Introducing the iBuyPower Revolt

At CES 2013, the PC boutique iBuyPower announced a product that's in many ways much more than the sum of its parts. They announced the Revolt, a small form factor gaming PC that's riding the same wave of small gaming PCs that includes Alienware's X51, DigitalStorm's Bolt, and the review pending Steiger Dynamics LEET. These products are essentially about the move of PC gaming into the living room, something arguably predicated by the continued miniaturization of PC hardware, a very mature gaming platform that's had time to sand off its harsh edges just as gaming consoles continue to develop more and more of their own, and the convergence of games for all three main gaming platforms.

The iBuyPower Revolt isn't just another indicator of a sea change in gaming and an upswing in interest in PC gaming, though. What iBuyPower has done with the Revolt is create a PC product that is almost wholly their own, from the chassis to—and this part is crucial—the motherboard. That makes the Revolt notable both in terms of how it falls into the larger PC gaming landscape, but also in how it establishes iBuyPower not as a boutique, but as a legitimate vendor with the potential to compete with heavyweights like Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, ASUS, and Toshiba. That means that more than just balance sheets hinge on the Revolt's success; to an extent, iBuyPower's very nature in the market hinges upon it. The question becomes: can the Revolt possibly live up to expectations?

In much the same fashion as Alienware's X51, the iBuyPower Revolt is essentially designed to continue the trickle down progress of PC gaming hardware. This isn't another system on shelves marketed as a gaming system but shipping with anemic graphics kit; the Revolt starts at a GeForce GTX 650 for just $649. That's significant when you take into account the already aggressive Alienware X51, which presently starts at $649 but only offers a GeForce GT 640. DigitalStorm's Bolt doesn't even really show up to compete in this price range, to say nothing of other boutiques.

It's also important to again note that the Revolt is designed completely in house by iBuyPower. Their traditional close partnership (putting it mildly) with NZXT doesn't come into play here; the Revolt is entirely their baby. The fact that they use their own motherboard design is significant as well; it allows them to remove the motherboard video outputs from Z77 entirely, a smart change for usability's sake. It's also in many ways the defining characteristic of the Revolt; over the past year we've seen boutiques design their own cases, but the actual electronics are another matter entirely.

iBuyPower Revolt Specifications
Chassis Custom iBuyPower
Processor Intel Core i7-3770K
(4x3.5GHz, Turbo to 3.9GHz, 22nm, 8MB L3, 77W)
Motherboard Custom Z77 Board
Memory 1x8GB G.Skill DDR3-1600 (maximum 2x8GB)
Graphics eVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 2GB GDDR5
(1344 CUDA Cores, 1002MHz/1084MHz/6.2GHz core/boost/RAM, 256-bit memory bus)
Hard Drive(s) Intel 330 120GB SATA 6Gbps SSD

Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB SATA 6Gbps SSD
Optical Drive(s) Optiarc Slot-loading DVD+/-RW
Power Supply FSP 500W 80 Plus Gold 1U PSU
Networking Broadcom NetLink Gigabit Ethernet
Realtek RTL8723A 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz Wireless Ethernet
Bluetooth
Audio Realtek ALC899
Speaker, line-in, mic, and surround jacks
Front Side Power button
LED lighting toggle
Slot-loading optical drive
SD card reader
2x USB 3.0
Mic and headphone jacks
Top Side -
Back Side PS/2
4x USB 3.0
Clear CMOS button
2x USB 2.0
eSATA
Gigabit ethernet
Mic, line-in, headphone, and surround jacks
Optical out
2x DVI (GTX 670)
1x HDMI (GTX 670)
1x DisplayPort (GTX 670)
Operating System Windows 8 64-bit
Dimensions 16.2" x 4.6" x 16"
(412mm x 117mm x 407mm)
Extras Card reader
80 Plus Gold PSU
140mm CPU radiator
Warranty 1-year limited parts and labor
Pricing Starts at $499
Review system configured at $1,553
MSRP of review system: $1,199-$1,299

When you configure the Revolt, you can opt for a little bit less of the awesome stuff. The entry-level $499 configuration isn't a gaming system, and features an i3 with HD graphics and an ASRock B75 motherboard. It's the $649 configuration featuring the IGP-free Intel Core i5-3350P and GeForce GTX 650 that's more impressive. Our review system is much beefier, and I'll admit to being skeptical about that MSRP when the custom price tag comes in so much higher.

iBuyPower's BIOS will actually let you overclock the CPU yourself (or you can order it overclocked directly from them), and they charge an amusing $44 premium for the NZXT Kraken X40 over the Asetek 550LC liquid cooler (itself $35 more than the stock cooler). The 550LC is a 120mm closed loop cooler, while the Kraken X40 is really just a rebranded Asetek unit with a 140mm radiator instead.

