Getting to Know the iBUYPOWER Paladin XLC

Normally this would be the point where we'd talk about the physical design of the machine and how it's laid out, but since iBUYPOWER uses a known enthusiast chassis, we'll limit our analysis more strictly to what iBUYPOWER brings to the table with this build.

First, as is custom of a good boutique build, the internals of the Paladin XLC are epically tidy. Where possible, cables are routed cleanly behind the motherboard tray, and the whole of the inside is nice and spare. Certainly the modular power supply helps in this instance, but iBUYPOWER wraps the cables off of the power supply individually and frankly, they keep a clean house. No complaints here. When they ship the unit, they also use special form-fitting padding inside the tower to ensure nothing gets moved or jostled in transport. It's a nice touch, just be sure to pop open the side of your tower and remove it before you power on the machine.

As far as performance goes, the Paladin XLC is...well...damn fast. We ran the same set of basic benchmarks on the XLC as we have on the previous desktops and compared them to the Dell XPS 7100 we reviewed. This is what we came up with:

General Performance Overview
  Dell XPS 7100 iBUYPOWER Paladin XLC
PCMark Vantage 6740 12659
Cinebench R10 1-CPU 3596 5172
Cinebench R10 x-CPU 16140 20807
X264 720p Encode Pass 1 77.29 83.45
X264 720p Encode Pass 2 24.79 33.14

Those numbers are compared to a Phenom II X6 1055T, and that's an overclocked Core i7 utterly demolishing a processor with two more physical cores. When we move on to our 3DMark tests, it gets even better.

3DMark Performance Results
  Dell XPS 7100 iBUYPOWER Paladin XLC
3DMark Vantage Performance 15533 30950
3DMark Vantage Entry 30856 66562
3DMark06 18209 24053
3DMark05 22312 31000
3DMark03 69538 110995

Yowza. None of these numbers should be at all surprising to you; the XPS 7100 has "just" an AMD Radeon HD 5870 to work with against the SLI'ed GeForce GTX 470's in the iBUYPOWER Paladin XLC. To test actual gaming performance, we used our mobile benchmark suite (which we will likely standardize on for our desktop reviews moving forward), at our "high" and "ultra" test settings and 1080p resolution.

To go over the settings we use for each game, BFBC2 is run at 1xAA/16xAF and High (max) detail for the "High" setting, and we bump up to 4xAA for "Ultra". DiRT 2 is run using the Ultra High in-game defaults, at 0xAA and 4xAA. Left 4 Dead 2 has everything maxed out at High, including 4xAA, so we don't have anywhere to go—after all, it's the least demanding game in our test suite at present. Mass Effect 2 has everything maxed for High, and we use the driver control panel to enable 4xAA for the Ultra run; the same goes for StarCraft II. Finally, STALKER: Call of Pripyat is run at the "High" setting with DX11, Tessellation, and Contact Hardening Shadows; for the Ultra test we bump up to Extreme detail and enable 4xAA, A-Tested AA (10.1 style), default SSAO with High quality, and we check DX10.1 as well. These are the results we came up with:

iBUYPOWER Paladin XLC Gaming Performance
  "High" Detail "Ultra" Detail
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 DX11 113.5 100.6
DiRT 2 DX11
131 135.1
Left 4 Dead 2 159.8 N/A
Mass Effect 2 247 186
STALKER: Call of Pripyat 132.7 56.6
StarCraft II 65.1 61.7

We did run into one bug in our gaming tests: our Ultra results in STALKER: Call of Pripyat result in some severe artifacting that makes the game unplayable. We don't know if it's just a driver issue, or something in particular with our cards, but with all the same settings at "High" quality it's fine, but "Extreme" quality creates artifacting. Our score above may not even be a correct result, but we included it just as a reference point. It's also a bit odd that DiRT 2 scored higher with 4xAA enabled, but it did, indicating there's another potential driver optimization issue—not that either result is bad.

Anyway, there you have it. A glitch in STALKER notwithstanding, the iBUYPOWER Paladin XLC will most definitely run any game on the market at 1080p with power to spare. Since there are a pair of SLI'ed GTX 470's in the Paladin XLC, you can also opt to use NVIDIA Surround to stretch your gaming experience across three monitors if you're so inclined. It's obvious this machine can game—oh, how it can game—but what happens when we put the build itself under scrutiny?

