Entertainment, Hardware, Reviews

Review: iBuypower Revolt – Lots of Power in a Small Package

Today we will be taking a look at iBuypower?s Revolt gaming system, which they had originally launched back at CES. Now that we?ve had some quality time with the Revolt, we can decide on whether or not the system lives up to its expectations and if iBuypower has a decent gaming machine inside of this incredibly slim body.

Design and Specifications
The device itself is designed to be only slightly larger than an Xbox 360 or PS3, while delivering top-notch PC gaming. When you look at the stylization of the actual computer, you can see that they designed it to fit in the same place that a current or previous generation console would. Furthermore, they added lots of lighting accents to both side panels and the front panel of the Revolt to make it more visually appealing and attractive. I found that the side panel lights could be at times a bit bright, but like anything, they can be shut off.

The model that iBuypower sent us sported a Core i7 3770K water cooled with an NZXT Kraken X40 140mm water cooler to keep it cool and quiet in such tight spaces. The 3770K in this system runs at 3.7GHz indicating some Turbo mode from the Intel CPU. In terms of memory, the system sports 8GB of DDR3 1600 MHz RAM which is more than enough for most gaming scenarios. It also came equipped with an Nvidia GTX 670 graphics card, which puts it in very good company when it comes to gaming systems. It also has an Intel 330 series 120GB SSD and a 1TB data drive, which in our case was a Western Digital drive. It ships with a custom 500w PSU, limiting your expansion and overclocking capability due to power, however, this appears to be a server PSU and likely can be upgraded when matched correctly. It also has a slot loading CD/DVD drive and built-in card reader, USB 3.0 ports and Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi.

In terms of the internal design, this thing is completely jam-packed and frankly bordering on too tight. When you pop open the side panel you begin to realize how tightly packed everything is. If you look down on to the open case, you can see that the CPU cooler is mounted behind the slot-loading CD/DVD drive and that the CPU and RAM are on the motherboard underneath the SSD and HDD cage. You can also see the 500w 80+ rated PSU which sits atop the GTX 670 GPU. Now, when the case is standing upright, these are all sitting side by side and by the looks of it should be thermally very well taken care of, we?ll see how warm everything gets during our 12 hour stress test.

The backside

User Experience
Initially, when you power this thing on for the first time, you get a real wooshing sound from the computer that reminds you of how loud the system could theoretically get. However, it never comes anywhere near being that loud, not under any sort of load. Because of the 120GB Intel 330 SSD, the system boots very quickly with a measured time averaging around 14 seconds.

Once that happened, I proceeded to configure the computer for my main purposes, gaming. This is where I managed to hit a snag on this device. The wireless network card only supports 2.4GHz, the problem with that is not my router, however, but the fact that I live in an apartment complex and there are about 100 different 2.4 GHz networks around me. Now, switching to 5GHz, there are about 3 or 4 and this translates significantly in a difference of speed. So, what I did in order to speed up my game downloads was to actually connect my Western Digital MyNet AC Bridge via 5GHz to my router and pull down a wired connection into the iBuypower Revolt.

Revolt Left, Bolt Right.

Beyond that single snag, the system ran perfectly without any hiccups or any programs that needed updating. iBuypower is very good about keeping bloatware to a minimum that basically achieves non-existence. They don?t particularly provide any useful utilities either, but they do offer a 3 year warranty with unlimited technical support on this system. In terms of heat and sound, the Revolt is certainly not a silent device as it makes a decent amount of noise if you sit closely enough to it. The sound is audible, but I wouldn?t call it loud or quiet, it belongs somewhere in the middle. However, under full load, I was impressed with the system?s ability to cope with the temperatures and to keep itself from overheating. Additionally, this system seemed fairly quieter than some other larger systems I?ve tested that had similar horsepower.

Carrying around the Revolt also wasn?t hard, but it would?ve been nice if there was a place on the case that made it LAN carry friendly. Perhaps a LAN bag is more appropriate, but I really do like how light this system is in respect to the amount of performance and weight.

For benchmarks, we compiled a suite of synthetic benchmarks, system benchmarks, certain component benchmarks and game benchmarks. First, we?ll start with the synthetic system and component benchmarks and we?ll finish with game benchmarks.

PCMark 7

In PCMark 7, we?re simply measuring overall system performance with a focus on graphical and task execution. The Revolt scored a score of 6239, which is less than the 6633 of our Triple-Titan 3770K-based system from Maingear, but obviously for a reason. When compared to the similarly designed and spec?d Digital Storm Bolt, it beat the score of 6039.

