Why buy a 3XS System ?

Professionally built PCs vs Self built

Anymore can build a PC, so what really makes the difference between any old PC and a 3XS PC? For starters, our team has been designing and building PCs for more than 20 years, so we have a huge amount of experience in building highly reliable systems that deliver the most performance for your budget. Secondly, we don't just build PCs, we craft them. For instance, we route and tidy all the cables around the sides of the case. This not only makes your PC look great and easier to upgrade in the future, but eases airflow through the case resulting in a cooler and quieter PC. Thirdly, we can customise your PC for you, not just the components inside but also its appearance, so if you fancy a PC in an unusual shape or colour we relish the challenge.

A professionally built 3XS PC is not only aesthetically pleasing but will also run cooler and quieter than a less well built system

3XS Warranty and Tech Support

Another key difference is that all Scan 3XS Custom Series PCs are covered by our Premium 3 Year Warranty. This means that if your system develops a fault in its first year we can send an engineer to your home or office to repair it. In the remaining two years of the warranty we'll still repair or replace any faulty parts, but do this from our state of the art factory in Lancashire.

If you do encounter a problem with your PC our technical support team is available 7 days a week, from 9am to 10pm Mon - Fri, 10am to 6pm on Saturdays and 10am to 4pm on Sundays. Click here for more info on how to get technical support for your 3XS system.

More than just a PC

When you buy a 3XS PC you're not just buying a PC but a premium experience. For instance, most of our PCs include a exclusive card reader mounted into the front of the case. This stylish device includes an illuminated 3XS logo with customisable backlight and can read XD, SD, MicroSD, CF, MS and M2 cards, making it ideal for both amateur and professional photographers. It also includes a pair of USB 3 ports for those cases that don't have sufficient ports.



All 3XS systems also include a welcome pack, which includes all the software, cables, paperwork and accessories for your PC. We also add a free USB recovery stick to all orders. This includes dozens of helpful utilities for diagnosing and repairing your system should it develop a fault. The USB stick can be found attached to the PSU inside your PC in case you misplace the welcome pack. We hope you’ll never need to use it, but it’s there just in case.

Quality from the ground up

Unlike other PC manufacturers we don't believe in fobbing off our customers with unbranded components. We're just as demanding as you are and expect our PCs to work reliably for years. For this reason we have over the years built up close relationships with key manufacturers, ensuring that your 3XS PC is built using only the finest quality components. We're open and honest about all the components used in our PCs and here you'll find out more about the key components we use to build 3XS systems.

Beware manufacturers that recommend components that are too cheap as there’s always a price to be paid later in terms of reliability and quality. At the same time beware over-priced components such as unnecessarily large power supplies; modern PCs are far more power efficient than they were a few years ago and most 3XS systems simply don’t need 1kW of power. For these reasons the components in our 3XS systems may not be the cheapest or most expensive but they do provide you with the most bang-per-buck.

Keeping your laptop cool

As standard we replace the standard TIM (thermal interface material) in our 3XS laptops with Arctic Silver 5. This premium paste helps to lower the temperature of the CPU and GPU(s) and make your laptop as quiet as possible.

CPU

Whatever the intended use for your desktop PC, laptop or workstation the CPU or processor will determine how responsive it is so should be one of the first decisions you make when specifying a new system.

Today's CPU market is dominated by Intel, which produces a huge range of different processors at price points varying from as little as £30 to as much as £2,200. The reason for such a huge span is that each of these models is optimised for different tasks, be it basic internet browsing, word processing, watching films, playing games or digital content creation such as creating and editing graphics, video and music.

All current Intel processors are based on the Haswell architecture which delivers excellent performance while consuming far less power than earlier CPUs. This is important as it means modern PCs cost less to run and are quieter than their predecessors.

