Last month's Core i7 Giveaway was a great way to bring back contests/giveaways to AnandTech. I asked our winner, Gregory Peng, to write up a bit on the new system. The next one isn't going to be quite as large, but I'm hoping to give away a pair of 6GB DDR3 memory kits before I leave for CES in January.

Anand,

The new Core i7 system is up and running with the important parts from my old system (two WD Caviar Black 1 TB drives, Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic soundcard) and files migrated over earlier this week. I have installed the recently released Intel SSD firmware update that adds Trim support and am awaiting the re-release of the Intel SSD Toolbox to run the Optimizer program once . The SSD is definitely snappier when I’m multitasking and loading the more resource intensive programs.

I spent the last three days working on overclocking the CPU and have been able to achieve at least 3.96 GHz (22 x 180 BCLK) at 1.35V with stability tested using 15 passes of IntelBurnTest at Maximum stress level. It appears that I might be limited by BCLK and will have to see what I can adjust to increase it. I was not able to pass stability tests at similar and even lower CPU clock speeds with a higher BCLK. One thing I had to do was add one of my Scythe S-FLEX-F fans to the push side of the Asetek liquid cooler’s radiator. The iBuyPower system came with only a fan acting to pull air through the radiator, which was not sufficient to properly cool the overclocked CPU. Idle temperatures of the overclocked CPU were in the high 40’s and low 50’s (Celsius). Stress tests would cause the core temperatures to quickly skyrocket up towards the Tj max of 99 C. With the added Scythe fan acting as part of a push-pull system with the original fan, temperatures were much more controlled. Idle temperatures were more reasonably in the high 30’s, and the highest temperatures reached with IntelBurnTest were in the high 70’s and low 80’s.

I really wanted to run some gaming benchmarks to compare the system I was using (Q6600 @ 3.4 GHz with Radeon HD4870 512 MB) to the system I won (i7 870 with Radeon HD4890 1 GB), but unfortunately it seems that something is wrong with the included XFX HD4890 and it is actually running slower than my HD4870. I didn’t realize this until I started running the benchmarks today and my old system scored about 6% higher in 3DMark 06 and 11% higher in a Far Cry 2 test. I tried swapping the video cards between systems and the results were also swapped, so I am almost certain something is wrong with the 4890. I will be contacting XFX and iBuyPower on Monday to see what can be done. Hopefully there is still a warranty on the computer system and parts even though I won them.

Here are pictures with captions of the Core i7 as I received it and as I reconfigured it.

First I’ll start out with a quick picture of my old system, which was initially built in January 2008:

Case: Coolermaster CM-690
CPU: Intel Q6600 overclocked to 3.4 GHz
CPU cooler: Thermalright Ultima-90 with Scythe S-FLEX-F fans
Motherboard: Abit IP35-Pro
Memory: 8 GB DDR2-800
Video card: Sapphire HD4870 512 MB
Sound card: Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi
Hard drives: 500 GB WD Caviar SE16, 2x 1 TB WD Caviar Black
Optical drive: Pioneer 212D
Power supply: Corsair 520HX

Here is the iBuyPower Core i7 computer after being unboxed. The case is actually an NZXT Guardian 921 with iBuyPower’s custom paint scheme.

A look inside the case as it was built and wired from iBuyPower.


NZXT PP-800 800W power supply


Asetek liquid CPU cooler with a fan configured to pull air through the radiator.

The motherboard turned out to be an ASUS P7P55D Pro, a step up from the ASUS P7P55D-LE that was listed in the contest.

XFX ATI Radeon HD4890 1GB

Hitach 7K.1000B 1TB hard drive on the upper left. Intel X25-M 80 GB SSD on the upper right (Ed: That's an X25-M G2, extra sweet). The two Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB hard drives are from my old system, where they were used as redundant storage drives. The SSD is now being used as my Windows 7 OS drive, the Hitachi 1 TB drive is a redundant backup of one of the WD Caviar Blacks used for storage, and the other Caviar Black is used for games and other miscellaneous storage.

The optical drive is an LG Bluray reader and DVD burner. A generic memory card reader sits in one of the 3.5” drive bays.


A look at the inside of the case after I moved the included hard drives around so I could add my other two hard drives, installed my old X-Fi sound card, added a Scythe S-FLEX-F fan for push-pull cooling of the Asetek radiator (this drastically improved CPU cooling), and re-routed the power supply cables. It was a lot easier to make the wiring neat in my Coolermaster CM-690 with the modular cables of the Corsair 520HX. This NZXT case doesn’t make it easy to add more hard drives. The two WD Caviar Blacks are in the only two dedicated hard drive bays, the Intel SSD is sitting in the 3.5” bay under the memory card reader, and the Hitachi drive is mounted in the 5.25” bay just above the memory card reader with some adapter rails. I think eventually I will install a 3x3.5” to 2x5.25” backplane module in the 5.25” bays below the optical drive to hold the three mechanical hard drives and move the SSD back into the case’s hard drive bay.

