Steiger Dynamics LEET Core Water Cooled Gaming HTPC

9.9 Overall Score
Build Quality: 10/10
Cost Analysis: 10/10
Quiet Operation: 10/10

Best build quality available, Superior quiet operation, Lives up to 1337 name

Price puts it out of reach for some

Steiger Dynamics offers three tiers within the LEET line up of HTPCs. The entry level unit starts at $1798 and is referred to as LEET Pure. This base PC comes with an Intel Core i3 3220 and an ASUS P8Z77-V LX motherboard. An upgrade to an ASUS P8Z77-V will add $79 to the total cost while bumping up to the i5 3570K will cost you another $99. Note that the custom overclocking option is only available on the i5 3750K in this category. If you prefer your system overclocked by Steiger Dynamics, add $50.

So far, the add-on pricing seems reasonable. The i5 3750K is roughly $100 more than the i3 3220 chip. The additional cost of the ASUS P8Z77-V is in line with what we see at select e-tailers. The LEET Pure starts with 8GB of Corsair Vengeance Blue 1600MHz RAM and goes up to 32GB of Corsair Dominator DDR3 for an additional $159. This is not the super expensive Dominator Platinum RAM that we see offered on the other two tiers in the LEET line. Moving down the line we get to the graphics section. The LEET Pure entry level setup comes with the embedded graphics solution offered in the two Intel chips, the i3 3220 and i5 3750K. Depending on which CPU you get, the two solutions are Intel’s HD 2500 (for the i3 3220) or HD 4000 (available in the i5 3570K). Both are sufficient for HD playback and can handle many games at lower graphics settings and resolutions. We know that you must be thinking, “But integrated graphics do not belong in a system this expensive.” Again, we will be going into more detail about this towards the end of the review.

Luckily you can upgrade the standard graphics to a GTX 670 from EVGA, which will add a reasonable $389 to your bill. The least expensive option, aside from the HD 2500 or HD 4000, is the EVGA GTX 650Ti. You can get that graphics upgrade for merely $159. That price is reasonable when looking online for that specific GPU and the others offered for the LEET Pure system.

Audio is certainly important since this HTPC will be the center piece of your living room entertainment. Although Steiger Dynamics offers the ASUS Xonar Essence STX for $199, HDMI audio supports lossless bit rate playback and the Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Mastering codecs that Blu Ray movies are encoded in. HD audio through HDMI has no major differences whether via the integrated graphics or over the more expensive GPUs offered. If you plan on using headphones, we would suggest upgrading to the Xonar. The embedded audio solution will not suffice for an immersive experience with headphones.

The main storage solution (for the OS and software) offered for the LEET Pure comes standard with a 120GB Corsair Neutron Series SSD that has peak read/write speeds of 550MB/s and 211MB/s, respectively. More options are available and the same storage selections are found on all three tiers in the LEET line up. The top SSD storage solution is 2x480GB Corsair Neutron GTX SSDs in RAID 1 or 0. Raid 0 gives you top read/write speeds of 1110MB/s and 1022MB/s, respectively. The RAID solutions for the LEET series HTPCs are built on the onboard RAID controllers. Keep in mind that moving up to two 480GB SSDs will tack on $898 to your bill.

Secondary storage is offered for backups or storing whatever files and folders you want. The entry level LEET Pure system does not come with additional storage. A 1TB Western Digital Red hard drive increases cost by $109. The top tier solution is 4x3TB Western Digital Red hard drives in Windows 8 Storage Pool giving you over 7TBs of storage with redundancy or 100% capacity with no redundancy. Windows 8 Storage Pool, or Spaces, is a unique storage solution offered by Microsoft and is the successor to Windows Home Server Drive Extender.

Because this is an HTPC, you have the option of choosing a Ceton InfiniTV 4 quad-channel cable HD TV tuner card. This cable card is an excellent choice provided your cable provider will give you the specialized card needed to fit in the InfiniTV 4. We were not able to test the functionality of this card because our reviewer has DirecTV and the Ceton device does not support satellite systems at this time. The cost of this upgrade is $199 which is in line with retail pricing. This option is available on all tiers of the LEET system.

As for other standard components, you get a 12x ASUS Blu Ray drive included or you can step up to a 14x ASUS Blu Ray writer for an extra $69. We have found that the 12x drive included is sufficient enough to playback any Blu Ray disc and should be for the foreseeable future. The basic power supply included in the entry level LEET Pure is a Seasonic 360 watt G-series Gold unit. The top-of-the-line Seasonic 1000 watt Platinum fully modular PSU can be installed for $189 extra. If you are itching for some of Steiger Dynamics excellent cable sleeving and management, you will be required to upgrade to a fully modular power supply. The least expensive option for full modular cabling is the Seasonic 660 watt X-series Gold for $79 more. Basic water cooling is offered in the form of Corsair’s H60 Pre-Sealed Liquid Cooling Solution and upgradeable for $49 to the H80i. The latter liquid cooling solution is required if you chose the custom overclocking solution offered by Steiger Dynamics. The fully custom water cooling option is not offered in the LEET Pure. Windows 8 comes standard with the option to upgrade to the Pro version for $40.

On the next page, we will talk about the two other tiers offered in the LEET line by Steiger Dynamics.


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3 Comments on "Steiger Dynamics LEET Core Water Cooled Gaming HTPC"

  1. Peter January 15, 2013 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    Very very nice system!

  2. Lee January 30, 2013 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    These are sweeeeeet! Getting a Leet next month!

  3. Ilian April 1, 2013 at 9:43 am - Reply

    I bought the Reference system and stated in the review, this is a great product…probably presently best on the market. What they did not mention is the quality of the service. These guys will meet all your requirements to keep you on board. Don’t doubt it..if you have the money go for it!

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