Celeron, Pentium and Core i3 The range starts off with the Celeron and Pentium models which are dual-core CPUs designed for basic applications such as internet browsing and word processing. Moving up the stack you'll find the Core i3 range, which are also dual-core CPUs, but support Hyper-Threading so can process up to four threads at a time. Core i3s also have more cache memory than Celerons and Pentiums so can handle more demanding applications.
Core i5 Users looking for the best blend of performance and bang-per-buck should look at the Core i5 range. These are Intel's most affordable quad-core processors, which means they perform far better than the lower-priced CPUs in more intensive applications and games.
Core i7 Sitting above the Core i5 is the Core i7 range of quad-core processors, which differ in supporting Hyper-Threading so can process up to eight threads at a time. Core i7s also have more cache memory than Core i5s so are the ideal choice for a high-end gaming PC or workstation.
Core i7 Enthusiast Intel's fastest CPUs also belong to the Core i7 family but use an enhanced architecture known as Haswell Enthusiast. These turbo-charged CPUs need a special LG2011-3 socket and X99 motherboard, but have up to eight cores, which combined with Hyper-Threading technology means they can process up to 16 threads simultaneously. Combined with DDR4 memory a Core i7 Haswell Enthusiast CPU will deliver the ultimate performance in games and DCC applications.
Xeon Sitting adjacent and above these Core CPUs is the Xeon range of CPUs for professional workstations and servers. These differ from Intel's consumer CPUs in supporting ECC memory that is more reliable in 24\7 use than standard memory. In addition, if you have a particularly demanding application such as a huge database or simulation you can partner up two Intel Xeon E5 2600 CPUs in one system to work together solving the problem quicker.

Alternatively you may wish to consider an AMD processor. These CPUs are currently not as popular as Intel's as they are not as competitive when its comes to performance and power consumption. The current AMD range starts with the Sempron dual-core processors and quad-core Athlon processors both of which require a Socket AM1 motherboard and are suited for basic office and home applications. The range moves onto Socket FM2+ next and includes A4, A6, A8 and A10 processors with up to four cores for more demanding multimedia applications. AMD's flagship CPUs is the FX range, which uses the Socket AM3+. These can have between six and eight cores for even better performance.

Although there are hundreds of different Intel and AMD CPUs to choose from the graphs below give a good overview of the relative performance of the main ranges. The first graph is the popular game Total War: Rome II with the graph showing the frame rate the game was running, with a higher number indicating smooth gameplay. The second graph is the popular 3D animation and rendering package Cinema 4D, with the graph showing how quickly the CPUs rendered a complex image, with a higher number indicating faster rendering.

Total War: Rome II

AMD Sempron
15
AMD Athlon
20
Intel Celeron
20
AMD A4
24
Intel Pentium
25
AMD A6
28
Intel Core i3
45
AMD A8
51
AMD A10
66
AMD FX
80
Intel Core i5
88
Intel Core i7
97
Intel Core i7 (Haswell E)
100

Frames per second, higher is better

Cinema 4D

Intel Celeron
45
AMD Sempron
55
AMD Athlon
100
AMD A4
130
AMD A6
180
Intel Pentium
240
AMD A8
300
AMD A10
320
Intel Core i3
350
Intel Core i5
600
AMD FX
720
Intel Core i7
900
Intel Core i7 (Haswell E)
1400
Intel Xeon E5 2600
3000

Frames per second, higher is better

CPU Overclocking

If you're after the ultimate performance than our engineers can overclock the CPU in your PC. Overclocking is the process of boosting the CPU frequency above what AMD and Intel normally set it at. This has the effect of increasing performance, but it generates a lot of extra heat. Our overclocked systems account for this heat by using high quality air and watercooling systems from companies such as Phanteks and Corsair. These keep an overclocked CPU cool, ensuring that you get the best possible performance without any additional noise. Choosing an overclocked CPU in the configurator does not affect the system stability or the warranty as we stress test all overclocked PCs for 24 hours before shipping.

Only some CPUs may be overclocked, and the graphs below show how much faster Total War: Rome II and Cinema 4D run on an overclocked CPU. The blue bar indicates normal performance and the red bar when the CPU is running overclocked.

Total War: Rome II

AMD Sempron
15
AMD Athlon
20
Intel Celeron
20
AMD A4
24
Intel Pentium
25
Intel Pentium
31
AMD A6
28
Intel Core i3
45
AMD A8
51
AMD A10
66
AMD FX
80
AMD FX
84
Intel Core i5
88
Intel Core i5
92
Intel Core i7
97
Intel Core i7
98
Intel Core i7 (Haswell E)
100

Frames per second, higher is better

Cinema 4D

Intel Celeron
45
AMD Sempron
55
AMD Athlon
100
AMD A4
130
AMD A6
180
Intel Pentium
240
Intel Pentium
330
AMD A8
300
AMD A10
320
Intel Core i3
350
Intel Core i5
600
Intel Core i5
690
AMD FX
720
AMD FX
800
Intel Core i7
900
Intel Core i7
950
Intel Core i7 (Haswell E)
1400
Intel Core i7 (Haswell E)
1700
Intel Xeon E5 2600
3000

Frames per second, higher is better

Memory

System memory, sometimes referred to as RAM comes in two main flavours, DDR3 and DDR4, and is used to store currently running applications and games, so the more memory you have the more advanced programs you can run.

DDR3 is used by the vast majority of desktop PCs and laptops. To ensure the best possible performance our engineers always install DDR3 modules in pairs in our PCs and laptops so that the memory is running in dual-channel mode.

DDR3 is available in all sorts of speed grades, with most PC manufacturers supplying DDR3 running at 1600MHz. However, 3XS always recommends 2133MHz DDR3 for optimum performance. We recommend using Corsair Vengeance Pro with our DDR3 systems, as this memory has proven the most reliable in our tests. You can even customise the colour of your Vengeance Pro DDR3 memory, choosing between blue, gold, red or silver heatsinks. For most gaming PCs we recommend 8GB of DDR3, while SLI gaming PCs and workstations should look at including 16GB of DDR3 or more.

Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3 not only looks great compared to generic unbranded RAM [left] but is also available in a wide range of colours.

DDR4 Memory

DDR4 is a new type of advanced memory that is supported by the Intel Core i7 5000-series and Xeon E5-2600 V3-series processors. This new type of DRAM is capable of running at much higher frequencies than DDR3, thus providing far more memory bandwidth to the CPU. For instance, as standard, most DDR3 runs at 1600MHz, but DDR4 starts at 2133MHz. Currently we recommend DDR4 running at 2666MHz in all our 3XS systems, with four modules running together in quad-channel mode for optimum performance. However, if your budget can stretch further, we do offer even faster 2800 and 3000MHz DDR4 as an option on the configurator. As an added bonus DDR4 also runs at much lower voltage than DDR3, just 1.2V versus 1.5V, so it runs cooler and consumes less power. As DDR4 commands a significant price premium over DDR3 its only found in high-end gaming PCs and workstations, which typically have either 16GB of RAM, with 32GB and 64GB options available in the configurator.

DDR3 and DDR4 are not compatible with each other so they don't work in the same motherboards, so its hard do make a direct comparison between them. However reviews at independent websites such as HEXUS have found that quad-channel DDR4 provides more than double the memory bandwidth as dual-channel DDR3. For instance, the graph below shows an Intel Core i7 5960X processor with quad-channel DDR4 versus an Intel Core i7 4790K with dual-channel DDR3 in the memory benchmark AIDA 64.

Gaming Graphics Cards

The graphics card is the most important component in gaming PC or laptop as it determines the level of graphical quality you experience on-screen and how fast and smooth the action appears.

Gamers have a huge choice of graphics cards provided by two different brands, NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon. These range from as little as £100 to over £900, with the more expensive cards providing a higher frame rate and smoother gameplay at higher resolutions. Some games are much more graphically demanding than others too; typically you need a more powerful graphics card to play FPS games than MOBA games.

NVIDIA GeForce cards are currently the most popular in the market, thanks to their excellent performance, low noise and extra features such as GeForce Experience, which automatically tunes games for the best performance. Multiple GeForce cards can be used together to boost the frame rate in particularly demanding games or if you want to use a 4K monitor. This combination technology is known as SLI and is only supported by some motherboards, so if you do want multiple GeForce cards make sure you select an SLI-compatible motherboard.

