Overclocked processor, flagship graphics card, performance case, latest technology; these are characteristics of a computer built from a high-end boutique builder and normally come with a boutique builder price. Would you believe this system costs less than 1600 Dollars?
Interesting things happen when you spend time with a small group of people for a couple of days. It doesn't take long for the normal chit chat to dry up and you get to really know a person, at least as much as they let you know in three days. At Quakecon this past year I spent a great deal of time with a member of CyberPower's technical marketing group. By the time Day 2 was wrapping up and a couple of beverages had passed, the topic of todays gamer popped up. Since we were surrounded by "Real Gamers" and not industry types, we took the opportunity to explore the topic and really observe where the market is at.
To me, and to CyberPower a "Real Gamer" is a person that doesn't get briefed every time a new piece of hardware is ready to be launched and upgrades their system based on a need to gain better performance, not just to add another line to their forum signature. Most reviewers and industry folks have long been removed from this lifestyle and have moved well past the enthusiast stage. At that point it is good to take a step back now and then to see who we are really working for; you, the real gamer.
CyberPower understands the real gamer and has made a name for itself catering to the price vs. performance, bang for the buck crowd. I left Quakecon with a real understanding of what CyberPower has accomplished and what they are trying to do for the collage kid looking to actually play games and not worry about a 3DMark score.
Today we are going to look at one of CyberPower's more popular products for gamers that fit the description of a real gamer. The Gamer Xtreme XE provides enough power to play the latest games, including Crysis, with high detail and high frame rates while keeping the price far below what you would expect to spend on such a performer.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
Enthusiasts will be shocked to learn that not every component in a system has to be a flagship component to achieve premium results. The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme XE, like all of CyberPower's systems is fully customizable in the ordering stage. CyberPower's website is easy to navigate and changing components in a system build is quite easy. Let's have a look at the Gamer Xtreme XE configuration in the default state and now it was shipped to us.
Processor: Intel E8500 overclocked to 3.9
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45T-DS3R
Memory: Kingston KHX12800D3K2 1GBx2
Graphics Card: ATI Radeon 4870X2
Power Supply: Corsair TX650W
Hard Disk: Hitachi HDP725050GLA360 500GB X2 (RAID 0)
Optical Disk 1: Sony BR-5100S 2X Blu-ray Reader
Optical Disk 2: Sony 20x DVD RW
Chassis: Cooler Master 590 Centurion
Cooling: Asetek CPU Liquid Cooling, 4x 120mm Blue LED Fans
Card Reader: 12-in-1 2.5 inch card reader
Input Devices: Logitech EX 110 Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Set
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit loaded, 64-bit disk included)
Additional Accessories: CyberPower T-Shirt, CyberPower Accessory Bag (notebook bag)
Looking at the specifications, I see a couple of places where flagship components were replaced with more than capable products that allow for more bang while keeping some bucks in your bank account.
By using a dual-core processor and overclocking it with the aid of a liquid cooling system, a great deal of value was gained while losing little in the real world performance. Very few games (or software for that matter) can take advantage of today's quad-core processors in a single activity environment. The inclusion of the P45 to the system further lowered the overall cost over an X48 and performance between the two chipsets is nearly equal. For most users 2GB is more than adequate for daily use.
When it comes to components that matter to a gamer, CyberPower led with the Radeon 4870X2, the current king of the FPS mountain. One area where many system builders like to cut corners is with power. CyberPower didn't follow suit and used the Corsair 650 watt PSU. I have seen one of these PSUs power a dual processor workstation running SLi, so the system definitely has power in reserve if needed.
The rest of the components follow the price vs. performance pattern. Nothing stands out as a poor product and to be fair everything is well above average when it comes to quality and performance. A good example is the combination Sony Blu-ray reader paired with a Sony DVD reader/writer and RAID 0 hard drives. It would have been easy to omit the Blu-ray reader or just include a 1TB drive, but a majority of gamers watch movies on their computer and a significant performance gain is achieved by using two drives in RAID.
It is important to remember that while we are dissecting the build list, every system that ships from CyberPower is fully configurable. If the purchaser wishes to have a quad-core processor, the option is just a check box away. The same is true for every component in the system, from the motherboard all the way down to the cooling and case used.
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme came to us with an invoice price of 1599 USD. I was surprised to find that once shipping charges were calculated I couldn't build a system with the exact same components for less money than CyberPower charges for their Gamer Xtreme XE.
The Gamer Xtreme took around two weeks after the order was turned in to its arrival on our doorstep. Most of that time was in the ground shipping where we chose to save a couple of extra Dollars. CyberPower offers upgraded shipping through UPS, but in many cases shipping is free when using the ground option. CyberPower also has a couple of system configurations that ship out the same day the system is ordered.
