GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

GameRigs impressed us at QuakeCon 2008 and Chris formally introduces us to this unique system builder.
| Apr 6, 2009 at 9:03 am CDT
Rating: 89%Manufacturer: GameRigs

Introduction

GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
IntroductionWalking through the convention hall at Quakecon last year, a display with several custom cases caught my eye. At first I thought that the cases were painted; maybe another company was outsourcing Smooth Creations to give their cases a unique flair. Upon further inspection I learned that was not the case at all.GameRigs is a based in Ontario, Canada. I had the chance to interview company representatives one afternoon and this statement summarizes GameRigs; "We care about what is inside of the case, from the CPU to the way the door works. How do we enhance the gaming experience and above all, customer service." In the same interview I learned that GameRigs works with a large amount of partners, both from the hardware and gaming industry. "When ordering from GameRigs you are not just working with us but our partners and their knowledge base as well. Our strength comes from the collection."GameRigs has a unique approach to system building. Their cases are supplied from Lian Li, a design rarely seen in the U.S. outside of GameRigs systems. Instead of using automotive paint like other system builders, GameRigs has brought a fresh, baked on coating that looks like paint, but has the long lasting, nearly indestructible properties of powder coating. Although the cases are what helps GameRigs stand out from the crowd, their goal is to provide a high quality of service, experience and a total gaming platform that goes much deeper than just a surface coat.

Specifications, Pricing and Availability

Specifications, Pricing and AvailabilityProcessor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550Motherboard: EVGA nForce 750 FTWMemory: 4x 1GB DDR2 Crucial 1066, 5-5-5-15Graphics Card: EVGA 9800 GTX +Power Supply: Ultra Products 750 WattHard Disk (Boot): Seagate 7200.10 250GBOptical Disk 1: LiteOn 20x SATA DVD w/ LightscribeChassis: Custom Lian Li w/ Baked on Finish Cooling: Intel Stock CoolerOperating System: Microsoft Windows Vista PremiumThis review has turned into an extended test, so we were able to become well versed with the system and the quality of the build. I can tell you right off the bat that the system is solid. The craftsmanship and longevity of the case finish is all but indestructible! GameRigs offers several systems; their current lineup consists of both notebooks and desktops. Today we will be looking at the Ego, a system that, as configured for our test, lists for 1,823 U.S. Dollars. This price point puts it in the budget category as far as gaming systems are concerned. The base configuration Ego comes in at around 2200 USD, but we chose to downgrade a few options like removing the Blu-ray optical drive in favor of a DVD-RW from Lite-On that features Lightscribe capability. On the other side of the fence, it is possible to configure the Ego system with dual or even triple video cards for SLi. The options given by GameRigs are not as vast as some system builders, but they do cover all of the major options that a majority of users would like to configure. When talking with the company, one item stood out that will please buyers. The company has a turnaround time of a week once the system is ordered. We have all heard stories of systems taking up to a month to ship from a system builder; that is not the way GameRigs likes to do things and certainly not the way a consumer likes to be treated.

Packaging

PackagingIf you spend the money on a product, you want it to arrive in one piece. Countless times products have arrived at my door and the outside package has been destroyed, yet the inner contents were fine. That story can go both ways, though. And I have had my share of surprises when a package shows little damage and the contents inside were shattered. It all comes down to how a product is packaged.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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The system arrived in a white box that first left us wondering what could be inside. The shipping label gave it away, though, as it was labelled coming from GameRigs.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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The system comes packed with all of the bases covered, a nice clearance between the case sides and the edge of the box with high density foam as the main barrier. Tucked on the side is the accessories pack wrapped in a zip lock style bag.

