The NZXT Noctis 450 enclosure was modified for display at Intel's booth for PAX West 2016, featuring an LCD panel for the side “window” in place of the usual acrylic. The display was built by iBUYPOWER as a prototype, and is effectively a 4:3 screen slapped onto the side of the case, then backlit (because there is no normal LCD LED backlight) by the internal case LEDs. White components are specifically used to create a high-contrast viewing port, meshing with the LCD panel in a way that allows video playback on the side of the case.

For the show, iBUYPOWER loaded a splash/advert video onto the side panel that scrolled through Intel and IBP logos. The future may permit more dynamic integrations with the panel, like loading PC monitoring software (e.g. NZXT CAM) with high contrast onto the display, then extending through usual Windows functionality. That's not possible yet, but is one of the considerations made by the team.

MSI recently announced that they will be launching a new addition to their Aegis PC line dubbed the Aegis Ti. The new PC will be the company’s flagship desktop gaming PC. The Aegis Ti is a black mid-tower sporting vibrant RGB LEDs on its front panel.

Let’s get to the specs: the Aegis Ti comes with either an i5-6600K or i7-6700K CPU, a Z170 motherboard, up to 2 GTX 1080s in SLI, and an 850W 80 Plus Platinum PSU. For networking, you get a Killer LAN E2400 network adapter coupled with a Killer WiFi 1435 AC wireless card and Bluetooth 4.1. The Aegis Ti can support up to 64GB of DDR4 2400MHz RAM.

Origin's pre-built “Chronos VR” machine is a mini-ITX box packed with top-tier hardware, hoping to resolve the “VR problem” while maintaining a small form factor. This presents unique thermal and noise challenges, making for interesting content regardless of whether or not the pre-built approach is for you.

In this review of Origin's Chronos VR computer, we'll benchmark FPS performance (GTX 1080 + 6700K), run extensive thermal tests, check noise levels, and look at power draw. Continue on for all of that.

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.

System Integrator (SI) CyberPower launched its new Two Computers, One Case gaming PC at CES 2016, dubbed the “Pro Streamer.” The multi-system amalgam is housed within the Phanteks Mini-XL enclosure, a case outfitted with dual-motherboard mounting points for single-PSU operation of two complete computers. Outside of building an internally-housed NAS, local media server, or streaming pre-buffer rig, use cases are relatively slim for the Mini-XL. In this instance, the streaming rig is a sensible fit.

Four SKUs of Pro Streamer boxes exist, but we’re mostly talking about the lowest SKU, as that’s generally the differentiating factor between system integrators; if there’s a weak point, it’s always the lower-end SKUs with haphazard specification listings. For the Pro Streamer 100, CyberPower’s equipped the primary gaming PC (micro-ATX) with a Z170 motherboard, GTX 970 4GB card, 2x8GB RAM, CLC, and an i5-6600K; the secondary buffer machine is outfitted with a more modest Core i3-6300 CPU and stock cooler, 2x4GB RAM, and AverMedia Live Gamer HD capture card (a $200 device). These two builds are installed in the same Phanteks Mini-XL, landing the final price at $1900.

That’s the point of pain: $1900. For a single PC, $1900 easily affords a GTX 980 Ti (or two) and Core i7 processor, but the Pro Streamer setup is a two-PC solution with an ancillary capture card, adding substantially to build cost. This is effectively two computers.

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.

We like to spotlight one ultra high-end system build at PAX every year, at a minimum. This year’s rig of choice was built by Maingear, a system integrator, and is at the corner of Intel’s booth. It was the white Corsair Obsidian 900D and custom liquid cooling loop (complete with vibrant, green fluid) that drew us toward the system.

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.

In our review of Syber's new $1500 “PC console” pre-built machine, we criticized the box for using a loud, hot stock Intel CPU cooler in lieu of something higher-end. The unit exceeded TjMax when under 100% CPU load and regularly hit moderate to high temperatures while playing thread-intensive games. We complained that the system would be significantly quieter and cooler with better cooling options, and it looks like Syber listened to that feedback.

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