The term Dream PC was coined by Custom PC magazine for an article in which each year they challenged the world’s best PC manufacturers to build the fastest, most eye-catching, most innovative, money-no-object system. Scan wasn’t able to take part in the first official Dream PC article, but until the most recent article in 2015 our 3XS system division has designed a brand new system every year.
In fact, although Custom PC no longer publishes a Dream PC article every year, Scan has continued to develop a new Dream PC most years. The idea behind Scan’s 3XS Dream PCs is the same as the thinking behind the original Custom PC article – it’s a demonstration of how we can build you a ‘no limits’, state of the art PC.
For 2015 we wanted to build a more curvaceous, shapely PC than before so using the theme of the fearsome Barracuda we returned to the classic SilverStone TJ07 case.
However, as the TJ07 is now a little long in the tooth we have extensively modified it, both internally and externally, to bring it up to date. Starting from the inside we have added in a new motherboard backplate to aid cable management and fill in the ghastly holes around the board. Another new addition is a horizontal plate between the upper and lower chambers, which again hides unsightly cables and components such as the pumps. All these plates have been powder coated black, along with the interior of the case to give a seamless continuous colour scheme.
The front of the case has also been totally reworked, with the pointless 5.25in drive cages removed and replaced with two enormous EK Rex X3 reservoirs that emerge seamlessly from the horizontal plate between the two chambers. We’ve also filled in the front of the case, getting rid of the unsightly drive bays, giving the outside of the case a completely smooth finish – we challenge anybody who didn’t know the TJ07 to know it ever had drive bays at the front. We also removed the unnecessarily-large 3.5in drive bay mounted USB/audio jack unit and cut holes in the front panel for a pair of USB 3 ports.
The top of the case has also been totally reworked, cutting a hole in the roof for a 360mm radiator (the case only supports 240mm radiators by default), and mounting it with a custom fan grille. The outer surface of the roof has again been filled to a completely smooth finish – we challenge anybody who didn’t know the TJ07 to know we had mounted our own custom fan grille.
Smaller modifications include some custom plates added to the motherboard to tie it into the Barracuda theme. We’ve also manufactured some individually numbered 2.5in drive caddies that are mounted on the right side of the case, behind the motherboard backplate. These are visible through a custom-made window in the right side panel while a huge window on the left side panel shows off the main chamber with the motherboard, graphics cards, solid tubing and reservoirs.
Tying the whole theme together, the exterior of the case is painted in a custom silver blue finish that echoes the PCs namesake. This colour scheme is carried on into the interior of the case on select components, such as the EVGA SLI bridge, RAM heatsinks and SSD. As is always the case with our Dream PCs, different colour schemes are available on request at the time of ordering.
At launch the Barracuda’s default spec includes an eight-core Intel Core i7 5960X overclocked to 4.625GHz, three EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Classified graphics cards, again heavily overclocked, 32GB of Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 2,666MHz, an Asus X99-E WS motherboard and 1.2TB Intel 750-series PCI-E NVME SSD. The CPU and graphics cards are cooled by separate custom water-cooling loops with solid acrylic tubing filled with a custom Mayhems Pastel coolant with a mixture of EK, Magicool and Noctua components. Including delivery by a two man team of Scan engineers who will unpack, setup and configure your Dream PC, the launch price of the Barracuda is £9,499 inc VAT, but as with all 3XS systems the Barracuda is completely configurable to your requirements.
The Barracuda the scored 88% in Custom PC and won the magazine’s Dream PC 2015 award, making it the fifth Scan 3XS system to win the award, a fitting tribute to the unmatched design and engineering skills of our 3XS team.
You can configure your own Barracuda right now via the Scan 3XS website
Custom PC started running the Dream PC competition again in 2013 which was perfectly timed as we had already started work on The Bear. Designed to be the fastest production PC in the world The Bear has two separate watercooling loops, one loop with a triple fan radiator for the CPU and a second loop with a quad fan radiator for the graphics card. This design was selected as we wanted The Bear to handle up to four graphics cards in SLI. Inside and out the case is custom painted in Copper Constrast, a theme that is carried on to the RAM, fan grilles and water flowing through the two cooling loops. The Copper Contrast colour scheme of The Bear has proven very popular, but as with all our Dream PCs the colour scheme is completely customisable.
All that hard work paid off, with The Bear winning the Custom PC Dream PC Award for 2014, being described as ‘The Bear wins our vote with its great hardware choices, storming game performance and great-looking design touches. Plus, it’s the fastest PC we’ve ever tested.’
The current version of The Bear an 8-core Intel Core i7-5960X CPU which is overclocked to 4.3GHz, three overclocked 12GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X graphics cards plus all the trimmings you’d expect, such as a PCI-E SSD. Starting at £8,715 inc VAT The Bear is available to buy now via the Scan 3XS website.
