AVADirect's previous evaluation went very well. The company proved that it could build a solid desktop and provide great support. But the true acid test of an integrator is building a stable and fully-featured HTPC. Did AVADirect pull it off?
As many of you might know by now, [H] Consumer doesn’t "review" systems; we evaluate the experiences they facilitate. We order the system the same as you would and evaluate every aspect of the end-user experience. Not only does this give us a better idea of what hardware an end user actually receives, it also allows us to obtain a more accurate picture of just how each company functions and treats its customers. As fast as PC hardware has become over the years, we think giving a personal computer "5 stars" based on a synthetic benchmark is simply irresponsible. We think service, support, and reliability are much more important factors in today's climate than speed. Fast is easily bought, but purchasing and ownership satisfaction can be elusive.
This process allows us to not only evaluate the system, but the OEM that builds it. Our goal is to give you the wide-angle lens view of the computer and the company so that you can make informed and educated decisions as to what you purchase or recommend to clients, friends, and family.
Our last experience with AVADirect was with its Custom SLI Gaming System. Combining an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with two BFG NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GT cards, the machine performed very well in all of our tests, but it had some stability issues. It took two separate RMAs to fix our soundcard, and even then we ended up with a substitution from Creative to AuzenTech. Even after the soundcard issues were resolved, the AVADirect machine still couldn’t pass our torture test.
Stability testing issues aside, the PC still ran well in everyday tasks, and once the soundcard was working properly, gaming was a solid experience. Throughout our problems, AVADirect’s tech support capably, professionally, and quickly handled all the problems we had to deal with. We were very pleased with the overall performance and value of the machine, but felt that AVADirect could do a bit more quality control with its systems to prevent hardware conflicts and general instability.
We anticipate AVADirect maintaining its impressive performance from last time with improvements in all of the noted areas. A Home Theater PC is a wholly different beast than the standard desktop, and there are extra components, such as a TV Tuner, which need to be ready to plug into whatever setup the user has waiting for it. We’ve yet to see a PC flawlessly merge with Home Theater technology, and while we’re willing to acknowledge the issues involved, we still expect to see an improved quality control process with this machine. While the average purchaser of an HTPC may not be too concerned with gaming performance, we’re looking for the Core 2 Duo processor and NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS configuration to churn through our gaming suite without any problems.
Finally, should we encounter any problems in incorporating this HTPC into our own home setup, we look for AVADirect’s technical support to be on the ball with any questions we have in hooking up the PC to a High Definition display and a surround sound receiver.