Even we have to admit that in this economy, you have to be thankful if you’re not still driving a Pentium 4 rig. Still, for budget buyers today, the choice usually doesn’t get much better than a dual-core machine that takes overnight to encode video and a GPU that can’t push pixels downhill.
Fortunately, it’s no Pentium Dual-Core or Celeron that CyberPower opts to stick you with. Instead, CyberPower reached into its parts bin for Intel’s brand-new, budget badass: the $200 2.66GHz Core i5-750. This chip is like Chuck Norris in a bar fight: It not only wipes the floor with Phenom II X4, it commits a little fratricide against its Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Duo siblings, too.
To this Two-Buck Chuck, CyberPower adds what is definitely not a budget part: Nvidia’s fastest videocard in the form of EVGA’s GeForce GTX 295. At the foundation is Gigabyte’s new GA-P55-UD5 and 4GB of Kingston DDR3/1600. Storage is left to a 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda and a Samsung 22x DVD burner. A Cooler Master V8 cooler and Scout case complete the package.
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme 3200 gives you damn-near the performance of machines that cost two or three times the price.
How does it do? Not bad. Against our 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad/SLI GeForce 8800 GTX machine it’s a slaughter, of course. But even compared to its Core i7 contemporaries, the CyberPower holds its own. It’s a bit slower, but for the money, it’s a solid performer.
Compared to other budget machines that we’ve reviewed in the last few months, the CyberPower gives you nearly the same performance for about half the price. You can thank the fact that CyberPower pushed the 2.66GHz Core i5 up to 3.35GHz. Clock speeds alone don’t always pay off, though. The reliance on a single 1.5TB Barracuda, as fast as it is, can’t compare to SSD or RAID 0 configurations on anything that hits the drives a lot. And what about our Budget Surplus machine that the editors themselves configured and built in our September issue? How does this $1,600 CyberPower do against our $1,400 Dream Machine? First, a mea culpa: We didn’t include the price of the OS for our Budget Surplus rig because Windows 7 wasn’t available yet, so the two are really on cost parity once an OS is included.
While performance comparisons are expected, our Budget Surplus rig’s use of Windows 7 RC makes head-to-head numbers unfair. So we’ll base our criticism squarely on the configuration and declare… a tie. Our Budget Surplus featured a single Radeon HD 4870 X2. This elderly dual-GPU card definitely takes a back seat to the GeForce 295 GTX, but it’s also quite a bit cheaper, too. Both systems featured the same 1.5TB Barracuda drive and similar-speed burners, so storage isn’t the difference.
What it comes down to is where you want to go. The CyberPower is likely a slightly better gaming rig thanks to the faster graphics card, but our Budget Surplus gives you the option of upgrading to a six-core Gulftown next year. Then again, if you’re looking at $1,500 rigs, are you really going to buy a $1,000 CPU early next year? No.
When all is said and done, the Cyber-Power is definitely one of the best budget rigs we’ve seen.
CyberPower Xtreme 3200
Price is Right
Fast and cheap--CyberPower doesn't disappoint.
A low-cost SSD would give this machine the touch it needs.
CyberPower Xtreme 3200
Premiere Pro CS3
Unreal Tournament 3
Our current desktop test bed consists of a quad-core 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 RAM on an EVGA 680 SLI motherboard. We run two EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX cards in SLI mode, Western Digital 150GB Raptor and 500GB Caviar hard drives, LG GGC-H20L, Sound Blaster X-Fi, and PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750 Quad. OS is Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit.