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iBUYPOWER LAN Warrior II X58M Custom Gaming PC - General Hands-On Usage and Performance

Today we take a look at the ultra-portable machine from iBUYPOWER equipped with ATI's flagship Radeon HD 5970 GPU - The LAN Warrior II.

| Gaming Desktop PCs in Computer Systems | Posted: Oct 4, 2010 4:02 pm
TweakTown Rating: 76%Manufacturer: iBUYPOWER

General Hands-On Usage

 

Here's a CPU-Z screenshot showing some detailed specs of what's running under the LAN Warrior II's hood:

 

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And here's a GPU-Z screenshot showing the settings we used for 3D testing:

 

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Press the "Power" button and the LAN Warrior II roars to life; literally. The system's fans are quite loud, both while booting and in general usage. Although the front of the chassis features a fan speed control knob, this only controls the RPMs of the fan inside the CPU cooler's radiator. At all but the very maximum setting, the fan on the top of the chassis drowns out the variable speed fan. Even tucked away under a desk, the system generates a distracting amount of noise.

 

The second control knob on the front of the chassis controls the case lighting, but our review system didn't come with any case lighting, apart from a solitary blue LED on the CPU cooler and pair of small blue lights on the bottom of the chassis in the power supply. The knob had no effect on these lights.

 

The LAN Warrior II utilizes the same solid-state drive (SSD) and 7200RPM traditional drive configuration that we're seeing on more and more desktop computers these days. This combo provides a best-of-both-worlds situation, whereby the user gets the performance boost of running the OS, games, and programs from the speedy (though expensive) SSD while retaining the low-cost and high storage capacity benefits of a traditional spinning drive.

 

Though we're big fans of this configuration, the 64GB capacity of the SSD in the LAN Warrior II is a bit small for our taste. With the OS on there, an avid gamer will run out of space on that drive quite quickly after installing 5-6 modern titles.

 

That said, the SSD does deliver the kind of snappy, quick computing experience for which that particular technology is known. We found the OS fast and responsive during general usage, and programs opened and closed briskly.

 

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The desktop greeted us with a very clean Windows installation devoid of any extraneous icons or bloatware. Perhaps even a little too clean.

 

We usually find a link to the Blu-ray player software (such as CyberLink's PowerDVD) on the desktop, but there wasn't one. We also weren't able to find any such software under the All Programs menu. In fact, it wasn't there at all, which means that as configured, the LAN Warrior II is unable to play Blu-ray movies, even though it has a Blu-ray drive. For DVD playback you'll need to use Windows Media Player.

 

The lack of Blu-ray software caused us a bit of head-scratching. It doesn't make much sense to sell a computer without the necessary software to use a component to its full capability - not to mention on a somewhat pricey upgrade like a Blu-ray drive. Given that the drive isn't a Blu-ray burner, most users would only use the Blu-ray capabilities of the drive for viewing (or ripping) Blu-ray movies. But without playback software, you've basically got an overpriced DVD burner. Puzzling!

 

We ran into another issue when hooking the LAN Warrior II up to an HDMI-equipped monitor. We tried connecting a HDMI cable to the mini-HDMI port using this included dongle:

 

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But the female end actually accepts the large variety of DisplayPort connectors, not HDMI. So, we had to use the included DVI-to-HDMI adapter, which resulted in all kinds of scaling issues at most resolutions.

 

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Another odd thing we noticed. With a liquid CPU cooler upgrade included for free, why doesn't iBUYPOWER overclock the CPU? - Yes, overclocking is an option on the website's configuration menu (two tiers: up to 10% overclocking for $19, or up to 20% overclocking for $49), but iBUYPOWER misses a great opportunity to add some performance value (and some real customization) to the LAN Warrior II by not doing so.

 

Again, we have another instance of the hardware not living up to its full potential. The main practical benefit of a liquid CPU cooler is to dissipate the extra heat generated by an overclocked processor, so including one as a free upgrade without the attendant BIOS adjustments doesn't really provide any benefit to the customer.

 

Boot Time

 

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The LAN Warrior II took 39 seconds to boot, a time we've come to expect from SSD-equipped systems.

 

Power Consumption

 

High-performance computing requires lots of juice. The LAN Warrior II idled at 161 watts and jumped up to 374 watts under load.

 

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Audio & Video Performance

 

We ran the LAN Warrior II through the standard media encoding test regime here at TweakTown, which includes music and video transcoding.

 

All systems are tested "as is", which means operating systems and drivers can and do vary and some come pre-installed with applications that may or may not affect performance.

 

Any anti-virus or security applications are disabled and uninstalled before any testing is started, as they can affect test numbers.

 

For the iTunes encoding test, we took the White Stripes - Under Great White Northern Lights album in MP3 format and encode it to AAC format using iTunes and time the results with a stopwatch.

 

All tests are performed with the system in High Performance mode with minimum CPU set to 100%.

 

The Serenity performed this task in 72 seconds.

 

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For the movie-encoding test, we took the Microsoft Magic of Flight VC-1 WMV (1080p HD) video with six-channel audio and transcode it to XviD (1080p HD) with LAME MP3 two-channel audio and an MP4 container using MediaCoder 0.7.3.4616 32-bit edition.

 

All tests are performed with the system in High Performance mode with minimum CPU set to 100%.

 

The LAN Warrior II completed this encoding task in 93 seconds.

 

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As we mentioned earlier, the review unit we received came with no software for viewing Blu-ray movies, even though the system has a Blu-ray drive. This oversight, along with the fact that the system generates quite bit of noise from its fans, means you'll most likely not want to use the LAN Warrior II as a HTPC.

 

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