Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800 Gaming PC Review

by - 6 years ago

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Introduction


Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800

Gladiator Computers is the name given to Aria’s custom PC division and provides consumers with a wide range of options to suit various budgets. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Aria, they’re one of the leading PC hardware stores and have an excellent reputation among customers. Currently, the company’s TrustPilot rating is scored at nine out of ten which evokes a sense of confidence when investing in a pre-configured PC. Of course, you can customize each model and select between various cases, memory configurations, CPU coolers and lots more! As a result, it’s incredibly easy to make savings on various components if you’re not overly concerned about colour coordination. On the other hand, consumers who demand a visually appealing system can add LED lighting or other extravagant extras.

Today, we’re taking a detailed look at the BATTALION 800 featuring an Intel i5-6500 processor, 16GB DDR4 2133MHz memory, Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 motherboard, 120GB Samsung 850 Evo boot drive and the Zotac GTX 970 Gaming Edition graphics card. Furthermore, Gladiator Computers have employed a very reputable air cooler to find a great balance between thermal dissipation and noise output. There’s also a quality non-modular power supply with an efficiency rating of 80+ White. I’m interested to see how this will impact on cable management especially given the budget chassis in the basic bundle. Priced at £889.99, the system is targeted towards mainstream consumers utilizing a single 1920×1080 display. Let’s see how it performs compared to other machines sporting a similar specification.

Specifications

  • Name: Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800
  • Case: Game Max Destroyer Windowed
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3
  • Processor: Intel i5 6500 3.20GHz Base, 3.60GHz Turbo Quad Core CPU
  • Processor Cooler: Raijintek Aidos Direct Contact CPU Cooler
  • System Memory: Corsair 16GB DDR4 Vengeance LPX 2133MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: 120GB Samsung 850 EVO Series Solid State Drive
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): 1TB Seagate Barracuda Hard Drive 3.5″ SATA III
  • Graphics card: Zotac GeForce® GTX 970 Gaming Edition 4GB
  • Power Supply: Corsair VS550 550 Watt 80+ White Rated ATX
  • Peripherals: N/A
  • Monitor: N/A
  • Optical Drive24x LiteOn Internal DVD-RW Drive
  • Wireless: N/A
  • OS: N/A
  • Warranty: 4 Year Standard Warranty (2 Month Collect/Returns, 1 Year Parts, 4 Year Labour)
  • Price: £889.99

Packing and Accessories

The system is dispatched in an extremely large outer box which offers superb protection against damage during delivery. On the top, fragile tape has been used to instruct the courier about the item’s delicate nature. This should reduce the possibility of the delivery driver throwing the package around. I do think there needs to be side handles because the box’s large surface area is difficult to lift from an angle.

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Inside the package is a huge collection of packing peanuts to prevent the chassis box from moving around. While these inserts can be irritating if they manage to scatter all over the floor, this is a small price to pay for the superb level of protection.

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The chassis box utilizes thick cardboard which feels pretty sturdy and provides an additional layer of cushioning.

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Despite the case’s budget focus, there’s been a great deal of attention paid to the packaging including durable foam supports. The top cover also ensures that there’s very little chance of cosmetic damage occurring during the unboxing processing.

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Gladiator Computers have positioned a sticker over the power supply’s AC connector to prevent you from booting up the system with the foam pack still installed.

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The foam insert is absolutely essential because it prevents each component from becoming dislodged. Furthermore the cushioning should allow fan headers and other cables to remain in their optimal position. When it comes to packaging, foam packs are possibly the most important safety aspect and it’s great to see them used in this custom configuration.

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In terms of accessories, the system is bundled with a thank you note, installation guide, driver/software disks, a funky door hanger and loads of documentation.

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Other notable mentions include a power adapter, retail component packaging, CPU cover (required for warranty purposes), front bay cover where the optical drive is positioned, tasty Haribo sweets, various adapters and an assortment of fittings.

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CPU-Z

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GPU-Z

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A Closer Look


The Game Max Destroyer Windowed chassis opts for a very glossy finish and semi-transparent top cover. Unfortunately, the plastic construction and glossy black coating is a fingerprint magnet which makes it extraordinarily difficult to maintain a clean appearance. Of course, it’s a budget case and I’m not expecting to see high-quality materials such as aluminium. Saying that, the aesthetic design isn’t great and there’s much better options on the market providing you spend a little bit extra. On a more positive note, the steel frame is surprisingly rigid which helps the case to hold its structural integrity.