Packaging is important when shipping components and that doubles when shipping full systems. In the packaging section we will take a look at the level of protection offered against the size of the package. When it comes to shipping, the larger the box the more a package is to ship. Some companies, however, offer free shipping for standard services like ground shipping.
As you can see, the outside package takes a good beating when being ground shipped across the country. Some of the corners were rounded off and we have a couple of puncture marks that went through the first layer of the outer box, but not completely through.
The outer box is 29x24x14.3 inches. Here we see the CyberPower logo on the side of the box. You aren't getting this confused with the used toaster you won on eBay.
Upon opening the package, we are greeted with the invoice that doubles as the build list, a warranty statement and a large, thick piece of foam that protects the system.
Once inside, we found the system inside of another box with a minimum of 1 inch of foam surrounding the inner box. The accessory bag was placed inside of the outer box and had several inches of foam surrounding it.
The inner box is made of the case package and it doubles as an extra line of defence so that the system is not easily damaged.
Here we see the final layer of hard foam that protects the system.
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme XE - Exterior
CyberPower chose the Cooler Master Centurion 590 chassis as their base for the Gamer Xtreme line. As far as I can tell, this was the best possible choice given the market at this time. The 590 offers lots of room for expansion while keeping initial costs low. CyberPower tweaked the chassis a little by adding their logo tastefully to the front.
The GIGABYTE motherboard has lots of onboard options, so there wasn't much for CyberPower to add besides the graphics card. And oh what a card it is.
Here we see the vast resources on the back of the motherboard. Eight USB 2.0 ports dominate the view whilst we also have both connector types of FireWire as well as optical and coaxial S/PDIF, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and analog audio which has enough ins and outs to satisfy any audiophile.
The left side panel offers room to mount 80-120mm fans in two places. The system uses watercooling, so not a lot of air cooling is needed with this system. For that reason, CyberPower left these fan holes blank. It should be noted, however, that the Cooler Master Centurion 590 can house eight 120mm fans.
There isn't much going on with the right side of the case. The 590 does allow a single 80mm case fan to be mounted that blows air across the back side of the motherboard. Once again, the processor is watercooled so CyberPower didn't need to take advantage of this feature.
The front panel has several connectors including two USB and a single FireWire connector. CyberPower chose Sony for optical disk duty. The Gamer Xtreme XE uses a DVD-RW with Lightspeed Technology and a Sony Blu-ray reader. For many users, a Blu-ray drive is like sprinkles on a cake, but for many college students looking to condense their media capabilities with a PC, this is a nice little addition.
CyberPower also included a card reader on their Gamer Xtreme XE. With most of today's phones, cameras and other devices making use of flash technology, a good multi-use card reader is nearly essential.
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme XE - Internals
The Corsair TX650W is a great power supply, but it lacks the ability to unplug unused cables since it is not modular. CyberPower has done a good job bundling the cables to reduce case clutter, but I would have liked to have seen a modular PSU used to further eliminate unused cables.
When it comes to cooling, CyberPower has outfitted the Centurion 590 with three 120mm blue LED fans, one bringing fresh air in and two expelling the warmer air. The CPU is cooled with an Asetek closed loop watercooling unit that dispels processor heat through an additional 120mm fan on the back of the case.
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme XE uses two 500 GB hard drives in RAID 0. Here we see that the cables for these drives are tucked away.
We see the same bundling at the top of the system where the DVD, Blu-ray and card reader is located.
Here we see two of the 120mm fans mounted at the top of the case and the closed loop watercooling unit.
As you can see, CyberPower used Kingston memory for this system. Kingston memory is used by many system builders due to their low return rate. A few years ago I visited one of the largest system builders and was told that nearly all returns were a result in faulty memory. It is nice to see that CyberPower choose memory from a company that has such a low return rate.
The Gamer Xtreme XE is obviously a system build for gamers and the ATI Radeon 4870 X2is the fastest gaming graphics card on the market. When it comes to price vs. performance, bang for the buck, the 4870 X2isn't too bad in this area either, even though it is the fastest card on the market.
The back side of the case hides many of the cables from the Corsair power supply. Out of sight, out of mind; but when you need extra connectors, they are there to make component expansion possible.
Processes use system resources and can slow down a computer system. Most processes come from the operating system, but many come from the software installed.
Paint Shop Pro 6 was added for the purpose of the review due to its extensive screen capture capabilities.
Here we see the process list for the CyberPower Gamer Xtreme XE.
Here we see the installed software list. As you can see, the CyberPower system comes fairly bare. However, since this is a gaming system, software such as an Office suite is better left for the user to purchase and install, if needed.
The C:\Program Files list shows that the CyberPower Gamer Xtreme XE isn't cluttered with junkware, which some of the other manufacturers like to put on their full systems.
Benchmarks List and Testing Configuration
Benchmark List and Testing Configuration
System tests are conducted with the system configured as it arrived to our testing lab. Drivers will only be updated if needed for a particular test, such as a new game added to the program test list that requires a special set of drivers, in which case the pre-installed drivers will be removed. Any driver change will be noted when this occurs.
