Computer

Digital Storm Lynx review

While Digital Storm’s flagship Aventum X is a powerful showpiece melding together the best of modern technologies in a massive tower, the company’s Lynx gaming PC is a stylish workhorse that doesn’t weigh more than 50 pounds. Like the Aventum, the Lynx is capable of supporting multiple graphics cards, and the tower’s smaller but still spacious interior promises tinkerers an easy path to perform upgrades without the hassle of building a system from scratch.

Starting at $ 799, the Lynx is a PC that you can invest in today and make powerful tomorrow. Enthusiasts will want to upgrade to the top-of-the-line configuration, like our review unit, which comes in at $ 1,999 and ships with a 9th-Generation Intel Core i7-9700K processor, GeForce RTX 2070 graphics, and a solid-state drive.

Simple, but aggressive

As the newest member of the Digital Storm family, the Lynx is a handsome gaming PC with a premium style that is both aggressive and minimalist. While the Aventum has a simple block-shaped enclosure, the Lynx’s radiator-like front panel, with a stylized and backlit Digital Storm thunderbolt logo, gives this gaming PC an edgy vibe. Overall, it’s devoid of the garish flourishes on competing gaming desktops.

The combination of a mutedly aggressive front grill and simple side panels add up to a modern design that most gamers will appreciate. If you find yourself needing more show, you can activate the RGB backlighting inside the case.

Under the hood

Measuring 18 x 8 x 18 inches, the Lynx shares a similar footprint to other mid-sized towers, like HP’s Omen Obelisk, rival boutique PC manufacturer Origin PC’s Neuron, Dell’s Alienware Aurora R7, and Asus’ ROG Strix GL12CP. Compared to the Neuron’s use of a mini ITX board, the larger ATX motherboard on the Lynx not only provides ample space to add components, but is roomy enough for your hands to maneuver with ease when making upgrades.

The unit’s internals can be accessed through removable side panels on either side, both of which are secured by thumbscrews to provide a tool-less way to access the insides. Removing the tinted glass panel will give you access to the motherboard, solid-state drive, RAM, and graphics card, while the power supply and the hard drive are found behind the metal side panel on the opposite side.

Given the Lynx’s high-end processors and graphics, it’s not hard to envision small business owners adopting it for productivity.

Tinted glass gives the unit a clean appearance when the Lynx is powered off. When you turn on the unit, there’s plenty of visual interest, from the RGB backlighting throughout the case, to the liquid-cooled processor. Cable management is top notch, which keeps things looking tidy and helps with airflow. The Lynx also comes with magnetically-attached dust filters on the top and bottom.

Though the Lynx ships with a single graphics card, users have the option to add a second GPU, a feature that’s also supported on the Alienware Aurora R7 and Origin PC Neuron. High-end gamers and users who need workstation-like performance can take advantage of dual-graphics support to add even more performance to future-proof their investments.

Digital Storm Lynx review
Chuong Nguyen/Digital Trends

Our biggest complaint is that Digital Storm’s top configuration ships with only a GeForce RTX 2070 GPU. Gamers who want to max out the graphics potential of the Lynx with dual-Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti flagship GPUs will have to replace the GPU that ships with the unit, rather than just quickly adding a second card.

An abundance of ports needed for VR

True to its gaming pedigree, the Lynx ships with plenty of ports to connect all your favorite peripherals. The front ports, which are accessible on the top of the case, include two USB-A 3.0 ports, audio and headphone jacks, and a power button. You’ll find an even more ample array of ports on the rear, including six USB ports, Ethernet jack, two legacy PS/2 ports for older mouse and keyboard connections, audio and headphone jacks, and an array of video output ports, including DisplayPort and HDMI connections.

Digital Storm Lynx Compared To

Because of Digital Storm’s decision to top the unit out with RTX 2070 graphics instead of an upgraded RTX 2080 card, you won’t find a USB-C port on the Lynx, making this rig less future-proof even in its upgraded configuration.

Though the RTX 2070 delivers plenty of power to drive virtual reality headsets, the lack of a USB-C port means that this system can’t take advantage of the single VirtualLink connector. Instead, you’ll need to plug in multiple cables to drive your headset. And ironically, despite the glowing stylized thunderbolt emblem on the front that Digital Storm uses as its corporate logo, there is no Thunderbolt 3 port on this unit.

Ready for work

Though Digital Storm bills the Lynx as a gaming PC, it’s not hard to envision small business owners and home users adopting the Lynx for productivity tasks given the unit’s options for high-end processors and graphics. Our upgraded review configuration ships with a latest 9th-Generation Intel processor, but to keep costs more affordable, the Lynx tops out with an Intel Core i7-9700K processor rather than the beefier Core i9-9900K on our flagship Aventum X unit.

