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Test Systems & Configurations

MaxForce Reviewed: 3-Way SLI and 4 GHz+
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First of all, we wanted to compare the MaxForce to the high-end machine from our last System Builder Marathon in March. Then, that machine retailed for $3,400 ; today the retail price is more like $2970 with two comparable GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards instead of obsolete 8800 GTXs and Windows Vista Ultimate for a fair price comparison.

To be fair, according to MaxForce’s Web site, the Revolution would only cost $3,144 if it sported a pair of GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards, so the pricing of the MaxForce looks very fair for a pre-overclocked machine with a good warranty.

High-End System Builder Marathon PC – March 2008
CPU Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 o/c to 4.35 GHz
CPU Cooler Swiftech H20—120 Compact Cooler Kit
Motherboard Asus Striker II Formula
RAM Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 PC2-6400—4 GB
Graphics 2x Gigabyte GeForce 8800GTX—GV-NX88X768H-RH
Hard Drives 2x Western Digital Caviar WD7500AAKS
Sound Asus SupremeFX II Riser Card
Case Silverstone Temjin TJ09BW
Power Coolermaster RS850-EMBA 850W
Optical Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology SH-203B
OS Windows Vista Professional 32 bit

The only real beef we have with the Revolution GTX3 compared to our System Builder Marathon machine is that MaxForce does not offer an option for liquid cooling. In our opinion, air cooling is stretching it when you’re running quad-core CPUs at 4 GHz, even with an excellent cooler like the Tuniq Tower 120. We have reservations about the long-term effects of running these CPUs at 4 GHz on air, but with the warranty MaxForce offers, it’s the firm’s prerogative we suppose.

Because the graphics world has moved on since the last System Builder Marathon, it’s unfair to compare the MaxForce against the high-end SBM machine when it comes to gaming, so we’re going to limit its comparison to synthetic and application benchmarks.

For the game benchmarks, we’ll compare the MaxForce PC against some current high-end gaming rigs : The first is HP’s Blackbird 002 LC with two GeForce GTX 280 cards in SLI. Comparing against this machine will give us an opportunity to see the advantage of running three GeForce GTX 280 cards instead of two. We will also compare the triple-SLI MaxForce against the Falcon Northwest Mach 5 system, which sports a pair of Radeon 4870 X2 cards. This will let us see how quad-CrossFire compares against 3-way SLI.

Since all of these systems have quad-core CPUs clocked in the 4 GHz range, this should make for an interesting comparison. Do note, however, that both the HP and Falcon Northwest systems use liquid cooling to tame the CPU heat—Asetek’s LCLC system.

High-End Gaming System Configurations
System HP Blackbird 002 LC Falcon Northwest Mach 5
CPU Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770
3.20 GHz, FSB-1600, 12 MB Cache
Overclocked to 3.60 GHz, Stock FSB
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650
3.00 GHz, FSB-1333, 12 MB Cache
Overclocked to 4.00 GHz, FSB-1776
CPU Cooler Asetek LCLC with Dual 120 mm Fans Asetek LCLC with Single 120 mm Fan
Motherboard EVGA nForce 790i Ultra SLI
790i Ultra SLI, BIOS P05 (05/16/2008)
Asus P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP
Intel X48, BIOS 0505 (06/11/2008)
RAM 4x Corsair CM3X1G1600C8D4
4x 1024 MB, DDR3-1600, CL 8-8-8-24
Underclocked to DDR3-1333 9-9-9-24
4x Kingston KHX14400D3/1 G
4x 1024 MB, DDR3-1800, CL 8-8-8-24
Underclocked to DDR3-1333 6-6-6-15
Graphics 2x EVGA 01G-P3-1282-AR (SLI)
Nvidia GTX-280 GPU (621 MHz)
1024 MB GDDR3-2268 (Per Card)
2x Radeon HD 4870 X2 (Crossfire)
2x ATI 4870 GPU (Per Card) 750 MHz
2x 1024 MB GDDR5-3600 (Per Card)
Hard Drives Western Digital Raptor WD1600ADFS
160 GB, 10000 RPM, 16 MB Cache
2x WD WD3000GLFS (RAID 0)
300 GB, 10000 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Sound Integrated Realtek ALC888S Codec Integrated ADI 1988B Codec
Network Integrated Gigabit Networking Integrated Gigabit Networking
Power Topower 1100W Modularized Silverstone SST-ST1200 Modularized
Optical TSST DVD-R/RW TS-T632L
8x DVD±R/RW/DL, 8x DVD-RAM
LG GGW-H20L BD-RE/HDDVD-ROM
6x BD-R, 2x BD-RE, 16x DVD±R
Keyboard Not Included (Optional) Not Included (Optional)
Mouse Not Included (Optional) Not Included (Optional)
OS Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit
Warranty One Year Three Years (One Year Overnight Ship)
Support One Year Lifetime
Price $5,869 $6,097
Display all 50 comments.
  • -1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , October 16, 2008 11:08 AM
    "xtras 1BG USB Flash Drive http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_drive , Assassin ’s Creed (game)" on page 2 - sure u don't mean 1GB?
  • 1 Hide
    wahdangun , October 16, 2008 11:16 AM
    "a GDDR3 motherboard, and no less than three of the fastest video cards money can buy"

