capsule review

CyberPower Gamer Ultra 8500SE

At a Glance
  • CyberPower Gamer Ultra 8500SE

    PCWorld Rating

    Strong graphics performance and a flashy design increase this PC's appeal to gamers.

CyberPower Gamer Ultra 8500SE
Photograph: Chris Manners

If you're looking for affordable dual-core gaming and you like vivid, distinctive styling, take a look at CyberPower's Gamer Ultra 8500SE. This $1499 (as of 6/2/06) system was tops in our gaming tests of six dual-core value PCs.

The 8500SE used a 2.2-GHz Athlon 64 X2 4200+ and 1GB of RAM to achieve a WorldBench 5 score of 105, just 5 percent lower than the mark of 110 from the best performer of the group, Polywell's MiniBox 939NP-4200. The 8500SE's multitasking test results were impressive too, as it finished in first place.

The system's dual EVGA e-GeForce 7600 GT graphics cards helped it take the number one spot in our gaming tests, hitting 131 frames per second at 1280 by 1024 resolution and 32-bit color in our Return to Castle Wolfenstein test.

CyberPower has wrapped the 8500SE in an unusual, flashy case that's loaded with youth appeal. The machine's red plastic front panel has blue lights, and its silver case has a clear left-side panel, with a blue bar of light shining up from the inside.

A rather large door on the front of the tall tower swings to the right to reveal two optical drives--a double-layer DVD burner and a 16X DVD-ROM reader--along with three available externally accessible bays, a six-format media-card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, and microphone and headphone jacks. In back is a typical array of connectors, including S/PDIF, FireWire, and six audiovisual ports to support the integrated 7.1-channel sound.

The 8500SE offers a neat and roomy interior with space for two more internal drives. However, the dual graphics cards block one free PCI slot, leaving only one available. Typical of CyberPower, you'll find no user guide, printed or on-screen.

Of the vendors here, CyberPower did the worst in our annual Reliability and Service survey of PC World readers, earning worse-than-average marks for its systems' reliability. Regardless, for gaming and flash, this is a top value PC, though the lack of user-friendly documentation will add difficulty for novices.

Dan Sommer

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Strong graphics performance and a flashy design increase this PC's appeal to gamers.

    Pros

    • Strong graphics performance and design

    Cons

    • Gaudy case; poor reliability and service
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