It’s no secret that I am a fan of Aftershock PC, a custom PC builder in Victoria — Australia. I reviewed their incredible Explorer Open-loop Showcase PC and loved the craftsmanship, design and performance. But when you pay $4000 for a PC, you naturally expect excellence.
So can you still get the same loving attention to quality and performance from a $1,800 PC? The Aftershock Bolt line screams a definitive ‘Hell Yeah’. Like all Aftershock PC’s, the Bolt is configurable with a dizzying array of options. Starting at under AUD $900, there’s something for everyone.
The $1800 review unit they sent to us had an AMD Ryzen 3600, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD. All this is hand-built by skilled technicians and lovingly packed into a gorgeous case with a screw-less frosted glass panel. And you better believe that you still get that sweet remote control to show off the case RGB lighting profiles.
Aftershock Bolt Gaming PC Review
Let’s get craftsmanship out of the way first. The Bolt is built around, or should I say inside, a beautiful, minimal steel case. You can get it in either Slate Black or Gunmetal color. It’s nowhere near as flashy as the open Thermaltake case from the Explorer. The Bolt is rather simple but in an elegant way.
The side panel is a frosted glass that uses a ‘Zero Mount’ to attach to the case. The panel slots into a groove at the bottom of the case and the top is magnetized to stick to the top of the case. All it takes is a strong tug and lift to take it off giving access the Bolt’s innards.
The case stands 400 mm tall and is 385 mm long and 185 mm wide. It’s little too big for my tastes but it means there’s plenty of room for high end components. The Bolt can easily house an ATX motherboard, a 3-slot NVIDIA GPU and a CPU cooler up to 160mm tall. The case can also take up to five 120mm fans to keep air flowing. The Bolt has plenty of I/O on the back including a USB-C and Ethernet port. On top of the case is the power/ reset buttons, two more USB-A slots and audio jacks.
I wish there was another USB-C up top. The one on the back is squished between the many USB-A ports and can be hard to reach when they are populated. And yes, there’s plenty of RGB in the case which you can control using the bundled remote control. It’s all very elegantly done so that it doesn’t distract but compliments the understated design.
Yes, yes, show me the performance.
The craftsmanship that goes into every Aftershock build extends to the choice of components and combinations that give the best performance and stability. Our review unit is perfectly tuned for 1080p gaming with highest settings. It will even manage 1440p gaming if you can tweak some of the settings. Check out the results in our gaming suite.
I’d heard a lot of good things about the AMD Ryzen 3000 chips and it doesn’t disappoint for gaming. However, turning to other CPU intense applications and the Ryzen 3600 is showing its age. I’ve seen superior performance from AMD’s own Ryzen 4 laptop chips like the one in the budget Asus TUF A15. It handily thrashed the bigger Bolt in Geekbench and Cinebench scores — something I didn’t expect.
The saving grace is that the Bolt can sustain high performance at cooler temps far longer than any gaming laptop. At its highest stress limits, the 3600 maintained a cool 61C with a maximum temperature of 75C. There was also no noticeable throttling. You can thank the capacious case, excellent CPU cooler and generous helping of fans for that.
So for your everyday Windows apps and tasks, the Bolt flies with no problem. Multitasking is a breeze thanks to 16GB of Corsair RAM and 512GB + 1TB storage. Most people will be more than happy with this memory and storage configuration. If you like to have several games installed, the 1TB can quickly fill up(thanks CoD:Warzone).
The Aftershock Bolt is everything I expected. It proves once again that our local builders can mix it up with the best of them. The Bolt is superbly built, looks great and performs wonderfully. Everyday performance is sublime and 1080p gaming is great. With a few tweaks, 1440p 60FPS gaming is available as well. And if you need more power, the accessible and spacious case makes it easy to upgrade.
I’ll admit, $1800 isn’t the cheapest and if you know what you’re doing, you can build something similar for a few hundred less. But PC building isn’t something many gamers really want or can actually do. Even getting the parts can be a serious challenge thanks to COVID19 — let alone getting the best performance combinations.
Aftershock offers plenty of configurations for every need and budget. These go all the way up to the brand new RTX 3000 series GPU’s and the insane 16 core RYZEN 9 3950X. Add on standard 2-year warranties, reliable customer support and frequent discounts, there’s barely excuse left. So, yes — the Aftershock Bolt wins our two thumbs up yet again.
Aftershock PC Australia loaned the Bolt to PowerUp! for the purpose of this review.