Digital Storm Lynx review
Chuong Nguyen/Digital Trends

The main difference between these two processors – other than clock speeds – is that the i7 silicon doesn’t benefit from Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology. To compensate for this loss, Intel added two additional processing cores to this year’s i7 compared to last year’s model, bringing the silicon to a total of eight cores from six.

As expected, results from our Geekbench 4 benchmark showed that performance of the Lynx’s 9th-Generation Core i7 processor is better than last year’s Core i7 processor, but slightly lower than the more powerful Core i9. The Lynx’s single-core score of 6,037 and multi-core score of 29,974 trailed the Core i9-9900K results from competing units, like the Origin Chronos, Asus ROG Strix GL12X, Origin Millenium, and Digital Storm Aventum X, but not by a significant margin. The Aventum X, for example, posted scores of 6,0367 and 32,328, respectively. Last year’s six-core Core i7-8700 processor on HP’s Omen Obelisk configured with RTX 2080 graphics, trailed the pack, posting scores of 5,606 and 26,529, respectively.

These results suggest that the biggest difference across the range of Intel processors rests in multi-core workloads, and the Core i7-9700K does a great job keeping up with the beefier Core i9-9900K on more premium units. In real-world usage using the Lynx for web browsing, moderate photo-editing, and heavy productivity tasks, most users won’t notice any performance hit with the Lynx’s Core i7.

More intensive tasks, such as video encoding, will require slightly more time to complete on the Lynx. Our Handbrake encoding test took just under 90 seconds to complete on the Lynx, compared to approximately 80 seconds on units with a Core i9-9900K processor. Both Intel 9th-Generation processors were faster than the Omen Obelisk’s 8th-Generation processor, which took 124 seconds to finish the same task.

Digital Storm Lynx review
Chuong Nguyen/Digital Trends

Our Lynx unit shipped with a speedy 512GB Samsung EVO 970 M.2 solid-state drive coupled with a larger 2TB hard drive to house larger files. While 512GB isn’t the largest capacity we’ve seen on a gaming PC, it delivers fast 1,259 MB/sec read and 1,022 MB/s write speeds. Both drives are easily upgradeable should you find yourself needing more space to store your documents, photos, videos, and game files.

Middling graphics

Though the Lynx benefits from strong processing performance, the unit’s mid-range RTX 2070 graphics might keep the unit out of consideration for enthusiast-level gamers when newer features, like ray-tracing, are enabled at higher resolutions. That said, most modern games run without any noticeable drop in frame rates in up to 2K, or 1440p, resolution with high detail on the Lynx’s RTX 2070 card.

When benchmarked using 3DMark’s Time Spy tool, the Lynx’s score of 8,680 points places it behind other units with Nvidia’s RTX 2080 graphics and ahead of laptops with mobile RTX 2070 graphics. The Origin Chronos, with a single flagship Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics card, edged ahead of the Lynx with a score of 13,817, while the Razer Blade 2019, which uses a Max-Q design to bring mobile RTX 2070 graphics to thin and light gaming laptops, scored just 6,363 points.

Given that the RTX 2070 can render most modern games with modest graphics, like Epic’s Fortnite and 2K Games’ Civilization VI, at framerates above 60 frames per second, some gamers won’t benefit from a system with a stronger – and more expensive – graphics card. Though the framerates delivered by the Lynx weren’t as high as competing systems with RTX 2080 or RTX 2080 Ti graphics, performance was smooth. Civilization VI played between 68 FPS at the highest settings in 4K and 189 FPS on medium settings and medium details at 1080p, compared to the Omen Obelisk’s scores of 102 and 155 FPS, respectively.

However, performance dropped in more graphics-intensive games like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. At 1080p resolution with high detail, the game’s 96 FPS is surprisingly even better than the Origin PC Millennium with its dual-RTX 2080 Ti graphics, but the Millennium delivered stronger performance than the Lynx at higher resolutions and higher game settings thanks to its dual-2080 Ti graphics.

The Lynx is an attractive and powerful alternative from having to build your own gaming rig, but it’s not a PC without its own compromises.

In fact, the Millennium’s framerate only dips below 60 at 4K in ultra-high details, whereas the Lynx drops to 54 FPS starting at 1440p with ultra-high details. Even above 60 FPS, stuttering became apparent at 1080p on ultra-high details on the Lynx, and the choppiness became more noticeable at 1440p and 4K in both high and ultra-high settings on the Lynx.

Comparing the desktop RTX 2070 against the same mobile graphics chip, the Lynx has a performance advantage against the Razer Blade, which ships with a mobile RTX 2070 Max-Q design. At 1080p in high settings, the Lynx has a 20 FPS advantage over the Blade. The game played at 36 FPS at 4K and ultra settings on the Lynx, compared to just 28 FPS on the Blade.

