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CyberPower Xtreme

Three Core i7 Systems From Boutique Builders
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Gamers who travel to LAN parties (and anyone else who moves their PC frequently) will love the Cooler Master Storm Sniper chassis that CyberPower chose to build their Core i7 rig in. This large mid-tower has two massive handles cleverly integrated into its design, and while it’s fabricated from steel, it’s surprisingly light.

As we noted in our AVADirect review, though, gaming rigs tend to be noisy and the CyberPower was easily the loudest of the three machines in this roundup, even when we dialed the top exhaust fan to its slowest rotational speed using the oversized knob on the top of the case. This machine would be even louder if it didn’t cool its CPU with Asetek’s LCLC (the acronym stands for Low Cost Liquid Cooling). This is closed-loop system similar to the Domino A.L.C. we saw in the AVADirect system, but it doesn’t include a fancy display like the one on the CoolIT product.

 Processor and Motherboard

Asus’ P6T Deluxe motherboard, featuring Intel’s X58 core-logic chipset, makes its second appearance in this roundup, but it plays host to Intel’s faster Core i7 940 this time. CyberPower juiced the chip’s clock speed from its stock 2.93 GHz to 3.61 GHz. As with the AVADirect system, we didn’t encounter any instability as a result of the overclocking. 

CyberPower populated three of the motherboard’s six DIMM slots with Kingston HyperX DDR3 memory running at 1,600 MT/s in order to take advantage of the Core i7’s triple-channel architecture. As we mentioned in the AVADirect review, the P6T Deluxe is outfitted with Marvell’s Yukon 88E8056 to offer two 1 Gb/s NICs, and eight-channel audio provided by an Analog Devices SoundMax AD2000B audio chip.

 Graphics

The P6T Deluxe supports both SLI and CrossFireX, but CyberPower used a single videocard with two AMD GPUs: the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2. Since we’re looking for a balanced rig adept at handling all types of applications, we’re happy to see a little more of the budget go towards a faster CPU even if does come at the expense of gaming performance.

The Radeon HD 4870 X2 enjoyed a brief run as the market’s fastest single-card solution, but its performance has since been surpassed by Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 295. Still, the Sapphire board is no slouch in the benchmark department. The board’s two GPUs boast 800 stream processors each, running at a core clock speed of 750 MHz. Each GPU has a 256-bit interface to 1 GB of GDDR5 memory running at 900 MHz.

For what it’s worth, AMD’s dual-GPU implementation is more elegant than Nvidia’s. All the 4870 X2’s components are mounted on a single PCB, compared to the two-board sandwich that is Nvidia’s GTX 295. And the Radeon card doesn’t need a cable to pipe digital audio to the video connector on its mounting bracket; audio is routed through the PCI Express bus. The GPUs and memory are cooled by conventional heatsinks and fans.

Storage and Optical 

CyberPower installed the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium on a RAID 0 array formed by two 500 GB Hitachi Deskstar drives. They also installed a 1 TB Western Digital WD10EACS drive for additional storage. Capacious storage is an important consideration for a system that’s going to be used for applications such as video editing. AVADirect supplies a larger second drive, but they didn’t include a RAID; the Alienware came with a fast RAID, but no secondary means of storage at all. CyberPower’s solution is just right for the application we specified.

CyberPower also got the optical drives right: There’s a LightScribe-capable Sony DVD burner for backups and for making movies, but there’s a Sony Blu-ray player for watching movies, too. You also get a media-card reader in front. This one’s not as fancy as the one in AVADirect’s machine—it’s a 12-in-1 compared to a 68-in-1—but does add a fifth USB port to the front of the machine. The presence of these drives leaves two externally accessible 5.25-inch drive bays in the front of the Cooler Master enclosure.

Enclosure

Cooler Master bills the Storm Sniper as a “mid tower;” it stands much taller than the Thermaltake V9 AVADirect chose and it’s just a little higher than Alienware’s trademark custom case. We dig its understated matte-black looks and its special features, such as the mechanism in back that can you can weave your USB cables through to prevent your headset, mouse, or keyboard from growing legs and walking away. This will deter a thief, but it won’t prevent a vandal from cutting cords.

