Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My iBuyPower Gaming Rig Experience - Part 1

Guess what? CHICKENBUTT!

Guess why? iBuy... Power!

i... Ahem. I have purchased an almost-top-of-the-line gaming computer from iBuyPower. Tax returns rule. Gone will be the glitches, the slow-downs when trying to record even rudimentary full-motion video. Gone will be the inability to play games like S K Y R I M , much less record them.  ;)

I can hear Damon Wayans from the Homeboy Shopping Network now: "Lookit all the stuff we got, lookit all the stuff!"

Yes, it's PINK, inside and out! Not only that, but it's actually functional. This is the Pink Phantom case from NZXT. It's a full tower, and just over 21 inches tall, and 24 1/2 inches long. It has space for five fans, with four included (more on that in a bit). The black mesh works well for ventilation, and hey... pink and black have always gone well together. There are handy clip mounts for putting in more optical drives or what-have-you, and bay slots for adding more hard drives.

Here's a close-up shot of the fan controller on the top of the rig. The LED lights are blue, but can be turned off if one so desires.

And here's a pic of the swinging door open, showing the optical bays inside. The door attaches magnetically.

If you want more info on the case itself, click here to read the review on Overclockers Club... written by a girl, of course.

Enough on the case, because it's what's inside that matters the most!

I have two graphics cards in this thing. They are both nVidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti cards, and will be running in SLI mode. What the hell is SLI mode? It stands for Scalable Link Interface, and it allows two graphics card to run together. The result is better performance, and stability as well. Two 560 Ti's will create a gaming experience that is smoother and faster than even the GTX 580. (Ref:

Below is a benchmark of Battlefield 2: Bad Company, from Hardware Canucks (original article), in which you can see the two 560 Ti's coming real close to the framerate of nVidia's most powerful GPU yet, the GTX 590!

My CPU is a neural net processor, a learning computer. Ummm, wait.

*turns off Terminator movie running in background* 

Okay. My CPU is an Intel Core i5-2550K Processor. They had a free upgrade deal, from 2500K to the 2550K. The 'K' at the end means that I can overclock it easily. I declined on having my CPU overclocked by iBuyPower, just for this reason. I can do it myself, and for free.  ;)

Memory? 16 GB (4 GB sticks; quantity 4.) These are the standard DDR3-1600.

Hard drives? Two, please. Well, one is a small (yet very speedy) 120 GB SSD drive from AData. This is where the operating system, and often used programs and games go. SSDs (Solid-State Drives) are basically huge flash drives. With no platter to spin around, the data on a SSD is read or written much quicker. The other is a 2 TB drive, standard 7200 RPMs and all that. 

My motherboard is an Asus P8 Z68-V. These also come in Pro and Deluxe models, but the only differences are more SATA ports for hard drives (there are six already, so no, I won't be needing more), firewire (I don't use that), and a higher version of Bluetooth (I don't use that either).

My power supply is a 1050 Watt unit from Corsair. I'm not sure I need that high of a power supply, but with the two graphics cards added into iBuyPowers configuration menus, they recommended an 800 Watt power supply at minimum. Given the options listed, I could've gone for an 800 Watt (pushing it), an 850 Watt (maybe a bit too close to the minimum for my tastes), or a 1050 Watt. Sold.

I also got a 12X Blu-Ray re-writer drive... in purple. Yes, purple. It'll be covered up by the door on the front of the case, but oh well.

Now, remember where I said that one of the fans weren't included in the Pink Phantom case? I did purchase a liquid cooling system, with push-pull airflow. I'm not sure if that will go in the empty fan slot or not. Maybe they would just replace one of the other fans. The size of those top fans are not a standard size (probably so that you'd have to buy the missing fan from NZXT as well), but we'll see.

As for the monitor. I got a 27", namely the Sceptre X270W. It's a 1080P monitor, which of course, means you can achieve a maximum resolution of 1920x1080. I've heard mixed things about Sceptre's monitors, mostly having to do with color wash. I've read some good reviews on this one though, and if you don't have 700 bucks or more to spend on a monitor, this is a good way to go.

Now, if anyone is still reading, on to the accessories and other miscellaneous crap.

I got the standard Logitech Internet Mouse, but for the keyboard, I chose Thermaltake's eSports Challenger Pro. I've heard a lot of good things about this keyboard, and it has red backlighting, which will go nicely with the Pink Phantom. There are also multimedia keys, 2 USB ports, and 10 macro keys, which can be used in conjunction with four profiles to create up to 40 macro keys. More than I'll ever use. There is also this cute little fan attached to the upper left-hand corner. It's pretty neat, but I don't suppose I'd be using that very much.

I've got case lighting! It was only 15 bucks, so why not? It's called a Meteor Light, and it has eight settings, I suppose to make the light strobe at different speeds and such. I got it in blue. It also comes in red and green. I felt that the red would be washed out somewhat by the pink of the case interior, and I like blue better than green, so... this is going to one colorful system.