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When selecting a non-modular power supply, it can be quite challenging to route each cable in a clean and professional manner. The Corsair VS550 is a highly regarded PSU from a reputable manufacturer. As you can see, Gladiator Computers have done an exemplary job with the front cabling and employed zip-ties to achieve tight cable runs.

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The mechanical hard drive and boot SSD are accessible from the front section. Also, any excess cables are hidden underneath the empty HDD trays.

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Here we can see the absolutely stunning optical drive cabling and ridiculously neat SATA cable routing. On another note, the CPU cooler isn’t overly large and it’s possible to access the memory without removing the integrated fan.

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The graphics card’s compact design compliments other essential components rather nicely. Additionally, the rear 140mm red LED fan contrasts with the CPU cooler’s red and white appearance in a seamless way.

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This angle emphasizes the exceptional level of cable management on show, and I cannot believe how neat this finish is given the PSU’s non-modular nature. Gladiator Computers have attached a speaker to help with system diagnostics and help the end-user find out the root cause of booting issues. Here we can also see the gorgeous PCB accents on the Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 and dual BIOS functionality.

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The 8-pin EPS cable and rear fan header are held in place with a tight zip-tie.

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Rather surprisingly, the budget chassis incorporates a fan controller based on two mechanical switches. By default, the system utilizes the medium mode which disables the top fan and two front fans. While it’s a fairly primitive fan controller, I’m sure some users will find it useful and enjoy the enhanced flexibility. Although, I didn’t really detect a huge difference in operating noise levels between each setting.

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As previously mentioned, the system’s cable management is nothing short of breathtaking and possibly the best I’ve seen from any system integrator using a non-modular power supply. Gladiator Computers have thought quite carefully about the cable runs and attached everything together in a perfect way. Upon first inspection, I was mesmerized by the level of expertise when it comes to hiding excess cables. The overall finish is faultless without any protruding cables or slack zip ties. Even the fan headers are neatly tucked away in the roof section to maintain an impeccable result.

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The storage SATA cables are held firmly in position and cannot easily be dislodged. Therefore, you shouldn’t experience a situation where the cables come undone when moving the system around.

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Here we can see the 24-pin ATX cable is attached to SATA cables and a Molex. Notice how Gladiator Computers have found a suitable amount of cables to group together in each zip-tie without the chance of splitting occurring due to pressure.

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The 8-Pin EPS cable feeds through various routing holes around the chassis which allows for a very clean result.

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Finally, the CPU cooler’s backplate has been installed in a straight position and can easily be re-attached when applying new thermal paste in the future due to the large CPU cut out.

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Testing & Methodology


To test each system or notebook, we want to stress every component of the system to check stability and performance, giving us an idea as to why those particular components were picked for this particular system. We use a wide variety of applications to gain a broad spectrum of results for comparing diverse aspects of system performance.

Unless specifically stated, all games are running at maximum settings but any vendor-exclusive features such as TressFX or PhsyX have been disabled to make the results fair. There are some titles where the maximum preset can be altered further in regards to AA, AF, Tessellation, and Draw Distance. To allow our readers to make the most informed decision, any additional options will be clearly labelled in this section.

Hardware

  • Acoustic dBA meter
  • AC “Killawatt” power meter

Software

  • 3DMark
  • AIDA64 Engineer
  • Cinebench R15
  • CrystalDiskMark
  • CPU-Z
  • GPU-Z
  • HW-Monitor
  • MSI Afterburner
  • OCCT
  • Passmark PerformanceTest 8.0
  • PCMark 8
  • Prime95
  • Super PI
  • Unigine Heaven 4.0
  • Grand Theft Auto 5
  • Metro Last Light
  • Tomb Raider
  • Bioshock Infinite

PC Mark 8

The PCMark 8 Home benchmark includes workloads that reflect common tasks for a typical home user. These workloads have low computational requirements making PCMark 8 Home suitable for testing the performance of low-cost tablets, notebooks, and desktops. Home includes workloads for web browsing, writing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat. The results are combined to give a PCMark 8 Home score for your system. Download here.

3D Mark

The new 3DMark includes everything you need to benchmark your hardware. With three all new tests you can bench everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. Download here.

Unigine Heaven

Heaven Benchmark with its current version 4.0 is a GPU-intensive benchmark that hammers graphics cards to the limits. This powerful tool can be effectively used to determine the stability of a GPU under extremely stressful conditions, as well as check the cooling system’s potential under maximum heat output. It provides completely unbiased results and generates true in-game rendering workloads across all platforms, such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Download here.

