In addition to my Alienware Area51 Desktop which is 3 1/2 years old now, I have a couple of Compaq Presarios that are over 4 years old. Both of these have been upgraded with memory and PCIE Nvidia graphics cards. One of these is running Ubuntu Linux, which works just fine. But the other one is running WinXP and really doesn’t work very well, especially for any gaming. The Alienware Desktop us great, but it’s time to step up to the new generation of machines, so I’m retiring the WinXP Presario.
After some really bad support experiences with Alienware [which is now owned by DELL], I decided to do some research on prices and found that DELL and HP high end systems were expensive, as you might expect.
After a little searching on the web I found CyberPower. If you google search for Gaming PCs, it appears right after Alienware in the list. Cyberpower is still independent, and supplies a full line of high end computers that can be configured from a plethora of best of breed parts. The configuration system is first rate with the ability to drill down to examine the component you select and then easily reach the manufactures site to find more information.
This Cobra system is just as cutting edge as the Alienware Desktop that I purchased 3 1/2 years ago and it costs about 1/3 as much. I have configured it in a comparable way.
The System Goals
My goals for the system are:
- Processor at the high-end sweet spot of performance and price. Adding a little speed to the Intel i7-950 3.06GHz causes a big jump in price. And dropping the specs does not save very much. That’s a sweet spot.
- More memory, with expansion for much more in future. I chose 6GB for now. The system can go to 24GB, and is expandable to 12GB by just adding DIMMs.
- RAID-0 [Striped] System drive and a large data drive. My AW Area51 has stripped 500GB system and data drives, and this works fine for video processing that I do. I didn’t need to replace the AW A51 for video work at this time. So I selected dual 640GB 7200rpm for the system drives and a single 1TB 7200rpm drive for the data drive.
- A high end, sweet spot, graphics system. I don’t need SLI for the games that I play, although the Cobra ASUS MB is capable of SLI. I selected the NV GTX-470 1.2GB as a fast, but not self cooking, graphics card. The GTX-480 uses heatpipes or liquid cooling and this sounded like overkill. I’m sure the GTX-470 will be great. My AW A51 has a GTX260 768MB and it’s just fine for the games that I play.
The Cobra Specs
Here are the specs for the Cobra:
CARE1:Ultra Enhanced Packaging Solution -Protect Your Dream System During Transit [+19] CARE2:CoolerMaster Thermal Fusion 400 Extreme Performance CPU - Thermal Compound Optimized for Thermal Dissipation [+10] CARE3:Professional Wiring for All WIRING Inside The System Chassis - Minimize Cable Exposure, Maximize Airflow in Your System [+19] CAS:Coolermaster HAF-X Gaming Full Tower Case w/ 1x230mm Red LED Fan, 1x200mm Fans, 2xFront USB 3.0 Port CD:Sony 24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW + CD-R/RW Drive [+3] (BLACK COLOR) CPU:[Special] Intel® Core™ i7-950 3.06 GHz 8M Intel Smart Cache LGA1366 [-306] CS_FAN:Default case fans FAN:CyberPower Xtreme Hydro Liquid Cooling Kit 240MM w/ Dual Fan(CPU & GPU Liquid Cool Capable, Extreme Overclcking Performance + Extreme Slient at 18dBA) FLASHMEDIA:Ultra ULT40123 MD3 5.25" USB Multi Function Media Dashboard LCD Fan Controller (Black Color) [+28] HDD:640GB SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 64MB Cache 7200RPM HDD [-19] (640 x 2 (1.28 TB Capacity) Raid 0 Extreme Performance [+64]) HDD2:1TB SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 64MB Cache 7200RPM HDD [+93] (Single Hard Drive) KEYBOARD:Xtreme Gear (Black Color) Multimedia/Internet USB Keyboard MEMORY:6GB (2GBx3) DDR3/1600MHz Triple Channel Memory Module (Corsair or Major Brand) MOTHERBOARD:(2-Way SLI Support) Asus Sabertooth X58 Intel X58 Chipset SLI/CrossFireX Mainboard Triple-Channel DDR3 FCLGA1366 ATX Mainboard w/ 7.1 HD Audio, GbLAN, USB3.0, SATA-III, SATA-II RAID, 2 Gen2 PCIe, 1 PCIe X1 & 1 PCI MOUSE:XtremeGear Optical USB 3 Buttons Gaming Mouse MULTIVIEW:Non-SLI/Non-CrossFireX Mode Supports Multiple Monitors NETWORK:Onboard Gigabit LAN Network NOISEREDUCE1:Anti-Vibration Fan Mounts [+9] OS:Microsoft® Windows® 7 Home Premium (64-bit Edition) OVERCLOCK:No Overclocking POWERSUPPLY:950 Watts - CyberPowerPC Gaming 80 Plus Power Supply SERVICE:STANDARD WARRANTY: 3-YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY PLUS LIFE-TIME TECHNICAL SUPPORT SOUND:HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO USB:Built-in USB 2.0 Ports VIDEO:NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 1.2GB 16X PCIe Video Card (EVGA Powered by NVIDIA [+4])
A minor surprise. The warranty is 3 years labor and only 1 year parts. But given the state of DELL/ Alienware support these days, I’m happy with that. This entire system is industry standard, so I can easily add best of breed parts to the system later if I have to repair something that breaks.
The price tag is less than $1900 including shipping.
UPS is a Requirement
We have power glitches about once a week here in Charleston. Just enough to take a system down. Many are less than a second. But a UPS is a requirement if you don’t want your systems to be rebooting at unexpected times.
I need to get a new UPS for this system since the APC 750 that I have now will not cut it for this computer. I have had good experience with Refurbished UPS’s in the past 10 years, but my “Uninterruptible Solutions” supplier is apparently going out of business or something. They have no stock right now. I found ExcessUPS.com and they have good prices on the APC Smart UPS 1500 that I have been using with my AW Area51 for the last 3 1/2 years.
System Backup Migration
I have been using Carbonite to backup the system I’m replacing, so I’ll need to migrate the files to the new 1TB storage drive without backing up the over 100GB again. Carbonite support gave me a link to their procedure to do this, so we will see how smoothly that goes when the system arrives.
Here are some pics of the case and components that I’m getting: