Cyberpower’s Gamer Dragon: Can AMD Bring The Game?

Conclusion

What did we learn from the Cyberpower Gamer Dragon? A heck of a lot, and the points were more dramatic than we expected.

First off, we learned that new game titles will definitely see a benefit from the high CPU power that the Core i7-920 brings to the table. The results speak for themselves, so we can’t really be accused of brand favoritism for choosing a Core i7 system over a Phenom II in the System Builder Marathon series. The results are as plain as day: the Phenom II can bottleneck a theoretically-superior graphics system in modern game titles, and even a stock Core i7 will allow those games to stretch their legs.

Are we saying that the Phenom II is a bad buy? No. But Phenom IIs shine most brightly where they make sense: in low-cost systems that a Core i7 can’t reach due to comparatively-high platform costs. If we were going to put together a Phenom II system, we’d use a lower-cost AM2+ motherboard, DDR2 RAM, and a couple of Radeon HD 4850 cards to better realize the configuration's cost advantages. That would be a formidable low-cost system, and would stand well against any Core 2-based offering from Intel.

But back to our contender, the Cyberpower Gamer Dragon:

We have a fairly good bead on the price of this setup at the time of writing: it's a little bit of $1,700. How do we know? We priced it out right on Cyberpower's site. Now, the documentation Cyberpower sent us corresponded to a Phenom II X4 940 instead of a Phenom II X4 955 with a lot of other components that were different from our test system, claiming an MSRP of $1,499. This would not be a bad price with the operating system, warranty, and decent assembly included, if it were accurate. But it isn't.

While Cyberpower has pieced together the Gamer Dragon system with care, we would opt for the company's Core i7 offerings instead, such as the Gamer Infinity CrossFireX 6000. With a couple tweaks, we configured a Core i7-920 system with a Corsair 750TX PSU on an ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard, complete with 6 GB of DDR3-1600, a 750 GB hard drive, and two GeForce GTX 280 cards in SLI (all in a pretty Storm CS Scout case). According to the Web site, the price of this system would be under $1,700.

Configured as such, this system will perform as well as our SBM system did, and probably a lot cooler since it won't be constricted by a tiny Micro-ATX case. At first glance, you might wonder why this $1,700 figure is so much higher than the $1,300 system we built from Newegg, but recall that we don't include the price of the operating systems in our SBM articles. When you tack on a $225 for Windows Vista Premium 64-bit, the SBM machine costs $1,525. This means that for less than a $200 difference, Cyberpower will assemble the beast for you with good cable management and a warranty for three years labor and a year for the components.

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  • http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-x4-955,2278-9.html

    Toms very own review of the phenom 955, gaming benchmarks... now that is a test with the same gpu, is there a big difference?
    17
  • My points:
    1. Comparison of two different graphics cards. Based on completely different systems you speculate that i7 is much better. If the i7 is so clearly better, it is important for readers to know how much. Test it on the same computer (same graphics card) and prove how much better it actually is. Till now I only see relatively small advantages of i7 over phenom or intel quad limited within few percents only in Tom's review. Seems to me Tom is just hyping i7 (regularly "forgetting" comparisons with core 2 quads).
    2. Power usage. How the hell is possible that overclocked i7 takes significantly less power than non-overclocked one? That smalls to me and says that there is something rotten in the benchmark. I do not think readers should trust this review too much and rely on it when buying new computer.
    14
  • The only good thing that comes out of this article is that you can build a home PC for less monney and better performance than retailers, but don`t use it as a CPU brand comparation.
    11
  • Other Comments
  • Great article. It will be quite hard for anyone to shout after something like this. Granted, there will surely be the 'you can build it for less' crowd but I think all in all this should silence some folks.
    7
  • Would have been nice if the video cards where the same in both.
    7
  • I have to wonder what would happen with a 790FX board and RAM running at CAS 7. Those are two glaring problems I see with their build. I priced out the items to make the build work better and still came out at $1300.
    While it's an indictment of AMD clearly, seems like you shouldn't write it out of the SBM just yet.
    I was actually surprised to find some reasonable 790FX boards, as long as you don't need one of the big two brands.
    Also, other tests seem to contradict this. Sure, there is going to be some FPS difference, but there should not be so much.
    10
  • The lower cas ram wouldn't change anything.Having the 16x16 pci-e slots of the 790fx vs the 8x8 of the 790x.....doubtful it would make a big difference,though it would be nice to see if there would be a difference.
    0
  • Buying parts online I was able to get a fairly decent i7 920 setup for only $80 above a similar X4 955, the setups both had parts that would allow them to reach maximum OCing results and both had equivalent ATI/NVIDIA GPUs. AMD may have had a competitive price advantage a month ago but right now the i7 920 is better without question, in fact the $80 increase didn't even apply for me since the GTS 250 I bought off newegg for $135 came with COD4 and COD:WaW and the i7 920 came with HAWX for only $280 and an unopened HAWX goes for $40 at gamestop(they sell it for $50) and CoD:WaW also came in an unopened case that would have been sold to gamestop for $20 if I didn't keep it.

