Syber Vapor Xtreme PC Aims to Displace Consoles – Benchmark & Review

By Published December 05, 2014 at 7:27 pm
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Additional Info

syber-vap-rev1

The advent of affordable, low TDP, high-performance PC hardware has enabled configuration of living room gaming PCs that act as consoles once did. The difference, of course, is more versatile functionality and greater immediate upgrade potential, ensuring gaming at the highest settings possible while retaining DVR-replacement options. There's no argument that traditional gaming consoles – like the Xbox and PS4 – have their place in this industry, but diehard PC enthusiasts finally have affordable Small Form Factor (SFF) HTPC configurations.

We recently explored the possibility of a $665 DIY HTPC with moderate graphics performance, effectively serving as a budget console replacement with Netflix / streaming options. The entire system measured in at just 20.9” x 10.2” x 14.5” – easily hidden beneath the TV.

Today's review looks at a significantly more powerful option, featuring the GTX 980 (which we've called “the best video card available”) and an i7-4790K CPU. The “Vapor Xtreme” is CyberPower's latest venture, branded independently as a “Syber” PC, similar to Kingston's branding separation with its HyperX division.

CyberPower is a long-time system integrator, one of the many companies responsible for BTO (built-to-order) gaming PCs. CyberPower generally competes with iBUYPOWER, Digital Storm, Origin, and similar SIs. The group spun-off its new “Syber” brand earlier this year, explicitly targeting the living room and more mainstream market segments. Somewhat shockingly, we found the Syber Vapor Xtreme to be highly affordable when compared to the DIY alternative using identical parts – a bit of a rarity among SIs in years past.

System Integrators have a mixed reputation among the PC building community. Even today, it's common to see high-end pre-built systems with awkward parts selections – often forced by MDF – or significantly worse purchasing value against a DIY alternative. When we spec'd out the Vapor Xtreme “by hand,” as you'll see in the table below, the cost was just $100 more than the identically-specified DIY alternative. It's easy to scoff at a pre-built, but the fact of the matter is that not everyone has the time, capacity, confidence, or ability to build their own computer. The enthusiast crowd enjoys PC building, but sometimes it's nice to have peace-of-mind that a system will be supported when things go wrong. Not everyone wants what the majority of our readers seek in the DIY process – keep this in mind for the Syber review.

Regardless, a pre-built system isn't for everyone, so we'll be reviewing the Vapor Xtreme from the standpoint of those who'd rather buy something pre-assembled. At +$100 over base DIY cost, the price is good – we've just got to see if the performance matches and the parts selection is logical.

This review determines whether the $1500 Syber Vapor Xtreme is “worth it,” providing framerate performance benchmarks on various titles (ACU, Far Cry 4, Battlefield) and thermal analysis.

