Primordial Medusa X79: Can this four-way Titan box dethrone Dream Machine?
With Dream Machine 2013 behind us (September 2013), we now move into the phase where vendors line up to try to kick it off the top of the heap.
With the Medusa X79, Primordial certainly tries its damnedest. Some will peep the jet-black Corsair 900D, four-way Titan SLI, and Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard and think Primordial tried to clone the Dream Machine’s internals.
This big rig features an odd storage subsystem configuration.
We can assure you that it’s not true. In fact, we know Medusa X79 was already making the media rounds at the time that Dream Machine was still being assembled. What’s more, there are some huge differences between the two.
The Dream Machine used Intel’s Core i7-3970X clocked up to 5GHz, while Primordial chose the economical Core i7-3930K chip overclocked to 4.5GHz. DM’s GPUs were off-the-shelf jobbies from EVGA, while the Titans in the Medusa X79 have been retrofitted with Heatkiller parts.
There’s also a big difference in storage subsystems and main memory—choices we’re not sure we agree with. For RAM, Primordial went with 16GB of Corsair Platinum DDR3/1866. Call us crazy, but in this class of machine, we’d expect more RAM, even if the vast majority of folks don’t actually need it. We’re also not down with the storage options. The Medusa X79 features two 120GB Intel 520 SSDs in RAID 0 and a 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black drive. Again, we think that’s an odd choice given this machine’s caliber—and price. We’ve seen this type of storage config a couple of times now, with the CyberPower PC in our September issue and the Geekbox machine in February. We rarely ding vendors severely for such choices, as it’s something the typical enthusiast changes at order—but come on, vendors, that hard drive shortage of ought-11 is way over.
The real question is whether the Medusa X79 successfully dethrones the Dream Machine. The short answer is no. With its CPU hanging back at 4.5GHz, the Medusa X79 fell short of the Dream Machine by about 10 percent in every CPU-related test. In gaming, we saw things a bit closer. In Batman: Arkham City the two boxes were dead even, but with the more intense 3DMark 11, Dream Machine had the edge by a hefty 7 percent margin. But let’s not kid ourselves: The Medusa X79 is not a slow machine. We can tell you that with four Titan cards, its fully capable of 4K-resolution gaming. It easily slaughters our zero-point system, too.
One area where Medusa had the Dream Machine dead to rights was in power consumption. While we could barely scrape up enough amps to run DM2013 without crashing neighboring machines in corporate accounting, the Medusa X79 practically sips power. Well, by sip, we mean 1,300 watts on heavy loads—DM2013 pushed 1,600 watts.
The real problem for some will be the Medusa X79’s price. While it’s actually quite a bit “cheaper” than the Dream Machine’s $12,785 (sans 4K monitor), it’s still pushing $9,500. More than half of the price is easily tied up in the custom-cooled Titan setup and other sundry custom liquid components, but it just feels as though the box is imbalanced. In this day and age, balance doesn’t just mean getting the GPU and CPU right and calling it quits; there are other parts too, such as storage. That inequity combined with the relatively “low” overclock of 4.5GHz, means Dream Machine is safe for now.
Our current desktop test bed consists of a hexa-core 3.2GHz Core i7-3930K 3.8GHz, 8GB of Corsair DDR3/1600, on an Asus Sabertooth X79 motherboard. We are running a GeForce GTX 690, an OCZ Vertex 3 SSD, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional.
Intel Core i7-3630K @4.5GHz
Asus Rampage IV
16GB Corsair DDR3/1866
4x EVGA Titans in SLI, with Heatkiller water blocks and backplates
2x 120GB Intel 520 SSD in RAID 0, 1TB WD Caviar Black 7,200rpm