Gaming Performance

We've already established the AMD Radeon HD 7970 at the heart of the Erebus GT is the fastest single-GPU graphics card currently available, though iBUYPOWER didn't opt to exploit the liquid cooling loop to coax more performance out of it. Given these figures, that performance may not be entirely needed until you start running games in surround resolutions.

Batman: Arkham City

Battlefield 3

Civilization V

DiRT 3

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Portal 2

Total War: Shogun 2

Note that a couple results are missing from Civilization V and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim due to separate issues. As mentioned in our review of the HP Phoenix, Civilization V (or more accurately, the Acer HN274H) has a bug wherein the maximum resolution of the monitor isn't correctly detected by the benchmark, so we don't have results from AVADirect's system in that game. Likewise, AVADirect's Skyrim benchmark was run before Patch 1.4 and the high resolution texture pack, so those results have been omitted.

With that out of the way, iBUYPOWER's system demonstrates a healthy lead on the competing systems. HP is unfortunately not planning to make the 7970 available in the Phoenix, opting for a more lateral move to the Radeon HD 7950 from the GeForce GTX 580 in our review unit. The result is that while the HP Phoenix can be had for less than the Erebus GT, it's also never going to approach iBUYPOWER's system in terms of raw gaming performance. We've also gone ahead and run our surround gaming tests (for the first time on our new suite) with the Erebus GT:

Surround Gaming

Because the AMD Radeon HD 7970 supports running three displays off of a single card, we're able to include surround gaming testing results that really stress the system. It's not surprising that Battlefield 3 turns in an unplayable result; the game is incredibly stressful on its own before asking a single GPU to handle it at a 6.9 megapixel resolution with 4xMSAA. Civilization V also continues to be quirky by refusing to benchmark in surround mode, but the game is actually playable at the 5760x1200 resolution with no problems.

We'll have to wait for additional systems to see where a single 7970 (and the iBUYPOWER system) stack up relative to other offerings, but considering the punishing requirements of our gaming suite it's safe to say that the only way you'll get a better triple-head gaming system is by using multiple GPUs (or waiting to see what NVIDIA's Kepler brings to the table).

Application and Futuremark Performance Build, Heat, and Power Consumption
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  • Kristian Vättö - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    Dustin, how do you have time for all these reviews? Yesterday your Dell XPS 13 and Acer Aspire TimelineU M3 pieces went live, and then today this. I'm struggling to get one SSD review wrapped up and then I see three reviews from you in ~24 hours. Man, that's efficiency, keep up the hard work!
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    I appreciate the sentiment, Kristian! I tend to work in batches: photography, then benchmarking, then writing up the review. So when I knock out a chunk of reviews in short order it's because all I have to do at that point is write it up. :)

    That and I got boned spectacularly by the embargo being lifted ahead of schedule on the TimelineU M3. ;)
  • Vepsa - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    I'm jealous of both you guys (Dustin & Kristian) for being able to play with such nice hardware all the time. I'm still trying to scrounge up the money for a SSD for my desktop :(
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    2.5k is way overpriced, and i have JUST put up a system very similar to this last week. here are the parts price, as you can get them all day everyday.

    i7 2600k: Micro Center 259 dollar (ibuypower uses 2700, which is 299 dollar)
    Asus P8P67 140 dollar, or 110 after rebate (unit used in this iBUYPOWR cost 150 dollar at newegg)
    Corsair Vengeance 16 G. 89 dollar amazon (the same use in iBUYPOWER)
    Graphic: SLI GTX 570 (210 dollar each) (ibuypower uses AMD Radeon HD 7970 which is 550 dollar)
    HDD: SSD (newegg 130 dollar, or 100 dollar after rebate) 2T (100 dollar newegg samsung)
    optical drive: blueray (49 dollar asus new egg)
    PSU: OCZ ZX 1000W 100 dollar newegg, or 130 before rebate.
    my case is silverstone, which is probably one of the better ones, cost 70 dollar during promotion, 100 dollar otherwise.

