|Introduction and Specifications|
|Now that Intel’s 4th-generation Core processors are flowing in the market, all your favorite boutique builders are churning out new systems based around those Haswell chips. The new Intel processors require a new socket (LGA 1150), and the associated motherboards have the new Z87 chipset. If you’re as excited as we are to see how Haswell fares, stick around--there’s a lot of good stuff coming down the pike.
One of our first Haswell-based system is the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme 5200, which comes in a surprisingly subdued mid-tower chassis that belies the powerful components inside. It’s hard to say what CyberPowerPC’s going for aesthetically here, but it’s easy to see that this machine is fully loaded.
Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1600MHz RAM, a 12x Blu-ray DVD/RW drive, and an 800W CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold PSU. The storage setup consists of a Corsair Neutron 64GB (SATA Gbps) SSD and a 1TB (7200 RPM) hard drive. CyberPowerPC went with a CoolIT LCS ECO II-120MM FB liquid cooler, and two Enermax 120mm fans are mounted on the radiator.
The CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme 5200 has an Intel Core i7-4770K CPU nestled into an ASUS Z87-A motherboard and paired with an AMD Radeon HD 7990 (6GB) dual-GPU graphics card. We like the move by CyberPowerPC to roll with a single-card/dual-GPU setup, as it saves a lot of space in the smallish chassis and also saves novice users from having to fiddle with a CrossFireX setup.
The system is wrapped in a Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 chassis, that offers two top- and front-mounted USB 3.0 ports, power and reset buttons, mic and headphone jacks, and a three-way fan controller.
Windows 8 is the OS of choice here, and the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme 5200 costs $2,199 as configured.
|Design and Layout|
|The first thing that jumps out at you when looking at this system is the case; to say that it’s understated would be, well, an understatement. The Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 chassis is all black and has both metal and plastic components. The font and top feature large grills, and the front’s rounded edges make it seem a little less boxy.
There’s a 140mm exhaust fan mounted on the bottom of the chassis as well as two 140mm fans on the front panel. The side panel has a large window, and the case fans, expansion slot covers, and 3.5-inch drive cage are white, which is the lone bit of pizzazz; there aren’t even any lights. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that per se, but when you drop major coin on a killer gaming rig, most people want a little more in the way of eye-catching decor.
ASUS motherboard has that gold-and-black look up against the case’s white accents as well as the Enermax fans and the red-and-black AMD graphics card.
But we’re nitpicking here. Let’s move on.
The cabling is precise and clean, and multiple cables are tightly zip-tied together whenever prudent; around back, CyberPowerPC went to great pains to keep that mess of cables, including the leads running to the fan controller, as crisply tied down as possible.
The AMD GPU itself has a single DVI port but four mini DisplayPorts, and the motherboard adds another DVI port, mini DisplayPort, VGA, and HDMI, in case you were worried you might run out of video port options. The motherboard also offers PS/2, two USB 2.0, four USB 3.0, LAN, SPDIF out, and six audio jacks.
For the Start screen, CyberPowerPC essentially left it stock, as the desktop background is a simple pair of daisies on a sky blue background; in other words, there’s not much to see there. There’s absolutely no bloatware on board, which is a most welcome sight.
Now let’s see how the Gamer Xtreme 5200 handled our benchmark tests.
|PCMark and 3DMark Tests|
|Futuremark is a familiar name in the computer hardware industry, thanks to its popular PCMark and 3DMark benchmarking suites. We put the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme through these tests and compared the scores to results from similar systems we’ve recently reviewed.
Futuremark's PCMark 7 is the latest version of the PCMark whole-system benchmarking suite. It has updated application performance measurements targeted for a Windows 7 environment and uses newer metrics to gauge relative performance, versus the older PCMark Vantage.
Below is what Futuremark says is incorporated in the base PCMark suite and the Entertainment, Creativity, and Productivity suites, the four modules we have benchmark scores for you here.
The PCMark test is a collection of workloads that measure system performance during typical desktop usage. This is the most important test since it returns the official PCMark score for the system
The CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme 5200 falls right in the middle of the pack in PCMark 7. That’s perhaps a surprising place to be considering the dual GPUs, although it’s worth noting that this benchmark suite is heavily affected by disk subsystem performance.
3DMark11, is specifically targeted at Windows 7-based systems due to its DirectX 11 requirement. 3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though. With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test. We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark11's Performance preset option, which uses a resolution of 1280x720 with 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering.
3DMark 11 is much friendlier to multiple Radeon GPU setups; the two top spots are occupied by systems in that configuration, although it may seem odd that an older system--the Digital Storm ODE Level 4--would best the newer and similarly-spec’d Gamer Xtreme 5200. However, note the Digital Storm system has a pair of Radeon HD 7970 cards in CrossFire X.
