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.
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ckryan - Friday, October 21, 2011 - linkI don't think the price is terrible for what you get, but it's curious that the system was sent with this configuration. Quiet air cooling and a little solid state storage make a big difference for sound and performance, so it's surprising that they didn't choose a modest SSD and a "green" HD, dropped the Asetek, and chose a more appropriate case. The Cooler Master might be a decent case, but I think it looks more than just a little cheap.
xQuartzx - Friday, November 11, 2011 - linkI'm personally not a big fan of Ibuypower. I bought my first gaming computer from them, and honestly it wasn't a great experience. I don't like how they build their computer, how they treat their customers, and just generally how they run their business., I mean if something is on back order you have to call to find out, they don't alert you, notify you, nothing. They just let you sit and guess. That's why I'm using Ironside Computers now to build my gaming computers. They give me a much more hassle-free service. I'm notified on everything that happens with my computer, and their build quality is superb. It was a much better experience IMHO.
s44 - Friday, October 21, 2011 - linkI realize that [H] shut their program down because it was too logistically difficult (working around the need to get a review unit through standard channels -- in order to stay anonymous -- must be a nightmare), but something like their service testing program where they simulated various things that could go wrong and the vendor's ability to deal with it through support channels seems irreplaceable, particularly in this part of the market.
iBP, for example, is known for terrible customer service, and even though you rightly ding them for warranty spec, config, and presentation, it's still quite a leap of faith to say that had they gotten these things right, it would be worth it. How do you know what their warranty is really worth, even for what it covers? Are you really going to ask enterprise buyers to make a leap of faith on a long-term purchase just on a company's ability to nail the front-end stuff?
VikingDude151 - Friday, October 21, 2011 - linkPlease validate vast statements such as this: "a boutique like iBuyPower for their desktop and enjoying the generally superior build and component quality along with better customer service." Customization and build quality are most likely pluses, but I don't think customer service is.
My experience with AVADirect, a similar boutique is that their customer service is horrible. With a big box store or large PC supplier I would have never experienced a DOA problem where it took nearly 1 month for AVADirect to resolve the issue where they failed to screw in the video card before shipment. A DOA problem like this would never be a problem with a large PC supplier or big box store.
Money Loo - Friday, October 21, 2011 - linkI have to completely agree with this comment. Except my own experience is with iBuypower personally. Both me and my brother purchased computers from them around the same time about a year ago. And both of our computers had power supplies fail on us. This wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for their atrocious customer support. First of all, they only have like three people working customer support. Second, they are amazingly rude. Both me and my brother have literally had some foreigner LAUGH at us over the phone, telling us they weren't going to fix anything, and if we didn't like it, we should come to california and take it up with them personally. Then they would hang up, and continue to do this when you called back! It was AMAZINGLY INFURIATING. Needless to say we both dropped them and went with another company in the future. Maingear has been nothing but exceptional. My first computer with them had a faulty PSU, admittedly my fault because I added more components to it after selecting a borderline psu to power my dual gtx580s. I even told the guy on the phone this and he said no worries, and sent out a brand new psu at no cost to me within two days. Haven't had any problems since.
Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - linkThe general idea behind going with a boutique is that theoretically they SHOULD provide better, more personalized customer service. Unfortunately part of the problem as a reviewer is that I'm always going to see the best side of any company's PR.
When you guys post these horror stories, though, it winds up doing everybody a service. This is a public space where other potential customers are going to read these remarks, which incentivizes the company itself to get more hands on and keep their **** honest. Every so often when we see something like this, we'll ping the company themselves and let them know something's up.
As far as large PC suppliers and big boxes go, you can get burned royally. My best friend's cousin bought a laptop from Best Buy that had problems with the screen blanking out randomly within a week of the purchase. He took it back to the Best Buy and they said "tough titties, you didn't buy our warranty so we can't help you." (By the way, I used to work in Geek Squad and I can vouch, albeit anecdotally, for their utter lack of reliability.)
s44 - Sunday, October 23, 2011 - linkDustin, you do know about this great doomed project five+ years ago, right?
jalexoid - Friday, October 21, 2011 - linkWhy don't you use any OpenGL games for workstation GPU testing? It's kind of pointless to test an OpenGL optimised GPU with DX games.
I'm pretty sure, that there are games that are OpenGL and you could run them as a part of your test...
JarredWalton - Friday, October 21, 2011 - linkQuadro cards are optimized for professional OpenGL use, not for OpenGL games. Besides which, the only OpenGL games are either old, not demanding, or not a good benchmark (see the Rage article I wrote recently).
cactusdog - Friday, October 21, 2011 - linkThanks for the review Dustin.