Friday, August 04, 2006

More on my conversation with Kyle with AAC Direct

This is part two of a blog post. See part one.

I quote Kyle, owner of AAC Direct, as best I can from memory. I am not Plato, and I do not have photographic/eidetic memory.

The purpose of this text is to show Kyle's enthusiasm for gaming PC's, his strategies and generally, why I liked what I was hearing.

PureXS versus LiquidXS:

The LiquidXS is what put them on the map on the Internet, near as I can tell. Each clear "see through" case is custom-built (not pre-fabricated) and laser-etched. Everything is water-cooled, and as Kyle said "No expense is spared (depending on the budget of the customer - Dave)." He went on to say "But while the LiquidXS makes a statement... the PureXS is about packing the best hardware we can into a case and giving our customers a PC that just works. We're interested in performance measurement per dollar. A system like the one you're ordering should be around 10,000 points on 3dMark2006. 2006! (his emphasis - Dave)"

Now I know that number is impressive, because I've read about a guy building a Quad SLI system using two power supplies, two Nvidia 7950 GX2's, everything watercooled, just to get that score.

Related to the 3dMark score, we got into a big discussion about Conroe technology, why he was packing an E6700 CPU instead of two X1900 XT's in my system (for true Crossfire, rather than Crossfire ready), and it boiled down to the fact that the CPU was more important than doubling up the videocards. "Without that CPU, you'll never realize the potential of Crossfire." Well, I'd see a difference, but he was right. Most people get that wrong.

Lights as Artwork:
I'm also getting a window side-panel and lighted fans. Kyle asked me what color I wanted, and I told him "I'm an artist. I like almost every color. And as an artist, I'm not going to tell another artist what to draw - you put together what looks good to you." He didn't get it at first, and I explained further "Artists are used to looking at things other people want to draw and finding the value in it. So when I get the computer, I'll think 'This is what AAC feels looks good for the parts they had to work with.' and I'll be happy. Why tell you what I think should be in it? (as far as lights & layout) I don't make computer art every day, you do."

He got it, and apparently it impressed him. He got all enthused about having the freedom to put the case together because he started talking about how a lot of customers demand this or that and - they have to put it in, but it's not a good idea in his mind. So I knew what he was getting at.

Cheaper Shops:
"Places like CyberPower will sell you a cheaper system, but they don't put in quality parts like we do (and they don't test their systems - Dave). In our LiquidXS systems, I use $20 solid steel switches - two of them. That's $40 - for switches. So that just goes to show what we put into a LiquidXS."

Horror Story:
He went on with a horror story, "I hate to tell you this before you place an order, but we had one client that wanted Quad SLI, and that is very hard to configure, works on only a few games and we really don't recommend it. But if the customer wants it... so anyway, we were using the (Nvidia 7800 series if memory serves - Dave) and they had a lot of problems. We built his system and tested it with our burn-in and it died. So we kept replacing parts. Eventually we got the system working, but it had graphical gliches in one of the games we tried. So we went through 5 sets of videocards - 10 cards, before we got it right. It took us much longer than anticipated, but when we shipped him the system, it ran every game we put on it without problems."

"Now, we could have just shipped him the PC as soon as it got working. Maybe he'd never play those games." But Kyle and his team apparently couldn't bring themselves to do that.

AAC Direct's Modus Operandi:
And that, in a nutshell, is Kyle's modus operandi. He talked to me about his business strategy a bit, namely "I think there is a place between the Falcon Northwest computers and the cheap gaming rigs of CyberPower. I want the PureXS to be that alternative to an overly costly system and a system that's (a roll of the dice)."

He understood the cost of materials, how much the silver, gold, and metals cost. The lead-free system compliancy.

The most important point I found was that Kyle believed if he provided a great product that showed a personal touch "I never want (my company) to get as big as Falcon Northwest", that word of mouth and reviews would sell systems and they would always have business. Without saying it, the inverse was implied - selling systems that weren't fully tested would kill his Internet "street cred." He knows that.

To AAC Direct, getting it right isn't a percentage value because they are small and intend to stay small. Getting it right is the reason their customers come to them.

That's Kosher Computing.

If you like, take an inside look at their operation.

The Fate of AAC Direct / All American Computers