    so if i am not counting any rebate or any special promotion, my system cost 260+140+90+210+210+130+100+49+100+100=1390 that makes this system in every way, shape or form equal or better than ibuypower, add 100 dollar for win 7 if you don't have one. that's still 1000 dollar less than ibuypower.

    things that doesn't make sense in this build: 7970. you could get GTX480 for 200 dollar, and 480 SLI is faster than 7970 and is cheaper. heck, you can get SLI 560Ti for 320 dollar and SLI 560 is very similar to 7970 while saving yourself 200 dollar in process.

    850W PSU. weak... as top performance brand, you settle for 850W themotake brand?

    MB, for top end, Gigabyte is a no go, you should at least got for UEFI, Asus saber tooth or equivalent.

    Win 7 home premium? how about ultimate?

    i am all in for people making money, but using poor parts in a "high end" system is just bad. when you making 1000 dollar for 2.5k machine, you are way too greedy.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    There are so many things wrong with your comparisons, but let's start from the top. Here are things that are not "equal or better in every way" with your build:

    P67 motherboard instead of Z68.
    SLI if you'd rather not deal with that headache.
    More power draw by far for your build (dual GTX GPUs vs 7970).
    OCZ vs. Thermaltake on the PSU? Really? That's pretty much same quality as far as I'm concerned.

    We pointed out (a couple times) that the system was priced the way it was because of the component choices and the water cooling. If you don't want the components iBUYPOWER put in this system, don't buy it; simple! I for one would be more than happy to pay $100 extra for a single HD 7970 than to go the SLI (or CrossFire) route, even if the single 7970 is sometimes slower. I've been there, done that (multiple times!) and if I can avoid multiple GPUs in the future I will. It's just not worth the hassle to me.

    I'd also totally skip out on all the liquid cooling, which can easily add $500+ for a high-end solution (e.g. 3x140mm radiator, a second 140mm radiator on the back, GPU and CPU cooling blocks, etc.) By my estimate, building your own comparable water cooling setup would cost at least $500, and depending on some of the other materials and components it could run as much as $750.

    Take all of the liquid cooling stuff out of the solution and what it really boils down to is that your build uses GTX 570 SLI and the review unit uses a single HD 7970. You also cut a few corners to save money, though most of these won't really matter to the majority of users.

    I priced everything (and I mean everything) out and without water cooling I could put together this same basic setup for around $1850 at Newegg. If you shop around at multiple vendors and look for the absolute lowest prices, you could probably build such a system for $1750 to $1800. For that price, you don't get the same case or some of the other features of the Erebus GT, and you have to assemble and configure the system yourself. The total cost (minus water cooling) of around $1850 compares to an iBUYPOWER cost for a similar configuration of around $2000, which is quite reasonable. They are not "making $1000" and being "way too greedy"; your comparison is simply apples to oranges and declaring your particular fruit "better".
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    challenge accepted.

    i need P67 board because i don't like Logix virtu. also you should know that P67 board is in the same price range as Z68. and you are out of your mind saying Asus P67/Z68 is a poorer choice than Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3. agreed?

    i am not arguing OCZ is better than Thermaltake but at least 1000 W give you more head room and also higher efficiency. PSU achieve maximum efficiency at around 50% load.

    again SLI give you the most bang for the buck, a SLI 570 performs better than 7970 in almost all areas. if you want to stay with single card, EVGA GTX 580 can be had for 400 dollar in newegg all day everyday. and that's 150 dollar savings over 7970.

    and yes, i skipped cooling, what i also skipped is ibuypwoer buying stuff at wholesale price wherewas my price is everyday price. i don't even count count on rebate or promotion. and FYI, i was about the first wave of people who uses water cooling, my first water cooler was 300 dollar ZALMAN RESERATOR back in 03. you can get internal corsair cooling H80 for 100 dollars off amazon. and you can get that GPU water block for 50 dollar retail. you can spend 10k on water solution, but one that presented in this case is no where near that price.

