Before we dive into this behemoth, we feel compelled to draw some attention to the keyboard and mouse combination Lenovo bundles in. The reason being, bulk OEMs have a nasty habit of giving gamers generic peripherals to work with, which would be like buying a sports car and driving off the lot with bald tires. Not Lenovo.
Instead of a generic plank and a dingbat mouse, Lenovo includes a gaming keyboard with an adjustable backlight and smooth key action, and a nine-button mouse with an adjustable weight system and on-the-fly DPI switching. Both products are gaming-centric in function and match the Erazer X700's style in form.
Other contents include the usual assortment of paperwork and a driver disc. What you don't get is a fancy binder performance metrics specific to your system or other accessories, like a t-shirt or whatever else the boutiques happen to be tossing in with their rigs these days.
Once you've unpacked the Erazer X700 and removed the plastic wrappings protecting the glossy finish, you can begin admiring the angled design, future-looking aesthetic Lenovo was clearly aiming for. With the LED lights shining through, the Erazer X700 crosses over into gaudy territory, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. This is a gaming system that looks the part, so we're willing to overlook the eccentric angles. As Lenovo explains it, the Erazer X700 is supposed to resemble a knight's armor with the front of the system taking the shape of a helmet and visor.
We like the inspiration but not the liberal use of plastic that adorns the entire front panel and top of the chassis. For this particular configuration it's not too egregious, but if you're springing for a higher end setup or going all out on the $3,999 version of the Erazer X700, all that plastic becomes a bit more vexing.
There's also lots of gloss on the front panel, and while we'd normally bring up the tendency of such finishes to attract finger smudges, the look works well with Lenovo's overall design. Not only is the glossy finish attractive, but it also helps you overlook the plastic construction. Besides, a quick wipe down with a lint-free cloth or even a sock will rid it of fingerprints and instantly restore its glossy luster.
In somewhat of a throwback to earlier days, the Erazer X700 features a door on the front panel. Behind the door you'll find the DVD burner as included here or a Blu-ray drive if opting for a more expensive model, two how-swap drive bays that can accommodate both 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives, and a 29-in-1 card reader. There's also room to add two more 5.25-inch peripherals, if desired.
On top of the system are the Overclock and Engine Start buttons we discussed earlier, along with a USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, microphone jack, and headphone jack. There's also a covered eSATA port that isn't active/usable.
Around back you'll find two more USB 3.0 ports, half a dozen USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, a DisplayPort, two DVI ports, GbE LAN port, and various audio jacks. There's also a place to install the included antenna for built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Up on top of the system and tucked away towards the front is a plastic slab that pushes down to reveal a USB 3.0 B-type connector and power port. A protective plastic cover hides these ports, and also interferes with the slabs ability to bounce up and down. Just remove the cover and you're golden.
The side panel slides right off once you remove the two thumb screws holding it in place. Once you stick your head inside the chassis, you're quickly reminded the Erazer X700 is built by a bulk OEM and not a boutique builder. We won't go so far as to call the wiring job lazy, but it's certainly not neat. At least Lenovo bundles the wires in some places.
This is a bigger case than it needs to be. Lenovo's using a mini-ITX motherboard instead of a full-size ATX slab. Other than the wasted real estate (and perhaps the impact on performance, as we'll get to on the following pages), we don't have any issue with that decision because it can hold dual graphics cards in SLI or CrossFireX and has four DDR3 DIMM slots. You'll notice that only three of them are occupied (12GB total), so we're running in triple-channel mode.
There's room to add more drives as well as upgrade hardware down the line, such as a faster (and longer) graphics card. Just be aware that you're working with a 625W power supply.
We also like the water cooling scheme Lenovo went with. The Erazer X700 kept its cool and never got loud during testing, even during heavy loads.