iBUYPOWER Revolt SFF Desktop Gaming PC Review

iBUYPOWER Revolt SFF Desktop Gaming PC Review

We take a look at iBUYPOWER's revolutionary Revolt small form-factor gaming desktop PC. Worth buying? Read on.

@tracehagan
Published Thu, May 2 2013 1:46 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 89%Manufacturer: iBUYPOWER

Introduction

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Today, we will be looking at a second offering from iBUYPOWER. We have in the lab the iBUYPOWER Revolt, a small form-factor gaming desktop that has been engineered and built from the ground up by the engineers at iBUYPOWER.

The iBUYPOWER Revolt was first introduced to the world earlier this year at CES 2013. It features a custom motherboard inside a custom plastic case. Of course, we can't have a custom case without some cool lighting, and iBUYPOWER doesn't let us down in this regard, either.

Please note that PCMark 7 has been updated to the latest version, causing previous benchmark results to not be comparable. We have archived these results. Unfortunately, this means that we have no comparison systems for the PCMark 7 benchmark during this review.

Without further ado, let's dive into the meat of this review and see what the Revolt is made of - literally.

Specifications, Configurations, Pricing

Specifications, Configurations and Pricing

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The heart of the iBUYPOWER Revolt comes in the form of an Intel CPU. The i7-3770K is the fastest quad-core Ivy Bridge part that Intel has on the market. It features TurboBoost, allowing it to dynamically overclock itself to provide better single-thread performance, as well as HyperThreading, which presents the operating system with 8 threads.

The i7-3770K is cooled by an NZXT Kraken X40 liquid cooling system, which keeps the processor running nice and cool, even under heavily loads. Theoretically, this liquid cooling system should also keep noise production to a minimum. Our cooling editor Chad Sebring reviewed the X40 recently, and it scored very well.

The 3770K is slotted into a custom-designed Z77 motherboard, which reduces reparability of the system. It does appear to be of the mini-ITX form factor, however. It also means that the motherboard could play a role in just how well the Revolt performs.

The Revolt is equipped with 8GB of RAM, which follows my general rule-of-thumb of 1GB per thread. The RAM is configured with two 4GB sticks, meaning to upgrade to a higher amount, you would have to remove both for best performance.

Graphics are provided by an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670. The NVIDIA GTX 670 is quite a capable video card, though the Revolt can be upgraded to an NVIDIA GTX TITAN, one of the fastest video cards currently on the market.

Windows 8 64-bit is the operating system pre-installed on our system. Users can customize the Revolt to come with various 64-bit versions of Windows 7 or Windows 8 Pro 64-bit.

The cost for a system like this is $1,399, give or take a few dollars for sales and other discounts.

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Configuration is somewhat limited due to the Revolt's small size. During purchase, users can pick from several different CPUs, video cards, storage options and operating systems.

Packaging, Bundle and System Pictures

Packaging

The Revolt was shipped to me securely packed inside of two different boxes, both of which contained foam. The outside box was a nondescript iBUYPOWER box, whilst the internal box was the one pictured below.

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The system itself didn't have any special protections aside from the foam keeping it safe from the various bumps and bangs. The Revolt appears to be a well-packed system and should make it through most bumpy journeys.

System Pictures

The following pictures are of the system:

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Left side of the system

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Right side of the system

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Tightly packed system components

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Rear panel

Testing Methodology

Benchmarks and Testing Methodology

-CPU Tests

Cinebench R11.5 starts off our tests. The multi-threaded rendering test is ran and the score reported. wPrime is ran for both the 32M calculation and 1024M calculation with the number of threads available on the system.

-Storage Tests

CrystalDiskMark is run to put a number on how well the system hard disk drive / SSD runs. It measures five different metrics, of which higher is better for all. The higher the numbers, the snappier the operating system will feel, especially if the "4K" number is high, as most operating system files are small files.

HD Tune is run on any storage drives installed in the system. Maximum, minimum and average read and write speeds are reported in the charts.

- System Tests

PCMark 7 is run to get an overall idea of how the system performs as a whole. It tests all aspects of the PC and puts a score on how well it performs overall. In this test, a low scoring area can affect the overall score, so it's important to read the analysis. A higher score is better.

- Gaming Tests

3DMark Vantage is ran on the Extreme preset to get a feel for how the computer would manage gaming. The CPU, GPU and combined scores are reported. A higher overall score is the best and a high GPU or CPU score shows particular prowess with tasks that use that part of the computer.

3DMark 11 is run on the Extreme preset and the Physics, GPU and combined scores are reported. This test is only run if the system supports DirectX 11. A higher overall score is the target, though a high individual result shows prowess in a particular area.

3DMark- Fire Strike Extreme Test is run on the system to measure DirectX 11 performance and CPU performance. 3DMark is the latest version of Futuremark's widely used gaming benchmarking software. The combined, GPU, and Physics scores are all reported in the charts.