Grand Theft Auto V

Our GTA5 Benchmark is run on the standard benchmark with MSAA=Off, FXAA=On, Very High Preset, Advanced Graphics Disabled and the settings detailed below:

Normal

Metro Last Light

Metro: Last Light (formerly Metro 2034) is a first-person shooter and horror video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It was released in May 2013. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features a mixture of action-oriented and stealth gameplay. Metro: Last Light features technology which boasts new lighting effects and improved physics claimed to set a new graphical benchmark on the PC and consoles.

Very High Preset, AF=16x,  Tessellation=Very High, SSAA=Off, PhysX=Off

Tomb Raider

In Tomb Raider, the player is confronted with a much younger Lara Croft who is shipwrecked and finds herself stranded on a mysterious island rife with danger, both natural and human. Tomb Raider is a demanding game offering up ultra quality textures, full DirectX 11 support, SSAA, FXAA, MSAA and AMD TressFX technology.

The benchmark is set to the Ultra preset without any modifications being made.

Bioshock

BioShock Infinite is the third and last game in the BioShock series. It is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K Games. BioShock Infinite supports dynamic shadows, post-processing, light shafts, ambient occlusion, object level of detail, Diffusion Depth of Detail, FOV adjustment controls and other advanced DirectX 11 features.

Here we set everything on the maximum preset and use Bioshock’s integrated benchmarking utility.

Cinebench R15

Cinebench is a widely respected benchmark for testing the performance of x86 CPUs. The program allows you to test single and multi-threaded performance as well as GPU performance by rendering with Open GL. Download here.

Super Pi

Super PI is a single threaded benchmark that calculates pi to a specific number of digits. Super PI is a single threaded benchmark ideal for testing pure, single threaded x87 floating point performance and while most of the computing market has shifted towards multithreaded applications and more modern instruction sets, Super PI still remains quite indicative of CPU capability in specific applications such as computer gaming. Download here.

AIDA64 Engineer Edition

AIDA64 Engineer is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for engineers. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. Memory and cache benchmarks are available to analyze system RAM bandwidth and latency. Download here.

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark is a portable storage drive benchmark utility that enables you to measure sequential and random read/write speeds on different block size data. CrystalDiskMark will work with any storage drives including hard drives, SSDs and USB flash drives. Download here.

Passmark

The PassMark Advanced Network Test (which is part of PerformanceTest) is designed to test the data transfer rate between two computers both of which must be running PerformanceTest. One of the computers must act as the server and will sit waiting for a connection. The other computer acts as a client. It connects to the server machine and sends data to it for the duration of the test. You can download a trial version of PerformanceTest from here.

Acoustic Performance

The amount of noise produced by any computer is a vital consideration for most buyers, even gamers don’t really want a noisy PC because less noise is always better. We use an acoustic dBA meter held 2 feet behind our test system at idle and under load to get the idle and load noise levels for the system. For idle we allow the system to sit at the Windows desktop, for load we let Unigine Heaven 4.0 and Prime95 to loop together – we take the acoustic measurements 5 minutes into both of these scenarios.

Power Consumption

To test power consumption we measure the total system power draw during idle and load scenarios. For idle we allow the system to sit at the Windows desktop, for load we let Unigine Heaven 4.0 and Prime95 to loop together – we take the power measurements from the “Killawatt” AC power meter 5 minutes into both of these scenarios at the same point.

Temperatures

To test thermal performance we measure average CPU and GPU core temperatures during idle and load scenarios. For idle we allow the system to sit at the Windows desktop, for load we let Unigine Heaven 4.0 and Prime95 to loop together – we take the temperature measurements from within CPUID HWMonitor 5 minutes into both of these scenarios at the same point. For load we take the average of the maximum temperatures, for idle we take the average of the minimum temperatures.

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Synthetic Benchmarks


PC Mark 8

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PC Mark 8 provides an accurate indication of system performance during commonly used desktop tasks including basic photo editing and web browsing. Here we can see the i5 6500’s 3.6GHz turbo frequency and GTX 970 combines to record impressive numbers. Furthermore, the gap to higher end options with more potent hardware isn’t that substantial.

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3DMark

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The BATTALION 800’s GTX 970 offers impeccable performance without breaking the bank and features an astonishing price to performance ratio. Even though the included Zotac model opts for more conservative stock clocks, this can easily be improved through manual overclocking.

3dmark

Unigine Heaven

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As expected, the performance is extremely similar in Heaven 4.0 and showcases the system’s 3D capabilities. It’s almost impossible to analyse the minute variation between each GTX 970 custom build because they remain within an acceptable margin of error.

