Battle Of The Boutique Behemoths: iBuyPower Vs. Maingear PC

iBuyPower Paladin

While the company has many cases from which to choose, the system we received used the mid-quality steel Cooler Master HAF-932 case. Sure to be a hit with many gamers, the image stands in stark contrast to iBuyPower's competitor.

Asus’ P6T Deluxe V2 offers wide slot spacing for better ventilation of two GeForce GTX 295 graphics units. Less expensive options include the standard P6T, which supports three-way configurations with less-effective cooling.

iBuyPower also selected the same Corsair CMPSU-1000HX power unit that we would have picked for these graphics cards, even though it’s not on Nvidia’s very limited certification list.

CPU cooling comes from an Asetek LCLC (Low-Cost Liquid Cooling) maintenance-free system with a dual 120 mm fan radiator. Liquid cooling the CPU normally comes at the cost of increased VRM temperatures, so iBuyPower uses Asus’ VRM fan to supplement the case’s enormous 230 mm side-panel intake.

Decreased load times are courtesy of Intel’s X25-M 80 GB solid-state drive, while mass-storage is made more massive by adding a Hitachi 7K1000.B 1.0 TB hard drive. A lighted 230 mm fan blows across up to five drives in the HAF-932 cage.

The X25-M doesn’t show up on iBuyPower’s short configuration list, but clicking “edit configuration” prior to placing an order reveals additional options.

The standard drive iBuyPower includes with every system is a 22X Ultra ATA DVD burner. Using it requires that you leave an onboard controller enabled that most performance fanatics would prefer to disable. And then there’s the old-fashioned ribbon cable that is certain to earn the customer “a ribbing” at his or her next LAN party.

iBuyPower included a keyboard and mouse with our configuration, but we need to disregard these (along with the Blu-ray disk burner) to make its price comparable to the competing unit. The game Halo 2 is included free with Windows Vista, while FarCry 2 came with one of the graphics cards. Other accessories include two DVI-to-VGA adapters, a power cable, and Corsair’s modular cable pack.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • tacoslave
    what the hell Halo 2?
  • johnsmithvag
    What a stupid and pointless article. Thanks again for wasting my time. Really, i mean, if i wanted to see an add i'd just look slightly to the right.
  • sepuko
    Why do the systems have different video driver packages? You call that a fair comparison ?
  • jonbach
    Bravo for the editor's note on page 9. I'm downright excited to see CNET and Tom's Hardware giving attention to keeping system builders honest when it comes to system reviews. In addition, I do think that in the end, most consumers value a problem free process and fast, reliable support even more than they value a few percentage points performance gain (Or am I off base here? Please comment!).

    Yet that aspect of system builders is missed by the current review process. I'd love to see even more about the ordering and support process, but you're right that would require a "secret shopper" method.

    I can't speak for all boutique builders, but I bet you would find many of us extremely receptive to any ideas you may have on how we can help mitigate the costs of a secret shopper program in a way that preserves the fairness and anonymity of the review process.

    Jon Bach
    President - Puget Systems
  • speedone
    Halo 2 with Vista. i did not get Halo 2 when I bought Vista.
  • Crashman
    sepukoWhy do the systems have different video driver packages? You call that a fair comparison ?
    That's the way they shipped them, so it's the ONLY way to run a fair comparison: NO MODIFICATIONS.

    Also notice that the system with the newest drivers lost. We tried ripping out the newer drivers and putting in the older ones: a few benchmarks lost around 0.1-1.0 FPS with the "matching" drivers, but it really wasn't worth the time to finish retesting since it only made the worst-performing system perform slightly worse than it had when it first lost. An increased loss of less than 1% (average) is still a loss and the difference isn't noteworthy.
  • hustler539
    Wheres 1920 x 1200?
    Who buys a $4k+ system to game at 1024 x 768?
  • Crashman
    hustler539Wheres 1920 x 1200?Who buys a $4k+ system to game at 1024 x 768?
    Who buys a $4k system to game at 1920? The 2560 results are there.
  • ta152h
    They're ugly systems, as usual.

    If they are going to put in premium parts, why do they buy ugly cases to stick them in? When are PC makers going to put more attention into more attractive cases?

    $4,000 for an ugly brick. Whatever.
  • neiroatopelcc
    I like seeing a silverstone chassis in there. Nice to know they ain't just tossing all the nice stuff into an average garbage bin from antec or something (like we cost concious people do).