EVEN HIGH-END gaming rigs, believe it or not, can get pretty rote. In the parlance of our times, it’s what’s called a “first-world problem.” It’s a bit like being bored because you want to drive something other than your Ferrari or Lamborghini.
The solution to this problem in PC terms is CyberPower’s Fang III Black Mamba box, which is anything but ordinary. The machine is literally a high-end gaming box with a second PC grafted on top of it. This is done using an Azza Fusion 4000 case that’s big enough to take an XL-ATX board down below and a Mini-ITX board up top. Down below, CyberPower installs an Intel Core i7-3960X, 16GB of DDR3, an Asus Rampage IV Extreme board, and two overclocked EVGA GTX 590 Classified Hydro Copper cards. All this is cooled with a custom cooling solution, to boot. Storage is handled with a 2GB HDD and a pair of 120GB OCZ Agility 3 drives in RAID 0. RAIDed SSDs aren’t new, but the case’s support for four SSDs in quick-release trays, is, um, très cool.
CyberPower takes advantage of the cooling to overclock both the CPU and the GPUs. The CPU goes from its stock speed of 3.3GHz to a nice 4.5GHz, and the Hydro Copper cards are also clocked up enough to give the dual 590s a healthy speed advantage.
In our app benchmarks, the Fang III represents well against the super PCs we’ve tested lately, but it doesn’t set any records. In a nutshell, the Fang III is fast, but there are faster (and more expensive) machines out there. It’s in gaming benchmarks where the Fang III brings the pain. Amazingly, the machine steals a record in STALKER: CoP set way back in 2010 by a dual-CPU AVADirect box with quad GTX 580 cards. And the Fang III just barely misses breaking the record in our Far Cry 2 test. What about something more graphically strenuous? In 3DMark 11, the Fang III’s score of X6,449 is bested by only the dual Asus Mars II–equipped Maingear PC from our February 2012 issue, which puts out an insane X7,785. In Heaven, the Maingear rig achieved 69fps while the Fang III sits with the silver at a very impressive 59fps. Mind you, that Maingear rig cost nearly $9,000. CyberPower gives you a damn-respectable second place for just $4,995 for the base unit and another $700 for the mini-me box on top. (CyberPower will leave the top empty if you want to fill it yourself.)
CyberPower equips the top rig with a liquid-cooled Core i3-2120, 8GB of RAM, a 2TB HDD, and Windows Home Server. There’s no GPU, but the 300-watt brick should be able to run a decent midrange card if you really wanted to. The top rig isn’t just bolted on top, either; both sections actually share space.
An Azza Fusion 4000 enclosure accommodates a gaming system below and a more modest WHS box up top.
The real question is whether consumers are looking for such a beast. Call us crazy, but we can see the top rig being handy. Keep your gaming rig powered down for all but the most strenuous gaming and content creation tasks, but do most of your browsing and torrenting from the dead-silent top machine. If the lower machine has a failure, the top one is always at the ready. We’d probably opt for Windows 7 on the top instead of Windows Home Server 2011, but we can see the appeal of having a very fast WHS11 box up top, too.
Regardless of the PC on your roof, the gaming machine is quite fast—and quite affordable, when you consider that the GPUs and CPU are damn near $3,000 alone.
CyberPower Fang III Black Mamba
Fast; reasonably priced for the hardware you get; truly unique
Way too tall to fit under any desk other than the Jolly Green Giant’s.
Our current desktop test bed consists of a quad-core 2.66GHz Core i7-920 overclocked to 3.5GHz, 6GB of Corsair DDR3/1333 overclocked to 1,750MHz, on a Gigabyte X58 motherboard. We are running an ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics card, a 160GB Intel X25-M SSD, and the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate.