Bolton, UK-based Scan's latest machine uses the new AMD Radeon RX 480, which is one of the market's best mid-range cards, and the GPU is paired with an overclocked Core i5 processor.
Scan reckons it's ideal for 1080p and 1440p gaming, and we're loathe to disagree. The 3XS Z170 Performance GTK4 starts at $1,444 (about £1,090, AU$1,907).
The GTK4 is built inside the pleasing NZXT Source 340 chassis. Its front is a solid slab of glossy black metal, and its roof and rear panel are similarly subtle. The main side panel is decorated with a huge window.
Build quality is reassuring, and there's not much size difference between the Scan and the Overclockers Titan Virtual Force – the latter system is only a few centimetres bigger.
The Scan is impressive on the inside, with a traditional layout bolstered by good building. The PSU, hard disk and spare cables are hidden beneath a matte black shroud that runs across the base and bears the Scan 3XS logo, and other cables run behind a glossy raised section and only appear when needed. They're all black, so they're barely noticeable amid the dark interior.
The internal space is dominated by the graphics card and CPU cooler. The former is a medium-sized card decorated with AMD's soft-touch finish, and the latter is a chunky BeQuiet! unit with a single 120mm fan. Thankfully, they don't impede upgrades: the single PCI-e x16 slot and pairs of PCI-e and PCI slots can be easily reached, and the empty memory and SATA connectors aren't blocked.
Scan's PC doesn't have the green lighting of the Overclockers, but the 3XS system is a tad tidier and more practical – that machine had a large CPU cooler that blocked its memory slots.
The traditional Scan PC differs more dramatically from the Alienware Aurora R5. That system is far smaller and comes with bolder aesthetics and an innovative internal layout, which means it's easier to lug to LAN parties. Despite that, it's not all good news – its unfolding PSU doesn't help it deliver any more upgrade room, and its internals are uglier and more cramped than the Scan.
Here are the specs of the Scan 3XS Z170 Performance GTK4 which was provided to TechRadar:
- CPU: 4.6GHz Intel Core i5-6600K processor (Quad-core, 6MB cache)
- Graphics: XFX AMD Radeon RX 480 (8GB GDDR5 RAM)
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 (3,000MHz)
- Storage: 240GB Corsair Force LE, 1TB 7,200rpm hard disk
- Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet
- Operating system: Windows 10 64-bit
- Ports: Front: 2 x USB 3, 1 x audio; Rear: 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x PS/2, 3 x audio
- Size: 7.8in x 17.5in x 17in (W x D x H; 200 x 445 x 432mm)
- Warranty: 3yr parts & labour, first year onsite, 2/3 years RTB
AMD's latest card is the star of the show. It's the first card to use the new Polaris architecture, which shrinks the manufacturing process to a minuscule 14nm and deploys innovative transistor technology. The new card has 2,304 stream processors, which is impressive for a mid-range GPU, its clock runs at a peak of 1,266MHz, and it's got a whopping 8GB of memory.
The GPU is bolstered by an overclocked Core i5-6600K processor. Scan has tweaked the quad-core chip to run at 4.6GHz rather than 3.5GHz, and it's paired with 16GB of memory.
The storage is decent: a 240GB Corsair Force SSD and a 1TB hard disk. Everything connects to an Asus Z170-P motherboard, which is a reasonable mid-range slab that ticks every mainstream box without any real high-end features.
The specification trades blows with rivals. The Alienware's memory is slower and its Core i7 processor only runs at its stock speed, but the Aurora fights back with a PCI SSD and a GTX 1080 graphics card.
That's a good GPU, but the Alienware we reviewed costs $2,529 (about £1,899, AU$3,390) – a version of the Aurora that's priced similarly to the Scan only has a GTX 970 GPU and a stock-speed Core i5 processor, and there's no SSD and weaker single-channel memory.
The Overclockers costs $1,820 (about £1,329, AU$2,535) and runs the Core i5-6600k at 4.5GHz. It has a GTX 980 Ti, which is higher up Nvidia's graphics range but is now an older card. It's only got 8GB of memory, and its SSD is a PCI model with a lesser capacity than the Scan's SATA drive.
To get an equivalent machine, the memory, SSD and graphics card need to be altered, with a GTX 1060 deployed instead. The revised Overclockers price sits at £1,057, and with similar graphics performance.
It's worth mentioning warranties. Scan and Overclockers machines are both covered by three-year deals: the former is a parts and labour deal with a year of on-site service, while the latter has two years of collect-and-return service and a year of labour coverage. Both are better than the Alienware, which has a year of coverage.
Here's how the Scan 3XS Z170 GTK4 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 24,094; Sky Diver: 25,781; Fire Strike: 10,164
- Cinebench R15: CPU: 759cb; Graphics: 171.01fps
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 4,930
- GeekBench: 5,053 (single-core); 16,342 (multi-core)
- Metro: Last Light: 82.33fps (1080p, Ultra); 137.67fps(1080p, Low)
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor: 89.35fps (1080p, Ultra); 206.2fps (1080p, Low)
- Bioshock Infinite: 110.97fps (1080p, Ultra); 243.2fps (1080p, Low)
- GTA V: 45.8fps (1080p, Very High); 65.4fps (1080p, Medium)
The Radeon RX 480 proved itself a contender in games benchmarks. Its Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor average of 89fps is ample for smooth gameplay, and it delivered a decent 45.8fps in GTA V – and got beyond 100fps in Bioshock Infinite. Its Fire Strike result of 10,0164 is superb for a mid-range card, and it beat 60fps in other games.
It's tricky to compare the Scan directly with rivals, because those machines are more expensive and come with pricier graphics cards – but we can comfortably say that the Scan will play any game at 1080p and the vast majority of titles at 1440p without struggling.
The overclocked CPU is no slouch, either. It was faster than both rivals in GeekBench tests and the PC Mark 8 benchmark, and only fell behind the Alienware in one Cinebench test. The quad-core CPU and overclocked core have enough power for work and play – only intensive, high-end tools won't run smoothly.
The SSD is middling. Its read and write speeds of 502MB/s and 483MB/s are far better than any hard disk, and they mean the Scan boots in seconds and loads games quickly, but both rivals have even quicker PCIe drives.
And, finally, there's noise and heat. This system has no heat issues, and it's virtually silent when idle – with that noise barely increasing during games tests. Once the Scan is under your desk, you'll barely notice it.
The RX 480 is a capable GPU that handles gaming at 1080p and 1440p, and the rest of the machine doesn't mess around. The overclocked Core i7 CPU is quicker its rival's silicon, and it's got plenty of memory and a decent motherboard.
The only tiny disappointment is the SSD, and that's only because its rivals have PCIe drives that are even faster. The case is smart, subtle and tidy, with ample room to upgrade and consistently quiet performance. It's more traditional than the Alienware, sure, but it's also better.
The Overclockers Titan Virtual Force is the Scan 3XS Z170 Performance GTK4's biggest rival. At this price, both are capable gaming systems, with the Scan leading in CPU performance and the Overclockers delivering in storage and louder, more outlandish design.
Either way, you're getting a powerful gaming PC – and the Scan's great benchmarks and build ensure that it's a high-quality contender.