Riot Games caught attention recently for providing some support to collegiate eSports programs, but system integrator iBUYPOWER has done a lot of the heavy lifting for three collegiate eSports stadia. iBUYPOWER’s most recent venture pairs the SI with the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and will be IBP’s most expansive collegiate eSports partnership yet. This time, the gaming center will be open to the public. In addition to providing 80 PCs to the college, iBUYPOWER is providing financial support for UCI’s gaming club and logistical / build guidance on the venue. The SI is helping to cover the fees of renovating 3500 sq. ft. of the Student Center into an eSports Arena that will be open to the public.

System Integrators (SIs) generally don't make much – they're builders, not manufacturers, and source parts at oft-discounted prices to build machines per customer spec. Every now and then, an SI will come out with some exclusive case (Origin and CyberPower have both done this) that's often only exclusive for a couple-month window; for the Revolt 2, iBUYPOWER actually designed and manufactured their own SFF enclosure, opting-out of the usual OEM route taken by the industry.

The iBUYPOWER Revolt 2 gaming PC uses a small form factor enclosure with jutting edges, a showroom-styled top and front panel, and allocates its resources most heavily toward showmanship. For a brand which has historically supported eSports venues with portable rigs for tournaments, it's no wonder that design initiatives drove this aesthetics focus.

Our review of the iBUYPOWER Revolt 2 gaming PC benchmarks temperatures (GPU & CPU thermals), FPS in games (Black Ops III, GTA V, and more), and compares the cost against an equivalent DIY solution.

SSD and GPU faceplates are often put front-and-center by case modders, perhaps despite manufacturers' best efforts to make ugly faceplates. System integrator (SI) iBUYPOWER recently figured it'd bypass the modding and sell flashy cases direct-to-consumer, planting the faceplates behind an acrylic window that lifts like a fighter plane's cockpit glass.

The new system and case amalgam, called the Revolt 2, tightly packs internals into a mini-ITX enclosure, using an inverted motherboard* to separate the GPU from the more thermally-constricted core components. We've got one on-hand for testing and intend to send the Revolt 2 through exhaustive thermal analysis, with a new focus on chipset and SSD thermal measurements, but won't be doing that until after CES. For the time being, we'll walk through the Revolt 2's case and talk design and test targets for the review.

 

Graphics vendor nVidia today announced its plans for an upgrade program, active through December 4. The program is in partnership with system integrators (“SIs”) who sell pre-built, user-specified gaming PCs. We've reviewed a few, including one from CyberPower and one from iBUYPOWER, for the curious.

The limited step-up program, which is not open to DIY builders at this time, upgrades any GTX 750 Ti-equipped systems to a GTX 950. There is no additional cost for the upgrade.

Skylake is in full production – as is Broadwell. And the Kaveri refresh. And a lot of things, really – it's been a busy summer. With all the simultaneous product launches comes the industry-wide update to system integrator websites and pre-built offerings.

iBUYPOWER is the first SI we're reviewing for its implementation of Intel's Skylake platform. The company's “Gamer Paladin Z980” pre-built machine is now shipping with the Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K, with our deployment hosting an i7, GTX 980 Ti, and 16GB DDR4-2800. The total build cost for our (loaner) review system is priced-out to ~$1824. That's a big sticker.

Our review of the Gamer Paladin Z980 aims to benchmark the system for gaming performance (FPS), thermals, and compare the pre-built option against a DIY approach. We've assembled a part-to-part price comparison and matched that against a GN-recommended build. Not everyone wants to DIY – and that's fair – but it's still important to ensure the prices match up.

Let's get to it.

We’re presently out in the general “California area” – a large, confusing land filled with cars and empty water basins. Consequently, this land also contains hardware manufacturers and system integrators. The trip started with a visit to Kingston, bridged to NZXT, EVGA, iBUYPOWER, CyberPower, and (the lone game developer) Chris Roberts’ Cloud Imperium Games. All that content is forthcoming – but we’re starting with iBUYPOWER.

Everyone's making a home theater PC now. They've all entered the market, but we've seen names vary from “HTPC” to “Steam Machine” to “Mini Gaming PC.” They're everywhere: We recently reviewed Zotac's EN760 gaming box outfitted with the 860M, a ~$500 solution to mid-range gaming in the living room; Syber Gaming, a subsidiary of CyberPower, also has solutions shipping; Gigabyte has its Brix that we've spoken about; Alienware is making a mini PC for the living room, too.

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After its CES debut, system integrator iBUYPOWER has officially launched its “SBX” entertainment system, a dedicated cross-breed of a console/PC for the living room.

Most of our readers (and staff) are avid PC builders, generally opting to select and install components from one of our DIY PC guides. There are entire companies devoted to custom PC builds, though, and they often build and ship hundreds of custom gaming PCs each day; that's a huge number, considering the relative size of the “gaming PC” market compared to biz-client sales. Out of curiosity, we toured a few of these SIs (system integrators) to observe the process and learn about the automation involved in system building.

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We previously toured CyberPowerPC, where we looked at a high-end PC build with custom NZXT components. Today, we're looking at iBUYPOWER's warehouse and assembly line, where you'll see a wall of thousands of dollars of video cards, conveyer belts moving rigs from one bench to another, and even packing tape automation. Yes. A robot that does nothing but tape boxes.

Most of the tech industry’s major players are located somewhere in California – a state that has, in our experience, proven to be very large and very saturated with horrifyingly bad drivers. It also happens to be saturated with leading technology innovators and game development companies; the hardware split is pretty even between SoCal (Orange County, Fountain Valley, LA, Industry) and NorCal (home to Silicon Valley). Game developers mostly hang-out in San Francisco and San Jose.

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We’ve previously toured both regions, with some of our best content focusing on nVidia’s silicon failure analysis lab (San Jose) and Kingston’s automated RAM/SSD manufacturing line. Following Game24 and the GTX 980 launch, we returned to the Los Angeles area for more. In our most recent California trip, we visited NZXT, HyperX, CyberPower, and iBUYPOWER to see their assembly lines and warehouses.

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