CyberPower - Overview

CyberPower is a prominent PC supplier, and we already looked at one of their high-end systems along with providing a short profile of the company. We also recommended them in our Holiday Pre-Built Systems Guide as our midrange choice. Today we test a system similar to that configuration, and take a closer look at how CyberPower stacks up in the midrange price arena.

We've covered CyberPower's history as well our ordering impressions in our previous review. As an overview, we'll restate here what was said in our holiday buyer's guide:

"In our look at their Xtreme XI, we found their margins were quite small, which translates into more hardware for your dollar. They also cover their systems with a 3-year warranty, lifetime 24/7 technical support, and offer a 30-day money-back guarantee with no restocking fee, which is a great option when making a purchase as a gift. Our main criticism of CyberPower is that they have a vast array of choices on their website that change frequently, which makes it very difficult to reference a particular system."

In brief, the small price premium coupled with the warranty and technical support make them a solid choice for buyers looking for value and performance. They're also great for technical buyers that are interested in choosing components but lack the time or inclination to build and set up a system themselves. This same flexibility can be daunting for some buyers, as their site is filled with systems and component choices, and they lack some of the true customization frills and coddling that buyers want in the high-end $4000 and up range.

Specifications
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  • Matt Campbell - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the feedback Jerry. We also priced out all the components at Newegg, and were surprised that it essentially broke even with the system price. If you remember, post back here in the comments or send me an email once it's delivered and let us know how you like it. We appreciate the feedback from actual buyers and AT readers. Reply
  • JerryELbow - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    I got the system I ordered last week after a very long-seeming 3 weeks. It took CyberPowerPC two weeks to get around to building my machine and another week for it to get from California to my house in NC. True, I could have paid something like $65 extra to bump up my build in the queue (though no guarantees on how much towards the front of the line it would go) and a LOT extra to ship it overnight, but I cheaped out on that. Comparing this to the very fast shipping of parts from NewEgg (who has distribution sites much closer to my home than California), this seemed agonizingly slow but in reality not all that bad. Anticipation does slow down the clock, doesn't it?

    The system came double-boxed, with the case box, motherboard box and a keyboard ina box, all encased in foam and in an outer box. It really was packaged securely. The mobo box didn't have the mobo in it; it instead had CDs, the mouse, extra cables, manuals, etc. Where the review mentioned the video card coming separately (possibly due to that being safer against coming loose during shipping), my unit came with the video card already installed.

    I did not pay extra for fancier cable management, but I though the cabling that was done was neat and professional. I found no scratches, dings or dents on the case and no problems with any component. The OS install was as clean as I've ever seen on a pre-built PC. The only "extra" was an install of a demo version of Microsoft Office. Since I have my own license for Office 2007, I uninstalled that (which took a surprisingly long time).

    There were only two weird things about the install. First, I selected the LG dual-layer DVD burner and got instead a pair of optical drives from TSSTcorp. One was a CD/dual-layer DVD burner and the other was a CD burner/DVD reader. Both feel pretty cheap but are probably no worse than the LG I'd specified. Second, and much more disappointing, was the complete lack of overclocking on the CPU and RAM. The article said that the test unit came with the Core i7 CPU overclocked by the factory from the default of 2.667 Ghz to 3.0 Ghz. I really liked the idea of the factory doing this and covering it by warranty. I will probably overclock the system myself, but it would have preferred they'd done it for me as they'd done it for AnandTech. I guess you have to be a hardware review site to get that kind of treatment.

    CyberPowerPC didn't specify the make or model of the default 1 Tb hard drive. The review unit was a Western Digital; mine turned out to be a Hitachi. Still a name brand but one I've no previous experience with. It's working fine so far and I haven't heard major complaints about Hitachi drives so it'll probably be fine.

    The default CoolerMaster case is nice-looking, if a bit light-weight in construction (but then, anything is compared to the built-like-a-tank Antec P90 I got for my last system). There's lots of ventilation and plenty of spaces for fans that can be anything from 80mm to 135mm in diameter. The "4-in-3" drive cage with the built-in fan is nice but a bit awkward to get in and out of the case (again, compared to the far superior Antec P90 drive cage design). The power button is a bit on the strange side and its behavior is not documented in the manual. Press it once and it acts like a reset button. Press and hold for several seconds and it acts like a power-down button. Or maybe it doesn't. Maybe it's the OS. I found Vista 64-bit to occaisionally reboot rather than shut down as I'd requested (I've worked with Vista 32-bit before but this is my first experience with Vista 64-bit).

    I added in two SATA 3.0 drives (one 500 Gb, one 320 Gb) and the PCI-based HDTV tuner from my old system plus a new Asus Xonar DX PCI-e audio card (I decided against moving my old Creative Labs X-Fi PCI card over) and installed all the appropriate current drivers. Everything went very well. I installed the "free" copy of Flight Simulator X Deluxe I got plus the FSX Acceleration Pack and fired the game up at 1920 x 1200 x 32-bit (the native resolution of my display) with every setting set to maximum and it ran smooth as silk. It was FAR better than it had been on my old rig.