Battlefield 3 is run at 1920 x 1080 resolution with the graphics preset set to "Ultra." The test is ran three times due to higher variability than the other benchmarks. FRAPS is used to record 60 seconds worth of FPS data and recording starts when the character first picks up the gun at the start of the campaign and usually finishes shortly after the train explosion. The game is played in a similar manner each time.

Crysis 3 is run at 1920 x 1080 resolution with the graphics specifications set to "Very High." No anti-aliasing is used. See picture on actual test page to see full details. The test is ran three times due to higher variability than the other benchmarks. FRAPS is used to record 60 seconds worth of FPS data and recording starts at the start of the campaign and finishes most of the way up the tower. The game is played in a similar manner each time.

-Heat, Noise, and Power Consumption

The system is fully loaded using Furmark and Prime 95. Component temperatures are recorded using CoreTemp and Furmark. Noise is recorded in front of the system, midway up, six inches from the machine using a decibel reader.

Idle power consumption is system consumption while sitting at the desktop, as recorded by a Kill-a-watt style meter. Loaded consumption is recorded during the load of Prime 95 and Furmark using the same meter.

CPU Tests

Cinebench 11.5

Version and / or Patch Used: R11.5 build CB25720DEMO

Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net

Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/products/cinebench/overview.html

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

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Even though all three systems feature a Core i7-3770, the iBUYPOWER Revolt falls behind the other two systems. This could be due to clock speed differences, if the Bolt and Chimera were overclocked, or due to the custom motherboard. Either way, the Revolt scores nearly a whole point less than the other systems.

wPrime

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.09

Developer Homepage: http://www.wprime.net/

Product Homepage: http://www.wprime.net/

wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.

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wPrime continues the trend seen above, with the Revolt being significantly slower than the other desktops we've had through our lab. The Revolt is a full second slower than the Chimera in the 32M test and 27 seconds slower in the 1024M test.

HDD Tests

CrystalDiskMark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0 Technical Preview

Developer Homepage: http://www.crystalmark.info

Product Homepage: http://crystalmark.info/software/CrystalDiskMark/index-e.html

Download here: http://crystaldew.info/category/software/crystaldiskmark

CrystalDiskMark is a disk benchmark software that allows us to benchmark 4K and 4K queue depths with accuracy.

Key Features:-

* Sequential reads/writes

* Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes

* Text copy

* Change dialog design

* internationalization (i18n)

Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 Technical Preview was used for these tests since it offers the ability to measure native command queuing at 4 and 32.

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The iBUYPOWER Revolt is competitive with the Digital Storm Bolt thanks to a speedy Intel SSD. At just 120GB, however, games will likely need to be installed on the 1TB 7,200RPM drive. This means they'll lose out on any performance increases from an SSD.

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Write speeds for the Revolt's Intel SSD were not nearly as impressive as the read speeds. The performance seen in sequential write isn't much more than that of a modern 7,200RPM spinning HDD.

HDTune

Version and / or Patch Used: 5.00

Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

HD 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 Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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The Revolt's mass storage drive produced a speedy average read speed of 145.4MB/s, easily beating out the Bolt, it's closest competitor.

Due to some configuration bugs in our review unit, we were unable to run write speed tests on the drive.

System Tests

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.4.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com/benchmarks/

PCMark 7 is a great utility for testing a PC's all-around capabilities. It tests all aspects of the computer, from graphics performance to hard disk performance and attempts to put a score on it, which is not an easy task.

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Due to updating PCMark 7 to its latest version, we've had to archive our previous results as they are incompatible with the new version.

A PCMark7 score of 6305 is respectable and shows this SFF gaming machine can be used for everyday tasks.

Gaming Tests

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmarkvantage

3DMark Vantage tests both processor and graphics performance and is a good indication of how systems compare. The results are generally more repeatable and consistent than other forms of benchmarking. Vantage uses DirectX 10 and can handle multi-core CPUs.

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Here again we can see that the Revolt's CPU just doesn't perform quite as well as the other system's we've reviewed. It only achieves a CPU score of 26,088, which is decent, but not quite as great as the other systems' 29,000+.

Its GPU is certainly more powerful than the Bolt's, but can't compete with the dual-680s of the Chimera. Overall, the Revolt puts up a respectable score of 18,434.

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.3.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Once again, the Revolt's CPU is shown to be slower than that of the other two systems in our charts, receiving a score of just 8,676 as opposed to the Bolt's 9,983. Overall, the Revolt gained a score of 3,172, beating that of the Bolt, but being out-muscled by the Chimera's dual-680s.

3DMark - Fire Strike Extreme

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/3dmark

Fire Strike is a new test that is designed for powerful gaming desktops. We have checked the "Extreme" test option to make it that much more torturing on the system. Overall, CPU, and GPU scores are reported.

