LA based system builder iBUYPOWER has been steadily expanding its visibility in the last few years. The company began as a small, relatively obscure shop in 1999, and has grown into an international distributor able to provide support in a number of languages, including English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese. The company's off-the-shelf computers are available at several national (USA) dealers such as Walmart and Sam's Club.
iBUYPOWER set us up with a portable LAN Warrior II system for this review. This small-footprint system is essentially built around ATI's flagship (for the moment, anyway) HD 5790 video card, which means this system is built for high-performance gaming.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
More compact than the company's line of full-size Paladin gaming desktops, the LAN Warrior promises burly gaming performance in a portable package-perfect for LAN parties and tournaments. The LAN Warrior II is available in three basic platforms; an AMD-based version starting at $749 (USD), an Intel P55 model starting at $799, and this model, built on an Intel X58 platform starting at $999. Our review system incorporates several upgrades and goes for $1999 as of October 2010. For information about the LAN Warrior II's base config, see here.
Our review unit sports an Intel Core i7 930 processor running at the stock 2.8GHz clock speed, mounted on an MSI X58M motherboard. A liquid CPU cooler keeps the processor thermally happy. Six gigs of DDR3-1600 occupy three memory slots, and an ATI Radeon HD 5970 2GB video card provides graphics processing. Though the HD 5970 is a single physical card, it actually has two separate GPUs inside, giving you Crossfire performance on the one card. The system boasts a dual hard drive configuration consisting of a Kingston 64GB SSDNow V2-series SATA II 2.5inch Solid-State Drive that hosts the Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OS and a Hitachi 1.0TB 7200RPM for data storage. It also has an LG 10X Blu-ray drive. The system is housed in NZXT's Vulcan micro-ATX chassis and gets its juice from a Xion 1000W power supply.
Externally, the LAN Warrior II doesn't have quite as many I/O ports as some of the larger machines we've reviewed; but for most users the available ports provide plenty of options. On the top of the machine we have 2xUSB 2.0, eSATA, and headphone & mic jacks. On the rear of the chassis, we get 6xUSB 2.0, eSATA, Firewire, Ethernet, analog multichannel audio, DVI, and mini-HDMI.
Other than the mini-HDMI output (which has some issues-read on for more info), the LAN Warrior II doesn't have any digital audio outs (either coax or S/PDIF); a puzzling oversight given the inclusion of a Blu-ray drive. Should you wish to hook this system up to your home theater, you'll have to run several analog cables to the multichannel input of your home-theater receiver (assuming it has such inputs).
The system also lacks any USB 3.0 ports. While not really a necessity yet, 3.0 ports are something we're seeing on more and more systems that add another layer of future-proofing. Internally, the LAN Warrior II has only two hard drive bays, both of which are occupied, two optical drive bays (one empty), and two 3.5" bays (one of which houses the multi-format card reader).
Expandability options are somewhat limited, but with a compact, portable system such as this, some trade-offs are inevitable. iBUYPOWER does offer the option of a second video card (which in the case of the HD 5970, would be considered CrossfireX (AKA Quadfire), although the customization choices on iBUYPOWER's LAN Warrior II page incorrectly refers to such a configuration as merely being "Crossfire"). iBUYPOWER also includes a six button mouse and a USB keyboard with the system. The company provides a 3-year limited warranty with lifetime phone support.
iBUYPOWER computers are available through several retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, Sam's Club, and Newegg.com. Built-to-order systems may be purchased at www.iBUYPOWER.com. Customization options include case lighting, both NVIDIA and ATI graphics solutions, and numerous brands of RAM, hard drives, and power supplies. Selecting certain high-power GPUs generates a notification telling you the minimum power supply necessary for that card. Other than that, however, the configurator doesn't provide much guidance, so you'll either need to do some research on your own or call one of the company's sales reps for details.
Most systems ship with about an 8-10 day lead-time, although the site has a special section for "Ships in 24 Hours" systems. As configured, the LAN Warrior II goes for $2000 USD as of October 2010-not a bad deal considering the components you get, such as a super high-end video card, Blu-ray drive, and solid-state hard drive.
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