Over the last week or so, I have been getting to grips with the Stormforce Crystal AMD gaming PC, kindly sent to us by Stormforce. Stormforce is a UK-based custom PC manufacturer that specializes in gaming PCs for both the casual and hardcore gamer. We had the pleasure of putting the Intel-based systems through their paces and now it’s time to see what results the AMD system can produce.
We ran a few benchmarks, recorded temperatures, and measured acoustics, to give you an in-depth look at what you can expect.
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
500GB NVME SSD
Cooler Master MB520 RGB
All-AMD CPU and GPU can benefit from AMDs SAM technology
Solid gaming performance for 1080p & 1440p
Decent thermal results
Not too loud
RAM wasn’t overclocked to its advertised speeds
Only 500GB SSD
Was a slight whine from one of the GPU fans
Packaging & What's In The Box
The first thing to note is that the Stormforce system arrived properly packaged and undamaged, not something all prebuilt manufacturers can boast. The system was packed with that rigid foam, molded around the internal components, and it appears to have worked as the GPU and other components are all firmly in place. The system also comes covered in a plastic dust sheet, followed by further foam padding, keeping the PC very secure.
Inside, you obviously get your system, along with a bag full of spares and extra bits from your motherboard box. The bag includes a Wi-Fi antenna, screws, extra SATA cables, and your manual, just in case you need to upgrade or replace something.
As expected, there is a “Warning” leaflet giving you some initial instructions to remove the padding with some care, as you never know what may have dislodged during transit. They also ask you to keep hold of the packaging in case you need to return the system.
You also get a small leaflet giving you some steps to set up the gaming PC, which can come in handy for a first-time PC gamer. This leaflet also outlines their three-year collect, repair, and return warranty with some information on what to do if you face any issues. Lastly, you get a small leaflet with Stormforces promotion, basically, if you leave a review on Trustpilot, you could win a £200 Steam voucher.
This prebuilt comes from the Stormforce Crystal range, with this model being an all AMD build, featuring the Ryzen 5 5600X CPU and the Radeon RX 6700 XT GPU. The Crystal range features high-end machines that are designed with balanced specifications for smooth gameplay at a more competitive price. Essentially, you can pick up a gaming PC in the crystal range and game in high resolutions without breaking the bank to do so. They advertise the range for 1080p and 1440p when using high refresh rates but there are plenty of titles this gaming PC can handle 4K in, especially with tweaked settings.
The build comes in the Cooler Master MB520 RGB Gaming case, not a PC case high on everyone’s list but one that is fairly aesthetically pleasing and features adequate airflow. The case has a solid see-through plastic front panel with a slight tint. A front panel like this would normally be a red flag for airflow but the sides feature relatively thick ventilation gaps that provide the system with just enough. Behind the front panel sits three RGB 120mm fans that assist with cooling and the overall looks.
Along with the front fans, we also have a plain rear exhaust 120mm fan. It would have been nice for the rear fan to match the rest of included fans but it probably came with the case and most prebuilt manufacturers will leave the stock fans in unless specified. We have a 120mm AIO cooler, which is a bit strange. This CPU doesn’t really require a liquid cooling solution but a 120mm one is kind of pointless. Sure it will keep the CPU cool enough and it does look better than an air cooler but it’s a piece of hardware that makes little sense from a performance or value standpoint.
Thanks to the packaging, every component was seated properly and no cables had dislodged, so the system switched on straight away. If you were looking to upgrade this down the line with other components, it should be relatively easy, even for a beginner. All the cables are nicely managed so you would have to cut the ties to remove some of the components but that is easily done.
They have left space for you to quickly install any additional drives you may have around the back, either into the drive cage or mounted on the back panel. This is nice attention to detail as some prebuilt manufacturers may use the drive bays to store excess cables, often blocking them from use. The case also features a dust filter on the top, one under your PSU, and the front panel is also sealed in by mesh-like filters too, making maintenance a bit easier when the time comes to give your system a clean.
We like to look at some of the additional components in prebuilts to see where the manufacturer may have tried to save extra cash. The Cooler Master case isn’t for everyone but it isn’t bad, I’ve seen a lot worse for the money, however, the inclusion of an mATX motherboard is a bit disappointing. To be fair to Stormforce, this is a good motherboard and is a typical place to save a bit of money, especially with the micro-ATX form factor but it made the cable management along the bottom a bit ugly.
We have a non-modular PSU which is going to save some money but there is no issue with that whatsoever as you can rarely tell the difference in a built system. The NVMe is a lower-end WD Blue SN550 but no issue with that either, it is still pretty quick storage.
I was surprised to see non-RGB RAM in a build that costs just over £1,500, not to mention only 500GB of storage space. These two items aren’t particularly expensive and RGB is hardly important but they are an easy way for a manufacturer to enhance the build. I’m assuming Stormforce is just remaining competitive with this, however, I’d like to see more for this price.