The oversized fan-speed controller we mentioned earlier also features a button that turns the blue LEDs on the 200 mm on top of the case and the 20mm fan in front of the case in and off. The 120 mm fan in back features an incongruous green LED. CyberPower includes the optional 140 mm at the bottom of the case, but there’s no fan on the side of the enclosure (there are mounting points for either one 140 mm fan or two 120 mm fans here).

You’ll find all the front-panel ports you could want, including include mic and headphone, four USB ports, Firewire, and eSATA.

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  • 1 Hide
    gkay09 , March 24, 2009 6:36 AM
    Well this article would help people buying preassembled computer very much...
  • -5 Hide
    crisisavatar , March 24, 2009 6:58 AM
    all 3 suck concidering you can add a 24 inch monitor, high quality speakers, audio card, gaming mouse/keyboard and still have money to spare.

    ps. running a couple of gtx 260s at stock will be more than enough to pull 45 fps in crysis and everything else at idk fps.
  • -1 Hide
    crisisavatar , March 24, 2009 7:00 AM
    ups forgot to add the new OCZ vortex 30g ssd in raid 0 to boot up and still be in budget.
  • 7 Hide
    pivalak , March 24, 2009 10:52 AM
    Hummm, what I tend to miss on these reviews is an actual measurement of the noise generated by the system.

    I mean, the subjective evaluation provided is still useful, but... how noisy is "surprisingly quiet" or "the loudest of the three machines"?
  • -6 Hide
    pivalak , March 24, 2009 10:53 AM
    Hummm, what I tend to miss on these reviews is an actual measurement of the noise generated by the system.

    I mean, the subjective evaluation provided is still useful, but... how noisy is "surprisingly quiet" or "the loudest of the three machines"?
  • -6 Hide
    pivalak , March 24, 2009 10:54 AM
    Hummm, what I tend to miss on these reviews is an actual measurement of the noise generated by the system.

    I mean, the subjective evaluation provided is still useful, but... how noisy is "surprisingly quiet" or "the loudest of the three machines" in this case?
  • 0 Hide
    pivalak , March 24, 2009 11:00 AM
    Oooops... sorry for the multiple posts. I had some issues with my browser (does anyone know how to delete them?) :( 
  • 3 Hide
    nerrawg , March 24, 2009 11:19 AM
    Kind of surprised that Thomas Soderstrom's (is he swedish btw?) $2,500 core i7 build from December wasn't mentioned from what I could see for comparison.
    If anyone is curious how tom's home-build system compares to the boutiques here's the link: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i7-overclock,2116.html

    From the gaming benches on that review it appears that the now slightly outdated december build still trumps the above builds with its triple 260 SLI and 4.0 Ghz overclocked 920. Best value award goes Tom's own Build! Now if only that one came pre-built with a 3 year warranty .... guess I'll still be getting out my toolkit (no pun intended)
  • 1 Hide
    MrMick , March 24, 2009 11:59 AM
    pivalakHummm, what I tend to miss on these reviews is an actual measurement of the noise generated by the system.I mean, the subjective evaluation provided is still useful, but... how noisy is "surprisingly quiet" or "the loudest of the three machines" in this case?


    Hi, I'm the author of the story. Trying to objectively measure a system's noise levels without sophisticated measurement equipment is as problematic as describing them subjectively.

    I have a level meter, but decided not to use it because it wasn't sensitive enough to measure noise levels where it mattered--at ear level where I was seated. I needed to measure the ambient room noise with no computers running to set a basis for comparison, and the meter wasn't sensitive enough to do that.

    And even if the meter was sensitive enough for my purpose, the decibel measurement would be relevant only for the environment in which I was testing (my home office, which measures 13.6x8 feet).
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , March 24, 2009 12:29 PM
    “No one ever got laughed at for buying an Alienware.”

