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Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review 1The Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm is an eye-catching system with an extravagant name. It’s expensive, too, at £3,200, and it packs in loads of RGB LEDs, water-cooling and tempered glass. Beneath the high-end hardware you’ve got current-generation Intel and Nvidia kit – as well as loads of solid-state storage. But is it worth it? Read our Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm gaming PC review to find out!

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review – Design

Fierce PC has used the Thermaltake View 71 case for this rig, which is 592mm tall and 274mm wide – and, with all of the components installed, the Imperial Lightstorm weighs around 25kg.

That means it’s far larger than any of its rivals. The AWD-IT Hyperion is a more affordable system that uses the Cooler Master MasterCase MC500Mt – which is only 574mm tall and 242mm wide. The more expensive Stormforce Prism i7 8700K GTX 1080Ti SLI used a variant of that case with those same dimensions. Both machines were lighter than the Fierce PC too.

This PC doesn’t just impress with its sheer size – there’s a lot of lighting, too. The front panel is illuminated by three RGB fans that look almost pixelated through the dark tempered glass and a dust filter. Three more fans are installed between the roof and the rear of the case.

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review 2A further trio of RGB fans can be seen through the tempered glass side panel on the interior edge of the 360mm radiator. The graphics card, motherboard, memory and PSU all have more RGB illumination.

There’s excellent build quality throughout. The 5mm tempered glass used for the side, front and roof panels is rock-solid. The metal beneath is just as strong. Fierce PC has done a good job with cable tidying on both sides of the motherboard tray, too.

All of the tempered glass panels can be easily removed with thumbscrews, and the two main windows lift free from their hinges – another feature for easier internal access. At the top you’ve got pairs of USB 3 and USB 2 sockets, but no USB-C.

Chunky water-cooling dominates the interior. The Thermaltake Pacific RL360 kit features a 360mm reservoir and 300mm radiator installed at the front of the chassis. Thick tubing stretches to the Thermaltake Pacific W1 waterblock, which shows off with a mix of black plastic and bright metal.

It’s worth mentioning the litany of lighting inside this PC. The RGB LEDs in the fans and across the components all hook up to control boxes at the rear, and they can all be managed using Thermaltake’s own software and smartphone app. The lights can be synchronised with your games and sound affects with Thermtake AI – which adds another dimension to play – and you can also choose from the full range of colours and lighting patterns.

Elsewhere, a smartphone app or Amazon Alexa can be used to manage the lights. It’s a smart system that goes beyond anything that rivals can offer – and beyond what most desktop PCs serve up.

The myriad of internal lights look good when they’re reflecting from the clear coolant. However, we’re a little disappointed to see thick, malleable tubing inside this machine. The AWD-IT and Stormforce machines only had smaller, less impressive water-cooling hardware, but it’s not uncommon to see smarter rigid tubing inside machines at this price – and to see both the CPU and GPU water-cooled by smaller, smarter radiators and reservoirs.

That cosmetic concern isn’t the only issue with regards to the Fierce PC’s design. The RGB LED lighting is great, but the control boxes are attached to one of the 2.5in and 3.5in mounts at the rear, and the other mounts are occupied – so there’s hardly any room to add storage. And, around the front, the water-cooling gear means you can’t install the optional drive cages.

The vertically-mounted graphics card might look good, but that can be a hindrance too. Its position makes it difficult to get to the bottom half of the motherboard. You’ll have to entirely remove the GPU if you want to add a second GPU, fit an expansion card or access the headers and buttons in this part of the PC.

Fierce PC’s design does deliver excellent build quality and loads of versatile lighting – features that neither rival can offer – but a lot has been compromised to get there. The chunky water-cooling hardware and numerous lighting control boxes block off key upgrade paths. The vertical graphics card makes motherboard access tricky, and this lack of versatility is delivered in a machine that’s larger and heavier than rivals.

Interested in an AMD Ryzen build? Check out our in-depth guide to AMD AM4 motherboards – and our top recommendations for every budget and form factor!

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review – Components

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review 7The components inside the Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm are impressive.

The Intel Core i7-8700K is an excellent and familiar processor. It’s got six Hyper-Threaded cores and the latest Coffee Lake architecture. It’s got a huge overclock, too: from 3.7GHz to a mighty 5GHz.

