Build Quality

For the Erebus GT, iBUYPOWER is using a custom chassis that appears to be based on an NZXT design. The framework, front hot-swap bay, card reader, and switchable LEDs that light up the port cluster and expansion slots in the back of the enclosure are all holdovers from the Switch 810, but the radiator assembly at the top of the enclosure seems to be entirely a custom solution as does the steel material used for the majority of the case itself.

The custom liquid cooling loop uses what appears to be a 420mm radiator in the top of the enclosure along with an additional 140mm radiator in the rear. Fluid can be poured in/replaced using a twist off cap on the top of the enclosure, but this area is also the seat of the Erebus GT's woes. When the system shipped, the cap seems to either have not been completely secured or came loose in shipping (not unreasonable given the system itself weighs in the neighborhood of fifty pounds), and there was minor spillage of radiator fluid. Thankfully none of it made it inside the enclosure, but iBUYPOWER also uses a nonconductive fluid for the loop as a safeguard.

The attractive internal lighting job also didn't survive the journey in quite as good a shape as I'd have liked: the hooks keeping the lighting strand affixed to the bottom of the enclosure came loose either in shipment or when the internal packing material was removed, and wouldn't stay reaffixed.

Despite these minor setbacks, the build quality proper of the Erebus GT is generally excellent, though the cabling job behind the motherboard tray could stand to be a bit neater. There's a small window for the coolant reservoir in the front of the enclosure that lets you check your coolant level, and the white lighting scheme coupled with the frosty laser-etched logo and design on the left side panel is evocative of the very coldest depths of Hell. I personally find the look of the system along with the stylistic and artistic flourishes to be flavorful and tasteful without being over-the-top or gaudy as hardware targeted towards gamers can often be.

With all that said, there were problems that I ran into in the operation and testing of the system that we'll address on the next page.

Heat, Noise, and Power Consumption

Where the Erebus GT does largely succeed is in its management of heat and power consumption. Given the custom liquid cooling loop, it's not surprising that the system doesn't have any trouble dissipating heat, but the real surprise was in how frugal it is with power consumption.

Idle Power Consumption

Load Power Consumption

Idle power consumption ranks among the best systems we've tested, especially when you consider the fact that the Erebus GT has to power a water pump alongside the fans attached to the radiators. The success here is owed to two things: the reasonably frugal Radeon HD 7970, and the decision by iBUYPOWER's engineers to manually set a reasonably low offset voltage on the CPU overclock rather than just pump a load of voltage into the chip and call it a day. Offset voltage is something I had a chance to discuss with their representative at CES 2012 and something I always take boutiques to task about, so I'm happy to see that problem addressed here.

Heat is largely kept in check, and the Radeon HD 7970 runs spectacularly cool: there's definitely room for improvement there. Unfortunately, iBUYPOWER's system does suffer from one issue: noise. It isn't the loudest system I've ever tested and the noise is at least a low-pitched hum that's not too obtrusive, but 43dBA is loud enough to be noticeable and there don't seem to be any fan controls in place to keep the noise levels down when the system is idle. Noise is consistent regardless of how hard you push the Erebus GT.

Gaming Performance Testing Issues and a Statement from iBuyPower
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  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    You're still missing the point. All I'm saying is you get a good case (estimate of $150 for the case in the Erebus GT), you get about $500 worth of water cooling (minimum), and you left of Windows. Take your $1567, add $99 for Windows, add $150 for a comparable case, and price everything out at Newegg and you get $1850. Is it that hard? Now, take that price and add $500 in water cooling and you end up at $2350, giving them an additional profit of $150 plus their markup over wholesale. Reply
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    you are an editor, and i am sure you have reviewed many, many system in the past.

    if you think that water cooling system used cost 500 dollar when ZALMAN RESERATOR can be had for 200, i have an island to sell.

    by the way, i did throw in a water block just for GPU reference, and of course you missed it.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    A CPU water block isn't the same as what is included here. I linked the items in the article, but here's what you need:

    CPU water block
    GPU water block (compatible with 7970)
    3x140mm fans and radiator
    1x120mm fan and radiator
    Couplings
    Tubing
    Water pump

    The Zalman Reserator gives you several of those items, but it doesn't have a 3x140mm radiator and it doesn't have a GPU water block. FYI, the GPU water block is about $135 just on its own. So, Zalman Reserator is around $240, plus $135 for the GPU cooling, and then there's still a question of whether it cools as well as the solution iBUYPOWER used. Honestly, I don't know if it's better or worse, but generally speaking more expensive water cooling equipment costs more because it's better.

    What you're basically saying is if I were to discuss the pros and cons of a Honda Accord (or Toyota Camry), and then you come along and say, "If you think a mid size sedan costs $25000 when a Kia Forte can be had for $17000, I have an island to sell." Go do some real research into the topic and then show me a complete water cooling solution that will handle both the CPU and GPU and has a large radiator that costs $200.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    "PSU achieve maximum efficiency at around 50% load." And that is fine if all you do is game. But if you do something else (which is likely), your idle wattage is (far) below 100W in most cases with SB and 7970 and the efficiency drops off sharply below 20%. And "headroom"? For what? Unless you plan on going SLI/CF or dual CPU, I wouldn't recommend more than a good 600W PSU for any single GPU/CPU system. Even highly overclocked 4.5GHz SB with a highly overclocked 7970 will not draw more than 500-550W which means the PSU needs to supply 450-500W for that. Reply
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    that's a good point. but as a high end gaming machine that cost over 2.5k, i doubt use it for office work is the primary intention.

    bear in mind, it is 2.5k system. it ought to have head room for anything i want to throw at. it is like spending 250k dollar in a car, it better has 700 house power EVEN if it is more wasteful driving around downtown than 1.8L corolla.
    Reply
  • Nfarce - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    Dude, you need to find yourself a girlfriend or something. What a whiny bitch. Sheesh. Reply
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    b word already? that shows your education level. i don't care if you want to have the last word. Reply
  • Minion4Hire - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    seanlee, I think what you're trying to say is that you are not personally impressed/interested in custom watercooling and would rather save your money and deal with higher temps/noise. But that entirely misses the point entirely of a direct comparison. You are making sacrifices with your rig while the reviewed system does NOT. That's fine, but you present a piss-poor argument. One you should never have even attempted to make.

    Just... no.
    Reply
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    i am not impressed at all. and with 1000 dollar you can get much better water cooling solution and case.
    what did i sacrifice my rig with?
    and your pissing comment doesn't even have an argument to make.

    just .. no.
    Reply
  • Seanleeisdumb - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    I created an account just to tell you that you are dumb Seanlee. We all know that we could squish more performance out at a lower price or could build a higher performing machine at the same price. This build is about quality and about high end features and the relatively reasonable price Ibuypower is asking. We all know that Toyota makes Lexus and we all know that when you buy a Lexus for 75k you aren't getting three times the car that a civic is.. that's not the point. The point is that this is a pro-assembled custom build with some nice bells and whistles.. when you compare it to what other builders are charging it's a steal.
    Also... single card is sooooo much better than SLI.. I run my own business doing custom builds and have stopped offering multi-card setups because of the headaches they cause my clients.
    Reply

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