I signed up for iBuyPower's noise reduction system. I've heard that these gaming rigs can sound like a jet engine. I kind of doubt that, as many households would become completely deaf, but I get the idea that it's loud. LOL.

I got an AeroCool Touch1000 fan controller system. Handy for keeping an eye on temps and such when overclocking, or just in general.

I chose iBuyPower's default network card and sound card. I was originally going for their in-house brand speaker system as well, but after hearing some bad things about it, I spent an extra $37 for Logitech's Z313 2.1 speakers. 5.1 is nice, but I was spending enough already, and I'll be gaming with a headset a lot of the time anyway.

Speaking of headsets, I splurged and got Logitech's G330. I knew this is a good one, since this is one that is used by a Let's Player that I knew before there even were Let's Plays, Tord a.k.a. mynameisnotlilly. (He was in my Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition group back in 2003.) Listen to his narration here, speaking through the Logitech G330. I think my days of audio hiss are going to be gone as well (jumps for joy).

I chose Windows 7 Professional. It was only $31 more than the Home version, and the selling point for me is the ability to run programs in "XP Mode." I'm not sure how well this really works, but I'm sure to find out at some point, since some of the games I want to play are old Windows games. They won't run in DOSBox since they don't run in DOS, and they won't run in Vista or 7, especially the 64-bit versions. It's nice that Microsoft is finally making a real attempt towards backwards compatibility. I look forward to trying out XP Mode.

I also sprung for iBuyPower's "pro wiring," so that the cables and wires inside won't look like a total mess. I also rung up their "advanced packaging system." It's just added padding that they put around, and I believe to some extent, inside of the case, but hey, better safe than sorry.

Something interesting: I managed to get free shipping on the tower ($50 for the monitor). iBuyPower has custom configuration menus that let you choose what components you want to add, delete, or change to a more expensive (or inexpensive) part. What you do is choose a processor family (Intel i5, i7, AMD whatever (I have no idea about anything AMD)), and go from there. What I did is click a link near the top of the page, "Weekly Special." I chose "Intel System," then "Special-A." I configured my system from there. The weekly specials come with FREE shipping. My rig came out to be the same exact price that I got from going the more obvious ways, by selecting one of the configurators (is that a word?) proudly displayed in the middle of the web page. In short, I saved $75.

So now that we're talking money, how much did this all cost, you ask? $2,692.00 + $50.00 shipping (for the monitor, can't avoid that one, lol) = $2,742.00. Now I know I could've saved up to $1,000 by buying the parts from Newegg or somewhere similar, but while I am pretty computer savvy, I'm just not confident that I could assemble a system like this without messing something up. I actually just learned about several things while doing research on this system, like liquid cooling and SSD drives. I want this thing to work well, and last a long time. Replacing or upgrading a part is one thing (and seems easy with the case set-up), but from scratch? No thanks.

I bought this system on February 29th. I'm guessing that I have two to three weeks until it arrives. Firstly, it takes a week and a half for iBuyPower to assemble the system. Most of their business comes from custom computer sales, so they must be working furiously, like little builder ants, putting all this stuff together, and testing the configuration for stability, etc., etc. Secondly, to get the free shipping, I chose the US Postal Service, ground shipping. Ground takes around 5 to 7 business days to ship. So I figure another week and a half, at most, once the system is shipped.

What I do notice though, is that they have not in any way indicated that they've started putting my system together. They have a "status check" page on their site, and here's the info:

Status DateStatusNotes/Tracking#
3/1/2012 4:00:49 PMProcessingPayment has been successfully received/approved.
2/29/2012 4:46:00 PMProcessingThe order has been received and will be reviewed/processed by a sales rep.
2/29/2012 2:39:02 PMSubmittedOrder Submitted by Customer

I should be seeing the next phase by now, namely: "The materials needed for the order have been gathered." I get that it takes awhile to get the parts assembled and tested, but why haven't they started? Perhaps one (or more) of the parts are on backorder? If not, why not a simple message on the website, or to my email address, to let me know? Methinks I will be making a call to them if I don't see a change soon. Actually, meknows.

The main qualm that most people have with iBuyPower (if they have a qualm at all), is time. The secondary qualm is damaged parts, which could likely happen during shipping. I have been told that their customer service is excellent, and if something is damaged, they will replace the part. It just delays things. I can be patient though. I'd rather wait and get a good product. Yes, I want the thing (want want want!!!), but I'm surely not suffering without it.

Questions and comments are welcome. More to come...


  1. That looks like a sweet setup. This reminds me that I need to upgrade my computer. I have to keep reminding myself that student loan payments are more important...

    Now that you have a working setup though, you could buy all the parts off newegg and assemble them in the same way. Selling those systems to make a little profit... ;)

  2. Student loan payments? We don't need any steeking loan payments.

    I don't trust myself to assemble something and have it be in working order, otherwise I would've gone to Newegg in the first place. :)

  3. I liked reading this article! Thank you.

    1. You're quite welcome. I'm loving the computer. I need to put up the next article of this series. :)