    Unfortunately, when I moved my external 1 Tb Western Digital MyBook USB 2.0 drive over from the old rig to the new one, the directory structure got hosed. I don't know if this is an issue with Vista 64-bit or what, but I lost a boatload of data, apps and goodies that I'm now trying to recover. Among them was a collection of benchmark applications and results across several of my older machines (including a few long since retired) that I would have compared to the new rig. That was a major disappointment but probably in no way caused by the build done by CyberPowerPC.

    In summary, I'd have to say that I'm pretty pleased with the rig and would definitely buy from CyberPowerPC again as well as recommend them to my friends. I'm glad I read the review on AnandTech that turned me on to them. I wasn't all that familiar with boutique builders that fall between the likes of Gateway and Dell at the low end (in terms of component choices and customization) and AlienWare and the like at the high end (in terms of extreme customization and high prices). This fell right into the area where I wanted to be. True, I could have ordered similar components and built them myself but the roughly $250 savings I got by having CyberPowerPC do the work for me was enough to give up that few hours of fun (plus I got to add a number of components myself anyway).

    Thanks again to Anandtech for an objective but positive review that made me aware of this company!
    Reply
  • JerryELbow - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    One more comment. As others have pointed out, CyberPowerPC apparently throws away any "extra" cables, screws, etc. that may come with cases and maybe even motherboards. I called them and asked that they not do this with the cables from the modular power supply I'd ordered for my rig. I checked the order status an hour later and my request was included in the status. When delivered, all the power supply cable were there. However, none of the extra screws from the case were. Normally, that's no big deal anybody who has ever built a system or two has a bunch of extra screws laying about. However, the drive cage in the CoolerMaster case uses rubber grommets to isolate the drive from the case. That's a nice touch (and one handled even more nicely in my Antec P90 case), but requires slightly longer-than-normal screws to "reach" drive drive and or course there were none to be found in the box. I was able to find screws in my collection that just barely reached the drives and which completely mashed the bejeezus out of the grommets. Not a huge deal, but I would prefer that all that extra junk actually be sent to me to decide for myself if it really is junk or something useful. Reply
  • Matt Campbell - Thursday, December 03, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the detailed response Jerry. Reply
  • JerryELbow - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Based on some reviews here and elsewhere, I'd been thinking about building another computer based on very similar components to what was spec'ed out in this review. Out of curiosity, I went to CyberPowerPC's website and priced out the Gamer Xtreme XT with an EVGA nVidia GTX260 COre 216 instead of the default ATI Radio HD4870X2 and with a Thermaltake W0131RU ToughPower 850 Watt PS instead of the Corsair 650 Watt CMPSU-650TX. I didn't go with the Blu-Ray drive that was in the reviewed box (my 50" Samsung DLP with LED light engine blows away my 24" Samsung 1920 x 1200 LCD display) but I did bump it to 6 Gb of Corsair RAM. The total price seemed pretty reasonable. Then I priced all the components at NewEgg (where I've done a LOT of business over the years - great folks, great prices!) and found that it would cost me nearly $300 MORE to order it in pieces and build it myself! And I wouldn't get the 3-year warranty!

    Well, I'm geeked to get it now and can't thank the reviewer enough for pointing me their way. On the other hand, I am bummed that I won't be building it myself - I really have fun doing that. Well, at least I can console myself that i'll be scavaging another DVD drive, an X-Fi sound card, an HDTV tuner and maybe a 300 Gb and a 500 Gb SATA II drive from my old box (3-year-old home-made from parts from NewEgg) to drop into the new box.

    Now, what to do with the still very functional remains of that old box? I guess maybe my nephew will be getting a new/old PC (Antec case, Antec TruePower II 550 Watt PS, ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe 939 mobo, 2 Gb RAM, 320 Gb SATA drive, DVD burner, AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ CPU with Zalman 9500A heat sink and GeForce 8800 GTS video card). It'll beat the eMachine he has now!
    Reply
  • Nfarce - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    I've been pricing a mid-range i7 build for, ironically, between $1,300-$1,500. The CPU, Mobo, and power supply in this system are all the same in my latest build spec. The only major differences are a 4870 1GB GPU (upgrading with another in a few months for Crossfire), 3x2GB Patriot Viper memory, and a 300GB WD VelociRaptor primary & 640GB WD Caviar Black secondary HDD(and don't need BD player for a PC as I have a PS3). The benchmarks are very informative.

    Quote:

    "For better or worse, CyberPower does not restrict [component] choice at all, so an uninformed buyer could purchase a $1500 "gaming" system with a GeForce 7400 GS or HD 4350. Choice is great, but the number of options really demands an informed buyer when placing the order and their website simply does not offer that level of guidance."

    I would surmise that those who do not know video cards 101 and ordering a PC would be doing do through Dell, or even more basic, buying one from a B&M store like Best Buy.
    Reply
  • Matt Campbell - Wednesday, March 04, 2009 - link

    More memory, tweaking the settings, and your hard drive choices would significantly improve the multitasking performance we saw. Game loading times would decrease with the VelociRaptor as well. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Looks like there is something plugged into the IDE connector on the motherboard. Is that actually hooked up to anything? Reply
  • Matt Campbell - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Yes, there's a rounded IDE cable going to the DVD burner. The Blu Ray player and hard drive are both SATA. Reply
  • Exar3342 - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    For $1499.00, this system has a lot of quality parts to offer. If you add up the cost of the components, it basically comes out to the selling price. The bonus is you also get support with the computer purchase; nice deal. Reply

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