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Gaming Performance


Grand Theft Auto 5

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Grand Theft Auto V’s visually stunning environment is brimming with detail and poses a significant challenge for modern graphics cards on extreme presets. The system’s GTX 970 is able to maintain a very solid average frame-rate of 94 when paired with a 1080P monitor. Even increasing the resolution to 2560×1440 doesn’t allow the average figure to drop under 60. Of course, at this resolution you will experience more frequent dips but it’s not enough to detract from a great user-experience.

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Metro Last Light

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Here we can see the system fares brilliantly and manages to uphold a fluid frame-rate across the two most commonly used resolutions.

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Tomb Raider

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The BATTALION 800’s achieves the best scores we’ve seen from any GTX 970 equipped system. Granted, this is probably down to driver improvements from NVIDIA and there’s very little to choose between products opting for similar hardware. Despite this, the level of performance is exceptional when you consider the fairly modest price point.

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Bioshock Infinite

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In Bioshock Infinite, the system maintained superb performance numbers and I didn’t encounter and major frame drops at higher resolutions. While it’s not the best result in its class, the experience is more than enough to please users with high demands. Furthermore, the deficit remains within a small margin of error.

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CPU & Memory Performance


Cinebench R15

As expected, the system’s i5 6500 3.6GHz turbo boost limits the performance compared to higher-end alternatives. Additionally, the lack of hyperthreading means the synthetic numbers are lower than i7 counterparts from various generations.

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Super Pi

In terms of compute time, the system’s processor fares pretty well and outperforms the Vibox Defcon 3 Red with an identical CPU by a surprisingly large margin.

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AIDA64 Engineer

The BATTALION 800’s 16GB dual channel DDR4 2133MHz memory configuration offers good read, write and copy rates. Although, this is the bare minimum for DDR4 memory speeds and increasing the model chosen to 2400MHz wouldn’t have a profound impact on the final price. Saying that, you’re unlikely to notice a difference in gaming scenarios.

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Storage and USB Performance


CrystalDiskMark – Sequential Read

The Samsung 850 Evo is capable of superb read speeds and isn’t too far away from similar setups. However, the difference to premium NVMe devices is monumental and reflected in the price gap. The system also reports excellent mechanical disk speeds and a good USB 3.0 result.

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CrystalDiskMark – Sequential Write

When it comes to sequential writes, the primary boot SSD once again scores very highly and outperforms a number of competing systems. On another note, the mechanical disk write speeds remained exceptional but I was slightly disappointed by the USB 3.0 numbers.

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Networking Performance


Passmark PerformanceTest 8.0

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Ethernet (LAN)

The motherboard’s Intel I219V network interface records impressive average figures and the maximum rate was another highlight. In an ideal world, I would have like the minimum rate to be slightly higher to improve the overall level of consistency.

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Acoustic, Power & Thermal Performance


Acoustic Performance

Despite the system’s budget focus, the desktop experience during both idle and load conditions is absolutely marvellous. As you can see from the data below, the BATTALION 800 produces one of the quietest noise outputs we’ve encountered and there were various instances when I had to double-check the system hadn’t entered sleep mode.

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Power Consumption

The incredibly efficient Skylake architecture at stock parameters combines with the GTX 970 to consume less than 250 watts under load. This is astonishing and showcases the low TDP of modern components.

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Thermal Performance

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Running any Skylake CPU at the stock voltages makes it fairly easy to obtain low thermals. Under extreme load, the system reported an average CPU temperature of 56 degrees and reached a maximum of 63. On another note, the custom cooled GTX 970 experienced slightly higher temperatures than I expected but it’s still well within safe operating temperatures.

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Final Thoughts


Pricing 

When determining a system’s value proposition, it’s essential to investigate the current cost of an identical self-build and compare the results. Currently, the BATTALION 800 is available directly from Gladiator Computers‘ website for £899.99 and includes a very generous 4-year warranty. While it’s a considered purchase, this is fairly affordable for a custom rig and I’m interested to see how cheap a self-build can be using identical parts.

