Aftershock Flow: LVL 7 Gaming PC Review – Ready to ship

The Aftershock Flow: LVL 7 is just a taste of a very exciting, brand-new line of Ready to ship gaming PC’s that promise the same level of parts, craftsmanship and care that you’d get as if you ordered a custom build. We’ve reviewed quite a few varied builds from the company including the humble Bolt, the tiny but powerful Vault Mesh and who can forget the insane open-loop Explorer Showcase PC?

But if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that building a custom PC, even for an established business like Aftershock, is way more challenging and expensive than ever. Just getting parts is a logistical nightmare. With the RTS line, you can start playing immediately since you don’t have to wait for parts to become available.

The range is divided into levels based on price starting from the $1500 Level 0 which is an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 with a GTX 1650 and goes all the way to Level 11 12900KF + RTX 3090Ti for almost $9000. There are also special edition series like the Signature Series and the Mission series which are based on planetary destinations.

Whatever you pick, these are fixed configurations so what you see is what you get. So, there’s no customising or swapping out parts as you would in a custom build. However, you are guaranteed that if it’s on the website, then you’ll get what you pick in a few days. Aftershock also includes 3-years of warranty with each system and a lifetime of customer support.

Aftershock RTS Flow: LVL 7

As I’ve mentioned, the RTS machines are WYSIWYG, so the configurations and parts are predetermined by Aftershock for each model. Not to worry, they’ve covered a broad enough spectrum so you can surely find a model that swings close enough to what you’d ideally want. Our review unit is the $3000 Flow: LVL 7 which is built inside a Lian Li Lancool 215 ATX case that has two massive 200mm ARGB fans on the front and a smaller 120mm on the back for exhaust.

The case has a full mesh grill on the front, top and bottom that ensures plenty of dust-free airflow that keeps the internal components cool under load. The case is cavernous, having more than enough room to house e-ATX Motherboards up to 280mm wide. And if the massive Zotac GPU is anything to go by, I wouldn’t worry about what you can fit inside this case. A tempered glass side panel gives you a full view of your components that are well lit by the case lighting.

I appreciated the provision of two USB 3.2 ports and an audio jack on the top of the case though I’d have also loved a Type-C port. As well as the power and sleep button, there’s an ARGB switcher to cycle through the different lighting profiles of the case. Funnily enough, I was rather frustrated that I couldn’t get it to just switch off the lighting.

There are also plenty more ports at the rear of the case and overall, it’s a handsome case and when lit up, looks pretty sick.

Inside the case, Aftershock has outfitted the Flow: LVL 7 with a brand new 12th Gen Intel Core i5 12600K which is almost universally acclaimed as the best value gaming processor of the bunch. The CPU is socketed into a Gigabyte Z690 Ultra Durable AX Wi-Fi motherboard and cooled by an Aftershock Spectral Glaciar 240mm AIO. We also have 16GB of Gigabyte Aorus RGB memory which is unfortunately only DDR4 and not DDR5 as those are still quite rare and expensive.

The main system drive is 1TB Gen 4 Samsung M.2. NVMe with an insane 7000MBs read and 5100MBs write speed. That’s about the same as the PlayStation 5. Also included is a 2TB 7200RPM HDD which is more than enough for a generous game library. The Lancool 215 case supports 2x 2.5” SSD and 2x 3.5” HDD’s so you have plenty of space, literally and figuratively.

For graphics, the Flow: LVL 7 has a huge Zotac Gaming RTX 3070Ti AMP Extreme Holo 8GB with some very cool RGB lighting that really makes the system stand out. Powering that monster is a 750W EVGA G+ 80+ Gold power supply that never had any issues running all this hardware.

Looking at the hardware, it’s rather impressive that Aftershock is able to package it all for just $3000 and even offer warranty and lifetime support. But how does it all come together in performance?

Performance and temperatures

Flow: LVL7 Synthetic benchmarks

As you’d expect, the Flow: LVL 7 flies through everything you can throw at it. Benchmark scores show that Intel’s new architecture is a huge improvement over last-gen and easily outperforms AMD’s best. Flow: LVL 7 surpassed the old champion, AMD 5800X, which I reviewed in the Vault Mesh. Additionally, the impressive SSD really makes things like booting Windows, opening apps and games ridiculously snappy and responsive. 

Turning to game benchmarks, Flow: LVL 7 also marked some of the highest scores in 3DMark that I’ve ever seen across a variety of powerful machines. The 3070Ti is a truly powerful card and combined with the powers of DLSS, I was able to play any game at 1440p ultra settings well above the coveted 60fps. I’m pretty sure 4K gaming is also possible though you’ll want to drop the settings a little bit in order to maintain a steady 60fps.

Flow: LVL 7 gaming benchmarks

I played through the excellent Marvels Guardians of the Galaxy on an ultrawide 3440x1440p resolution at ultra settings with DLSS and ray-tracing and the game ran smoothly at an average of 80fps. Even Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition had no problem running between 80-90fps with everything turned on and that game is a hard hitter. 

Impressively, the Flow: LVL 7 lived up to its name and kept things cool and quiet. The CPU never exceeded 56C during long gaming sessions while the GPU hovered around low 70’s. The machine has plenty of overhead for overclocking if that’s your sort of thing but I was more than happy with the performance. System stability was excellent and I never once experienced a blue screen of death or lockups which is another testament to the quality control at Aftershock.

I was also really pleased with the low fan noise. The Flow: LVL 7 wasn’t dead quiet but compared to the noisy Alienware Aurora R14, it might as well have been off. It makes more of a loud hum than a roar and I didn’t have any complaints from the family during my usual late-night gaming sessions.

Verdict

The entire concept of the Ready to Ship line is really exciting to me. Aftershock still brings the same level of craftsmanship and excellence to these builds and it shows. The Flow: LVL 7 is just one of the dozens that you can pick from and I found the build quality to be excellent and reliable. The machine also outperformed my expectations and I enjoyed using it for all sorts of work and play.

However, I do recognise that these RTS builds may not be for everyone. I personally couldn’t find a compact build that fit my requirements so I would be forced to go the custom build route. And for many of you, your gaming PC is somewhat deeply personal so not being able to choose exactly which parts are in it may be off-putting. So the RTS line wouldn’t be for that kind of customer. 

Instead, it’s more for the casual PC gamer. The RTS line offers such great value for money and ease of selection; no need to weed through complex configurators. And considering the frequent seasonal sales that Aftershock regularly has, you can save almost $500 off the price which is a steal. No matter your budget, you can find a rig that will get you going and be assured of the build quality and support you’ll get.

Aftershock RTS Flow: LVL7
LIKES
Usual qaulity build & stability
Great price
Readily available
Exceptional performance
DISLIKES
Not customisable
9.5
Ready to ship

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Kizito Katawongahttp://www.medium.com/@katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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