With ray-tracing enabled, the Lynx scored 4,756 points in Underwriter Laboratories’ Port Royale benchmark at 22 frames per second, short of the 5,598 score at 26 FPS posted by the RTX 2080 card on the HP Omen Obelisk. Although the RTX 2070 is capable of real-time ray-tracing, the mid-range card is best for gamers looking to play games at 1080p resolution.

Weaker real-time ray-tracing performance was evident in EA Dice’s Battlefield V. When the feature was disabled, the RTX 2070 only dipped below 60 FPS in 4K at ultra settings. When ray-tracing was turned on, the Lynx dipped below 60 FPS at 1440p and medium settings, with the game showing noticeable choppiness at 1440p and ultra settings.

Warranty

Digital Storm’s warranty policy for the Lynx is a bit meager next to competing boutique firms, like rival Origin PC. Both companies offer customers lifetime telephone support should an issue arise, but Digital Storm only covers the Lynx for three years of labor and one year for defective parts. In contrast, Origin PC offers a more generous policy, extending labor coverage to lifetime while maintaining the same one-year term for parts.

Where Origin PC stands out is its Evolve coverage for parts upgrades and exchange. This optional coverage, which can be extended to three years, will give you current market value when you trade-in your existing components. This could have been an extremely useful benefit if Digital Storm adopted a similar strategy for users looking to upgrade the RTX 2070 graphics in the Lynx for either an RTX 2080 or RTX 2080 Ti. As it stands, Lynx owners will either have to eat the cost of the included RTX 2070 card or resell the card themselves should they wish to upgrade the unit’s GPU.

Our Take

The Lynx is an attractive and powerful alternative from having to build your own gaming rig from scratch, but it’s not a PC without its own compromises. While the Lynx ships with the latest processor and graphics card on the market – Intel’s 9th-Generation CPU and Nvidia’s RTX-series graphics are par for the course – the unit cannot be configured with the best available silicon. This compromise was likely made to keep costs at bay, but enthusiasts may be deterred by the lack of a more premium configuration.

Is there a better alternative?

As configured, the Lynx is a competitively priced premium gaming PC. Although the Lynx costs the same as HP’s Omen Obelisk, Digital Storm made different compromises to get to the same $ 2,000 price. HP’s gaming strategy with the Obelisk is to focus on the graphics, so the company went with an older 8th-Generation Intel processor to keep costs down. The Lynx, on the other hand, comes with a newer 9th-Generation processor but comes with a slightly weaker RTX GPU. If you’re willing to wait until spring, HP’s 2019 version of the Omen Obelisk will come with a newer 9th-Generation Intel processor, upgraded RTX 2080 Ti graphics, and liquid cooling for a starting price that’s only $ 249 more than the Lynx. At that price, you’re getting a much better graphics card.

Both units are more affordable than other premium options, like Origin PC’s Neuron. Although the Neuron can support dual graphics cards like the Lynx, Origin PC gives prospective owners options to configure the unit with higher end silicon. When configured with better Intel Core i9-9900K processor, Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics, upgraded 32GB RAM, and a 500GB SSD along with 2TB hard drive, the Neuron comes in at almost $ 1,700 more expensive. While Digital Storm’s more moderate pricing for its midrange build is commendable, we wish the company would give performance users more upgraded configurations for the Lynx.

Another pre-built PC that supports dual graphics is Dell’s Alienware Aurora R7. With a more bulbous design, the Alienware desktop doesn’t share the edgy aesthetics as the Lynx or the Neuron, but pricing appears to be competitive with the Lynx. The $ 2,099 Aurora comes with a similar Core i7-9700K processor and RTX 2070 graphics, but Dell offers higher end builds that top out with Intel’s Core i9-9900K and Nvidia’s 2080 Ti for a whopping $ 5,449.

How long will it last?

The 9th-Generation Intel processor and Nvidia RTX graphics will make the Lynx a great investment for years to come, but if you’ve managed to outgrow Digital Storm’s configuration, the roomy mid-size case design allows you to easily make DIY upgrades as your needs grow. High-end users can even add a second graphics card to amp up performance.

Should you buy it?

Without investing the work in building your own rig from scratch, you’re relying on the choices that Digital Storm made. That means that even though you’re getting a handsomely designed, water-cooled system that packs in ample performance to get you started, you’re not necessarily getting the best components. And for gamers, the compromises Digital Storm made shows, as the mid-range 2070 graphics trails higher-end options in the RTX range. For advanced users, the biggest draw to the Lynx is the unit’s untapped potential. With a spacious interior and room to add a second graphics card, the Lynx can be a serious performer, but only if you invest the time in making the DIY upgrades yourself.

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