    hmmm i think it have alot of typo in here
  • 0 Hide
    random1283 , October 16, 2008 12:00 PM
    OK maybe GDDR3 is a typo but GTX280s are the fastest SINGLE GPU video cards out there and I think thats what he meant
  • 2 Hide
    Pei-chen , October 16, 2008 12:33 PM
    3 years warranty and water cooling don't go together. Water cooling requires too much maintenance compare with high-end air cooling.

    The choice of 2GB memory and Vista 32 sounds like a joke. Think of telling your friends your $4000+ system is running 2GB and Vista 32. 4GB should be minimum and 8GB optional.
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , October 16, 2008 12:50 PM
    Good luck for MaxForce. Hopefully their customer service comes close to Flacon.
  • -3 Hide
    rubix_1011 , October 16, 2008 1:30 PM
    Are you kidding me? Offering 2GB of RAM and a 32 bit OS shouldn't even be a consideration when paying $4000+ for a performance machine. Give me a break: OEM builder Vista 64 is like $80 and I am sure you can get 'volume' discounts for boutique builders like these. Tossing in the other 2GB of DDR3 shouldn't set you back any more than $50 (again, volume purchase discounts).

    I say OS switch-out is negligible cost. You MIGHT see minor price increase due to 4GB RAM as opposed to 2Gb...but still 4GB should be the starting point in a system with this hardware.

    Running 3 280's? You are using over 1/2 your available system memory allocation due to GDDR. 64 bit only.
  • 0 Hide
    smyter_m , October 16, 2008 1:44 PM
    their website down? www.solaris-pc.com?
  • 2 Hide
    cleeve , October 16, 2008 2:22 PM
    rubix_1011Are you kidding me? Offering 2GB of RAM and a 32 bit OS shouldn't even be a consideration when paying $4000+ for a performance machine.


    Please tell me you're not serious. 2GB and Vista 32 is no good for a gaming machine? What are you guys smoking?

    If you guys can provide some evidence that Vista 32 can't stand up to Vista 64 when gaming, I'd be real interested in seeing it. 2 GB or not.

    It sounds to me like you gents are getting caught up in leetness without looking at the bottom line. Vista 64 and 8GB of RAM aren't going to supply higher framerates, gents.

    I thought we were about tangible performance, not bragging rights.
  • 1 Hide
    cleeve , October 16, 2008 2:23 PM
    smyter_mtheir website down? www.solaris-pc.com?


    The website is www.maxforcepc.com
  • 1 Hide
    cleeve , October 16, 2008 2:30 PM
    Pei-chen3 years warranty and water cooling don't go together. Water cooling requires too much maintenance compare with high-end air cooling.


    Falcon and HP managed to do it, admittedly with a slightly lower warranty. Frankly, chances are it will keep the CPU working longer.

    On a side note, MaxForce let me know that they will install custom kit like water cooling at the customer's request.
  • 1 Hide
    rubix_1011 , October 16, 2008 2:41 PM
    Quote:

    rubix_1011 :

    Are you kidding me? Offering 2GB of RAM and a 32 bit OS shouldn't even be a consideration when paying $4000+ for a performance machine.





    Please tell me you're not serious. 2GB and Vista 32 is no good for a gaming machine? What are you guys smoking?

    If you guys can provide some evidence that Vista 32 can't stand up to Vista 64 when gaming, I'd be real interested in seeing it. 2 GB or not.

    It sounds to me like you gents are getting caught up in leetness without looking at the bottom line. Vista 64 and 8GB of RAM aren't going to supply higher framerates, gents.

    I thought we were about tangible performance, not bragging rights.


    Do you even understand the limitations of a 32 bit OS and how RAM and video memory come to factor...? That's not even beginning to say that Vista really needs 2GB minimum to perform well enough to be considered 'performance' anything. Start running CPU and GPU intensive software, which cut into that, and you see some real issues.

    I never said that Vista 32 wasn't capable for gaming...but when you are paying $4000 for a PERFORMANCE machine, 32 bit OS shouldn't even be an option and 4GB RAM should be the baseline. We aren't talking about frugality and DIY on a budget. We are speaking of high-performance boutique PCs being limited by an OS due to memory allocation.
  • -1 Hide
    cleeve , October 16, 2008 2:52 PM
    rubix_1011Do you even understand the limitations of a 32 bit OS and how RAM and video memory come to factor...?


