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CyberPower Gamer Extreme 3000 Core i7 860 System
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Date: Oct 07, 2009
Section:Systems
Author: Mathew Miranda
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Introduction and Specifications

 

The enthusiast scene is filled with consumers with do-it-yourself attitudes who regularly build their own systems from scratch. In fact, some feel that part of the fun associated with a new build is comparing prices online and asking for advice on tech forums in order to configure the ideal system. Although there are obvious benefits of going this route, there are those who may not have the time to find the lowest prices on each individual component or inclination to assemble a rig unassisted. While an abundance of options are available for consumers who prefer a pre-built system, they usually come with a few compromises. These compromises consist of the use lower quality components to fill out the system, which might hinder future upgrades, while others charge a substantial premium for putting together custom built rigs.     

CyberPowerPC, located in Baldwin Park, CA, aims to eliminate the trade offs associated with customized system builds by providing the latest technology at affordable prices. In addition, they provide the technical support needed by those who aspire to own cutting edge technology but may not have the opportunity to keep up with it. Today we have a brand new gaming system built by CyberPowerPC, called the Gamer Extreme 3000. This P55 based system promises to provide high-end performance at a mainstream price. Since we're just getting our feet wet with the new platform, it will be interesting to see how this rig stacks up against some of the latest systems we've reviewed. Read on to find out if this extreme gaming system lives up to its name.

 
 CyberPower Gamer Extreme 3000
 System Specifications

Processor
Intel Core i7 860 2.80GHz 8MB cache

Motherboard

Asus P7P55D Deluxe LGA 1156 Intel P55 Motherboard

Operating System
Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit Edition SP1

Memory
Kingston HyperX 4GB (2x2GB DIMMs)
DDR3-1600MHz 9-9-9-24 1T

Graphics Cards

EVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 1792MB DDR3

CPU Cooling

Cooler Master V8 120mm

Audio

Onboard (VIA VT2020 10-channel HD CODEC)

Hard Drive
Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB 7200.11 HDD

Optical Drive
Samsung 22x DVD+/-RW SATA Drive


Flash Card Reader
12-in-1 Internal Card Reader


Case
AZZA Solano 1000 Full Tower Case

Power Supply
Corsair 650W 80Plus PSU

Available Expansion Slots
2 PCIe (x8, x4) slots, 1 PCIe x1 slot, and 2 PCI slots

Front Panel I/O Ports

3 USB 2.0
1 eSATA
1 Headset
1 Mic


Rear Panel I/O Ports
1 PS/2 mouse
1 PS/2 keyboard
8 USB 2.0
1 IEEE 1394A
10-channel audio I/O
Digital audio (1 coax-out and 1 optical-out)

Bundled/Installed Software

Ulead Burn.Now 4.5 SE

Warranty and Support

3 year warranty ("limited" parts, plus labor)

Price:
$1,599.00 USD (as tested)


CyberPower's Gamer Extreme 3000 is powered by Intel's Core i7 860 processor running at 2.8GHz and built on Asus' P7P55D Deluxe motherboard. The 860 sits between Intel's 750 and 870 socket 1156 processors in speed and pricing, while the P7P55D Deluxe is more on the high end of Asus' P55 lineup. To keep the 860's temperature in check, Cooler Master's massive V8 CPU heatsink is included. Also, CyberPower installed 4GB of Kingston HyperX DDR3 memory set to 1600MHz and CAS 9 latency settings. Graphics workload is handled by an EVGA GTX 295 dual GPU videocard which should handle any current game at maximum settings without breaking a sweat. Finally, there's plenty of storage available as we found a 1.5TB Seagate HDD within the system's drive cage.

The Warranty:
Warranty is an important selling point when it comes to custom built systems, especially for owners who don't have the time to troubleshoot if a problem arises. CyberPowerPC provides a three year labor / one year parts warranty for all desktop systems they build, which starts on the date of invoice. The warranty covers defective parts, workmanship, or any damage occurred during shipping. However, many components used are also covered by manufacturer warranty and repairs can be facilitated through CyberPower as well. Furthermore, a 30 day money back guarantee is granted for systems returned in good condition. Unfortunately, shipping and handling charges are not refundable. More warranty details are available
here.

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Design and Build Quality


The Gamer Extreme 3000 employs an Azza Solano 1000 full tower enclosure that seems a perfect choice to house these cutting-edge parts. Interestingly, the Solano looks very similar to the popular Antec 1200 case as both products feature a mesh front, blue LED fans, painted interior, and comparable side panel window design. Its worth noting that CyberPower removed the 230mm fan, normally located on the side panel, in order to house the super-sized Cooler Master V8 heatsink.   