Syber Vapor Xtreme Hands-On: Build Quality, FPS, & Small Form Factor

Syber Vapor Lineup Specifications: Vapor A, I, & Xtreme

  Syber Vapor Xtreme Syber Vapor I Syber Vapor A
Price $1500 $700 $600
CPU Intel® Core i7 4.0 GHz Intel® Core i3 3.5 Ghz AMD Athlon X4 840 3.1 GHz
CPU Type LGA 1150 LGA 1150 FM2+
Motherboard Intel Z97 Chipset Intel H81 Chipset AMD A78 Chipset
Storage 1TB SATA III HDD 1TB SATA III HDD 500GB SATA III HDD
Memory 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz 4GB DDR3 1600 MHz
GPU Nvidia GTX 980 4GB DDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750Ti 2GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon R9 270 2GB GDDR5
Controller Logitech F710 Wireless Controller Logitech F710 Wireless Controller Logitech F710 Wireless Controller
Controller Specs 2 Analog Sticks
2 Analog Triggers
12 Digital Buttons
2 Analog Sticks
2 Analog Triggers
12 Digital Buttons
2 Analog Sticks
2 Analog Triggers
12 Digital Buttons
Keyboard Mini QWERTY Keyboard + Touch Pad Mini QWERTY Keyboard + Touch Pad Mini QWERTY Keyboard + Touch Pad
Front I/O Ports 1X USB 3.0
2X USB 2.0
Audio, Mic
2X USB 2.0
Audio, Mic
1X USB 3.0
2X USB 2.0
Audio, Mic
Rear I/O Ports 2X USB 3.0
2X USB 2.0
2X USB 3.0
4X USB 2.0
2X USB 3.0
4X USB 2.0
Display Output HDMI 4.1
DVI-D Port
HDMI 4.1
DVI-D Port
HDMI 4.1
DVI-D Port
Audio Output Headphone/Audio Out
SPDIF HD Audio
Headphone/Audio Out
SPDIF HD Audio
Headphone/Audio Out
SPDIF HD Audio
WiFi 802.11ac/g/n 802.11ac/g/n 802.11ac/g/n
Bluetooth N/A N/A 4.0
Lan Networking 10/100/1000GB RJ-45 10/100/1000GB RJ-45 10/100/1000GB RJ-45
Power 450 Watts Power Supply 250 Watts Power Supply 250 Watts Power Supply
Operating System Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1
Installed Software Valve Steam Client Valve Steam Client Valve Steam Client
Dimensions 351mm x 345mm x 98.5mm (W x D x H) 351mm x 345mm x 98.5mm (W x D x H) 351mm x 345mm x 98.5mm (W x D x H)
Weight 36 lbs 36 lbs 36 lbs

CyberPower Syber Vapor PC vs. Do It Yourself PC Build Pricing

  Identical DIY Approach Syber Vapor Xtreme
CPU i7-4790K 4.0GHz ($315) i7-4790K 4.0GHz
Motherboard MSI Z97I MITX AC ($140) MSI Z97I MITX AC
GPU NVIDIA GTX 980 4GB ($560) NVIDIA GTX 980 4GB
RAM 2x4GB DDR3 1600MHz ADATA XPG V1.0 ($65) 2x4GB DDR3 1600MHz
ADATA Value RAM
Storage 1TB WD 7200RPM HDD ($50) 1TB Toshiba 7200RPM HDD
PSU SilverStone SFX450 80+ Gold ($91) SilverStone SFX450 80+ Gold
Case Azza Mini Z ITX Case ($45) Custom enclosure
Controller Logitech F710 ($50) Logitech F710
OS
Windows 8.1 (must download - $100)  
Price $1416 $1500

syber-vap-rev2

Syber's new Vapor Xtreme “PC Console” is marketed as a living room console replacement, ultimately serving as an HTPC streaming device with high-end gaming capabilities. And they are high-end: The Syber Vapor Xtreme is equipped with a GTX 980 video card and i7-4790K CPU, making it one of the highest-end single GPU configurations available without venturing into X99 territory. Our review unit included 2x4GB of ADATA value memory clocked at 1600MHz, though we would have liked to see heatsink-equipped RAM used instead. Beyond this, a single 7200RPM HDD is present, offering 1TB of total storage. SSDs are available only as a customer-specified option and are not included in the reference models.

Our machine uses an MSI Z97I mini-ITX motherboard, which hosts on-board AC wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility – both ideal in a living room use case scenario. Bluetooth offers added functionality should the user decide to utilize one of the many remote control applications, eliminating the need for another inevitably lost remote.

Speaking of lost remotes, CyberPower's lost me a bit on the inclusion of their “mini remote” touchpad-enabled keyboard. The included keyboard is a bit longer than a phone and uses physical input adjacent to a laptop touchpad. Although the gesture is appreciated, the keyboard is largely unusable and frustrating due to its impossibly small size – we'd have preferred if the company furthered its Logitech partnership by including one of their proper wireless keyboards instead. Alternatively, including information on a phone application for remote control and typing would not go unappreciated.

What is appreciated, though, is the inclusion of Logitech's F710 wireless gamepad, a fierce alternative to the high-quality Xbox 360 wireless controller. We've tested the F710 extensively (and against the 360 controller) during this review process, and although it isn't the focus of the post, we can speak to its quality and performance in living room gaming.