    Vague questions about what I understand is not proof that Vista 64 and 4 GB is faster, Rubix.

    I've yet to see proof that it is. If I'm wrong, I'd love to see some evidence of this. From what I've seen so far tho, more RAM rarely means increased game performance, it usually means quicker loading times at best when it comes to a gaming machine.

    Then again, instead of complaining how it's so deficient, let's look at the benchmarks: the MaxForce manages to school it's HP and Falcon competitors is Crysis like they're standing still... even though those competitors have Vista 64 and 4GB of RAM.

    If it's me whose having trouble understanding the limitations, I invite you to provide proof that I'm so off base...
  • 1 Hide
    rubix_1011 , October 16, 2008 2:59 PM
    Forget it, my argument was against using a 32 bit OS in a high performance machine costing $4000+ when a 64bit OS offers the ability to use more RAM for more performance...not only in gaming, but in applications in general. I don't see the purpose when these builds are meant to offer high quantities of system memory to be allocated and used by the system. I guess if you want to drum 32 bit, feel free. I think you and I are attempting to validate different points.
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , October 16, 2008 3:05 PM
    I don't know if we're attempting to validate diffrent points as much as we're disagreeing on the impact 4GB and a 64-bit OS makes in 95% of applications.

    I don't think you'd see a diffrence in most things - in fact, Vista 64 is still a bit slower when it comes to gaming, so Vista 32 is a solid choice for a gaming rig.

    If you want a workstation, and use apps that can take advantage of a 64-bit OS and gobs of RAM, then just order the machine with Vista-64 and 8GB. Great!

    But does that invalidate Vista-32 as a good choice for a high-end gaming machine? Hell no. Certainly not to the extent that you guys are slamming it so vocally.
  • -3 Hide
    jorgisven , October 16, 2008 3:22 PM
    wahdangun"a GDDR3 motherboard, and no less than three of the fastest video cards money can buy"hmmm i think it have alot of typo in here

    I agree. Also -"2GB (2x 1GB) Supertalent GDDR3-1800 CL7-7-7" That's not Gddr3. That's just DDR3.

    Also, in reference to going to 4GB. I agree that 2GB is insufficient. However, remembering that it is DDR3, it may add a few hundred in cost, actually. Possibly 2-300, even. DDR3 is still not cheap, particularly the high quality high speed stuff. On newegg, the RAM listed above goes for $189 for the kit. A lower clocked kit (12800, instead of 14400) goes for 329. A higher clocked version, if it were available would be at least an additional $200 more. While I agree a 5% price increase for more memory would give you more than a 5% performance increase, it's nothing to sneeze at. I definitely think 2GB is laughable in a machine like this. But a RAM upgrade would not be cheap if you bought this system.
  • 0 Hide
    stridervm , October 16, 2008 3:24 PM
    It's kinda wierd that you are worrying about the MaxForce only using air cooling when you don't even measure it's temperatures. Just a thought.
  • 3 Hide
    scook9 , October 16, 2008 3:31 PM
    You keep talking about air cooling and how it is going to kill the CPU over time, here is an idea, show some CPU temps! Numbers speak louder than words, and dont have opinions. That being said, a high end air cooling rig can woop a $100-$150 watercooling rig as well as save you the maintanence and risks. water cooling is still limited to the ambient air temperature in the room, so it really doesnt have much to offer that air cooling doesn't. With the new TRUE copper coming out, i'd go for that in a heartbeat over a similarly priced watercooling rig (Swiftech 120). Especially in a high airflow case like the Antec 1200 (which is dam near silent with all fans on high I'll add).Copper TRUE with 2 Scythe S-Flex's in push-pull, and for about $140, you got an air cooling rig that is really gonna beat or be on par with ANY water cooling (not including TEC of course) and NO risk to other components or maintanence. So if you are going to continue making the statement that air cooling will kill the cpu over time, please, just back it up, show us some temps from the mentioned systems, we aren't stupid, let us decide.
  • 0 Hide
    wavebossa , October 16, 2008 3:38 PM
    Jorgisven


    Did you read the article?
    Did you read the comments above?

    Nothing previously stated backs up your claim. Now if this were a server computer than i would agree with you.

    But this is a GAMING computer and it excels at GAMING with 2gb of ram and vista 32.

    End of discussion.
  • 0 Hide
    wavebossa , October 16, 2008 3:39 PM
    Page 6 first line typo. MHz needs to be changed to GHz
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , October 16, 2008 3:59 PM
    scook9We aren't stupid, let us decide.


    I never said anyone was stupid. I simply stated my opinion that watercooling is better than air cooling for a quad-core CPU at 4 GHz.

    If you don't like my opinion, then it's certainly your perogative to disagree. :) 
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