Although many different companies manufacture GeForce cards we recommend EVGA cards with our 3XS systems. We have partnered with EVGA because we have found their cards to be incredibly reliable, as demonstrated by their industry-leading 3 year warranty (most GeForce cards have a two year warranty). EVGA cards also have an enviable reputation for high performance, as EVGA tests and overclocks cards in Germany, ensuring they are clocked at the maximum frequency while still being 100% stable. Unlike many manufacturers, EVGA also designs its own coolers, which are not only more efficient than the reference design but also look far slicker too, with an all-black cooler and backlit logo. After all, you wouldn't buy an awesome new sports car and fit cheap unbranded tyres on it.

If you'd rather choose an AMD Radeon graphics card we recommend a card made by XFX. Multiple Radeon cards can also be teamed up to improve the frame rate in especially hard to run games or if you want to use a 4K monitor. The combination of multiple Radeon cards is known as CrossFire and is only supported by some motherboards, so if you do want multiple Radeon cards make sure you select a CrossFire-compatible motherboard.

XFX cards [left] run games faster and are cooler, quieter and better looking then generic Radeon cards

For the ultimate gaming experience our engineers can also overclock and/or overclock the graphics card(s) in your 3XS PC. Overclocking will boost the frame rates in games while watercooling will make your PC quieter and allow even more overclocking.

Professional Graphics Cards

When it comes to a professional graphics workstation nothing is more important than knowing that what appears on-screen is accurate and colour correct. For this reason we recommend using a professional graphics card from the NVIDIA Quadro range.

This range of cards spans all the way from £100 to £4,000, with each model being optimised for running specific applications such as 2D CAD, 3D CAD, 3D animation and 3D rendering. NVIDIA Quadro cards also have certified drivers for hundreds of DCC applications from Abaqus through to Wolfram Research.

NVIDIA Quadro cards are manufactured exclusively by PNY for our 3XS graphics workstations and as standard are covered by a 3 year warranty with a 2 year extension available.

NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards such as the popular K4200 are engineered for 24\7 use and have certified drivers for professional graphics applications.

Alternatively, we also offer a range of AMD FirePro graphics cards which like their NVIDIA Quadro counterparts are also optimised for professional graphics applications.

Power Supply Units

The humble Power Supply Unit or PSU is arguably the least exciting component in any PC but when it comes to building a stable PC nothing is more important than a good quality PSU. At its most basic the PSU is a collection of transformers that convert the 220V AC coming out of the wall socket into the various DC voltages (3.3V, 5V, 12V and -12V) that all the components inside your PC require.

Although this is a relatively simple task, 3XS recommends Corsair PSUs because they deliver the most stable voltage, an absolute necessity for an overclocked PC. In addition, all Corsair PSUs used by Scan are certified by 80PLUS. This certificate, which is available in multiple levels from standard, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium indicates how efficient the PSU is at transforming AC to DC. The more efficient a PSU is the less electricity it wastes, helping to keep your power bill low. In addition, more efficient PSUs run cooler and make less noise than less efficient PSUs. So confident is Corsair in the quality of its PSUs that most, such as the RM-series include an industry-leading 5 year warranty.

The Corsair RM-series PSUs that we recommend with most our mid-range and high-end systems also have intelligent fan control which means that the 135mm cooling fan doesn't spin under low to medium loads, only when the PSU is being pushed hard, meaning that for most of the time, even when gaming a Corsair RM PSU doesn't actually make any noise.

Most Corsair PSUs have also modular cables, meaning the inside of your PC isn't filled to the brim with unnecessary cables, only the cables that it does need. This helps to keep the inside of your PC tidy and run cooler and quieter. Don't worry though, we still ship all the spare cables with your order, so when do you upgrade you'll have everything you need. If you really want to individualise your PC we also offer a range of stylish braided cables, available in a wide variety of colours.

We recommend modular PSUs such as the Corsair RM series [right] as they are more stable, more efficient, quieter and neater to cable than generic PSUs [left].