Throughout the year we test the best gaming systems on the market. Last month we reviewed the $10,000 Falcon Northwest system, which we then gave away to a very luck reader. While the custom paint job, extreme overclock, 30" Apple Cinema display and bleeding edge performance are a little out of reach for most people, there are alternatives to having "the works."
Today, we start showing the latest configurations from popular system builders as we will have a series of exciting systems in our test labs to put though their paces. The first system is the Ultimate X9 by ABS Computer Technologies. While not as richly equipped as our $10,000 PC, it does have the performance. Stocked with an Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor overclocked to 3.67 GHz and a pair of ATI Radeon X1900 XTX graphics cards configured in CrossFire mode, this system brings the performance price tag down to reasonable levels.
Inside The Ultimate X9
The Gigabyte 3D Aurora is a sleek aluminum case without a lot of cheap plastics that you typically find on many cases. The design was intended for enthusiasts and gamers. A single 120 mm fan draws air in the bottom over the dual 150 GB Western Digital Raptors configured in RAID 0. Air moves past the hard drives to the two ATI Radeon X1900 graphics cards in CrossFire. The cards are designed to pull air from inside the case and expel it out the back.
Air that moves up the case flows across a matching pair of Corsair Twin2X-2048-6400C4 memory modules for 2 GB of RAM and operating at a base frequency of 800 MHz (and at a latency timing of CL4-4-4-12 (CAS, RCD, RP, RAS). The air is then expelled out of the case via two 120 mm fans on the back of the case. The 120 mm fan inside the Enermax Liberty ELT620AWT 620 W power supply aids in expelling hot air that reaches the top of the case.
The Gigabyte 3D Aurora was designed to accept external water cooling solutions. The ABS Ultimate X9 makes use of the Gigabyte 3D Galaxy II liquid cooling system. The water pump has a ceramic shaft to increase its reliability and Gigabyte warranties a life expectancy of 20,000 hours. The cooling system has a low water-level protection system that will shut the system down if the water falls below a specified level. Additionally, the system has an overheating protection feature that will also shut the system off if the temperature is too high. Both are great to have when the system comes overclocked from ABS.
ABS also has an on-site service warranty available for three years. However, this is above and beyond the standard one-year parts and labor warranty (you pay shipping to get it fixed) and costs an additional $280. We would like to see the three-year all-inclusive warranty become standard, but since it makes a higher level available, it is up to the buyer to choose the level that suits them.