We're generally happy with the selection of core components. The CPU and GPU match (granted, an i5-4690K would have been perfectly acceptable and cheaper), the motherboard is one that we would recommend in a similar build, and the 450W, 80 Plus Gold SilverStone SFX PSU is one that we've raved about in the past. Really, the PSU deserves most of the spotlight here: CyberPower gave us just enough power to run the 980 + 4790K efficiently, not over-supplying the system and sticking to high efficiency ratings (80 Plus Gold) for cheaper extended uptimes.

As Expected: A Few Odd Component Choices

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Back to components: The motherboard selection is fitting of a high-end mini-ITX machine, the CPU selection makes sense when accompanied by a GTX 980 – though is potentially a bit unnecessary – and the GPU selection ensures high-end gaming performance. The Vapor Xtreme's enclosure is sized similarly to an Xbox (the original), but can be easily hidden away on a TV stand and makes for an aesthetically-fitting case.

We did find a few of the choices odd, though: The total oversight of an included SSD in the reference model seems wrong for a system operating on a joint ~$880 CPU + GPU budget, especially considering its target for home theater PC use. In all of our HTPC builds – including the one I use personally – we strongly recommend SSDs to minimize boot-up and wake times. Operating systems get bloated and slow as they age. An SSD makes all the difference in boot-up times, and although boot time may be less important for a desktop, HTPCs live and die on their ability to deliver content to the user on demand. Booting in 8 seconds can make the difference between booting to Netflix or groaning and walking away.

Speed is not the least of the advantages an SSD yields, either. Spinning platters make noise – sometimes a lot of it, depending on volume levels of other components and fans. Opting for an SSD for primary functions and an HDD for media storage (which spins-down when unused) would be preferable for noise levels. In our review of HTPC components and systems, we hold noise levels to a higher standard due to the nature of their operating environment; no one wants fan noise constantly humming in their living room.

That said, hard drive noise ends up being unnoticeable underneath the noise of Intel's stock cooler. The Vapor Xtreme can run relatively loud when operating under load due to its struggle to intake cool air. All air intake is limited to the GPU fan, CPU fan, and PSU fan, each accessing the outside world through ventilated paneling.

All this said, the other components make sense and we're thrilled about the PSU selection. It's good to see high-quality power supplies getting use in SI builds.

Resolved with User Upgrades

CyberPower would undoubtedly challenge these complaints with the fact that the box is easily upgradeable – and they'd be right to do so. You could grab a 256GB SSD for $115 and a low-profile air cooler for $32. At this point, we haven't increased cost significantly over a DIY option that'd add similar components. Upgrading RAM begins to feel more questionable in value. Given the heat output of the system and limited cooling, heatsinks would not go amiss on the RAM, though you'd still need a means through which that heat is dissipated – the adjacent aftermarket CPU cooler would help.

All Said, The Vapor is Still High Build Quality

Despite my component selection complaints – some of which are resolved if building-to-order or upgrading – Syber's Vapor Xtreme is still a solid system on paper. The motherboard and PSU used are quality, unlike some other SI options, and the CPU / GPU combination makes more sense than a lot of other pre-builts. The whole assembly feels largely “natural,” like components we'd piece together (more or less) if left to our own devices.

The Syber Vapor Xtreme is a tiny, powerful, high-performance HTPC that is dying to be a “Steam Box” (it even boots to Big Picture mode on first launch), priced at $100 more than a DIY build. The system ships with no bloatware beyond the usual motherboard control panel software, giving reprieve to those of us who survived the earlier days of pre-built systems from mainstream manufacturers. A DIY approach would potentially allow for better cooling, but then you're building in a larger case. Syber's stock enclosure hosts zero case fans, but saves on space in doing so. It's a trade-off, as is anything in the small form factor market. Case fans would be less necessary if upgrading the CPU cooler to a non-stock solution.

Continue to the next page for the benchmark results & conclusion.


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Last modified on December 05, 2014 at 7:27 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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