Introducing the iBUYPOWER Paladin XLC The Value of a Custom Build
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  • Chaser - Thursday, September 2, 2010 - link

    ...and they were outstanding to me when I bought my IC7 about a year ago. Mine is flawless and rock solid. They were stout professionals every step of the way and after sales support, even though I haven't had to use it hardly ever was top notch.

  • erple2 - Thursday, September 2, 2010 - link

    Yet another baseless, pointless rant that doesn't contribute to the conversation. Now that I think about it, you should add this post to that list.

    I find nothing on a google search other than some irate customers complaining about what I can only believe are personal issues. The vast majority of users seem to like this company. In fact, on reselleratings, they score better than industry average (and by a fairly good amount, at least in the last 6 months).

    I can only conclude that you're angry at something, and taking it out in a forum.
  • espressojim - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    I had to return my machine. DOA on shipment, and all of the money I paid extra for (nice cable routing, sound dampining) wasn't there.

    At least they refunded my $$$ in full once I complained sufficiently. My story is at:
    resellerratings. I'm glad I got less lazy and built my own - it was cheaper, had better parts, and has a better build due to me actually caring.
  • Lazlo Panaflex - Thursday, September 2, 2010 - link

    Looks like something Darth Vader would build his rig in ;-)
  • Bolder63 - Thursday, September 2, 2010 - link

    This was a few years ago my PC mobo had gone bad and it was old enough to warrant building a replacement. Shortly after this happened I had a medical emergency and was hospitalized. I saw a PC advertised with IBUYPOWER that had similar specs to what I had in mind to build.

    I went ahead and bought the rig from them. When it arrived it was packaged in the box the PC case came in with no interior packaging or anything more that the case itself had to start with. The dual slot video card had not been inserted into the mobo properly and in shipping had damaged the PCI-E slot. The power supply had obviously been installed in the case after the mobo as the builder had pried the sata connectors 90 degrees to fit it in, damaging them as well.

    I called IBUYPOWER, to find that getting a CSR on the phone was a whole new exercise in patience. I got them to send me an RM to ship it back finally. The 2nd time it came back it was still packed in the same case box which now had even less packing material. The PC was still unacceptable as the replacement mobo had received the same careless handling. Round 2 with the CSR and the manager himself. Sent it back again 3rd time it came back it had obviously been assembled by a different person it was much better than the previous 2. The packaging still sucked but someone had put some packing in the case and the video card had not destroyed anything this time.

    The PC worked ok for maybe 3 months before I had to replace the power supply and video card and ultimately the mobo as well.

    Due to my experience with this company I would NEVER buy ANYTHING from them again.
  • jamyryals - Thursday, September 2, 2010 - link

    was the hospital stay nice at least?
  • adonn78 - Thursday, September 2, 2010 - link

    I think the Nvidia 400 series runs too hot. SLI is definitely overkill but you never know what you'll need 3 years from now. I would have only had one video card or gotten 2 less expensive ones such as 2 5770's crossfire. and gotten a 120GB Sandforce SSD drive.
  • jed22281 - Thursday, September 2, 2010 - link

    Does anyone know if it has any notable improvements over the original LCLC 240mm?
    How so exactly?
    The LCLC 240 was purchasable on it's own in limited volumes, does anyone know if this will be?

  • 7Enigma - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    I'm interested in knowing this as well. Honestly I thought the overall review was lacking in several areas. The reviewer mentions it was loud and power hungry (calling the overclock amatuerish which I agree with) but doesn't put any data up to support this?

    Hopefully it was just forgotten and the article will be updated shortly...
  • jed22281 - Friday, September 3, 2010 - link

    You don't get emailed if someone responds to your post, that blows!

    I'm finding it almost impossible to determine if the 570LX is just a re-badged LCLC 240mm.
    I strongly suspect it is, & even if it isn't, I guess that's irrelevant if it can't be bought on it's own!

    Although I have found one retailer (NZ oddly enough) that claims to sell it.
    But I have suspicions it's not what they claim it is....

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