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We continue to see that the Revolt's CPU is somehow hampered, either by clock speed or motherboard. It scores over 1,000 less than the Bolt. Overall, though, the Revolt pulls out the win in the SFF death match thanks to its more powerful GTX 670.

Battlefield 3

Developer Homepage: http://www.dice.se/

Product Homepage: http://www.battlefield.com/battlefield3

Battlefield 3 is one of the most requested benchmarks, so we have finally added it. Frame rates are recorded for 60 seconds starting in the first part of campaign when the character picks up the gun and is played through until just after the train explodes. The game is played three times in that manner with the results being averaged together and reported.

Settings are 1920x1080 for the resolution with the "Graphics Quality" set to Ultra.

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Here you can see where the GTX 670 really starts to shine and set this system apart from the Bolt previously reviewed. It still doesn't stand a chance against the Chimera, which has over twice the GPU capabilities, but in the SFF arena, the Revolt really starts to shine.

Crysis 3

Developer Homepage: http://crytek.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.crysis.com/us/crysis-3

Crysis 3 is run at 1920 x 1080 resolution with the graphics specifications set to "Very High." No anti-aliasing is used. See picture above for full details. The test is ran three times due to higher variability than the other benchmarks. FRAPS is used to record 60 seconds worth of FPS data and recording starts at the start of the campaign and finishes most of the way up the tower. The game is played in a similar manner each time.

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The Revolt continues to prove itself a capable gaming machine, despite its rather small stature. The Revolt managed to keep an average frame rate of 40 FPS in our Crysis 3 benchmark, which is not too bad.

Temperatures, Noise, and Power Consumption

Temperatures, Cooling, Noise

The system is fully loaded using Furmark and Prime 95, similar to our laptop testing. The sound recordings are made in front of the machine, about 6 inches from the center of the tower. Temperatures are reported as recorded by CoreTemp and Furmark.

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The iBUYPOWER Revolt does an excellent job of keeping the i7-3770K CPU cool. As you can see in the chart above, it does the best job out of any of the systems we have tested, though the Chimera did have an overclock running on the CPU. 61 degrees Celsius provides plenty of room for future overclocking.

On the GPU side of things, the GTX 670 was the hottest running GPU that we have tested, and I do blame the small case for that. It reached a maximum temperature of 86 degrees Celsius, still within GPU temperature limits.

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There is one massive downside to the iBUYPOWER Revolt, and that's the noise output. Under full load, the Revolt output a sound level of 56 decibels. Unfortunately for users, even at idle, the Revolt tends to be a bit on the loud side. And it's not just air "whooshing"; there is also a distinctive whine to it that I found quite annoying.

Power Consumption

Power consumption is measured while the system is loaded for the temperature test and while sitting idle at the desktop. Measurement is taken at the wall, so it includes everything running in the system, not including the monitor.

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At idle, the machine draws 65 watts. This means it's about the same as leaving one incandescent light bulbs running. During a full load, system energy draw spikes to 319 watts.

Final Thoughts

As we come to a conclusion on this review, I've decided one thing: I really like this system. Yes, there are some drawbacks to having a small form-factor PC, but there are also some huge advantages. The Revolt lets you have a full-featured gaming PC without the full-featured gaming PC size.

The case, which is custom-designed by iBUYPOWER, is extremely good looking. It features rubber feet on the bottom and side so the system can be oriented like a normal tower or like some Dells.

There are a few issues with the case construction. For one, I had trouble getting the side panel to close and it wasn't obvious what the issue was. After several attempts, I did finally manage to get it close. Furthermore, the custom lighting in certain locations didn't look quite as good as it could have. I could see individual LEDs behind the exterior and would have preferred to just see the light glowing out.

The Revolt also produced a bit more noise than the competition. If it had been just wind noise, it would have been fine. My issue was the distinctive whine that was associated with the noise, even when the system was at idle.

The system also lacks upgradability due to its small size, though this isn't really a con specific to the Revolt; this is more of an argument against small form-factor PCs in general. Additionally, the way the Revolt is structured inside makes it really hard to access the motherboard to upgrade or replace the RAM.

The price for a system like I reviewed here today is roughly $1,399. It comes with free lifetime phone support, which is certainly a plus. It also comes with the nifty custom-designed case, which isn't available anywhere else.

In the end, you'll want to deal with a company that offers the full package. Not only do you need help when ordering and configuring a machine, you'll want to buy a system from a company that stands behind the product they sell. I can certainly recommend the iBUYPOWER Revolt, provided you don't mind a little bit of noise and some of the other cons discussed above. The machine is certainly one I would be willing to take to LAN parties and show off.

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Trace is a starving college student studying Computer Science. He has a love of the English language and an addiction for new technology and speculation. When he's not writing, studying, or going to class, he can be found on the soccer pitch, both playing and coaching, or on the mountain snowboarding.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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