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iBuypower Revolt Review

IBP combines affordability with good performance

To revolt is to rise up against an oppressive ruling authority. In iBuypowers case, is the new iBuypower Revolt PC opposing big gaming rigs or game consoles?

The revolt carries on the fight against substandard game consoles.

The revolt carries on the fight against substandard game consoles.

We prefer to believe that the Revolt, along with its fellow revolutionaries from Alienware, Falcon Northwest, and Digital Storm, is part of the first expeditionary force attacking the substandard gaming performance that consoles have subjected its citizens to for years.

As weve said of the other small PCs of this ilk, you need only slap a $26 wireless Xbox controller on the Revolt, get it set up with Steams Big Picture Mode, and youll not only have a gaming machine that fits in nicely in the living room, but that will also likely blow away the next-gen consoles.

The Revolt uses a new NZXT chassis that iBuypower has exclusive rights to. Its slightly wider than three other similarly shaped boxes weve reviewed from Alienware (X51), Falcon Northwest (tiki), and Digital Storm (bolt). iBuypower manages to jam in a 14cm NZXT liquid cooler, which lets the Intel Core i7-3770K hum along at an overclocked 4.2GHz. The rig also sports an EVGA GeForce GTX 670 GPU and is large enough to support both an HDD and SSD. This is significant because the box that spurred it all, Alienwares X51, forces you to pick either an HDD or SSD, not both.

While the X51 uses an external power brick, the iBuypower uses an internal FSP 500-watt PSU. Theres actually an upside and downside to both setups. The downside here is the noise. Our pre-production Revolts 1U power supply got shrilly under heavy loads. We had the same issue with Digital Storms Bolt, which was rectified in shipping units. iBuypower promises improvement in the final units, but ours was just too noisy to be used under load in an HTPC environment. However, seeing how other vendors have been able to tame the issue by tweaking the fan profiles and thermals, we suspect iBuypower will be able to do the same.

Performance of the box against our desktop zero-point, with its hexa-core processor, was not pretty but thats hardly a surprise, considering the ZPs size and parts. Lest you think that a quad-core Ivy Bridge ticking at 4.2GHz is Atom-poo slow, howeverits not. Even in the heavily multithreaded Premiere Pro test, the Ivy Bridge was but 31 percent slower than our Core i7-3930K at 3.8GHz. The GeForce GTX 670 also shows pretty well when you consider that the zero-point is housing a GeForce GTX 690.

We also stacked up the Revolt against the Falcon Northwest Tiki and Digital Storm Bolt (we didnt have the original X51 on which to run our new benchmarks) and found the Revolt competitive but the slow man out against its two peers. Oddly enough, in our Premiere Pro CS6 benchmark, the similarly clocked Revolt ran about 9 percent behind the Tiki and 11 percent behind the Boltthats probably partly due to its single-channel RAM.

But there are a couple of ways in which the Revolt excels over those two boxes. For one thing, it has the ability to run when laid flat, which makes it far more flexible for living room use. It also beats both the Tiki and Bolt in the price game. The FNW Tiki we reviewed in September 2012 came equipped with dual 500GB SSDs and a GeForce GTX 680 for $4,126. No doubt 500GB SSDs have dropped in price, but not by that much. The Digital Storm Bolt, reviewed in our January 2013 issue, took the price down to $1,950, using just a 120GB SSD but giving you a GTX 680 card, too. The iBuypower Revolt comes in even lower, at $1,400. Is that a good deal? Spec-for-spec, yes. Its even comparable to Alienwares top-end X51, which gives you a 2TB HDD and 16GB of RAM, but is capped at a GeForce GTX 660 and theres no option for an SSD.

That puts the Revolt in a pretty good spot. No, you cant get it as specd-out as the Bolt or Tiki, but at this price, a lot of folks wont care. Overall, iBuypower gets a lot right with the Revolt and brings its trademark practice of packing in the performance without packing on the price.

$1,400, www.ibuypower.com

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