The tweaked 8700K is an impressive chip, and the overclock helps it compare well with rivals. The AWD-IT costs around £1,000 less and has a stock-speed AMD Ryzen 2 2700X processor. And the Stormforce machine, while three hundred pounds more expensive, takes the Core i7-8700K and overclocks it to a slightly slower 4.8GHz. It’s not the first time we’ve seen systems at this sort of price with this sort of overclock on the i7-8700K, either: the £2,899 PC Specialist Velocity X-01 also applied that overclock to the i7-8700K.

The graphics card also has an overclock. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti inside the Lightstorm ordinarily runs at 1,480MHz, but arrived with a factory overclock of 1,556MHz. And then, beyond that, Fierce PC added 100MHz to the core and 400MHz to the 11GB GDDR5X memory.

The cheaper AWD-IT machine deploys a GTX 1080 Ti with a smaller overclock. The more expensive Stormforce uses two GTX 1080 Ti cards in SLI.

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review 6Those key components attach to an Asus ROG Maximus X Hero. It’s a typical high-end board from Asus, which means you get huge heatsinks, loads of RGB LEDs and overflowing features.

There are Clear CMOS and BIOS Flashback buttons on the back panel, and at the top you get a POST display. At the bottom are start, reset and tweaking buttons. The board has full multi-GPU support, a spare M.2 connecter, and beefed-up audio and networking.

However, the vertically-mounted graphics card makes it tricky to access any slot, button or connector in the bottom half of the board. And, while the 32GB of memory is ample, it means you get no free memory slots.

There’s another irritation. Fierce PC has fitted the version of this board that doesn’t come with wireless networking. That decision saves about thirty pounds at retail, but it makes this PC less useful – and for the sake of such a tiny saving on such an expensive machine, it seems strange.

There’s a lot of storage inside this machine. The boot drive is a 500GB Samsung 970 EVO, and a 500GB Samsung 860 EVO provides a neat half-way house. There’s a 2TB hard disk, too.

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review 5The rig is powered by a Thermaltake Toughpower Grand that has an 80 Plus gold rating. Its 850W power output is huge, but unnecessary unless you want to overclock the CPU or add a second GPU. Pleasingly, it’s fully modular.

Aside from the odd Wi-Fi omission and the building difficulties, the motherboard is excellent – packed with features. And, when it comes to storage and memory, the Fierce PC is great.

This is one area where the Lightstorm outstrips its rivals. The cheaper AWD-IT had half as much memory, one SSD, no hard disk and a similarly high-end motherboard. The more expensive Stormforce put most of its budget towards its graphics, so it only had a mid-range motherboard.

The Fierce PC has a better warranty, too: the five-year labour deal with two years of parts coverage is excellent.

Need more news on the latest kit? Click here to check out the latest headlines – after you’ve read our Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm gaming PC review

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review – Application & Thermal PerformanceFierce PC Imperial Lighstorm Gaming PC Review applications

There’s no doubting that the Fierce PC is fast. However, there’s also no doubting that other machines do almost match its pace – and, in some circumstances, beat it.

Its single-threaded Geekbench score of 6,141 beat the AMD-powered AWD-IT machine by a solid margin, and it squeaked ahead of the overclocked Stormforce – no surprise considering the small difference in speeds between those two machines.

In the multi-threaded Geekbench test the Fierce PC scored 27,141. That’s an excellent result – around 2,000 points better than the Stormforce. However, it’s worth mentioning that the eight-core chip in the AWD-IT wasn’t far behind, even though that PC is far cheaper than the Fierce PC.

The Fierce PC could only manage a middling result in Cinebench’s CPU test: it was faster than the Stormforce but fell behind the eight-core AMD Ryzen 2 chip inside the AWD-IT. And, while the Fierce PC machine beat its rivals with a result of 5,210 in PC Mark 8, the lead was so small as to be imperceptible.

The Samsung 960 EVO SSD is quick, with read and write speeds of 3,481MB/s and 2,689MB/s.