3DMark Fire Strike and Fire Strike Extreme

In 3DMark Fire Strike and Fire Strike Extreme, we?re simply measuring the computer?s theoret
ical graphical performance. In Fire Strike, we got a score of 5760, which is higher than the 4840 that we tested on the Digital Storm Bolt which packs a GTX 660 Ti. In Fire Strike Extreme, the most intensive 3DMark to date, the Revolt managed a score of 2868, which is less than the 4463 we got from our GeForce GTX Titan, but then again a GeForce GTX Titan is $1000 and according to iBuypower CAN be installed in a Revolt as an optional GPU, so such performance is attainable in this system.

AIDA64 Read Test

We simply ran this test to make sure that the OS drive was installed correctly and running at the expected speeds. This isn?t really a significant benchmark for us, but more of a due diligence type of thing. As expected, the 120GB Intel 330 SSD performed at or around 500MB/s reads which means that this drive?s boot times and load times are as zippy as they seem.
Game Benchmarks

Battlefield 3

Looking at our Battlefield 3 performance, there?s really no surprise here that this thing is performing incredibly well at the highest settings. It peaks at 142 FPS and delivers an average FPS of 103, this is what we?d expect from this system sporting a GTX 670. You can easily play Battlefield 3 with this system without a care in the world.

Crysis 3

In Crysis 3, since we had only a GTX 670, we decided that maximum settings were out of the question at 1080P, so we went for the more playable Very High settings preset with low AA. Under these settings, we got pretty playable results with admittedly some glitchiness due to some high-intensity scenes. Looking at our results, we saw that the iBuypower Revolt got an average FPS of 54, a minimum of 22 and a maximum of 67. This is in comparison to the Digital Storm Bolt, it?s direct competitor, which got a faster minimum of 23, average of 37 and maximum of 58. Clearly in Crysis 3 the faster GPU wins.

Bioshock Infinite

In Bioshock Infinite we saw a slightly different result with the iBuypower Revolt cruising through Bioshock Infinite at an average of 105 FPS and a minimum of 32 FPS. The Digital Storm, however managed 1 FPS faster in terms of minimum and 3 FPS in terms of average. This could be because the driver versions between the two systems were not the same and possibly because the Digital Storm system is overclocked. Nonetheless, an interesting result, basically putting the two systems neck and neck for the first time. Addmittedly, this game is not as graphically intensive as Crysis 3 where we really see the graphical and computational differences.

Finally, we took a look at the system?s temperatures under load and how it held up under a long-term stability test where all of the components were stressed for about 12 hours. We accomplished this with AIDA64?s Stress Test and we were impressed with the thermal numbers that we got.

While the system clearly stayed very cool, it did get a bit on the louder side of things. But nowhere to the point where I would say was it obnoxiously loud. The sound levels would be a bit below a current generation console after a long period of gaming.

Value and Conclusion
The iBuypower Revolt starts at $499 and comes in three different base configurations. Those being Core i3 3220 with integrated for $499, Core i5 3570K with GTX 660 for $899 (A steal in my opinion), and Core i7 3770K with a GTX 670 for $1399. In my humble opinion, the $899 model is probably the better value of the three systems and would compete equally with the Digital Storm system for almost half the price. The Revolt 770, which is the top-end standard configuration sells for $200 less than the Digital Storm Bolt and has a better GPU and in my opinion overall better specs.

Revolt, Left, and Bolt, Right.

Comparing the IBP Revolt to the DS Bolt is going to happen a lot, so there?s no doubt that we want to address it in our conclusion. I?ve personally held the Bolt and the Revolt and they even have similar names as if the formfactors and specs weren?t enough. To me, the Bolt feels significantly heavier and sturdier than the Revolt, however, the Revolt?s plastic does not necessarily come off as cheap. This is a custom case for iBuypower and they?re probably the best plastic case manufacturer out there today. Interestingly enough, both cases seemed to have a bit of bowing on the side panels, which Ryan and I found interesting. The Bolt is without a doubt smaller, but it just feels like a heavy brick to me, probably because of the smaller more dense design.

Since we?ve reviewed both the Bolt and the Revolt and we?ve given the Bolt an Editor?s Choice award, I believe it is fitting to give the Revolt an Editor?s Choice award as well as a Value Award for being a fantastic value to the consumer in the $899 model and still being a fairly good deal even with the highest spec?d version at $1399 (cheaper than the Bolt).