Digital Storm Bolt Small Form Factor Gaming PC Review

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Gaming PCs come in all shapes and sizes, but the small form factor gaming rig is not one that you see all that often. When it comes to tablets, notebooks and small form factor PCs, “thin and light” may indicate the latest and greatest in design and mobile components, but when it comes to gaming, a lithe chassis can be indicative of deep compromises on the performance inside.

Digital Storm has tackled the task of building a system that offers both high-performance parts and a small chassis with the Bolt series of custom PCs. Indeed, they nailed it on the compact size; the Bolt’s case measures just 3.6"(W) x 14"(H) x 15"(D), and while the components inside the Bolt we tested aren't the highest-end parts that money can buy, they're still fairly impressive.

Digital Storm Bolt dimensions and layout - click for high res.
Digital Storm Bolt Level 3
Specifications & Features
Cooling System:
Operating System:
Side Panel Ports:
Rear Panel Ports:
Power Supply:
Bolt Level 3
Intel Core i5-3570K (3.4GHz, overclocked to 4.2GHz)
8GB DDR3-1600MHz Corsair Vengeance Series
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti (2GB)
Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI
60GB Corsair SSD, 1TB (7200 RPM) HDD
DVD/CD 8x Multi
Air cooling, five heat pipes
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dual Realtek Gigabit LAN, WiFi
2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, headphone and mic jacks
PS/2, 2 HDMI, 2 antenna connectors, DVI-I, 2 USB 3.0, 4 USB 2.0, 2 LAN, optical S/PDIF, audio jacks (x5)
Integrated motherboard audio
500W Digital Storm Certified BOLT Edition
Not included
3.6"(W) x 14"(H) x 15"(D)
3-year limited warranty
$1,599 (as configured) 

There are four levels of Bolt systems, from the Level 1 starting at $999 up to the Level 4 at $1,949. Digital Storm sent us the Level 3 to test out ($1,599), and this version includes an Intel Core i5-3570K (overclocked to 4.2GHz), 8GB DDR3-1600MHz of Corsair Vengeance Series memory, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti (2GB) graphics card.

Digital Storm paired a 60GB Corsair SSD with a 1TB hard drive (7200 RPM) for a nice one-two combination of speed and storage capacity, and the optical drive is a slim DVD/CD 8x Multi drive.

All of the above is connected to a Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI motherboard, which features a fine assortment of rear I/O ports including a PS/2 port, two HDMI ports, DVI-I, two USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports, a pair of Gigabit LAN ports, an optical S/PDIF port, two antenna connectors, and five audio jacks.


There are also two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and mic/line in jacks mounted on a side panel. Typically, these are mounted on the front of the case, but Digital Storm made the interesting design choice to tuck them off to the side.

Normally, you’ll get an “accessories box” and a Digital Storm Binder with documentation and installation discs, but because we have a media test unit, Digital Storm didn’t send us all those goodies. So it goes.

Before we dive into our benchmark testing, let's take a closer look at this rig.

Image gallery

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realneil 2 years ago

Tiny little powerhouse.

It's a shame about the noise.

SecretAgentMan 2 years ago

that is a pretty sexy little beast. digital storm puts out some great stuff but you srsly pay a premium for it. it sucks. i ended up getting a prebuilt from last month for a lot less and i'm super happy with it. hopefully they don't raise their prices like ds

arabellabach 2 years ago

Nice review. Thanks for the discussion. :)

kidbest100 2 years ago

Nice little piece of hardware! Looks awesome, performs awesome!


oo bad it doesn't sound awesome... The sound would be pretty hard for some people to deal with, and others probably wouldn't be to impressed with those temps either.

But who gives a hey? Its still amazing how much they could fit in it :D

Nice review! Can't wait to see more :D

Mattos 2 years ago

I like how more companies are making these SFF PC's. Thanks for the review.

Dorkstar 2 years ago

I really like the fact that the GPU is facing outwards on the side of the case.  I know cards today don't run quite as hot as my GTX 285 does, but the heat coming off the GPU was always a large concern for me.  The exhaust fan points right underneath my CPU, and I always feared it would cause a heat issue for my cpu, which it hasn't, but seeing that the GPU is usually the hottest device inside the case, I think it would be a nice idea to get that hot hair blowing directly out of the case rather than circulating around inside.

kylevasher 2 years ago

This IMO is a work of art. With PC's becoming smaller that means people won't be so hesitant to bring their PC to the next big local LAN. I see it like this, smaller form factor + less work = more LAN.


KierWest one year ago

I dont get why anyone wants a small form factor PC.  It always comes with limitations.  
My first PC was a small form factor, and I couldn't upgrade it.  It was miserable and costly.  

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