ZaReason's Valta X79
I was recently contacted by Earl Malmrose of ZaReason, who wanted to know if I'd like to review ZaReason's new Linux-based desktop computer, built around the new Intel 6-Core processor and quad channel memory. I told him I'd be thrilled to review it, and asked if he'd also include a snappy ATI video card so I really could push the system to the limit using one of my favorite side hobbies, namely cryptocurrencies.
I start with a review of the system itself and finish with a bit of fun—I run the numbers and see what sort of CPU and GPU-hashing power I can get from it. Whether you think cryptocurrencies are a brilliant take on alternative economics or a dumb idea that wastes electricity, I can assure you no one knows how to overclock hardware quite like a Bitcoin miner. (I don't actually overclock this system, since I'm sure ZaReason would like it back in full working order, but I push it to the max with stock settings.)
Generally, if you want a case that a regular human can change parts on, you build your own machine. That's more of a guideline than a rule, but it seems most big computer companies like to make their cases as proprietary as possible. Sure, you might be able to fit your computer system into a size 4 shoebox, but good luck if you ever want to upgrade your hardware. ZaReason, on the other hand, includes a standard CoolerMaster brand mid-side tower case. I use the term "mid-size" rather sheepishly, as it's the quite large "G-Lite 430 Black" (Figure 1).
Figure 1. The Valta X79 has ZaReason branding, but is otherwise sporting an unmodified CoolerMaster case (image from http://www.zareason.com).
ZaReason has nicely branded the case with its company name, but otherwise left it the standard CoolerMaster unit—refreshing, no? To be fair, the case itself is a bit more flexible than I'd like, but it doesn't feel cheap by any means. Part of its flexibility is due to the massive amount of ventilation it boasts (Figure 2). Because the X79 is meant to be a powerhouse, the cooling consideration is greatly appreciated. In fact, it comes with an additional case fan installed on the side to help keep the beast within on the cool side.
Figure 2. This ventilation is appropriate, but it does make the case feel a bit flimsy.
On the front panel, the case sports a power button and reset button, as one would expect. It also has the following:
Two USB 2.0 ports.
Headphone and microphone jacks (analog).
The back of the case provides quite a generous set of connections (Figure 3), including:
Six USB 2.0 ports.
Two USB 3.0 ports (clearly marked).
One PS/2 port.
Gigabit Ethernet port.
8 channel, 7.1 analog jacks.
One 1394 port (400Mbit).
External CMOS reset button.
Figure 3. The ports are easy to access, and the external CMOS reset button is very convenient.
Of course, all those ports really tell the story of the motherboard more than the case, so I cover that next.
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