iBuyPower Professional Series: Reversal of Fortuneby Dustin Sklavos on October 21, 2011 1:15 AM EST
Conclusion: Feels Like an Afterthought
I want to be clear: the iBuyPower Professional Series isn't necessarily a bad computer. It'll certainly get the job done, and iBuyPower allows for enough custom configuring to make it worth your while. Being able to upgrade to faster NVIDIA Quadro GPUs is a decent incentive to go this route, and iBuyPower definitely competes on price.
The problem is that I just don't see any reason to buy it over competing systems from Dell or HP. In the case of the HP Z210 SFF we compared it to, HP's system is smaller, quieter, offers better power consumption, and probably most damning, has a superior warranty. If you configure HP's unit without the SSD, you can drive the cost down to compete with iBuyPower's selection, too. While iBuyPower offers three years of labor, they only offer a year on the parts, utterly inexcusable when individual warranties on each of the parts are going to be at least three years (and in some cases lifetime). HP starts at three years of labor, three years on parts, and three years of on-site service, that last point being something iBuyPower just isn't big enough to compete on.
There's very little going on with the iBuyPower Pro that makes me feel like it was configured by someone who understood the needs of enterprise users. This feels like a desktop where consumer parts were swapped out in favor of enterprise parts, and that's about it. The Corsair TX650 power supply is fantastic...for a gaming machine. Here it's overkill. The same is true of the Asetek liquid cooler, which as I mentioned before is more of a checkbox inclusion than something that actually adds value to the machine. The Xeon isn't being overclocked and has no need for exotic cooling. And the Cooler Master Silencio 550 enclosure is just the best from a series of consumer-oriented case choices; this should've been an Antec Solo II or SilverStone Temjin TJ08-E, something that would actually look like it belonged in an office.
I know boutiques have ways of competing with big box OEMs when it comes to building workstation desktops, but this isn't it. The fact that these towers are buried on iBuyPower's site suggests they're either not big sellers or just not that important to iBuyPower's business, and that's a shame. Other boutiques have embraced this potentially lucrative market (we'll be seeing more offerings from those boutiques in the future), and for iBuyPower to dismiss it with a machine like this is unfortunate. They can do better. Hopefully we'll see that in a future system.