capsule review

CyberPower Gamer Ultra XLC

At a Glance
  • CyberPower Gamer Ultra XLC

    PCWorld Rating

    This full-featured, fast PC will appeal to budget-minded gamers looking for high performance at a relatively low price.

CyberPower Gamer Ultra XLC
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

CyberPower's $3499 (as of January 18, 2006) Gamer Ultra XLC contains the CPU found in the fastest PCs we've tested: AMD's dual-core Athlon 64 FX-60. The processor fits into an Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard, and the configuration includes 1GB of SDRAM; two EVGA e-GeForce 7800 GTX graphics cards linked by SLI technology to work together; and two 10,000-rpm 74GB Western Digital Raptor hard drives striped in a RAID 0 array for optimum performance. CyberPower adds a 250GB drive, for a total of 398GB of storage.

The Gamer Ultra XLC produced an impressive WorldBench 5 mark of 123 and also did very well on our gaming tests. Its frame-rate score on our Unreal Tournament test running at 1280 by 1024 resolution and 32-bit color was the second best we've recorded. The 19-inch ViewSonic VX924 LCD monitor did a great job of displaying small (6.8-point) Times Roman text at its native resolution of 1280 by 1024, and photographs looked crisp and realistic. But both DVD movies and game play on Return to Castle Wolfenstein were too dark for comfortable viewing, even at maximum brightness settings.

The Gamer Ultra XLC's black aluminum case projects an attractively lean and clean appearance, and has a sturdy feel. Behind the thick aluminum door that covers the front of the case we found three 5.25-inch drive bays that hold a dual-layer DVD+/-RW drive, a DVD-ROM drive, and, in the top bay three glowing blue analog dials that look as though they belong on the dash of an old British sports car. The dials display the current fan voltage, the decibel level produced by the sound card, and the case temperature--very retro, very cool.

I found two minor annoyances: The two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire port, and headphone and microphone jacks usually found on the front of a case are located under a small door on the case's top, limiting its usefulness as a shelf for an external device. The power switch sits on the top of the case, too; and I accidentally bumped it twice, causing unwanted shutdowns.

The system's full complement of I\O ports includes four USB 2.0 ports, an external SATA port, analog audio ports to support 7.1-channel surround sound, coaxial and optical digital audio-out ports, and two ethernet ports. The first-rate Microsoft keyboard has great key action, multimedia controls, and nine programmable buttons.

The roomy case and neatly bundled cables permit easy access to the two open RAM sockets, one open PCI Express X1 slot, one open externally accessible drive bay, and one open internal hard drive bay; but removing the installed hard drives means removing at least one graphics card. Access to two PCI slots is impeded by the two SLI graphics cards.

This full-featured, very fast PC will appeal to gamers looking for superlative performance at relatively low price.

Kirk Steers

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This full-featured, fast PC will appeal to budget-minded gamers looking for high performance at a relatively low price.

    Pros

    • Impressive performance

    Cons

    • Awkward USB ports and power switch
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