Unfortunately, 2009 was the last year that Custom PC published its hitherto annual Dream PC article, but here at Scan we had a taste for crafting amazing PCs so we decided to push ahead and develop a new Dream PC anyway – the Swordfish. This time, rather than modding an existing case we designed a whole new case for the Swordfish that also doubles up as a desk. In fact, at a glance, the Swordfish looks more like a desk than a PC. However, at the touch of a button a motorised panel lifts up at the rear, revealing three 24in monitors. As the Swordfish wakes up, lights in the cabinets either side of where you sit reveal the PC inside, with the motherboard tray on the left and all the water-cooling radiators on the right. Even though Custom PC never reviewed the Swordfish, the rest of the press loved it. For example, Overclock3D wrote that "Not only is this almost guaranteed to win PC of the Year, but we can't think of another one on the planet that we want as much. It's stunning. Staggering. Breath-taking. Amazing. We want one. Find a bank to rob, we MUST have one. Star of the show? We think so."
With a lot more manufacturers taking part in the 2009 Dream PC article, we pulled out all the stops for our next design – the Jellyfish. Switching to the larger Corsair 800D case provided more room for cooling components, but even so we added an extension to the top of the case for the six-fan Monsta radiator fan and 7in touchscreen to control the cooling system. Upping the ante further we used one main loop to cool the PC and a second loop, which in turn was cooled by 18 TECs (Thermo Electric Coolers) to below 18C. This did require a silly amount of power - 1243W under load, but meant that the Core i7 CPU could be overclocked from 3.33 to 4.42GHz. The Jellyfish also included two dual-GPU GeForce 295s plus two 256GB SSDs and two 2TB hard disks. Costing £9,775 inc VAT, we finished the Jellyfish with custom made side panels in metallic orange while a sheet of specially made white and orange glass covered the front of the Jellyfish. Tipping the scales at 50kg and 770mm tall the Jellyfish scored 86%, winning it the 2009 Dream PC award.
We found it a real challenge to improve on the White Cobra a year later because, and this is even still true today, the SilverStone TJ07 remains one of the best cases for a water-cooled PC. Like the White Cobra, the Great White had three separate loops, plus a heavily overclocked Core 2 Extreme, though there the similarities ended as the Great White had three GeForce GTX 280s plus a pair of SSDs and hard disks in two separate RAID arrays. On the outside the Great White was a completely different fish, as the entire case, both inside and out was electroplated in chromium, giving it a lustrous chrome finish. We also made a custom front panel for the case and modded the roof so that it could house a triple fan rad. However, all of these mods did up the price a fair whack, which came in at £11,162 inc VAT – the most expensive Dream PC so far. Still, it was all worth it as with a score of 88% the Great White won the Dream PC article in 2008. You can see more of the Great White online in this video.
In 2007 we returned to the cobra theme with the White Cobra. However, unlike the original SLI Cobra from 2004, the new model was a lean mean biting machine. Built inside a modded SilverStone TJ07 case covered in cobra motifs and a stunning pearlescent white paint finish the White Cobra, looked and performed awesomely. Key components included a 3GHz Core 2 Extreme overclocked to 3.75GHz, 4GB of RAM, two GeForce 8800 Ultras, all for a cool £6,923 inc VAT. However, it was the cooling inside the White Cobra that was the star of the show, with three separate cooling loops providing water-cooling to the CPU, motherboard and graphics cards. With a score of 90% the White Cobra was our first system to win the Dream PC article, setting the bar very high in the years to follow. Eagle eyed northerners might recognise the White Cobra from the Scan showroom, where it sits waiting to pounce on unwitting PC enthusiasts. You can see more of the White Cobra online in this video.
Our 2006 Dream PC, the Black Rhino, was inspired by one of the Scan directors going on an African safari and so rather than being painted was wrapped in imitation rhino skin. The Black Rhino was also unique because it was a two part PC, with a separate external waterchiller (linked by tubing) chilling the coolant flowing around the PC to 10C, well below the greater than ambient room temperature achievable by conventional water-cooling. At £6990 the Black Rhino continued the traditional of Dream PC inflation, buying you an overclocked Core 2 Extreme, 4GB of RAM, a twin-GPU GeForce 7950 GX2, two 150GB hard disks plus a 750GB hard drive. The Black Rhino scored an excellent 87% in Custom PC.
By 2005 technology had moved on considerably and you now build a SLI rig without having to buy an ultra-expensive dual Xeon motherboard. This meant that we could now build our second Dream PC, the Chameleon using a dual-core Athlon 64 X2. As this was the first water-cooled Dream PC, we overclocked the CPU from 2.4 to 2.76GHz and overclocked the two GeForce 7800 GTXs. Costing a whacking £5,499 inc VAT, the Chameleon justified its price by being painted in thermochromic paint that changed colour as the PC heated up. This meant that the Chameleon gradually changed colour from green to maroon, via yellow and red. Thanks to this innovative finish the Chameleon walked away with a score of 86% and a Premium Grade award from Custom PC.
Scan’s first Dream PC, designed way back in 2004 was the SLI Cobra, and was the world’s first production PC with NVIDIA SLI. At the time SLI was only supported on dual-processor Xeon motherboards, so the SLI Cobra was fiercely expensive, costing £3,758 inc VAT for a pair of 3.4GHz Xeons, 2GB of RAM, a pair of 256MB GeForce 6800 GTs, two 74GB hard disks and a 300GB hard disk. Everything was housed in a hulking SilverStone TJ05 case which was painted a deep metallic blue. Despite its high price and the fact that at the time Athlon 64s were faster than Intel CPUs for gaming, the Cobra SLI still scored 86% and won an Approved award in Custom PC.