Here is the computer powered on. The bright LEDs, side window, and flashy flame paint scheme are pretty much the opposite of the subtle look I was going for with my past cases (Antec Sonata II and Coolermaster CM-690), but I can live with it.

POST A COMMENT

49 Comments

View All Comments

  • SSUSeaWolf - Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - link

    This rich dude gets a super fast computer in addition to his already super fast computer? Then he complains about it.

    That's not fair and he is a bad person.

    People like me who have a 7 year old computer because they can't afford anything else deserve the system much more than this guy.
    Reply
  • macroecon - Thursday, December 24, 2009 - link

    In all due respect I totally disagree with your comment. The winner of this computer didn't cheat or do anything dishonest, so how is it not fair? And just because you can't afford to buy a new computer doesn't make you more "deserving" to win this computer. It's just random chance. If Anand really goes by your rule of "fairness" then we wouldn't even have this giveaway to begin with, he should just give it to some homeless kid in Africa who has 100X less wealth than you. Reply
  • Rev1 - Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - link

    Are you serious?! He won it fair and square. I'd be pissed to to have to deal with xfx's customer service. Look and the horrible craftsmanship that went into the comp also, but it was free, i'd be pissed as hell if i bought some garbage like that though. Reply
  • marc1000 - Thursday, December 24, 2009 - link

    hey, calm down. The system is not garbage at all, it was just built by a worker, and not by an IT expert who likes to tweak even the cables of his computer (I'm one of the later!) Reply
  • Rev1 - Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - link

    iBuyPower did a horrible wiring job, that thing runs way to hot also and should clock higher, bummer bout the GPU also, but hey it was free. Reply
  • MMORPGOD - Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - link

    I like chance but wish like the others have said that it went to someone who could use.

    I would trade up my amd64 3200 939 rig in a heartbeat, 10yrs old and still ticking with a HD 3650 agp card to keep her going, can play crysis low and most games decently still. Reason why an old PC user such as my self keeps coming back to Anandtech is because I enjoy the articles and seeing technology come around. A fixed income sure hurts though when you see all these toys. =(
    Reply
  • Narcofis - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I feel the pain too. I have your same exact rig except I got an amd 4000+ (939). Reply
  • Boyne7 - Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - link

    the pics really show just how poor of a build the ibuypower rig is, even compared to your home built machine the ibuypower looks cluttered and obviously was thrown together in about 5 minutes, whereas you took time to do cable management and keep things tidy. Bravo to you, boo on ibuypower. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - link

    Gregory,

    Thanks for the write-up on the system. Yes we are all jealous so ignore some of the nastier comments, they are just bitter. As to my post there are 3 things I wanted to bring up.

    1. The dust issue. I dislike filters as they require very frequent cleaning and depending on where you have the computer (mine for instance is under the table in a cubby-hole) it may be more trouble than it's worse. The problem, obviously, is that dust is a great insulator and even a moderate coating on a heatsink/chip can greatly increase the temperature of the component. There really is no way to vacuum up dust, it's stuck on the components well. What I now do to make my system look like new is to use an air compressor with a low-flow nozzle. Just take the system outside and in 2 minutes you'll have a completely clean system. Heatsink fins are always a major culprit to house dirt since they "filter" it, and the air compressor method works wonders.

    2. The liquid cooling system. I remember back when a similar iBuyPower system was reviewed by Anandtech (can't remember the exact author), but in the comments section I specifically mentioned the cooling system looked...underwhelming. The large number of fins on the radiator and single fan was not going to be up to the task, and I remember the review had shown a very high idle temp, even at stock speeds. You did a great job easily increasing the efficiency of the cooler by adding the push fan. There was just no way a single fan was going to be able to create a strong enough pull to do anything other than keeping the system from frying.

    3. Cable management- I too was shocked at how poor the cabling was. I would have thought the need for good PR in a contest would have had iBuyPower go the extra mile to show just how good it could get. I'm going to go back and look at the system they sent to Anandtech for review. I'm positive the cabling for that system was done properly, which shows if you're not a reviewer, this is how your system will look out of the box. Shame, shame.

    OK, thanks for the update and Anandtech for posting the minireview.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, December 23, 2009 - link

    So I went back and take a look at the systems sent to Anandtech for review:

    Here's one of an upper-midrange system (which I would say the contest system falls under though this used standard air cooling):

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/system/2009/ib...">http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/sys...power-ga...

    And here was a top of the line monster:

    http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/system/2008/ib...">http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/system/2008/ib...

    This is one of the downsides to reviewing systems/components that are SENT by manufacturers/companies. They will cherry-pick and give extra attention on the hopes that a prospective buyer will think they will receive the same thing. Not so in this case it seems.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now