Price: $varies- approx $1500
Rating: Weak Recommend*
So you are looking for a new computer and you have very special needs. Maybe you are a gamer, designer, filmmaker, dandy, or serious YouTuber (a type of potato). I am a designer/dandy and I needed a powerful computer. What follows is my story.
The first thing anyone does when they are serious about their purchasing is head down to their local Google information center. I do so love a spot of exercise and the fresh LA air doesn't hurt either.
About 7 years ago I bought a computer through iBuypower.com. It was pretty powerful, had lots of storage and came with a decidedly huge 19" FLAT panel monitor. This computer worked nicely, albeit with a few driver and graphics card issues. I was nonetheless pretty impressed and it handled pre-CS Adobe products with aplomb.
Even with the problems, this company is still on my radar. This time around I look at many different companies and reviews and find that there are a few that rise to the top: Cyberpower, Pugetsystems, iBuypower, and a couple others. Companies like Dell just don't offer the connective tissue that a really fast system needs. What brings me back to iBuypower is my belief that any problems I had had were a fluke. The low cost, the fact that they are located in Los Angeles, the layout of the website and the minutiae that you can go into for every single aspect of your build cinch it. You are able to select everything, including how you want your wiring routed and how loud you want your fans. In short, I feel I can get exactly the computer I want and since they are so close, I can save on shipping.
I put together my order and since there is no option for "pick up" I give them a call to see what we can do. A friendly salesperson tells me I can put her name in the comments field and use the phrase "will call" to neutralize any shipping urges they might have. The delivery date generator says I will have my computer within 10 days. I click submit and arrogantly interlock my hands behind my head to wait for the good news.
- Case ( Ikonik Zaria A10 Gaming Tower Case Black )
- Case Lighting ( None )
- Power Supply ( 600 Watt -- Power Supply SLI Ready )
- Processor ( [=== Quad Core ===] Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q9550 (4x 2.83GHz/12MB L2 Cache/1333FSB)
- Processor Cooling ( [$10 OFF Mail-In Rebate] Thermaltake V1 CPU Cooling Fan System Kit Silent & Overclocking Proof = Maximum cooling efficiency for quietness and performance )
- Motherboard ( Intel BOXDP45SG LGA 775 Intel P45 Chipset w/7.1 Sound, Gb LAN, S-ATA Raid, IEEE 1394, USB 2.0, Dual PCI-E MB )
- Memory ( 4 GB [2 GB X2] DDR3-1333 Memory Module Corsair or Major Brand )
- Video Card ( ATI Radeon HD 4670 1GB PCI-Express x16 )
- Video Card Brand ( Major Brand Powered by NVIDIA )
- Hard Drive ( 1 TB HARD DRIVE [Serial-ATA-II, 3Gb, 7200 RPM, 16M Cache] )
- 2nd Hard Drive ( None )
- External Hard Drives [USB 2.0/eSATA] ( None )
- CD/DVD Drive ( [6X Blu-Ray] LG GGC-H20L BLU-RAY Reader & DVD±R/±RW Burner Combo Drive Black )
- CD-RW/DVD-RW Drive ( [** Special !!! ***] LG 22X Dual Format/Double Layer DVD±R/±RW + CD-R/RW Drive Black )
- Sound Card ( Creative Lab Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio )
- Network Card ( Onboard LAN Network (Gb or 10/100)
- Keyboard ( iBUYPOWER USB Keyboard w/ 18 Internet Hot /Multimedia Keys Black )
- Mouse ( iBUYPOWER 1600 dpi High Sensitivity Internet Mouse Black )
- USB 2.0 Accessories ( Built-in USB 2.0 Ports )
- Meter Display ( Thermal Temperature LCD Display Black )
- Flash Media Reader/Writer ( 12-In-1 Internal Flash Media Card Reader/Writer Black )
- Operating System ( Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium + [Free 60-Day !!!] Microsoft Office 2007(Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access ....)
- Warranty ( Standard Warranty Service Standard 3-Year Limited Warranty + Lifetime Technical Support )
- Rush Service ( Rush Service Fee (not shipping fee) No Rush Service, Estimate Ship Out in 5~10 Business Days )
A few days later, all sensation gone from my arms, I receive an email stating that all my parts have arrived and that I will receive another email when assembly is complete.
A few days after that, I receive that email. I call to inquire as to when I can pick up and they say they need to test the system for a few days. We are at day 8 so I figure I will soon be tap tapping my way through the information superhighway. Five days pass with expectance turning to humming impatience. A status call connects me with a smug operator with poor math skills who tells me we are well within the quoted waiting period and that I shouldn't worry. Whatevz.
I call again after a few more days and they proudly proclaim that FedEx will be at my house later that day! While re-explaining to them that I did not want the box shipped, the doorbell rings…
…And at 19 days, I finally have the machine. Thankfully, I had written "will call" in the comments field of my order or refunding the FedEx costs may have been a hassle.
iBuypower specializes in Gamer rigs so you can imagine the ridiculous designs of most of their cases. This is pretty much a universal feature of all hot rod machines. I go for the most bestest, simplestest design they have and am reasonably happy with the look.
Right out of the box, the four cores blaze into action and I am suddenly transported to a world of high density multitasking. I am able to have as many applications and windows open as I wish, music and video and 3d programs all running at the same time. I even hire someone just to get a couple more hands on the keyboard to keep up. Truly amazing.
Three problems pop up on the first day:
1. Even after I ordered the most silent cooling system available, this is the loudest computer I have ever owned.
2. It simply will not stay in hibernate mode.
3. It crashes frequently on startup.
I call to get these worked out and they say they will gladly look it over if I just send it back in. I decide to drive it over to save time and to avoid potential jostling in transit.
A week later I give them a call to go over the problems. They tell me that the computer is quiet (another punk who treats my like I am oversensitive) and say they have fixed the other two problems but I need to turn off my external drives when turning the computer on and off to make sure it doesn't crash. I decide to cut my losses and bring it home.
When I get home, I discover that the hibernating and crashing problems are actually worse than before. The computer won't hibernate at all now (the screen turns off, but not full hibernation) and the crashing is over the top. So I call back and they tell me to bring it in again.
When I get it back almost two weeks later, I have a new graphics card and all the software has been reloaded. Crashing is basically gone but hibernation appears to not be addressed. I decide to move on because I HAVE A LIFE that needs attending to.
After several months of use I can say that this computer is fantastic but if I leave it on overnight, the screen will often not come back on when I return. This means I have to hard restart, which can suck for both the system AND my workflow. Eventually I will get a quieter case fan which I think will solve the noise- seriously, I can hear it in the bathroom 50 feet away.
So how does the whole experience rate?
First of all, if you were counting, this machine spent almost 6 weeks at iBuypower in total- that is too much.
Service: Attentive but sometimes rude.
Repairs: It just seems like all this varied hardware is too much for one little company to handle. Maybe this is why Dell offers fewer choices- reliability.
Product: Pretty awesome with a few caveats. I am still blown away by how much this thing can handle and by how often I have to press the hard restart button. It is nice having everything in one place now. This really can do it all, at once.