI – audio
Special mention should be made of the audio abilities of the 3XS Carbon SLI, which are provided by a high-end Xonar Essence STX sound card. Designed for hi-fi enthusiasts, it's kitted out with removable op-amps, Burr-Brown DACs and a separate headphone amp for driving high impedance cans. In other words, it doesn't just look good, it sounds it too. Shame the case fans are so noisy, then.
Scan 3XS Carbon SLI – verdict
If you're after a PC that both looks and performs like the fastest computer in the world, then this is it. You can't physically buy better. The problem is that if you're only gaming on one 1920x1080 screen there's little practical benefit to the 3XS Carbon SLI over something more sensible that's a quarter of the price. To make the most of this, you'll need three screens for surround gaming and a state-of-the-art sound system – but if you can afford the Carbon SLI, you've probably already got that, haven't you?
Scan 3XS Carbon SLI review
The Scan 3XS is ludicrously fast and beautifully built, but you can buy almost as quick for a lot, lot less