 Gamer Extreme 3000 Design
 A Closer Look

 


Front
 

 


Rear
 

 


Top
 

 


Bottom
 

After powering on the system, it became obvious that aiflow is a  strong suit of this setup. The Solano features two 140mm blue LED fans in the front, a gigantic 230mm LED fan on top, a 140mm fan on the bottom, and one 120mm fan on the rear panel. Also on the rear panel, we find a fan speed controller for the Cooler Master V8 and a pair of watercooling cutouts. We'll touch on the V8 on the next page, but we were impressed with the excellent airflow combined with the relatively quiet operation the system provides.


CyberPower makes use of two drive bays by providing a Samsung 22x DVD burner and multi-functional card reader. The DVD drive operated quietly throughout testing and performed as expected. Moreover, we like the idea of the included 12-in-1 media card reader as it gives the added feature of transferring external media without the need for an adapter.


The front panel ports and buttons are conveniently located on the top edge of the Solano 1000 enclosure. From left to right, there is a reset button, eSATA port, USB, microphone jack, headset jack, two more USB ports, and a large power on/off button. All connections proved to be fully functional and user friendly during testing. 
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Interior Layout, Cable Management, and Bundle

To access the system components, we removed two thumbscrews and easily slid off the windowed side panel. When revealed, the Solano's painted interior creates an attractive foundation to build upon. We generally see painted interiors on high end cases and they never fail to impress. Equally important, the case was spacious enough to hold a huge CPU cooler and the enlarged GTX 295 without looking cramped.

Interior Layout:
With all components pre-installed, there's really no need to open up the system unless the owner wants to upgrade or swap out parts. Here, we find everything securely installed to the enclosure with unused DIMM sockets and PCI expansion slots readily available for potential additions. Its worth noting that the Cooler Master V8 was the most audible component in the system and a bit too loud for our taste. CyberPower conveniently installed the V8's fan speed controller on a spare PCI expansion slot. The knob is accessible from the rear of the case and we turned it slightly to lower the overall system noise to a peaceful level.



Cable Management:
We definitely have to give CyberPowerPC a lot of credit here. The Gamer Extreme 3000 is exceptionally clean and professional, as cable management is done to perfection. All cable runs were placed intuitively and maintain exceptional airflow within the case. The motherboard cutouts help to hide some of the power cables behind the motherboard while the exposed wiring is neatly grouped and zip tied. 




The Bundle:
The bundle features a t-shirt, carrying case, motherboard accessories, and a power cable.  Also included is a Microsoft Vista 64bit disk if the need to reinstall the operating system ever comes up. A free upgrade to Windows 7 is available when the new OS is eventually released. Unfortunately, we noticed that the bundle was missing the TurboV remote and eSATA bracket that normally comes with the retail version of the Asus P7P55D Deluxe motherboard. 
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Test Systems and SANDRA

We tested the CyberPower Gamer Extreme 3000 as configured from the system builder and ran it through our benchmark suite. Then, we compared the results to three, recently reviewed X58 systems to give a better idea of just how well it performs.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Performance Comparisons


System 1:

CyberPower Gamer Extreme 3000

Intel Core i7 860 2.8GHz
Asus P7P55D Delux P55
4GB Kingston DDR3-1600
EVGA NVIDIA GTX 295
1.5TB Seagate HDD
Vista Home Premium x64

Price: $ 1,599.00 USD

System 2:

AVA Direct Custom GT3


Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz
ASUS P6T X58
6GB Kingston DDR3-1333
ATI Radeon HD 4850
500GB WD Caviar Black
Vista Home Premium x64

Price: $ 1,382.04 USD

System 3:

Digital Storm Custom 950 Si

Intel Core i7 920 3.97GHz
EVGA X58 Motherboard
6GB Corsair DDR3-1333
GeForce GTX 285
1.5TB Seagate HDD
Vista Home Premium X64

Price: $ 3,265.00 USD

System 4:
iBuyPower Gamer Paladin F970

Intel Core i7 965 3.2GHz
Asus P6T Deluxe V2 X58
12GB Corsair DDR3-1333
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295
128GB SSD / 1TB HDD
Vista Ultimate 64-bit


Price: $ 3,111.00 USD



Preliminary Testing with SiSoft SANDRA 2009
Synthetic Benchmarks

We began testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, which stands for System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. Each test ran at the processor's stock speed of 2.8GHz but Turbo was enabled throughout. 