    Are you kidding? They have to be the most overpriced POS on the market.

    Pfft. Alienware = glorified console.

    Real PC gamers build their own. Period.
  • 3 Hide
    marraco , March 24, 2009 12:58 PM
    Why the Alienware (Dell) do:

    -Ruined Asus BIOS support by changing the P6T deluxe naming?. Is standard behavior from Dell, who delays BIOS upgrades, and sometimes totally forget it. Dell ruins motherboards.
    -Overclocked nothing.
    -Used crappy memory, when significant better memory cost little more.
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , March 24, 2009 1:10 PM
    I'd like to know what power supply the Alienware uses so I can use it in my next build. Power saving like that definitely add up over the course of a year, and when you look at the life of the hardware (18-48 months) those savings on your electricity bill can add up to the cost of the hardware itself sometimes.
  • 0 Hide
    jcknouse , March 24, 2009 1:13 PM
    User421“No one ever got laughed at for buying an Alienware.”Are you kidding? They have to be the most overpriced POS on the market.Pfft. Alienware = glorified console.Real PC gamers build their own. Period.


    I can't argue that Alienware isn't overpriced for what you get.

    But, not all "Real PC gamers" build their own. Some have the dosh to pay for custom rigs.

    Not myself, of course. Plus, I like tinkering with gadgets :) 

  • 0 Hide
    MrMick , March 24, 2009 1:30 PM
    LusciousI'd like to know what power supply the Alienware uses so I can use it in my next build. Power saving like that definitely add up over the course of a year, and when you look at the life of the hardware (18-48 months) those savings on your electricity bill can add up to the cost of the hardware itself sometimes.


    There were no markings on the power supply other than Alienware's that I could see, so I'm guessing that they contract with a supplier to build a private-label PSU for them (as they did with the Asus motherboard).

    But there's more to power consumption than just the power supply. The Cyberpower rig used a dual-GPU videocard, for instance, and the AVADirect machine was running two Nvidia cards in SLI.
  • -3 Hide
    Fadamor , March 24, 2009 1:32 PM
    OK, who wants to chip in for a spell-checker for Mr. Brown? :)  Shouldn't the title of the article be using the word "Boutique"?
  • 1 Hide
    marraco , March 24, 2009 1:55 PM
    LusciousI'd like to know what power supply the Alienware uses so I can use it in my next build. Power saving like that definitely add up over the course of a year, and when you look at the life of the hardware (18-48 months) those savings on your electricity bill can add up to the cost of the hardware itself sometimes.


    I know of a Dell PC whose Power supply stopped working.
    The owner buyed a new, standard power supply... and burned the motherboard, because Dell had the custom of modifying his motherboards, and power supplies, making them non standard.
    By making that, Dell slaved buyers to buy parts from Dell only, and gave no warning about non standard hardware.

    The merely fact that Dell has hidden the P6T Deluxe under a suspicious What The Fck change, advice to not but things from that crappy company.
  • 2 Hide
    Fadamor , March 24, 2009 1:59 PM
    I work with hundreds of Dells on a daily basis and can state that the only non-standard power supplies they use are in their "slim" cases. Your standard-size cases have a "regular" ATX compliant power supply.
  • 0 Hide
    marraco , March 24, 2009 2:00 PM
  • 2 Hide
    marraco , March 24, 2009 2:07 PM
    FadamorI work with hundreds of Dells on a daily basis and can state that the only non-standard power supplies they use are in their "slim" cases. Your standard-size cases have a "regular" ATX compliant power supply.


    That is not the point. If Dell custom modified this mother, probably was to make it non industry standard, to force you to buy Dell only upgrades.

    Dell has done it many times. Be warned.
  • 2 Hide
    xsamitt , March 24, 2009 2:07 PM
    Wondering when the constant commercials will stop.Most people here build their own systems.Of course I don't deny there is merit in articles like this but the balance of toms is way different than it used to be.
    What about a review of the new lcd's that are out now some of which are 120HZ.
    Rob & Ben to me was the last saving grace for toms.
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