In the 3DMark Fire Strike test, we can see the dual GPUs doing their thing. The Gamer Xtreme 5200 (narrowly) posted the best combined score while whipping the field in the two graphics sub tests; it was also tops in the overall graphics test. On the Physics side of things, the Gamer Xtreme 5200 actually had the third-worst score, but its overall 3DMark Fire Strike score was king by a wide margin.
|Unigine Heaven and Valley Tests|
|Based on the Unigine game engine, the Unigine benchmarks offer dramatic 3D tours of exotic environments, complete with dynamic skies, tessellation, and SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion).
Unigine Heaven provides heavy tessellation use and a dynamic sky to stress modern graphics cards. The Valley benchmark, on the other hand, is loaded with vegetation. The benchmark tours a forest thick with flowers, boulders, and rivers. We ran the test at 1920 x 1080, on Ultra Quality and with the Extreme Tessellation option.
We’ve yet to gather a substantial amount of benchmark data on the Unigine Heaven and Valley tests, but with four systems posting scores, we can see a curve taking shape.
Though the AVADirect’s mighty NVIDIA GeForce Titan posted powerful scores, the dual AMD Radeon 7990 GPUs posted the best average and minimum FPS, and its overall score was tops, as well. The story is exactly the same in the Unigine Valley tests.
|SiSoft SANDRA and Cinebench|
|We continued our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, , Physical Disks).
It’s not surprising that in the processor multimedia and arithmetic SANDRA tests, the two Haswell-based systems--the CyberPowerPC Gamer Extreme 5200 and the Digital Storm VIRTUE--were virtually neck-and-neck. Otherwise, the scores all fell about where you’d expect them to.
The story is the same in the memory and physical disks tests, where the top half of the field turned in very similar performances.
Maxon's Cinebench R11.5 benchmark is based on Maxon's Cinema 4D software used for 3D content creation chores and tests both the CPU and GPU in separate benchmark runs. On the CPU side, Cinebench renders a photorealistic 3D scene by tapping into up to 64 processing threads (CPU) to process more than 300,000 total polygons, while the GPU benchmark measures graphics performance by manipulating nearly 1 million polygons and huge amounts of textures.
Although the Intel Core i7-3900 series chips posted mighty scores in Cinebench, our Haswell-based CyberPowerPC rig delivered a strong score that was roughly commensurate with similar systems.
|Gaming Benchmarks: Far Cry 2 and Lost Planet 2|
|And now begins our round of gaming benchmarks. First up are Far Cry 2 and Lost Planet 2.
Like the original, FarCry 2 was one of the more visually impressive games to be released on the PC. 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.
Clearly, the Gamer Xtreme 5200’s graphics setup didn’t scale as well here; sometimes that’s acceptable, but in this case the system competed well at the 1920x1080 resolution but didn’t keep pace at lower resolutions, most likely due to CPU overhead from its dual GPU configuration. Regardless, all resolutions ran blazingly fast here of course.
A follow-up to Capcom’s Lost Planet : Extreme Condition, Lost Planet 2 is a third person shooter that takes place again on E.D.N. III ten years after the story line of the first title. We ran the game’s DX11 mode which makes heavy use of DX11 Tessellation and Displacement mapping and soft shadows. There are also areas of the game that make use of DX11 DirectCompute for things like wave simulation in areas with water. This is one game engine that looks significantly different in DX11 mode when you compare certain environmental elements and character rendering in its DX9 mode versus DX11. We used the Test B option built into the benchmark tool and with all graphics options set to their High Quality values.
In Lost Planet 2 (the first DX11 game in our battery of tests), our CyberPowerPC system fared well, besting its fellow Haswell system, the Digital Storm VIRTUE, by a step at the lowest and highest resolutions. The Digital Storm ODE Level 4, with its dual 7970s, once again beat out the Gamer Xtreme 5200, though.
|Gaming Benchmarks: Metro 2033 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.|
|Next, we took on some post-apocalyptic shooters. Metro 2033 is new and tough on even modern systems. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. also provides a challenge.
Metro 2033 is your basic post-apocalyptic first person shooter game with a few rather unconventional twists. Unlike most FPS titles, there is no health meter to measure your level of ailment, but rather you’re left to deal with life, or lack thereof more akin to the real world with blood spatter on your visor and your heart rate and respiration level as indicators. The game is loosely based on a novel by Russian Author Dmitry Glukhovsky. Metro 2003 boasts some of the best 3D visuals on the PC platform currently including a DX11 rendering mode that makes use of advanced depth of field effects and character model tessellation for increased realism.
The Gamer Xtreme 5200 steps out a bit in the Metro benchmarks, posting the best FPS at 1920x1080 by a longshot and at 1280x1024 by a step or two. Once again, we see the dual-GPU CPU utilization at work here, as the system wasn’t the best performer at the lowest resolution.