The GameRigs Ego - Exterior

GameRigs Ego- Exterior
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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At a LAN party or sitting on your desk, the Ego really stands out. Our sample system shipped with a Crysis Warhead theme, but the company offers several themes from popular games, or you can opt for an all black system if you prefer.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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On camera the system appears to have a flat look, but in person it is more of a semi-gloss. Not too shiny, but not dull either.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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The baked on finish looks great from a foot or two away; up close there is a washed out effect when looking at some of the finer details. No one is really going to be looking over the system up this close, but as you can see here the semi-gloss finish mixed with the texture doesn't give the same detail we are used to seeing in some of the other painted surfaces. It is important to remember, though, that the baked on finish will last much longer than paint when accidents happen. I went through my own version of a scratch test with the system. Plastic from mice and keyboards did not affect the system. I went through several materials that would be in close proximity to the system in a LAN party situation. A few examples were cans and glass bottles of Bawls, keyboards, mice and PCB from a video card and in all of these tests the finish remained perfect. I was finally able to break the surface by taking the edge of a power supply and forcefully scratching the surface. I have to admit that it took a lot of effort to finally break the surface.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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The back of the system is pretty much like any other. The case is made of steel and is of very high quality. Lian Li had this case on display in their booth at CES, but I was never able to find it listed on their website. I am not totally sure why GameRigs does not list the case as coming from Lian Li, since the label and brand names they have created over the years are associated with the upmost quality. Either way, the case is solid in all aspects.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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Here we see the other side of the case. The image is different than the opposing side which is a plus.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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It doesn't matter who you are, covering up the finish of brushed aluminium would be a difficult choice. Here we see that GameRigs made the right call and left the inside of the door in its original form.The door is just as solid as the rest of the case. The vents on the sides allow the system to breath and the metal insert that runs down the middle allows the system to remain quiet in most situations.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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On top we find a collection of I/O ports that will allow for easier setup at home and at the LAN party.

The GameRigs Ego - Internals

GameRigs Ego- Internals
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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On the inside we see that that everything is wired up and the wires are tucked away as best they can be. The case doesn't offer a lot of places to tuck wires away, but GameRigs was able to get the job done with the options they were provided.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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Being a budget system, the stock Intel cooler was used for the build. I am not really a fan of this practice since the stock Intel cooler has a tendency to spin at high speeds when gaming, causing a lot of acoustic issues. Even with a case like the one used by GameRigs, you can hear the damn fan when it goes into turbo mode. For me, very few things are as annoying as getting into a game and having the CPU or GPU fan kick into a mode that can be heard a room away.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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GameRigs went to extremes with the memory for our sample system. Here we see that the memory has been treated with a custom finish, just like the case.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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On the bottom we see the mighty EVGA 9800 GTX+ and all of the cables attached to the motherboard.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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On the top we found a Lite-On SATA DVD-RW and more cable routing.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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The sole hard drive in the budget build was a 250GB Seagate that is based on an older Maxtor template. The drive is very thin. There is enough space in the case to add four more drives; five in total.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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Both of the side panels use a medium density foam to help reduce the noise level coming from the internal components.

Accessories and Software Configuration

Accessories
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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The system comes with nearly all of the documents that you would find if purchasing the components at the retail level. As you can see, GameRigs even provides a disk for Vista, something that we only see from boutique builders. All of the screws and adapters are included so you can easily add more hard drives or other components to the system. GameRigs has even included the SLI bridge so that you can add an additional video card.Software Configuration 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. Here we take a look at how the system comes from the factory.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
Paint Shop Pro 6 (psp.exe) was added for the purpose of the review due to its extensive screen capture capabilities. Other than my install, the system comes very clean and ready for you to start adding games galore.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
I was a bit surprised to see that GameRigs didn't include any software for viewing DVD's with their system. All of the drivers were installed and the system was ready to go for gaming. The best thing is that there wasn't any BS ware, as I call it, that we see with some of the big box builders.

Benchmark List and Testing Configuration

Benchmark List and Testing ConfigurationSystem 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. System TestsBoot and Shutdown TimesFutureMark PCMark VantageBAPCo SYSmark 2007 PreviewProcessor and Memory TestsEVEREST Cache and MemoryPassmark ScienceMark 2Disk TestsHD TuneEVEREST Average Read AccessPassmark Advanced TestsVideo and Gaming TestsFutureMark 3DMark VantageCrysisPT Boats DemoWorld in ConflictFar Cry 2Compression and Audio TestsQuickpar Create and RepairWinRARMicrosoft Windows Media EncoderRightMark Audio Analyser

Benchmarks - System Tests

Boot Up and Shutdown TimesWindows 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 below.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
We have seen Core i7 systems take up to 88 seconds to boot in the past. The GameRigs Ego boots in half that time. Shut down was also extremely quick. FutureMark PCMark VantagePCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.ORB Link: http://service.futuremark.com/compare?pcmv=124235
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
The system scored well in many of the tests. As a budget system we did not expect to break any records, but as you can see, we should be able to achieve playable frame rates on many of today's hottest games. BAPCo SYSmark 2007 PreviewSYSmark 2007 Preview is the latest version of the premier performance metric that measures and compares PC performance based on real world applications. SYSmark 2007 Preview extends the SYSmark family, which has been widely accepted by IT Managers, PC OEMs, press and analysts worldwide to support Windows Vista™. SYSmark 2007 Preview allows users to directly compare platforms based on Windows Vista™ to those based on Windows XP Professional and Home. The new release also incorporates numerous new features and enhancements such as an improved GUI allowing streamlined start-up and run along with a heads-up-display (HUD) and automated error reporting.SYSmark 2007 Preview is an application-based benchmark that reflects usage patterns of business users in the areas of Video creation, E-learning, 3D Modeling and Office Productivity. This new release includes a robust and refreshed set of applications.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
We received average office productivity scores with the GameRigs Ego. This can be contributed to the average hard drive that comes standard in the system.

Benchmarks - Processor and Memory Capabilities

EVEREST Cache and MemoryEVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems. Furthermore, complete software, operating system and security information makes EVEREST Ultimate Edition a comprehensive system diagnostics tool that offers a total of 100 pages of information about your PC.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
The Core2 Quad processors reign supreme for budget gaming systems like the one we are looking at today. Regardless of Core i7, the Yorkfield core will continue to make a terrific gaming processor for years to come. PassmarkFast, easy to use PC speed testing and benchmarking. PassMark PerformanceTest ™ allows you to objectively benchmark a PC using a variety of different speed tests and compare the results to other computers.The CPU tests cover mathematical operations, compression, encryption, SSE, 3DNow! instructions and more.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
ScienceMark 2ScienceMark 2.0 is a mathematical program designed to stress the memory subsystems of both desktop/workstation and server environments to determine the read/write latency as well as the overall memory bandwidth available between the CPU and the memory controller.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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The CPU mathematical benchmarks could have used a bit of a boost from an overclock. It is a catch-22 play; an overclocked processor would have all but required an aftermarket CPU cooler which would have raised the cost of our budget system. Either way, the system is more than capable for most needs.

Benchmarks - Disk Performance

HD TuneHD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:- Benchmark: measures the performance - Info: shows detailed information- Health: checks the health status by using SMART - Error Scan: scans the surface for errors - Temperature display HD Tune may also work with other storage devices such as memory cards, USB sticks, iPods, etc.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
Here we see the performance of the Seagate drive used as a boot disk. The drive is average at best, but fits with the price point of the system. EVEREST Average Read AccessEVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems. Furthermore, complete software, operating system and security information makes EVEREST Ultimate Edition a comprehensive system diagnostics tool that offers a total of 100 pages of information about your PC.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System

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Passmark Advanced Disk TestsThis Advanced Disk Test, which is part of PerformanceTest, measures the data transfer speed when reading or writing data to one or more disks. The speed that data can be transferred between memory and a hard disk drive is one of a system's most important performance aspects. There are quite a few factors which have a bearing on this speed and the Advanced Disk Drive Test allows the user to vary most of these factors and compare the results.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
Most of the game systems we have looked at have come with a Raptor or VelociRaptor as the boot disk. The GameRigs Ego is the lowest cost system to be reviewed in the last year, so we didn't expect a whole lot of performance from the Seagate drive used in the build. But when it comes to gaming, your disk drive plays such an important role in gaming experience. When ordering your system I would advise you to pay a little more for a faster drive.

Benchmarks - Gaming

FutureMark 3DMark Vantage3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware. 3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.ORB Link (Entry): http://service.futuremark.com/compare?3dmv=500009 ORB Link (Performance):http://service.futuremark.com/compare?3dmv=500040 ORB Link (High): http://service.futuremark.com/compare?3dmv=500057 ORB Link (Extreme):http://service.futuremark.com/compare?3dmv=500101
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
The GameRigs Ego is first and foremost a gaming system and it does a very good job pushing the pixels given the target price point.CrysisFrom the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G. Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE™ 2 offers. The CryENGINE™ 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE™ 2 Sandbox world editing system.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
We tested the Ego in High mode across various resolutions. Crysis is a difficult game to run at high resolutions for anything other than flagship systems. The Ego is able to play the game at lower resolutions, but once eye candy is enabled or you start running the pixel count up, the system starts to struggle.PT BoatsPT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
PT Boats is another DirectX10 benchmark that can wreck havoc on a gaming system. Here we see strong performance at up to 1920x1200.

Benchmarks - Gaming Cont.

