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

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The Aftershock Flow: LVL 7 is just a taste of a very exciting all-new line of ready-to-ship gaming PCs that promise the same level of parts, craftsmanship and care you’d get as if you order a custom build. We’ve reviewed several varied releases from the company, including the humble Bolt, the tiny-but-mighty Vault Mesh, and who can forget the crazy open-loop Explorer Showcase PC?

But if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that building a custom PC, even for an established company like Aftershock, is far more difficult and expensive than ever. Just getting parts is a logistical nightmare. With the RTS line, you can start playing right away because you don’t have to wait for parts to become available.

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

Whatever you choose, these are fixed configurations, so what you see is what you get. Thus, there is no customization or swapping of parts like you would in a custom build. However, you are guaranteed that if it is on the website, you will get what you choose within a few days. Aftershock also includes 3 years of warranty with every system and lifetime customer support.

Aftershock RTS stream: LVL 7

As I mentioned, RTS machines are WYSIWYG, so configurations and parts are pre-determined by Aftershock for each model. Don’t worry, they’ve covered a wide enough spectrum that you can surely find a model that comes close enough to what you would 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 huge 200mm ARGB fans in the front and a smaller 120 mm at the rear for the exhaust.

The case features an all-mesh grille on the front, top, and bottom that provides ample dust-free airflow that keeps internal components cool under load. The case is cavernous, having more than enough space to house e-ATX motherboards up to 280mm wide. And going by the massive Zotac GPU, I wouldn’t worry about what you can fit in this case. A tempered glass side panel gives you a full view of your components which are well illuminated by the case lighting.

I appreciated the presence of two USB 3.2 ports and an audio jack on the top of the case, although I would have liked a Type-C port as well. Along with the power and sleep button, there’s an ARGB switch to cycle through the case’s different lighting profiles. Oddly enough, I was rather frustrated that I couldn’t just turn off the lighting.

There are also a lot more ports on the back of the case and overall it’s a nice looking case and when turned on looks pretty sick.

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

The main system drive is a Samsung M.2 1TB Gen 4. NVMe with an insane 7000MB read speed and 5100MB write speed. It’s about the same as the PlayStation 5. A 2TB 7200 rpm hard drive is also included, which is more than enough for a generous game library. The Lancool 215 enclosure supports 2 x 2.5″ SSDs and 2 x 3.5″ HDDs so you have plenty of space, literally and figuratively.

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

When it comes to hardware, it’s pretty impressive that Aftershock is able to pack everything for just $3,000 and even offer lifetime warranty and support. But how does it all combine in the performance?

Performance and temperatures

Flow: Synthetic benchmarks LVL7

As you’d expect, the Flow: LVL 7 flies over anything you can throw at it. Benchmark scores show that Intel’s new architecture is a huge improvement over the last generation and easily outperforms AMD’s best. Flow: LVL 7 surpassed the former champion, AMD 5800X, which I reviewed in the Vault Mesh. Plus, the impressive SSD makes things like booting up Windows, opening apps and playing games ridiculously fast and responsive.

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

Flow: LVL 7 game benchmarks

I played through the excellent Wonderful Guardians of the Galaxy at 3440x1440p ultra wide resolution at ultra settings with DLSS and ray tracing and the game ran smoothly at an average of 80 frames per second. Same Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition had no issues running between 80 and 90 fps with everything on and this 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 for long gaming sessions while the GPU hovered around the low 70’s. The machine has a lot 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 encountered blue screens of death or freezes, which is another testament to the quality control at Aftershock.

I was also very pleased with the low fan noise. The Flow: LVL 7 wasn’t terribly quiet, but compared to the noisy Alienware Aurora R14, it might as well have been turned off. It’s more of a buzz than a roar and I’ve had no complaints from the family during my usual nighttime gaming sessions.

Verdict

The whole concept of the Ready to Ship line is really exciting to me. Aftershock always brings the same level of craftsmanship and excellence to these builds and it shows. The Flow: LVL 7 is just one of dozens you can choose from and I found the build quality to be excellent and reliable. The machine also exceeded my expectations and I enjoyed using it for all kinds of jobs and hobbies.

However, I recognize that these RTS versions may not be for everyone. Personally, I haven’t found a compact version that suits my needs, so I’d have 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 what parts it contains can be off-putting. The RTS line would therefore not be intended for this type of customer.

Instead, it’s more for the casual PC gamer. The RTS line offers excellent value for money and ease of selection; no need to go through complex configurators. And considering Aftershock’s frequent seasonal sales, you can save nearly $500 off the price, which is a bargain. Regardless of your budget, you can find a platform that will get you started and be assured of the quality build and support you will receive.

Replica RTS stream: LVL7

LOVE

Usual quality construction and stability

great price

readily available

Outstanding performance


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