The Value of a Custom Build

I'm reasonably certain there's still a big question mark floating above the heads of many readers. While we've demonstrated the Paladin XLC is fast and certainly powerful enough to max out most any game available now and for the foreseeable future, and the configuration seems fairly forward-thinking, there remains the question of what secret sauce iBUYPOWER brings to the table. You're paying a premium to have the machine assembled, tweaked, and tested so you don't have to do it. You're paying a premium for the right parts.

This becomes interesting for me in particular because my personal build actually isn't far removed from what iBUYPOWER put together here. We share the following components specifically: an Intel Core i7-930 processor (overclocked and stability tested in both cases), a Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R revision 2 motherboard, and a Kingston 64GB SSDNow! V2 solid state drive for the operating system. I personally opted to go for 12GB of Corsair DDR3-1333 memory since I use my machine to edit video, and I run a Radeon HD 5870 instead of SLI'ed GeForce GTX 470's, but the cores of the configurations are similar enough to warrant scrutiny.

My first big red flag was the overclock on the Core i7 in the iBUYPOWER unit. I may have lucked out with the one in my desktop: it hits 4GHz on stock voltage, but I run it at a Bclk of 166, left turbo boost on, and undervolted it to 1.1375V and scored a Prime95-stable 3.6GHz. The overclock on the i7 in the Paladin XLC seems tame bordering on just plain bad, though. iBUYPOWER ships it with a stunning 1.325V on the core, and they confusingly opt to drop the multiplier and raise the Bclk to get it to 3.5GHz. The overclock on my machine yields modest improvements over the iBUYPOWER's overclock in Cinebench and no real change in the x264 benchmark.

It only gets odder, though. The VID of my chip is 1.2375V; the VID of the one in the review unit is a frankly impressively low 1.11875V. iBUYPOWER also opts to change the chip's Vcore directly instead of using the "Dynamic Vcore" option present in the GA-X58A-UD3R's BIOS, an option which allows the user to alter the chip's load voltage while letting the chip reduce operating voltage when idling or running at lower clocks. This doesn't give me the sense that this machine was tuned, and unfortunately that increased power draw is going to be passed on to the end user. This is work that could've taken a day to do, placed alongside other machines on the same bench undergoing tuning and testing. Less power. Less heat.

A power user would probably be able to wring a lot more out of this machine, but doesn't that suggest the question of why they would buy it in the first place?

Using SLI'ed GeForce GTX 470's is also a questionable decision. Certainly the performance is there, but in my own experience even a single AMD Radeon HD 5870 (and consequently, a single NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470) is plenty for a single monitor unless you move up to 27" and 30" 2560x1440/2560x1600 displays. If you crave more power, iBUYPOWER lets you configure the system with a pair of GTX 460's instead, and honestly that's probably the better call. Two 470's just put out far too much heat and worse, this machine makes a heck of a racket when the cards are under load. It really does sound like a jet engine, and a large part of that is the fact that the motherboard basically requires the two cards to be sandwiched together.

In summary, while the motherboard is good it's probably not the best choice for SLI or CrossFire setups due to spacing concerns. Also, the CPU overclock looks lazy and/or amateurish, and while it does have a warranty covering the overclock we'd prefer more attention to detail. If you know what you're doing, you can easily tweak the configuration to suit your needs, and that's what we'd recommend doing. iBUYPOWER can clearly build a good rig, but don't expect overclocking and tuning to equal what some of the extreme boutique vendors (i.e. Falcon Northwest) provide.

Getting to Know the iBuyPower Paladin XLC Good Value but Perhaps Overkill
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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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