- Boot and Shutdown Times
- FutureMark PCMark Vantage
- BAPCo SYSmark 2007 Preview
Processor and Memory Tests
- Everest Cache and Memory
- ScienceMark 2
- HD Tune
- Everest Average Read Access
- Passmark Advanced Tests
Video and Gaming Tests
- FutureMark 3DMark Vantage
- PT Boat Demo
- World in Conflict
- CINEBENCH R10
Compression and Audio Tests
- Quickpar Create and Repair
- Microsoft Windows Media Encoder
- RightMark Audio Analyser
Benchmarks - System Tests
Boot Up and Shutdown Times
Windows Vista makes testing the start up and shut down time difficult, since the operating system, from the outside seems random. For this test I turned the system on and shut it down three times, measuring the time it took for each test. The average times are then presented, as above.
FutureMark PCMark Vantage
ORB Link: http://service.futuremark.com/compare?pcmv=105471
BAPCo SYSmark 2007 Preview
Our two full system tests show that the Gamer Xtreme XE is very quick in gaming and every other category.
Benchmarks - Processor and Memory Capabilities
Everest Cache and Memory
The Intel Core 2 Duo paired with Kingston DDR3 memory is the heart of the system and is very quick to respond to commands.
Benchmarks - Disk Performance
Everest Average Read Access
Passmark Advanced Disk Tests
CyberPower chose two 500GB drives in RAID 0 and it gives us a nice performance bump over a single 1TB drive. Access times were raised a small amount, but the system still feels "snappy" when working with files and jumping around menus.
Benchmarks - Video and Gaming
FutureMark 3DMark Vantage
ORB Link (Entry):
ORB Link (Performance):
ORB Link (High):
ORB Link (Extreme):
World in Conflict
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme XE is obviously a gaming system built from the ground up and lives up to its name. As you can see, all gaming benchmarks, regardless of resolution perform at high frames per second.
Benchmarks - Compression, Encoding and Audio
Quickpar Create and Repair
Windows Media Encoder 9
In this test we take a 2 minute 1080p video and encode it into a 720p video. Scoring is determined by the amount of time taken for the task to complete. Lower is better.
The video used for this encoding test is The Magic of Flight (IMAX) which is readily available for download on Microsoft's HD Content Showcase page.
The overclocked Core 2 Duo with 6MB of cache does a really good job with encoding and compression. The numbers produced in these tests are some of highest I have seen from a system builder to date.
RightMark Audio Analyser
The above breakdown from the results displayed in RightMark speaks for itself. The lowest rating comes from the THD to Noise ratio, yet it still scored Good. You may notice a small amount of distortion when you run the audio to a home amplifier with very good home audio or studio speakers running at ear blistering levels, but other than that the onboard audio from the GIGABYTE motherboard is considered very good to excellent.
If you'd like to view a more in-depth analysis of the results with individual charts, click here.
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme XE is first and foremost built for gaming. But with this much power, other users may want to take advantage of its full capabilities. Limiting the system to "just a gaming computer" would be like saying a tank is just used for transportation.
The overclocked processor coupled with Asetek's Low Cost Liquid Cooling (LCLC) would have been a good base to start any system off with. In reality I think CyberPower started off with the Radeon 4870 X2 and everything else just fell into place. Either way, there is no denying that both the Core 2 Duo and 4870 X2 complement each other perfectly. Add in the fact that CyberPower took advantage of Asetek's really well designed cooler which was able to overclock the processor to such a high level and it really makes this a unique system that we normally see from boutique systems costing quite a bit more.
To put it in perspective, at Computex Thermaltake showed their new Xpressar phase change system with an Intel 8400 overclocked to the same GHz as the Gamer Xtreme XE. While pricing has yet to be disclosed on the Xpressar, I think it is safe to say it costs considerably more than what CyperPower has put together for the Gamer Xtreme XE.
After looking around and doing some comparative shopping, I have yet to find a system from another builder that can achieve the same level of performance at the same price point. To be fair, the closest system so far has cost 2000 USD, a full 400 Dollars more than the Gamer Xtreme XE and it didn't even come with a wireless mouse and keyboard. That said, once you calculate shipping costs on the items needed to build your own one off Gamer Xtreme XE, you would spend more in parts plus shipping than just ordering the pre-built system from CyberPower.
For me personally, I never truly understood the enthusiast OEM relationship unit until this system arrived here at the TweakTown Lab. Only a company that really understands the enthusiast and gaming mentality could pull off what CyberPower has done with the Gamer Xtreme XE. To put it simply, my next gaming system will come from CyberPower since they are able to put a system together just as well as I can, while also doing it at a lower cost and saving me the hassle of having to deal with the late nights testing and tuning it for higher performance.
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