    X4 955 buyers beware, you're getting equivalent performance to a Q9550 setup for a $100 premium and if you're looking for an upgradeable setup the 1366 socket is a lot safer investment.

    P.S. - Sorry if the grammar and such is terrible, I just woke up to get a late night snack and check my e-mails but saw this and felt a need to post.
    0
  • Cyber Power comes to the rescue.......
    0
  • The point is if you build a system without any "Cyberpower" ready made premium priced stuff, AMD platform is cheaper and makes more sense, so again comparison seen here is unfair. Of course you wanted to justify your previous choices but in a misleading way. Having to the max (almost 1ghz) over clocked i7 only and comparing self built cheaper system to premium retail system just underlines to fact that you have taken sides.
    -9
  • I Still say biased. Why not give the overclock a go and present the results with the note that it may void warranty. You also overclock the SBM core i7 system.
    Also as proximon points out, this build does not say anything. You can yourself piece together something better at a lower cost, therefore the price comparison is not a good one if you want to point out the difference between AMD phenom II and Intel core i7.
    9
  • My points:
    1. Comparison of two different graphics cards. Based on completely different systems you speculate that i7 is much better. If the i7 is so clearly better, it is important for readers to know how much. Test it on the same computer (same graphics card) and prove how much better it actually is. Till now I only see relatively small advantages of i7 over phenom or intel quad limited within few percents only in Tom's review. Seems to me Tom is just hyping i7 (regularly "forgetting" comparisons with core 2 quads).
    2. Power usage. How the hell is possible that overclocked i7 takes significantly less power than non-overclocked one? That smalls to me and says that there is something rotten in the benchmark. I do not think readers should trust this review too much and rely on it when buying new computer.
    14
  • @supergroover,mcvf

    In SBM article before, many reader states that the prices different between Phenom system and Core i7 system can be used to purchased "stronger" GPU.

    Assuming frreerr_hardware (no 5 post) statement is true, the difference is only $80 and ATI 4890 is STRONGER card than GTX 260 core 216
    The cheapest ATI 4890 in Newegg is $189 after MIR
    and the chepest GTX260 core 216 in Newegg is $149 after MIR
    The difference is $40 for a card and $80 for a pair (SLI or Crossfire)
    So the comparison of Phenom system using ATI 4890 and Core i7 system using GTX 260 core 216 is well justified.

    And please do not start talk about overclock.
    The standard (not overclocked) Core i7 system (2.66 GHz) manage to wins some cases to the overclocked Phenom system (3.6 GHz), that's almost 1 GHz difference in clock. Do you really want to compare their performance in fully overclocked system like frreerr_hardware's system ?

    Typical Phenom 955 (in average) can achieve 4 GHz when overclocked and so does typical Core i7 920. Remember this is in SAME PRICE system (according to frreerr_hardware). Logic dictates the the Core i7 system will crushed the phenom system if both is fully overclocked.
    9
  • goose man: "stronger graphics card", as stated many times by Tom's, applies only to the chosen game title. Are you absolutely sure that used Nvidia card is in all presented game titles slower that presented ATI? If yes, could you point me to the site (Tom's or other) where they are fairly compared, because I did not have any information about their relative "strength" when reading this review.
    -1
  • For me the results are clear :

    At stock. They offer similar performance. The AMD system has a slightly better video card. The Intel has a slightly better processor. But this is theorhetical at best.

    Clearly not fair, as certain stuff/programs will favor one platform over the other.
    -4
  • Also, I've noticed most of the benchmarks/games used favor processor speed over videocard speed.
    5
  • http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-x4-955,2278-9.html

    Toms very own review of the phenom 955, gaming benchmarks... now that is a test with the same gpu, is there a big difference?
    17
  • Awesome Case, have just last week finished re-building my PC into this case, and the cooling is second to none , especially with a couple of Skythe Kaze Maru 140mm fans on the side!

    Would have loved to see the i7 Figures if under this cases chilling winds, would have blown the AMD system even further backward I think!
    -3
  • Thing is lately i`m starting not to trust games anymore that has Adds at startup with Runs great on Intel or Nvidia ... just wonder if they got payed to put that add at startup wonder what other things they got payed to "optimize" the game. And this article is so wrong ... custom home build vs Retail build ... oh boy and comparing in the end 2 CPUs that have different videocard setup ... i`m not saying that P2`s > I7s in performance but this test is way wrong.
    6
  • The only good thing that comes out of this article is that you can build a home PC for less monney and better performance than retailers, but don`t use it as a CPU brand comparation.
    11
  • You guys aren't getting the point of this article. It is to point out that IF for the price you saved with a P2 vs an i7, you went and bought better graphics cards (GTX260
    1
  • So pretty much the $1300 DIY comp stomps the $1740 prebuilt comp. No surprise there but I got to hand it to Cyberpower, it appears as though they have improved their cable management since the last time I've seen.
    4
  • You did pick games that have always heavily favored nvidia gfx cards... much less balance than normal. You guys usually give us a show of both the nvidia optimized and the AMD optimized games but this time just nvidia..
    0