Introduction

Most of our readers are probably familiar with ABS Computers Technologies. Founded in 1990, they are one of the nation's largest system integrators. They offer everything from budget to high-end desktops, laptops, workstations, and servers. You can also purchase individual components from them: cases, motherboards, speakers, games, etc. Even if you have never heard of ABS, you have almost certainly heard of their online retailer spin off: Newegg.com. Newegg caters to people looking to build their own systems, providing great prices and a great selection on virtually every component imaginable. (It was so successful apparently that ABS created another spin off, ChiefValue.com.) Not everyone has the time or inclination to build their own system, however, so when ABS offered us a chance to look at their latest Ultimate X9 gaming system, we were of course interested.


The system comes loaded with all the top-of-the-line parts currently available: Intel Core 2 Extreme, X1900 XT CrossFire, 2x1024MB of Corsair RAM, 2x150GB Western Digital Raptor hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration, and it's topped off with a water-cooled CPU and graphics cards. You can configure your own specific system on the ABS web site, but they sent us their maximum performance configuration for review. This particular configuration further improves performance by overclocking the Core 2 Extreme processor an extra 20%, resulting in out of box performance faster than just about any other retail system on the market. All of this does carry a price, naturally, but when you consider the time and effort it takes to put together such an extreme system the final price of roughly $4300 really isn't all that bad.

Given the current market demands for Intel's Core 2 Duo/Extreme processors, there are other reasons to consider purchasing a prebuilt system. Anyone that has looked around online trying to find a good deal on one of these processors has likely discovered a couple of things. First, many retailers are currently out of stock. Second, those web sites that do have the processors in stock are typically charging a price premium. Some will call this price gouging, but really it's simple supply and demand economics in full effect.

Intel's Core 2 processors offer superior performance pretty much across the board, and given that they have only recently been introduced all of the people that were looking to upgrade are snapping them up as fast as Intel can produce them. Large OEMs -- Dell, HP, Gateway, etc. -- are also consuming the vast majority of these processors, further limiting retail supply. We expect the supply issues to dissipate over time, resulting in lower prices eventually, but if you're in a hurry to get a system sporting one of the new chips, the cost of building your own computer versus purchasing a prebuilt system is basically a wash, assuming that the time you spend assembling your system doesn't cost you anything.

So what exactly do you get with this "super" system, how does it perform, and is it something you should consider purchasing? Let's find out.

Features and Price
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  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    As I pointed out on page 2, the price charged by ABS really isn't bad. I mean, $300 extra to build a super high-end setup, relative to what you'd pay at Newegg? That's not to say I think buying ultra-high-end isn't a bit crazy anyway, but getting all the watercooling and such installed isn't a 30 minute task. Anyway, you can always build a better PC for less money on your own, but you also then are fully responsible for supporting that PC if anything goes wrong. I'm fine with that, most of the people posting are fine with that, but there are a lot of people out there that would rather pay someone else to do the work. I've charged people $200 or so in the past to build a moderate system, and that's probably less than I would charge now. Reply
  • plewis00 - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    Does anyone else think it's absolutely criminal to spend that amount of money on a system which would then turn out not to be 100% stable? In fact, any system which isn't 100% stable out of the box (unless by some freak one-off accident) I would consider a failure, like this one. Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, August 18, 2006 - link

    If you're going to spend that much on a system, you should be dealing with Alienware, VoodooPC, etc. This ABS system appears to be junk.

    BTW, you guys should take a page from Hardocp on how you conduct your system reviews.
    Reply
  • rjm55 - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    -H- has turned into a joke in the mind of any real enthusiast. Stupid reviews like the Core 2 Duo launch "proving" AMD outperforms Conroe are posted, and then any one who questions his majesty is banned from making comments. You end up with King Kyle and his adoring "yes massah!" loyalists around his feet. Every REAL enthusiast I know has been banned from -H- at least once for asking questions - it's almost become the red badge of courage to be banned form -H-. Compare that to AT where hard questions and comments always stay up, are encouraged, and actually debated by Editors.

    Every one knows -H- only rewards Editors Choices to whoever bought his last truck. His recent Editors Choice to the ECS KA3 MVP has everyone I know rolling on the floor laughing. You start with the idea you need to give an Editors Choice to ECS. You run benchmarks that are meaningless and very few, that you know will "prove" the ECS was a great board. You ignore the fact this is the AM2 board that is the WORST overclocker anyone has ever tested - and mention quickly it doesn't even have the means to adjust CAS latency and runs Corsair 1066 at 800 at CAS 5 timings AT BEST (every other AM2 board can run it at 3-3-3). You can bet the award was payment for the new truck ECS bought this year. Based on the fact -H- has recently moved from giving anything Abit an Editors Choice to now trashing Abit, so it's a pretty safe bet Abit isn't buying the trucks any more.

