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For all those readers who have added up the price of the parts in an OEM box and screamed into the night air: “Hell, I can build it cheaper than that!” CyberPower has a retort: Beat this one, sucker! While you might think you’re up to the challenge, we suspect the price-to-performance ratio of the CyberPower Gamer Ultimate SLI Quad is impossible to match—unless you’re using boosted parts. In fact, we’re not sure how CyberPower is making a profit off this stacked and packed rig.
Peep this: The Gamer Ultimate features no less than Intel’s 3.2GHz Core 2 Extreme QX9770 along with a pair of EVGA GeForce 9800 GX2 cards. The CPU itself retails for $1,500, and the pair of GPUs runs about $1,100. Indeed, we added up the retail price of all the Gamer Ultimate’s parts and reached a total of $5,500. The machine sells for just $5,000.
CyberPower pushes the eminently overclockable Intel core up 800MHz to an even 4GHz using Cooler Master’s new ESA-enabled AquaGate Max. To this, CyberPower adds an Asus Striker II Extreme mobo. Based on the nForce 790i Ultra SLI chipset, this board is wicked cool and feature rich—and DDR3 all the way. CyberPower includes 4GB of Corsair Dominator DDR3 DIMMs rated to operate at 1,600MHz data rates.
But not all of the Gamer Ultimate’s parts are top-notch: The main hard drive array hosting the OS isn’t composed of Western Digital’s spanking-new fourth-generation 300GB VelociRaptor drives. We can’t blame CyberPower for this oversight, as the drives are just now trickling out. We can, however, blame the company for a funky hard-drive config. A pair of 150GB Raptors hosts the OS, and CyberPower includes a second pair of 500GB Hitachi 7,200rpm drives in RAID 0 as well. Huh? We put a premium on safety when storing our precious photos and videos—and RAID 0 ain’t safe. The chance of both arrays going bunk is low, but if the board goes south, you’d have to hunt for another Striker II to get your data back. Also controversial is the OS choice: Windows Vista Home Premium 64 bit. For times when driver and app support fail, however, CyberPower also includes Home Premium 32 bit.
The Gamer Ultimate sets new performance records in just about all of our benchmarks and makes the Kentsfield Q6700-based zero-point system we built in December seem antiquated.
Still, there were some issues: The machine occasionally failed to boot. We’re not sure what caused the problem, but it may be related to the soft start button in the Cosmos S case. Only after cycling the power on the PSU would the machine restart. The top USB ports were also nonfunctional. CyberPower said it decided to use the ports for the media reader, which does include USB, so it’s not too horrible a trade-off.
The Gamer Ultimate is a stellar performer, but the real story is its price. You could almost buy this rig and sell off its individual components for a tidy profit.
Holy smokes, this thing is cheap! And it offers QX9770 performance!
Two RAID 0 arrays is like playing Russian roulette with an auto-loader.
|CyberPower Gamer Ultimate SLI Quad|
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (3.2GHz@4GHz)|
|Motherboard||Asus Striker II Extreme (nForce 790i Ultra SLI)|
|RAM||4GB Corsair Dominator DDR3/1600
|Videocard||Two EVGA GeForce 9800GX2s in SLI mode
|Soundcard||ADI 1988B 8-channel HD audio codec
|Storage||Two WD Raptor 150GB in RAID 0; two Hitachi 500GB in RAID 0
|Case/PSU||Cooler Master Cosmos Sport / ThermalTake ToughPower 1200
|Zero Point ||CyberPower Ultimate SLI Quad
|Premiere Pro CS3
||1,260 sec||673 sec
|Photoshop CS3||150 sec
|Unreal Tournament 3