My office now sports a new Cyberpowerpc computer and a 32 inch BenQ monitor. That’s an inside the case image of the new box with its water cooled CPU and Intel 730 OC SSD main drive after I opened the system minutes after it arrived at my house.
Why a new computer and monitor? My old AVA Direct Core i7 920 and 26 inch Samsung monitor are still operating–5 years daily use, 10 to 12 hours each day, month after month, year after year from a desktop computer is simply amazing to me–but both box and monitor were growing gray and had lost a step when running downfield. The MSI X58 mobo had begun to have glitches. One of the SATA input ports was non-functional (disclaimer: port had been bad since a few months after I bought the system) and the USB ports were iffy. No SATA 3, no USB 3, no M.2 storage, no PCI3 slots, no DDR4 on the old board. The powers at Microsoft announced Win7 was finally going into zombie mode, dead and buried but with thousands of iterations climbing mud-encrusted from the grave to shuffle awkwardly into the future. Yes, the time was now, before my old system collapsed gasping onto the floor like I did a year ago and I had to pay $40,000 for a helicopter ride to take the computer to a surgical specialist.
Oh, Lord, why can’t I–my aging body and decrepit brain–have a new mobo, CPU and GPU so I’ll operate like the youngsters? New memory? Well, new memories, better than the old?
Before being chided for not assembling the new computer from parts by some faceless straw critic out there in etherland, I have my reasons. (Not that reasons are necessary: it’s my money and my choice to pay for a ready-made box.) I know how to build one of these things. I’ve been maintaining and modifying machines since carrying home an AT&T 6300 with its Intel 8086 and DOS 2.11 on a floppy–paid almost $9,000, for those who don’t recall the early days of desktop PCs. (The 8086 followed a Radio Shack Trash 80 and an AB Dick magnetic card reader with a Cume printer…the AB Dick cost even more than the 8086.) My first computer builds were back in the 80486/33 days. However, collecting parts–to include a new case, motherboard, memory, drives, graphics card (GPU), processor (CPU), cooler for the CPU, power supply (PSU), operating system–I didn’t want to do it. Old as I am, I still have a business both designing and maintaining web sites and taking pictures. I didn’t want to have computer parts spread across the floor of my office like a scene from Dr. Frankenstein’s lab…and instead of Igor ably assisting the creation of life, I have Oskar, a furry little guy who would want to help.
Plus, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of discovering that you’ve assembled the machine and one of the parts, say…the CPU…is faulty. Well, is it the CPU, the memory or the mobo? Get an RMA, return the item, await the replacement: NO. Fucking NO. There’s the black clouds of collateral damage, too. One bad part can damage other good parts. Who covers the cost? Guess.
I read startlingly bad reviews of the company in a variety of places. However, and this is the distillation of my decision-making process, I couldn’t beat the evil gnomes in City of Industry on their prices. Period. A comparison of computer prices is pretty simple. It’s apples to apples, oranges to oranges and lemons to lemons, not vague V8 to V8, straight 6 to straight 6 stuff. (Try this: compare a Mopar V8 413 OHV to a Cummins V8 VT903 diesel…or a Jaguar 4.2 liter OHC six to a Chevy straight 6 truck engine.) I was using prices on same case, PSU, CPU, mobo, drives, memory, etc.) I ran the numbers on AVA Direct, Puget Sound, Falcon, Digital Storm: for what I wanted, all the custom computer assemblers were hundreds and even a thousand or more higher in cost than Cyberpower.
What I did determine about Cyberpower was that their ready-made configurations often were problematic. The power supply units in particular are frequently weak links. Read about what the power supply does, it’s not particularly romantic or fascinating but the information will help you decide on whether or not to spend a few more dollars or not on the PSU. Many inexpensive prebuilts, not just Cyberpower but those of the big name manufacturers, use junk power supplies, crap motherboards, dodgy GPUs, questionable memory sticks…are you listening, Dell? Or HP? Or (fill in the blank)?
So, when I ordered, I specified each choice of options. I ordered what I would have ordered had I been assembling the machine myself. A wide variety of options was a major factor in ordering from CP. Only AVA Direct has a better selection of individual parts than CP offers. Warning: if you don’t know what each option entails, do a search. Find out why PSU 1 is better than PSU 2. Make reasoned choices, not just picking the most expensive but, as well as possible without personally testing the items, the best for the dollar. After determining my particular configuration–likely not what Joe or Sam or Fred the computer genius would choose but what I want–I selected the “NORUSH” option of waiting a few weeks longer for the new computer to be assembled. That item knocked 5% off the total, a Cyberpower exclusive as far as I know. I also waited until the “big” New Year’s sale. I’ve checked back, the sale did have good prices plus free shipping was tossed in. A new desktop computer runs $50 to $75 for shipping. Add the cost to your total…just as you would taxes. (Taxes are one more reason not to buy a pre-assembled computer at a big-box store though that advantage is quickly disappearing as the minions of government grasp for each available dollar.)
One last glance at the “build it yourself” option. My final cost, shipping, taxes, parts and all, for the new computer was almost a hundred dollars less than I would have paid using online parts picker to buy from the least expensive sources. I didn’t have to wait for all the stuff to arrive, no lost boxes (thanks, USPS, someone should write an ode to the mail similar to the “United Breaks Guitars piece), and the machine arrived (as you can see in the images) assembled and ready to go.
Ready to Go? Well, if that’s what you want. Personally, I chose to burn-in the computer, just as is suggested in the Cyberpowerpc online forum. After all, my computer went from parts picking at the warehouse to assembly to first quality control check to second quality control check to shipping and on its way all in the same day. A few hours spent on burn-in would hopefully reveal any weak parts, any infant mortality as is common in electronics.
I’ll add my qualifier to this review. I do not work for Cyberpowerpc. I don’t know anyone who is employed by Cyberpowerpc. I looked at their building in City of Industry, the garden spot of Los Angeles, on Google streetview but I’ve not been there. I hope I never have to go to City of Industry. I never heard of Cyberpower before beginning to research where to get my new computer.
In part two of this review, I’ll describe burn-in, questions I had about the computer after receiving it, my answers to those questions, and my experience with the new monitor. Onward and upward, heathen soldiers.