CPU Benchmark


Memory Bandwidth




Multi-Media Benchmark




Physical Disks


Along with specific sub-system benchmarks, SANDRA provides reference component metrics from its database to produce easy to read comparison graphs. These tests show the Core i7 860 and P55 platform's impressive improvement over previous generation Core 2 parts. And as you will find in the following pages, this mainstream chipset is not far off from Intel's high end X58 option.

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PCMark Vantage

Next we ran the test systems through Futuremark’s latest system performance metric built especially for Windows Vista, PCMark Vantage. This benchmark suite runs through a host of different usage scenarios to simulate different types of workloads including High Definition TV and movie playback and manipulation, gaming, image editing and manipulation, music compression, communications, and productivity. We like the fact that most of the tests are multi-threaded as well, in order to exploit the additional resources offered by quad-core processors.


Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance







The CyberPower system beats out the comparison systems by posting an overall score of 7460 PC Marks. What makes this significant is the affordability of the Gamer Extreme 300 and the fact that it sells for half the price of Digital Storm's 950 Si and iBuyPower's F970 gaming systems. Also consider the fact that the Gamer Extreme 3000 makes use of Intel's mainstream P55 chipset and Core i7 860 processor, while the others sport the more extravagant X58 platform and Core i7 9xx series chips. 
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Cinebench R10 and LAME

The following benchmarks measure raw processor throughput along with memory bandwidth. Both Cinebench and LAME show performance scaling as CPU speed increases and also gives single vs multi threaded scores.

 
Cinebench R10
 3D Rendering

Cinebench R10 is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation tool suite used by 3D animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others. It's very demanding of system processor resources and is an excellent gauge of pure computational throughput. Cinebench is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. The rate at which each test system could render the entire scene is represented in the graph below.


 

The Gamer Extreme 3000 was able to hang with the big dogs as its 2.8GHz Core i7 860 beat out the stock 2.66 Core i7 920 inside the AVA Direct GT3. Although it trailed both iBuyPower and Digital Storm's offerings in multi threaded tests, CyberPowerPC's rig actually surpassed iBuyPower's Gamer Paladin F970 in the single threaded benchmark.  
 

LAME MT
Audio Encoding

In our custom LAME MT MP3 encoding test, we convert a large WAV file to the MP3 format. This simulates a common scenario that many of us users work with on a regular basis to provide portability and storage of digital audio content. LAME is an open-source, mid- to high- bit-rate and VBR (variable bit rate) MP3 audio encoder that is widely used around the world in a multitude of third party applications. For this benchmark, we've created our own 223MB WAV file and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT application in single and multi-threaded modes. Processing times are recorded below, listed in seconds. Shorter times equate to better performance..

 

The processing power of the Gamer Extreme continues to shine as it stays competitive in our LAME MP3 encoding test. In fact, it trailed the more expensive Digital Storm and iBuyPower systems by only a couple of seconds while besting AVA Direct's build by a large margin.

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3DMark06 and Vantage


Futuremark 3DMark06
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


3DMark06

3DMark06 is a hard-core, forward-looking 3D rending benchmark that pushes a system and its GPUs to the limits. The test includes Shader Model 2.0, Shader Model 3.0, and HDR tests. To push the system, scenes are rendered with very high geometric detail and shader complexity, and with extensive use of lighting and soft shadows. The maximum shader length 3DMark06 supports is 512 instructions. The 3DMark06 Overall Score is a weighted average based on the SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0, and CPU scores.


Although 3DMark06 is showing its age, it is still a useful gaming benchmark for those who have not made the jump to Vista. With an overall score of 20852, the Gamer Extreme 3000 scored 7.5% better than the X58 based Gamer Paladin F970.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


3DMark Vantage

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows.  3DMark Vantage isn't simply a port of 3DMark06 to DirectX 10 though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, in addition to support for the latest PC hardware.  We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark Vantage's Performance preset option, which uses a resolution of 1280x1024


Both the Gamer Extreme and Gamer Paladin utilize NVIDIA's GTX 295. It comes as no surprise when they placed at the top of this comparison group, but we were amazed to see the Gamer Extreme score 21% better (21861 vs 17986) in Futuremark's latest 3D benchmark. Consider that iBuyPower's system utilizes a faster CPU (3.2 vs 2.8GHz), more system memory (12 vs 4GB), and an SSD drive. Lynnfied Turbo Mode FTW!

