V3 Move 3DS: 3D Gaming at Its Smallest, and Finest
At a Glance
V3 Move 3DS
The Move 3DS delivers excellent 3D gaming performance in a tiny package, but a single-minded focus limits its potential.
At $1099 (as of November 23, 2010), the V3 Move 3DS sits in a precarious position. It's too pricey to rank as a budget desktop, despite being saddled with a relatively dinky Core i3 processor. And despite its stellar gaming performance (more on that in a bit), a comparatively paltry WorldBench 6 score leaves V3's cube fumbling around the middle of the mainstream desktop pack. But if you're sold on 3D gaming, or if you need a speedy, portable rig to haul to your next LAN session, V3's Move 3DS is a compelling option.
The chassis of the Move 3DS doesn't inspire much confidence. It's small, which is convenient if your desk is cramped, or if you plan on moving your Move often. A few thumbscrews are all that stands between you and the innards. While the frame itself is solid, the lid, once removed, feels flimsy. All told, it's not very pleasing aesthetically--but V3's singled-minded march toward gaming prowess wins out in the end.
Slide off the hood, and you'll find a cramped interior. It's not messy by any means--I was actually rather impressed to see that V3 managed to pack so much in without having to make sacrifices like those we've encountered in the compact desktop category. The company has overclocked the Core i3-540 processor to a staggering 3.82GHz, but liquid cooling keeps the temperature (and decibels) in check. You'll also find 4GB of DDR3 RAM, overclocked from 1600MHz to 1660MHz. The 500GB hard drive is a bit skimpy for a category that generally sits at 1TB and beyond, but it's a 7200-rpm laptop drive: speedy, small, and (again) silent. Overall, the V3 Move 3DS earned a score of 118 on our WorldBench 6 suite--a decent mark, but dead last among mainstream machines.
Even so, the Move was built for gaming, and it doesn't disappoint. On our Unreal Tournament benchmark (highest settings, at a resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels), its Nvidia GeForce 460GTX graphics achieved an excellent 86.2 frames per second. The category leading Maingear F131 packs a pair of those cards, and reached 120.3 fps in the same test. It costs twice as much, however (and you could probably fit a few of V3's Moves into its monstrous chassis). The Dell Studio XPS 7100 runs a few hundred dollars more than the Move, but its AMD Radeon 5870 graphics card generated only 88 fps. In Dirt 2, the results are similar: The Move 3DS reached 54.8 fps, versus the F131's 85.8 fps and the Studio XPS 7100's 55.5 fps.
Where 3D gaming is concerned, the Move 3DS does the job. You'll need to bring your own "3D" to the party, however, as the $1100 price tag doesn't include a 120Hz monitor or the Nvidia 3D Vision Kit you'll need to flesh out the experience. But what an experience it is: The Move 3DS arrived bundled with 2K's Mafia II, and the performance was exemplary. Personally, I'm still not entirely sold on the novelty of 3D. But intense, immersive firefights running at full clip at our test display's 1920-by-1200-pixel native resolution did make me something of a believer.
Alas, gaming is as far as our review configuration could take 3D. The included DVD burner (also a space-saving laptop component) takes the place of a Blu-ray drive, so don't expect to enjoy many 3D movies on it. Beyond that oversight, the Move 3DS is fairly well equipped. The front of the machine offers a pair of USB ports, a microphone jack, and the headphone jack--not much, and the lack of a multiformat card reader is lamentable. The rear, though, is far more generous, and as the machine is so small, everything is readily accessible. You'll find DisplayPort, HDMI, and a pair of DVI connectors on the graphics card. The system also has six more USB ports, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI and a DVI port, an eSATA port, 7.1-channel analog and optical audio outputs, and a PS/2 port for keyboard purists. And if cables cramp your style, you can ignore its gigabit ethernet port and use the pair of 802.11n wireless antennas. The Wi-Fi coverage was excellent, though you'll likely still prefer to wire down for your regular online gaming sessions.
The Move 3DS is a capable desktop PC, at a tempting price. But it's also hobbled by V3's aggressive push toward making it an exemplary portable gaming machine. The Core-i3 and GTX460 tag team might deliver fairly strong gaming performance now, but that processor's beefy overclock won't keep it competitive much longer. And you'll miss the extra potential that a quad- or six-core CPU (if you choose AMD's cost-effective options) would lend to your general computing tasks. On the other hand, slap on a Blu-ray player, and you could find yourself with a decent media-slinging machine for your living room's 3D-equipped home theater. Many such options are readily available at V3's Website, though you can expect the price tag to shift accordingly.
If you're a gamer--and especially if you're a gamer on the go--keep the Move 3DS on your short list. Remember, though, that the mainstream category offers plenty of alternatives. If you covet portability, the AVADirect Nano Cube is another solid choice, but it's a bit pricier and saddled with the same limitations. Farther up the food chain is the Polywell MiniBox X5800-3D, a performance desktop that suffered on general-performance tests but packs a display, a Blu-ray burner, and a bit more muscle for roughly twice as much money. And of course, you might consider systems in the traditional tower design, like the aformentioned Dell Studio XPS 7100 or Maingear F131; with such a machine, you'll lose out on portability, but you can get 3D and all the trimmings, with room to upgrade later on.