The only thing I’d look to do differently is run the front I/O panel cables and the USB, HD Audio etc, together to the nearest cutout on the right, making them appear as a thick cable. Other than a couple of minor things I mentioned above, the build quality is solid.
Reading through the included materials with the build you’ll notice that when purchasing a Stormforce PC, you will get a three-year collect, repair, and return warranty. This covers repairs and replacement parts, and also includes labor for three years, excluding Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands. Please note, the warranty only covers hardware issues, not software.
If for any reason you experience an issue with your system, you can contact Stormforce directly. Stormforce also has a standard 28-day returns policy, you simply need to get in contact with the company and you will receive your refund within 14-days.
Testing & Performance
When we receive or buy a prebuilt gaming PC, we approach the testing the same way every time. We begin with the important stuff, the game benchmarks, to make sure the PC is producing the results we expect to see. We also include some synthetic benchmarks, more for comparative data than anything else, while also taking temperature readings from the CPU, GPU, and inside the case.
Finally, we measure the acoustic levels when the gaming PC is idle and under load, to give you a rough idea of how loud this is going to be if you buy one.
After unboxing and checking that we had everything installed driver-wise, we noticed the BIOS was three versions old. This isn’t a gripe or negative mark against the prebuilt as a lot of manufacturers build buffer stock pre-made, ready to sell, often meaning the drivers could be a few months out of date.
The graphics card driver was up to date, however, the RAM was not overclocked to its advertised speeds. The RAM was running at the default speed rather than 3200MHz, now, I’m not sure if Stormforce simply creates the XMP/DOCP profile and leave it to you to change but they should be doing this for you as most customers who buy a prebuilt gaming PC probably aren’t too familiar with the inner workings of a BIOS and their performance could suffer.
To see how effective the cooling is with this prebuilt, we ran Furmark using CPU and GPU burner to stress the system for around 30 minutes.
As you can see, the CPU and GPU ran at a fairly normal temp, with plenty of room there if you ever desired to push them further. The 120mm AIO performed as expected and you could certainly get the CPU temps down with a 240mm or higher alternative. We also took some internal temps to see if the airflow was adequate and with the highest temp reading of around 42 degrees inside, the components were definitely getting a steady flow of air. While stressing the system we took some acoustic readings to see how much the fan curve ramping up impacted noise performance.
We recorded an idle decibel level of 41 and after 15 minutes of stressing both the CPU and GPU, we only saw a rise in noise levels to an average of 43 dB. You should take this with a pinch of salt but there was a whine coming from the system. The whine wasn’t loud but it was noticeable and sounded like it was coming from one of the GPU fans. It is worth noting that when you load specific games, your GPU will speed up momentarily at times and that will produce more noise than our stress test but all-in-all, the acoustic levels were fine.
We ran our own synthetic testing just to compare with AMDs advertised benchmarking data and our scores for Time Spy and Cinebench R20 both came back pretty much identical to AMDs, give or take a few points.
Before getting into the benchmarks, I just want to note that all the results show games in the highest setting presets with motion blur switched off if applicable. As this is an all AMD system we decided to run our benchmarks with AMD’s Smart Access Memory enabled and disabled.
As you can see across all the results, SAM technology does make some difference in different resolutions but it appears to vary from game to game, with a noticeable boost with ray tracing enabled in-game.
The results show that this system is most definitely for those who game in 1080p and 1440p, with 4K results being poor in some of the titles you would most likely want to play at that resolution. Of course, games like Far Cry 5 and Resident Evil Village ran quite well in 4K but others like Outriders and Days Gone, you would need to optimize the settings to get that magic 60 FPS. Stormforce does not label this as a 4K system, so nothing to worry about but it is always good to check.
The results show that you can easily push over 240 FPS in esports titles when playing in 1080p and with a few graphical tweaks, 1440p too. While esports players won’t need a PC as powerful as this, it is the smarter investment if you plan on upgrading your monitor or just want a competitive edge.
Overall, the Stormforce all-AMD Crystal PC performed as expected. The system was clearly built with care, everything was connected properly, and most importantly, the system worked straight away. Visually, the Crystal is built in an aesthetically pleasing case, although not one I’d recommend if you ever built your own PC. The components featured are mostly high-end, with the odd budget component thrown in to save some money. The motherboard is mATX but still a good B550 option and features Wi-Fi too. The PSU is from a reliable manufacturer and aside from a meager 500GB NVMe SSD, there are no complaints here.
This PC is competitively priced and as you can see from the benchmarking results, the gaming performance was excellent. This is a well-balanced prebuilt and a solid option for those looking to game in 1080 or 1440p, I would certainly recommend Stormforce if you are unable to build your own PC.
The Stormforce all-AMD Crystal PC looks great and performs exactly as it should. The build quality is of a high level and with the added bonus of Stormforce’s lengthy warranty, this prebuilt PC is a great option for those who cannot build their own gaming rig.