Cyberpower Gamer Ultra 8500 SE


Some of us were lucky enough to score screaming FX-60, 7800 GTX SLI systems during the winter holidays. The rest of us are wondering what wrong we committed to deserve fruitcake from our nearest and dearest. Well, now you can give yourself a little post-holiday cheer with Cyberpower’s Gamer Ultra 8500 SE, a gaming PC that rings in at just 10 large.

Housed in the familiar Aspire Turbo X-Cruiser case, the Gamer Ultra doesn’t stand out like boutique rigs (the Hypersonic Cyclone still whirls in our dreams). Sure, the case is pre-modded, with a side window and blue LEDs, but there’s no disguising the plastic case’s budget quality.

Inside the case, you’ll find an entirely respectable machine. We dig the dual-core CPU—an Athlon 64 X2 3800+, which runs at 2.0GHz—1GB of DDR400 SDRAM, a 200GB Maxtor DiamondMax 10 hard drive, and a GeForce 6600 256MB videocard, all tied into an nForce4 SLI chipset motherboard. Cyberpower included a few tasty extras: a 12-in-1 media reader, a wireless G network card, and a bright Viewsonic 17-inch LCD display. We’ve heard there’s more to PCs than raw performance, and we’re impressed with what Cyberpower offers for a cool grand.

We didn’t expect the Gamer Ultra to fare well in our performance-wrenching benchmarks. With year-old parts, the Gamer Ultra is no match for even our FX-55-powered zero-point rig. Comparing it with any recent system we’ve reviewed is just beating a dead horse—this pony ain’t winning the race.

It makes more sense to compare the Gamer Ultra to our most recent Lean Machine (October 2005), as both machines attempt to balance price and performance. Thanks to its dual-core processor, the Gamer Ultra snaked past the Lean Machine in most of our benchmarks.
The Gamer Ultra’s score of 158 in SYSmark2004 was 3 points higher than our Lean Machine’s, but it still charts the lowest of any system we’ve reviewed in months. Performance in Premier Pro, Photoshop, and the Divx encode ranged from 12 to 30 percent lower than our zero point, but 10 to 16 percent higher than
our Lean Machine.

Most of us want performance where it counts: gaming. Panting out 6.93fps and 10.7fps in 3DMark05 and Doom 3, respectively, suggests that the 6600 GT should be the first component to be upgraded. With its 6800 GT, our Lean Machine scored 171 percent higher in 3DMark05 and 285 percent higher in Doom 3. That’s to be expected as the 6800 boasts twice as many pixel pipelines, vertex units, and double the interface bandwidth.

With a Socket 939 and an SLI-compatible motherboard, the Gamer Ultra has a nice upgrade path, which is a major consideration when buying any system. But with its lackluster specs and sluggish gaming performance, you’ll want to upgrade this rig as soon as you take it out of the box.
—Claude McIver

Month Reviewed: February 2006

+ Chocolate Kisses: Insanely low price, dual-core CPU, and included 17-inch LCD!

- Marshmallow Bunnies: Outmoded technology and iffy gaming performance.

Verdict: 7


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