    lastly you said my build was 'cutting corner' as far as i am concerned, no corner was cut (single card vs SLI is more of a preference) , rather it was better. everything i used in my build is better than what is presented here. talk is cheap. why not show some numbers? here are the price TODAY for this computer

    2700k, 299 USD
    Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3, 150 USD
    Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1600 , 89 USD.
    AMD Radeon HD 7970: 550 USD
    AData S510: 155 USD
    Deskstar 7K1000 1T: 130 USD.
    LG blue ray 63 USD
    Thermaltake TR2 RX 850W PSU 130 USD (it is 2 out of 5 stars, just to show how horrible this choice is)

    those came out to be 1567 USD to the EXACT PART. how the hell did you get 1850 mind i asking?

    and bear in mind this is retail price TODAY not counting on any rebate and promotion. and you normally mark up price by at least 25% from wholesale to retail (been there, done that, don't argue with me on the margin unless you have data, apple is different animal so leave that out). feel free to throw you argument at me, i doubt you have any.

    so you have 1000 dollar to chose a case and water cool solution. do you honest think Erebus GT case look nice?
  • Egg - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    The case?

    I don't see how your power supply comparison makes any sense, according to the 7970 draws around 400w at full load, so your "50% efficiency" rule, by my interpretation, makes a kilowatt PSU less useful.

    You can't compare any video card but a 7970 to the 7970. There are just too many variables; furthermore, there are plenty of instances where the 7970 performs substantially better than the 580 GTX.

    You can't compare a custom loop to an H100.

    In your cost estimate for what it would cost to clone the iBUYPOWER computer, you left out any aftermarket air cooling, a case, and Windows.

    You have skipped the water cooling; but you didn't put forth any counterargument, but merely mentioned the fact that iBUYPOWER gets these parts at wholesale price. What would you like? For iBUYPOWER to sell you the entire system for the exact price that it would cost you to buy the parts from Newegg? Are you going to complain that Newegg marks up the price from wholesale as well? The way I see it, iBUYPOWER has all the costs of Newegg, as well as having to cover warranty, build the system, and design a case. The markup seems perfectly reasonable for the system.
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    wow. did you bother to read? my list of things was just to show JarredWalton that the exact component doesn't cost 1850 and i showed him talking is cheap and provided a break down of the internal component price to the total of 1567. that give the system about1000 dollar margin (should you want to spend 2.5k total) to spend on case and cooling.

    will i use that on my system? not a chance.
    like i said, i would go with SLI, but that's more of personal preference.
    AData S510? i would go for 130 dollar sandisk that has twice the performance for less.
    HDD? i would go for 2T for less.
    MB? i would go with one that has UEFI.

    the PSU used in the system has 2 start out of 5 based on 19 amazon reviews. sorry i don't have tendency of buying crap. just FYI, the 750W version of this PSU is selling at 70 dollar a piece at newegg. cheap? yes, quality? no.

    water cooling, you argue there is no replacement to custom loop? do you have any facts to back this claim? i do, check out 3d guru,, you will find H100 cools the system very very well, unless here is some number posted by IBUYPOWER, i doubt they can exceed
    the cooling performance by H100.

    "iBUYPOWER has all the costs of Newegg" like i said, talk is cheap. i have part price listed, and if you still making this statement then you are either blind or a hired gun. either way there is no value for me to show just how wrong you are.

    and don't get me started on windows. they put home premium? do you know how much they paying for each license? the difference between ultimate and premium, for them, is like 30 ~ 50 dollars.
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    Watercooling: You do realize that the graphics card is also watercooled? The 560 radiators will do a much better job than a H100 and whatever you put on the Radeon.
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    i did, you can buy water cooling GPU blocks for 50 dollars each

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