Call of Pripyat is the third game in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series and throws in DX11 to the mix. This benchmark is based on one of the locations found within the latest game. Testing includes four stages and utilizes various weather conditions, as well as different time of day settings. It offers a number of presets and options, including multiple versions of DirectX, resolutions, antialiasing, etc. SunShafts represents the most graphically challenging stage available. We conducted our testing with DX11 enabled, multiple resolutions, and Ultra settings.
The story is a little different in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.; our CyberPower system fell behind two other AMD-based multi-GPU systems, as well as the AVADirect’s Titan and both lower resolution settings but shows its GPU prowess at full 1920 HD resolution.
|Gaming Benchmarks: Batman: Arkham City and Hitman: Absolution|
|Batman: Arkham City follows the well-received Batman: Arkham Asylum and brings with it some new challenges for Batman and better graphics for us. Hitman Absolution is one of the newest games in our benchmark pool and is murder on most gaming PCs. Both games offer DX11 code paths and advanced graphics technologies, including tessellation.
Batman: Arkham City is a sequel to 2009’s Game of the Year winning Batman: Arkham Asylum. This recently released sequel, however, lives up to and even surpasses the original. The story takes place 18 months after the original game. Quincy Sharp, the onetime administrator of Arkham Asylum, has become mayor and convinced Gotham to create "Arkham City" by walling off the worst, most crime-ridden areas of the city and turning the area into a giant open-air prison. The game has DirectX 9 and 11 rendering paths, with support for tessellation, multi-view soft shadows, and ambient occlusion. We tested in DX11 mode with all in-game graphical options set to their maximum values, at various resolutions, and we even turned on NVIDIA PhysX in the game engine to ramp up the visuals and work the little alien speedster a bit harder.
Batman is the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme 5200’s wheelhouse; in this test, our system whipped the others by a good bit.
Our final game benchmark of the review is of Hitman, the blockbuster game that follows an assassin as he finds himself become a target. Here we have no other systems to compare it to compare it to as yet.
Hitman is another test that we’re still compiling a bank of scores on, but with the sample size we have, the CyberPowerPC system soundly beat out the competition. In fact, you’ll note that its FPS scores at all three resolutions are higher than all of the other scores at any resolution.
|Power Consumption and Noise|
|Before bringing this article to a close, we'll take a look at power consumption of the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme 5200 versus the other systems we tested. We let each system boot and sit idle before measuring idle power and then loaded down each system with both an instance of Prime95 (to load down the CPU) and Furmark (to load the GPU) before taking our full load power consumption measurements. Our goal was to give you an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling on the desktop and while under a heavy workload. Keep in mind that this is total system power consumption being measured at the outlet.
We have data on a lot of systems, as you can see, and the numbers are all over the place, but for the sort of components it has on board, the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme 5200 manages its power fairly well. It runs a little high when idling, but under load it pulls 373W; compared to the other multi-GPU systems in our bank, that’s rather impressive.
The Acoustics -
We expected that by dint of being a liquid-cooled system the Gamer Xtreme 5200 wouldn’t exactly be loud, but we were surprised by just how quiet it was. Even with three case fans and two radiator fans running at full tilt, the system was barely audible. We had to double check to be sure that the thing was even on.
|Performance Summary and Conclusion|
|The CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme 5200 is a demure-looking rig, but it packs a punch. The system tore through all of our benchmarks, scoffing at demanding settings in DX11 games along the way. Although in a couple of benchmarks it dropped to the middle of the pack, it was mostly at or near the top, especially compared to similarly-appointed systems. There’s really nothing out there that this machine can’t handle with ease.
It would appear that Intel’s Haswell CPU and dual AMD Radeon 7990 GPUs are a potent combination, although there are still some scaling issues and CPU overhead occasionally with CrossFireX setups. Then again, a solo NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan or GTX 780 are formidable competition on the benchmark circuit.
The near-total lack of eye candy in and on the Gamer Xtreme 5200 was, to put it colloquially, kind of a bummer, especially as the interior color schemes of the various components clash somewhat. But if you can get past mundane looks, it’s hard not to love this machine (and there’s a lesson in that somewhere, kids); it’s mouse-quiet, despite its powerful components, and the performance is outstanding.
At $2,199, the price isn’t bad for a water-cooled system, either. Aside from some competition from the $2,614.84 AVADirect Mini Gaming PC and the $2,563 Digital Storm VIRTUE, the only systems that gave the Gamer Xtreme 5200 any trouble was the Digital Storm ODE Level 4 ($3,479) and the MAINGEAR SHIFT Super Stock X79 ($7,570).
For performance like that, the CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme is a solid, well-built deal.