World in ConflictWorld in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.The game is set in 1989 where Egonomic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
World in Conflict is playable at up to 1680x1050 on the Ego.Far Cry 2Far Cry 2, the next-generation first-person shooter from Ubisoft, will take you deep into the most beautiful but also most hostile environments in the world: Africa! More than just a visual and technological achievement, Far Cry 2, the true sequel to the award-winning PC game, will provide you with an unprecedented gaming experience.The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
There are several levels of performance that are playable on Far Cry 2 and it pretty much depends on your personal gaming preference; higher resolution or more eye candy.

Benchmarks - Compression, Encoding and Audio

WinRARWinRAR is a powerful archive manager. It can backup your data and reduce the size of email attachments, dEgompress RAR, ZIP and other files downloaded from Internet and create new archives in RAR and ZIP file format.The built-in "Benchmark and Hardware test" feature allows for quick and easy comparison of dEgompression times between systems.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
WinRAR plays heavily on processor performance and how your memory is tuned. Here we see the Ego doing a fairly good job, but there is room for improvement.Quickpar Create and RepairQuickPar is a utility for creating Parity Volumes using the Reed Solomon algorithm. Parity Volumes may be used to verify that a set of files have not been corrupted, or to rEgonstruct damaged files (providing that you have a sufficient quantity of Parity Volumes to match the missing or damaged files).
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
The same can be said about the Quickpar score, an overclocked processor and faster memory would make the system considerably faster.Windows Media Encoder 9In 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.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
WME took 5 minutes and thirty-seven seconds to down sample our two minute and two second 1080P video. RightMark Audio AnalyserRMAA suite is designed for testing quality of analog and digital paths of any audio devices, be it a sound card, an MP3 player, a consumer CD/DVD player or an acoustic set. The results are obtained by playing and rEgording test signals passed through the tested audio path by means of frequency analysis algorithms. A more common mark is also provided for those unfamiliar with measured technical parameters.A new version is the result of two years of development by best experts in digital audio. RMAA 6.0 raises the bar of comfort and functionality for spectrum analyzers. That's why it is a program of choice for enthusiasts, professionals, and audio magazines around the world; and some manufacturers are developing new devices with the mandatory testing of their quality in RMAA. In short, the program at the moment is a de-facto standard providing quick and easy measurement of technical parameters, without the need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on specialized measurement systems.
GameRigs Ego Custom Gaming System
When NVIDIA launched the nForce 1, it was a breakthrough in onboard audio. The 750i does not share the same designation. RightMark gave the audio capabilities of the 750i used by GameRig for their Ego system to be Good.If you'd like to view a more in-depth analysis of the results with individual charts, click here.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsSystems priced in this range generally deliver a much better bang for the buck over their flagship counterparts. We can all agree that the high cost flagship systems are what everyone drools over, but when it comes time to actually lay the loot on the table your money is best spent on technology that is generally a generation old. This is mainly due to the way the software industry works and their need to produce a product that works on a wide variety of computer systems. The GameRigs Ego as configured is a perfect example of how your Dollar can be stretched to deliver really good gaming performance without spending 5K+ on a gaming system. It took quite a while for me to get over seeing GameRigs as a company that makes a really wicked case and seeing them more as a system builder. The case is really where the action is at for those of us that build our own systems. It is possible to purchase GameRigs cases on their own, but the price quoted on their website, 349.99 USD puts a stop to that thought pretty quickly. GameRigs is a fairly new company and their first sample to us showed their inexperience as a system builder. The first thing was on the software side; many users would prefer to have their system shipped with some form of anti-virus software and DVD playback software. However, with that said, neither one of these would be a deal breaker and shouldn't keep you away from buying the system. My last complaint with the Ego as configured has to do with the stock Intel heat sink and fan. For most users the stock Intel cooler is perfect for their daily web surfing and email use, but gamers use the power of the Core2 processor and when going strong the processor tells the motherboard to spin the coolers fan to levels that become annoying to your ears.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

Chris Ramseyer started his career as a LAN Party organizer in Midwest USA. After working with several computer companies he was asked to join the team at The Adrenaline Vault by fellow Midwest LAN Party legend Sean Aikins. After a series of shake ups at AVault, Chris eventually took over as Editor-in-Chief before leaving to start Real World Entertainment. Look for Chris to bring his unique methods of testing Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives as well as RAID controller and NAS boxes to TweakTown as he looks to provide an accurate test bed to make your purchasing decisions easier.

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