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Left 4 Dead, Far Cry 2, Crysis

Left 4 Dead
DirectX Gaming Performance


Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead is a co-operative, survival horror, first-person shooter that was developed by Turtle Rock Studios, which was purchased by Valve part-way into development. Like Half Life 2, the game uses the Source engine, however, the visual in L4D are far superior to anything seen in the Half Life universe to date. The game pits four Survivors of an apocalyptic pandemic against hordes of aggressive zombies. We tested the game at resolutions of 1,280 x1024, 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1,200 with 8X anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering enabled and all in game graphical options set to their maximum values.



Left 4 Dead is one of our favorite games for many reasons. One of them is the fact that you can max out eye candy settings and still play the game stutter free with a decent setup. As you can see, the CyberPower system cut through our L4D benchmarks like a hot knife though butter and averaged 133 frames per second at 1920x1200 resolution and 8X AA.

FarCry 2
DirectX Gaming Performance


FarCry 2

Like the original, FarCry 2 is one of the more visually impressive games to be released on the PC to date.  Courtesy of the Dunia game engine developed by Ubisoft, FarCry 2's game-play is enhanced by advanced environment physics, destructible terrain, high resolution textures, complex shaders, realistic dynamic lighting, and motion-captured animations.  We benchmarked the graphics cards in this article with a fully patched version of FarCry 2, using one of the built-in demo runs recorded in the "Ranch" map.  The test results shown here were run at a resolution of 1920x1200 with 8X AA and Ultra High Quality presets enabled concurrently.



The built in benchmark of Far Cry 2 is one of the best in determining real world game play performance. Here, we saw an average frame rate of 50.38 fps. This is very close to the top speed of 51.9 fps posted by the F970 and almost doubles the frame rate of the GT3.

Crysis v1.21
DirectX 10 Gaming Performance


Crysis

Crytek's game engine visuals in Crysis are some of the most impressive real-time 3D renderings we've seen to date on a computer screen. The engine employs some of the latest techniques in 3D rendering like Parallax Occlusion Mapping, Subsurface Scattering, Motion Blur, and Depth-of-Field effects, as well as an impressive use of Shader technology. The single player, FPS Crysis is a smash-hit, and rightfully so. We patched the game to v1.2 with all of the game's visual settings to 'High' at 1920x1200 resolution to put a significant load on the systems' graphics engines being tested.



Despite its age, Crysis is still a difficult game to run with image quality settings maxed out. As a result, we ran our tests with no AA but applied High settings where possible. Our test system produced playable frame rates of 51.6 fps but was about 5 fps slower than the iBuyPower gaming system. Still, the test ran smooth with no noticeable stuttering.
 
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Conclusion

Performance Summary: 
The performance levels offered by the Gamer Extreme 3000 were impressive throughout testing. Going head-to-head with three X58 based systems, CyberPower's configuration consistently finished at or near the top of the charts. With NVIDIA's current high end GeForce GTX 295 installed, we expected the superior gaming results, but were also impressed by Intel's new Core i7 860 processor. The mid-range Lynnfield-based Core i7 860 kept up with higher clocked processors during our Cinebench and LAME benchmarks, and produced the highest PCMark Vantage result in comparison to our reference systems.    

Taking a look at our gaming benchmarks, the Gamer Extreme 3000 produced the highest 3DMark Vantage overall score out of all four test systems and beat out the Gamer Paladin F970 in 3DMark06. Our real world gaming tests confirmed the synthetic results as the CyberPower build surpassed the competition, only trailing iBuyPower's offering in Far Cry 2 and Crysis.     

 
 

As configured, the CyberPower system we tested commands a price of $1599. Based on the performance benchmarks alone, that seems like a good deal. But to find out just how good a deal it really is, we hit up Newegg and built the same system using identical parts. After a few clicks, we arrived at the subtotal of $1535 before shipping and taxes. So basically, CyberPowerPC offers a custom built gaming system for a $65 price premium over the cost of parts if you decided to build it yourself. Considering the three year warranty, system build labor, operating system installation, and cable management, we feel the asking price is an extraordinary value.

The Gamer Extreme 3000 is the first P55 based full-system build we've tested but it definitely won't be the last. With the release of Intel's Lynnfield platform, Nehalem features and performance has been delivered to the mainstream market. We've seen this clearly in our
Core i5 / i7 / P55 review and it has been reinforced by our testing of this system. Indeed, the option to purchase a $3000 X58-based monster is still available for those who want the best that money can buy, but we definitely like the $1500 P55 alternative that can give comparable results for much less money. As a result, we recommend the CyberPower Gamer Extreme 3000 for anyone looking to put together a new P55 based gaming system. 



 
  • Impressive performance
  • Outstanding bang for your buck 
  • Meticulous cable management
  • Great airflow

 

 
  • CPU cooler is a bit noisy
  • Missing motherboard accessories

 



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