Introduction and Specifications, Configurations, Pricing
We're taking our first look at iBUYPOWER's next-gen gaming desktop. Specifically, we have the iBUYPOWER Paladin Gaming System in the lab to undergo our extensive testing and scrutinization.
The Paladin is a highly-configurable machine based upon the next-generation Haswell microarchitecture. You can select from a range of cases, components, and other configuration options.
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 there are fewer systems to compare to.
Without further ado, let's dive into the meat of this review and see what the Paladin is made of.
Specifications, Configurations and Pricing
We've got a fully loaded version of the iBUYPOWER Paladin in our labs. It's equipped with Intel's latest Haswell-powered i7-4770K. It features a base speed of 3.5GHz and supports TurboBoost up to 3.9GHz. It's a quad-core part and features HyperThreading, meaning it presents eight threads to the operating system.
Cooling is provided by Corsair's H60 all-in-one liquid cooling set up. It makes use of a 120mm radiator combined with a water block and pump combo. The H60 should be more than enough to keep the i7-4770K's temperatures in check.
The 4770K is slotted into a GIGABYTE GA-Z87X-UD4H. This motherboard features support for CrossFire and SLI, making it the perfect base for a gaming PC. Three PCIe-x16 expansion slots allow for up to three video cards to be linked together using SLI or Crossfire. It features onboard USB 3.0 and SATA 3 6Gbps. The motherboard features red accents which are carried through with the RAM.
Two 8GB G.Skill DDR3 DIMMs are slotted into the motherboard's RAM slots, leaving two slots open for easy expansion to 32GB in the future. They feature red heat spreaders, helping to carry the theme of red throughout the entire system core.
Graphics are provided by an AMD Radeon HD 7990, which also features a red and black theme. The AMD Radeon 7990 is a dual-GPU video card meaning that it features two GPU cores on a single PCIe-x16 expansion card. Dual-GPU cards are usually power hungry and loud, so we'll have to keep an eye on how it performs in our different benchmarks. All of these components are housed inside an NZXT Phantom 630.
Windows 8 64-bit is the operating system pre-installed on our Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB. Users can customize the Paladin to come with various 64-bit versions of Windows 7 or Windows 8 Pro 64-bit. Storage is provided by a 7,200RPM 1TB Western Digital Blue drive.
Configuration is endless, thanks in part to the case. iBUYPOWER offers a high degree of customization. Individual components can be selected from different manufacturers for most of the major components in the system.
Packaging, Bundle and System Pictures
We're introducing unboxing videos so that you can see exactly what it is like getting a new PC from iBUYPOWER.
The system was packaged inside the NZXT Phantom 630 case's box. This box was then placed inside of a larger box, which was filled with packing peanuts. The internals of the system were protected with the normal vacuum-formed foam.
The following pictures are of the system:
Left side of the system
Behind the motherboard
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.
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.
Powered by Intel's top-of-the-line next-gen architecture, the Paladin posted up a respectable score of 8.76, putting it just behind the Haswell-powered Digital Storm ODE.
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.
Pretty much in line with what we saw above, the Paladin puts up respectable times in wPrime. The iBUYPOWER Chimera produced a faster time, despite being an older generation processor, because it was overclocked.
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.
* 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.
I can't complain about the Paladin's middle-of-the-road performance. It features the popular Corsair Neutron GTX SSD, meaning it will perform about the same as the other systems that make use of the Neutron GTX.
The same occurs with write speeds. Due to the use of the same SSD as the large portion of our desktops, it falls towards the upper-middle of the pack. It produces a respectable 269.7MB/s sequential write speed.
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
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.
The Paladin's mass storage drive produced an average read speed of 143MB/s, putting it in third place.
In terms of mass storage write performance, the Paladin managed 130.5MB/s average write speed. This puts it in second place, a good place to be at.
Version and / or Patch Used: 220.127.116.11
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.
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 6257 puts the system in third place. With a slight overclock, the system could easily overtake the iBUYPOWER Revolt and possibly the Digital Storm ODE.
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.
The Paladin produced a respectable 32,478 score in Vantage. This puts it in second place behind the iBUYPOWER Chimera.
Diving into the individual scores, the Paladin posted a 29,616 CPU score, which is just behind the top systems. The Paladin's GPU score also fell behind the Chimera, but only by a little.
Version and / or Patch Used: 18.104.22.168
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.
The Paladin produced a 3DMark 11 score of 5,695, putting it behind the iBUYPOWER Chimera.
Individual scores for the CPU and GPU are both also just behind the Chimera's.
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.
The newest 3DMark allows the newer iBUYPOWER Paladin to shine. It produces the top score of any system with a combined score of 5,886, way above the other systems. The individual GPU score of the Paladin blows every other system out of the water.
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.
Further showing the strength of the Paladin, it produced the best average frame rate of any of our tested desktops, beating out the other desktops that performed better in synthetic testing.
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.
Once again, the Paladin takes the top position. But not only did the Paladin blow the other systems out of the water, over the three test runs, the Paladin produced identical average frame rates, which is really impressive. The minimum and maximum frame rates were within one frame of each other over all three tests.
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.
The all-in-one Corsair watercooling system was bested by the Cyclone's custom watercooling solution and the air cooler on the iBUYPOWER Revolt. The CPU achieved a max temperature of 70 degrees Celsius, which provides some room for overclocking.
On the GPU side of things, the Radeon 7990 also performed quite well. It reached a maximum temperature of 81 degrees Celsius, though the secondary GPU chip was much cooler. The GPU cooler was also quite quiet.
The iBUYPOWER Paladin is the quietest-ever system that we've tested. It produced a sound level of just 45 decibels, beating out the other systems by at least four decibels.
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.
At idle, the machine draws 77 watts. This means it's about the same as leaving one incandescent light bulb running. During a full load, system energy draw spikes to 354 watts. Considering it competes with the iBUYPOWER Chimera, it performs quite well for in terms of performance per watt.
Now that we've gone through the hard numbers, let's take a look at some of the more subjective qualities of the system.
iBUYPOWER isn't a newcomer in the system integrators arena and it shows. They have clearly taken what they have learned over the course of many years and put it into the Paladin line of gaming systems.
This experience coalesces with Intel's next-generation Haswell architecture and AMD's top-of-the-line dual-GPU Radeon 7990 to create a powerful gaming system that I would love to take around to LAN parties.
Unfortunately, the system is quite heavy. The NZXT Phantom 630 is a large case which allows for the powerful components that iBUYPOWER stuffed into it.
One of the major factors of why I am so happy with this system is that it is whisper quiet. Even under a heavy load, the system remained quiet and cool, something not all systems do.
I didn't find any drawbacks in the Paladin gaming line of systems. What I did find was great build quality, exceptional performance, and a great all-around machine. Because of the above outlined details, I'm awarding the Paladin our prestigious TweakTown Editor's Choice award.
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