Pleasingly, the Fierce PC didn’t have thermal issues. Its peak processor and graphics temperatures of 74°C and 71°C are fine, and the Lightstorm remained quiet during all of our tests. That’s on par with the Stormforce, and better than the loud AWD-IT system.

The Fierce PC does deliver good benchmark results, and it’s fast enough to run almost any productivity application. It won’t hamper any games, either. It was a little quicker than the Stormforce machine in most tests, and beat the AWD-IT machine in the majority of benchmarks too. The only fly in the ointment is that AWD-IT system, which is better for certain multi-threaded productivity tools thanks to its extra cores.

Need more options after the Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm gaming PC review? Here are our favourite PCs – with reviews and buying links!

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review – Gaming PerformanceFierce PC Imperial Lighstorm Gaming PC Review gaming

The overclocked GTX 1080 Ti is consistently a little quicker than the tweaked chip inside the AWD-IT. However, and unsurprisingly, it can’t compete with the dual-GPU setup of the pricier Stormforce.

Its Witcher 3 average of 54fps is a frame quicker than the AWD-IT, for instance, and its Mordor average of 93fps is two frames faster. It was a little quicker in Crysis 3, too, and beat the AWD-IT in three of the five minimum framerate tests.

The overclocked GTX 1080 Ti has the graphical grunt to play today’s top games on 4K screens, widescreen panels and high refresh-rate monitors. It’ll handle today’s top VR headsets, too.

However, there’s still plenty more power on offer from the two GTX 1080 Ti cards inside the Stormforce. That dual-GPU machine was forty frames faster in Witcher 3, for instance, and opened a similar lead in Fallout 4. It was more than twenty frames quicker in Battlefield as well.

3D Mark Fire Strike illustrates the gulf between these machines. The Fierce PC scored a stonking 22,976 in the standard test. That’s more than 1,000 points ahead of the AWD-IT, but 12,000 points behind the Stormforce system. That sort of gulf was maintained in the Fire Strike Extreme test.

Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm Gaming PC Review – Conclusion

Fierce PC Imperial Lighstorm Gaming PC Review 8Our Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm gaming PC review illustrates that this machine looks excellent, and it serves up loads more RGB LEDs than its rivals – and with more control than we’ve seen elsewhere thanks to Thermaltake’s smart hardware and impressive software.

Get beyond the looks, and this machine continues to impress.

The overclocked processor delivers a huge amount of power for gaming and productivity. The overclocked GTX 1080 Ti is good, too. It regularly outpaces its tweaked single-GPU rivals, and it’ll handle any current gaming task. The motherboard is superb, the storage and memory are fine, and the power supply is beefy.

However, while there’s no denying that the Lightstorm looks eye-catching and has loads of RGB versatility, the lighting and water-cooling does restrict upgrade room and ease of use in other areas. There’s also no denying that this machine is a little expensive – a rival like the AWD-IT is a little slower and a little less eye-catching, but it does represent better value. You could also argue that the Stormforce delivers better value, too, by offering a second GTX 1080 Ti for around £300 more.

The Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm delivers great pace and design, but the price is a slight sticking point. You could spend this sort of cash elsewhere and get a lot more bang for your buck. You could also buy this specification from another vendor and save a lot of money. The Imperial Lightstorm is a great PC, but it’s only worth considering if you’re really keen on Thermaltake’s hardware and extensive RGB LED systems.

The Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm costs £3,200Discuss our Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm gaming PC review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading out Fierce PC Imperial Lightstorm gaming PC review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!  

The Good:

  • Lots of RGB LEDs
  • Quiet operation throughout
  • Rock-solid case strength
  • Excellent, consistent benchmark results
  • Fully-featured motherboard

The Bad:

  • A little too expensive considering the components
  • Internal access can be difficult

The Specs:

CPU: 3.7GHz Intel Core i7-8700K overclocked to 5GHz
Memory: 32GB Corsair Vengeance RGB 3,000MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB
Motherboard: Asus ROG Maximus X Hero
Storage: 500GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 SSD, 500GB Samsung 860 EVO SSD; 2TB Seagate Barracuda hard disk
Warranty: 5yr labour w/ 2yr parts and 6mth RTB

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Fierce PC Imperial Lighstorm

About Author

Mike Jennings

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