  • Case – Game Max Destroyer Windowed = £39.99
  • Motherboard – Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 = £94.99
  • Processor – Intel i5 6500 3.20GHz Base, 3.60GHz Turbo Quad Core CPU = £181.97
  • Processor Cooler – Raijintek Aidos Direct Contact CPU Cooler = £17.09
  • System Memory – Corsair 16GB DDR4 Vengeance LPX 2133MHz = £56.99
  • Main Boot Drive – 120GB Samsung 850 EVO Series Solid State Drive = £52.98
  • Additional Boot Drive – 1TB Seagate Barracuda Hard Drive 3.5″ SATA III = £39.99
  • Graphics Card – Zotac GeForce® GTX 970 Gaming Edition 4GB = £249.99
  • Power Supply – Corsair VS550 550 Watt 80+ White Rated ATX = £38.99
  • Optical Drive – 24x LiteOn Internal DVD-RW Drive = £12.92
  • Extras – None

Once totalled up this equates to £785.90 including postage for the entire build. As a result, purchasing the system from Gladiator Computers will cost you an additional £114.09. This isn’t a huge increase considering the four-year warranty and brilliant cable management. Of course, it depends on the user in question and if they feel that these extras are worth paying for.

Overview

The system’s default configuration includes an extremely cheap chassis and it’s clear the company has prioritized selecting better internal components. While this is a sensible strategy, there are significantly better cases on the market within a similar price bracket. For example, the Corsair SPEC-01’s matte finish and neutral styling would enhance the system’s aesthetic appeal without increasing costs by an exponential amount. Annoyingly, the Game Max Destroyer’s gloss coating, front door mechanism, and old school sharp lines fail to enthuse a premium feel. To test this hypothesis, I asked a number of close friends about the system’s appearance and every single person remarked on the chassis in a negative manner. The glossy coating loves to attract fingerprints which makes it almost impossible to maintain the factory finish.

On a more positive note, the case’s frame is surprisingly strong and offers good reliability. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to upgrade to a better chassis when compiling your custom rig. Of course, it’s important to have realistic expectations when analysing a budget chassis. However, when it’s impacting on the system’s entire appearance, you have to adopt a more critical approach. In terms of component selection, Gladiator Computers have done a stellar job and produced a very balanced system. There’s nothing which seems out-of-place and each component falls within a similar performance category. The Raijintek Aidos is capable of maintaining exceptional temperatures at absurdly low operating noise levels. I was astounded by the system’s silent nature which creates a marvellous user-experience. Granted, this is helped by the locked CPU multiplier, but it shouldn’t detract from the quiet load output.

Undoubtedly, the system’s greatest attribute revolves around cable management which is some of the best I’ve witnessed. The ultra tidy cabling and logical arrangement results in a marvellous finish especially when you take into account the power supply’s non-modular nature. This level of expertise is nothing short of sensational and I’d gladly pay extra for someone of this skill level to perform perfect cable management. The engineer responsible for this build deserves a lot of credit because the clean construction is utterly sublime.

In terms of performance, the BATTALION 800’s GTX 970 is a superb choice for consumers opting for a 1920×1080 display and even manages to play games at 1440P using high settings. Currently, it’s one of the best price to performance graphics cards on the market and caters towards mainstream users exceedingly well. As a result, it’s not overly difficult to achieve an average figure of 60 frames-per-second in a wide range of visually intense games. The system’s lack of overclocking didn’t have a noticeable effect during games and only became a factor in synthetic benchmarks.

Also, the system’s boot SSD recorded superb read/writes and is large enough to accommodate the operating system and a few basic applications. Ideally, I’d like to see the capacity increased to 250GB to allow you to store your favourite games. Overall, the level of performance is superb and showcases what a relatively affordable gaming PC is capable of. Once again, please remember you will pay extra compared to a self-build, but I believe it’s worth it because of the cable management and extensive UK warranty.

Pros

  • Balanced component selection
  • Excellent four-year warranty
  • Fantastic temperatures
  • Great packaging
  • Impeccable cable management
  • Includes four red LED fans
  • Low power consumption
  • Superb gaming performance
  • Unbelievably quiet

Cons

  • Case doesn’t evoke a premium feel
  • Higher cost compared to a self-build than other systems

“The Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800 is characterized by an exceptional level of workmanship and features some of the best cable management I’ve encountered. Unfortunately, the base package’s default chassis isn’t ideal and I’d recommend paying slightly more for another case better suited to modern hardware.” 

Editors-Choice

Gladiator Computers BATTALION 800 Gaming PC Review

Thank you Gladiator Computers for providing us with this sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. A Closer Look
  3. Testing & Methodology
  4. Synthetic Benchmarks
  5. Gaming Peformance
  6. CPU & Memory Performance
  7. Storage and USB Performance
  8. Networking Performance
  9. Acoustic, Power & Thermal Performance
  10. Final Thoughts
  11. View All

Author Bio

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