Suffice to say, our review configuration is a powerful gaming system in a fairly smaller form factor (I'll discuss build quality later on), and if they can hit their MSRP they'll undercut everyone else. As it stands, the most expensive stock configuration they have available employs an i5-3570K, stock cooler, an abnormally short 4GB of DDR3-1600, a 1TB hard disk, no wireless connectivity, and a GeForce GTX 660 2GB for $899. Pre-order the $999 retail model from NewEgg, and you gain a small overclock on the i5-3570K, a liquid cooler, and 8GB of RAM, but you get cut down to a 500GB HDD.

How does that $899 model compete with Alienware's X51? Fairly favorably, actually. It slots in between their anemic $799 configuration, which features an i5-3330 and a paltry GeForce GT 640, and their robust $1,099 configuration, which features an i7-3770 and OEM version of the GTX 660. Alienware's OEM GTX 660 enjoys more shaders at lower clocks via a cut-down GK104 chip, while the retail GTX 660 iBuyPower uses features less shaders at higher clocks via a full-fat GK106. You can get an X51 in the Revolt's neighborhood by upgrading an i5 model with a GTX 660, but generally iBuyPower enjoys a price advantage.

Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • mariush - Saturday, February 16, 2013 - link

    Too bad you're not actually posting some pictures of the actual motherboard and case internals.

    You say it's custom but it would be nice to see who exactly makes it or what model of motherboard is the base this motherboard was customized from.

    Surely it's not a 100% custom design.
    Reply
  • RDO CA - Saturday, February 16, 2013 - link

    Sooooo when do you read the article? Reply
  • secretmanofagent - Saturday, February 16, 2013 - link

    Too bad I'm not putting together words that represent a thoughtful contribution.

    You say it's custom, and then you go into detail exactly what it is in the conclusion.

    Surely I should have read the article 100% before bitching.
    Reply
  • arnavvdesai - Saturday, February 16, 2013 - link

    I was hoping the author can answer some of the following questions
    1) Is there space for one more 3.5" HDD?
    2) Is there space for one 2.5" SSD and one 3.5" HDD?

    While I understand that most of the system is accessible by removing a phillips screws, can I at some point change the Video Card personally when a new one comes out or is it in some way fixed permanently with the system when I purchase one.
    I am really interested in the system size and the MB they provide and would like to get something this small, so is there something case/MB wise that I can get to put below my TV? The mITX cases I have seen so far on NewEgg or Amazon all seem to be towers and largish (roughly the size of a large AV reciever).
    Is there an option to get a BD drive instead of a DVD drive?
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Sunday, February 17, 2013 - link

    You can configure it with an SSD and an HDD. The wizard won't let you pick 2 HDDs (throws an error message) so the second bay is almost certainly only 2.5". Surprisingly it doesn't have an option for two SSDs; since in the past I've read that butiques were claiming it was a customer demanded config when they sent raid 0 SSD review systems out. Reply
  • jnemesh - Monday, February 18, 2013 - link

    It has one 3.5" bay, one 2.5" bay, and one mSATA slot. It would not let me configure all three filled, but you should be able to have 3 drives internal if one is a SSD using mSATA. Reply
  • tipoo - Saturday, February 16, 2013 - link

    Shame they killed it rather than continuing to upgrade it. They were early to this segment and instead of capitalizing on their lead they let it die off. Sounds familiar for them. Reply
  • Earthmonger - Sunday, February 17, 2013 - link

    Not interested much, but I did read it. Thanks for the work Dustin. Kept me occupied for fifteen minutes on this boring Sunday, and I appreciate that.

    This isn't for PC Gaming enthusiasts; they would want the security of an upgradable machine.
    This is just for console gamers who'd like to expand their options to PC games. With a disposable machine.

    I keep wondering why they want to shrink these "living room boxes". You could accomplish so much more in something the size of a HT subwoofer enclosure without grossly scandalizing the living room.

    I'd like to agree with the earlier comment complaining about the MS Office inclusion. It should be the consumer's option to receive the product with a completely blank drive, if they wish it. These back-office deals have always PO'd me, I don't need a bloated, ghost'ed drive. But in this case I have to remember the demographic this was built for, which isn't me. Can't deduct for that.

    The case design is hideous. I've seen it before, on an $8 plastic clothes hamper at Wal*Mart. Reminiscent of something the new Johnny Hou would draw up.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Sunday, February 17, 2013 - link

    Uh...this is upgradable. Reply
  • Earthmonger - Monday, February 18, 2013 - link

    Is it? Swap out the PSU, GPU, toss in an AMD CPU, motherboard? Hmm. I was under the impression that space was limited, and PSU/GPU length and mainboard config would be an issue. Reply

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