    You don't have to believe what everyone who tells you about -H-. Just go to -H- and ask a hard question about test methods or how a conclusion was reached. You'll be banned so fast it makes your head swim. Hitler also surrounded himself with yes men, as apparently do many other Texans who avoid reality.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    Careful! We might ban you from our forums for turning on white text! ;) Reply
  • rjm55 - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    has turned into a joke in the mind of any real enthusiast. Stupid reviews like the Core 2 Duo launch "proving" AMD outperforms Conroe are posted, and then any one who questions his majesty is banned from making comments. You end up with King Kyle and his adoring "yes massah!" loyalists around his feet. Every REAL enthusiast I know has been banned from {H] at least once for asking questions - it's almost become the red badge of courage to be banned form . Compare that to AT where hard questions and comments always stay up, are encouraged, and actually debated by Editors.

    Every one knows only rewards Editors Choices to whoever bought his last truck. His recent Editors Choice to the ECS KA3 MVP has everyone I know rolling on the floor laughing. You start with the idea you need to give an Editors Choice to ECS. You run benchmarks that are meaningless and very few, that you know will "prove" the ECS was a great board. You ignore the fact this is the AM2 board that is the WORST overclocker anyone has ever tested - and mention quickly it doesn't even have the means to adjust CAS latency and runs Corsair 1066 at 800 at CAS 5 timings AT BEST (every other AM2 board can run it at 3-3-3). You can bet the award was payment for the new truck ECS bought this year. Based on the fact has recently moved from giving anything Abit an Editors Choice to now trashing Abit, it's a pretty safe bet Abit isn't buying the trucks any more.

    You don't have to believe what everyone who tells you about . Just go to and ask a hard question about test methods or how a conclusion was reached. You'll be banned so fast it makes your head swim. Hitler also surrounded himself with yes men, as apparently do many other Texans who avoid reality.
    Reply
  • Kalessian - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    whoa, how did you manage to break the comments system? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link



    Urg... just to recap, don't post the {H} abbreviation with brackets instead of braces. You know how {B} and {I} do bold and italic? {H} does highlighting, which in this case means white text. We should probably disable that feature, though it does make things somewhat entertaining. ;) Reply
  • rjm55 - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    What a f$#&ing joke!! has turned into a joke in the mind of any real enthusiast. Stupid reviews like the Core 2 Duo launch "proving" AMD outperforms Conroe are posted, and then any one who questions his majesty is banned from making comments. You end up with King Kyle and his adoring "yes massah!" loyalists around his feet. Every REAL enthusiast I know has been banned from {H] at least once for asking questions - it's almost become the red badge of courage to be banned form . Compare that to AT where hard questions and comments always stay up, are encouraged, and actually debated by Editors.

    Every one knows only rewards Editors Choices to whoever bought his last truck. His recent Editors Choice to the ECS KA3 MVP has everyone I know rolling on the floor laughing. You start with the idea you need to give an Editors Choice to ECS. You run benchmarks that are meaningless and very few, that you know will "prove" the ECS was a great board. You ignore the fact this is the AM2 board that is the WORST overclocker anyone has ever tested - and mention quickly it doesn't even have the means to adjust CAS latency and runs Corsair 1066 at 800 at CAS 5 timings AT BEST (every other AM2 board can run it at 3-3-3). You can bet the award was payment for the new truck ECS bought this year. Based on the fact has recently moved from giving anything Abit an Editors Choice to now trashing Abit, it's a pretty safe bet Abit isn't buying the trucks any more.

    You don't have to believe what everyone who tells you about . Just go to and ask a hard question about test methods or how a conclusion was reached. You'll be banned so fast it makes your head swim. Hitler also surrounded himself with yes men, as apparently do many other Texans who avoid reality.
    Reply
  • rjm55 - Saturday, August 19, 2006 - link

    has turned into a joke in the mind of any real enthusiast. Stupid reviews like the Core 2 Duo launch "proving" AMD outperforms Conroe are posted, and then any one who questions his majesty is banned from making comments. You end up with King Kyle and his adoring "yes massah!" loyalists around his feet. Every REAL enthusiast I know has been banned from {H] at least once for asking questions - it's almost become the red badge of courage to be banned form . Compare that to AT where hard questions and comments always stay up, are encouraged, and actually debated by Editors.

    Every one knows only rewards Editors Choices to whoever bought his last truck. His recent Editors Choice to the ECS KA3 MVP has everyone I know rolling on the floor laughing. You start with the idea you need to give an Editors Choice to ECS. You run benchmarks that are meaningless and very few, that you know will "prove" the ECS was a great board. You ignore the fact this is the AM2 board that is the WORST overclocker anyone has ever tested - and mention quickly it doesn't even have the means to adjust CAS latency and runs Corsair 1066 at 800 at CAS 5 timings AT BEST (every other AM2 board can run it at 3-3-3). You can bet the award was payment for the new truck ECS bought this year. Based on the fact has recently moved from giving anything Abit an Editors Choice to now trashing Abit, it's a pretty safe bet Abit isn't buying the trucks any more.

    You don't have to believe what everyone who tells you about . Just go to and ask a hard question about test methods or how a conclusion was reached. You'll be banned so fast it makes your head swim. Hitler also surrounded himself with yes men, as apparently do many other Texans who avoid reality.
    Reply