It really is awe-inspiring what kind of PC gaming hardware $1,600 can buy you today. A 2GB GeForce GTX 680 and an Ivy Bridge Core i7-3770K CPU (overclocked to 3.9GHz) represents basically the most state-of-the-art hardware you can get without going absolutely insane. iBuyPower’s LAN Warrior II is that, plus 8GB RAM and a bare-minimum 60GB SSD, packed into a small but sturdy case. This thing would eat Diablo 3 for breakfast.
The small, light NZXT Vulcan case comes with a handle on top for easy carting around — which makes a lot of sense, since this machine is aimed squarely at the LAN party crowd (thus the name). The boxy black aesthetic isn’t much to look at, but gets the job done in a minimum of space and is built like a tank — though I still advise against running over it in your car. That small size, of course, makes it a bit of a chore to get inside of and mess with — I couldn’t even get a grip on the thumb screws that held in the graphics card because everything’s so packed in there. You could fit a second graphics card if you really wanted to, but even with the self-contained liquid cooler I’d be worried about heat — and the 750W power supply couldn’t handle the load of a second GTX 680 anyway. This isn’t much of a builder’s system: there’s only really room for one additional hard drive (unless you shuffle things around) and one additional optical drive if you’re a crazy person.
If you upgrade anything, it’d be filling the two open slots to double the included 8GB of RAM (on two 4GB sticks), but 8GB is all you need for gaming purposes today. At the rate prices are falling, RAM will be so cheap it will flow from the tap by the time you need more.
|iBuyPower LAN Warrior II Specs|
|Chassis Model: NZXT Vulcan Gaming Case
CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.50GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte G1. Sniper M3
RAM: 8GB DDR3 1600MHz Kingston HyperX
Power Supply: 750 Watt — NZXT HALE82 / 80+ Bronze
Hard Drive 1: 60 GB Kingston V+200
Hard Drive 2: Generic 1TB 7200 RPM/32MB Cache
Optical Drive: DVD Writer 24x / CD-Writer 48x
Video Card: 1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB
Cooling: Liquid CPU Cooling System w/ 92mm Radiator
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium (64-Bit)
Warranty: 3-Year Standard Warranty
Price of Reviewed System: $1,599
On the top of the case are two USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks, and an eSATA port; on the front, a multi-format flash card reader and an extra USB port. On the back are four more USB 2.0 ports on the back and two 3.0 ports — it’s safe to say you’re not going to need a hub. There’s also another eSATA port and onboard audio back there, but what’s startling is the number of video ports. Because this is an Ivy Bridge system, the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard comes with integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics hardware, complete with VGA, DVI, and HDMI connectors. It’s kind of absurd next to a GeFroce GTX 680, though, and you’ll likely ignore it.
I had a minor issue getting up and running — I had to reseat the GTX 680 before it would recognize (not uncommon when a system arrives after shipping) — but other than that it’s been nothing but smooth, stable sailing despite the overclocked CPU. I can’t help but notice the slight fish-tank gurgle from the liquid-cooling system, but otherwise it’s a reasonably quiet system even under heavy load.
Windows 7 Home Premium x64 booted up in a little under 30 seconds — not bad at all. Upon checking the installed-program list, I found that iBuyPower had delivered the LAN Warrior II in nearly pristine condition, with only Microsoft’s Bing toolbar for Internet Explorer and Office 2010 starter edition pre-installed. Those are easy enough to clear out, though — after all, the only reason I even run IE is to download Chrome.
I was a little surprised to see the 60GB SSD and 1TB 7200rpm hard drive configured in RAID 0 (which means they appear as one drive). I’d prefer to keep my SSD as a separate Windows-dedicated drive with most applications and maybe one or two frequently played games, but this arrangement gives a performance boost over the standard 7200rpm drive and is easier to manage than two. But looking at the boot time and performance below, it’s obviously not slowing anything down much.
[iBuyPower writes to clarify that the SSD is configured as an SSD cache using Intel's Smart Response Technology (SRT) that loads frequently accessed files for quick loading.]
Max it Out
Because all anybody’s really interested in doing when they buy a new gaming PC is turning everything up to maximum, that’s what I did with the LAN Warrior II: all sliders pushed as far to the right as they’d go — no compromises. All of this, by the way, is happening on my single 1920×1080 monitor. Nothing fancy.
Batman: Arkham City
The settings recommend that you don’t push PhysX to maximum unless you’ve got a second Nvidia graphics card present to dedicate to physics acceleration duties, but sweet merciful crap, the LAN Warrior II very nearly pulls off flawless performance with a single GTX 680, averaging 44 frames per second in the benchmark test. In my own personal benchmark of playing a challenge room fight with about 20 thugs on screen at once it was almost completely smooth, but I did end up turning it down to normal PhysX to ensure I couldn’t blame my botched attack chains on dropped frames.
Total War: Shogun 2
There’s more power here than you need to run a Total War game maxed out. In the benchmark it averaged 66fps, and I never saw it dip below 50 even in the heaviest parts.
98 frames per second! This thing is probably just a driver update away from averaging triple-digit framerates in DiRT 3′s maxed-out benchmark. We’re gonna need another driving game with a benchmark tool pretty soon.
X3167 on Extreme settings.
But is it a good deal?
It’s a fantastic deal. For this money, you’d be hard-pressed to pick up — or even build — a faster system. Googling around for the same or similar hardware components, I came in at almost exactly $1,600 myself! The case may not be terribly flashy, but what’s inside will wow’em with its framerates. If you’re in the market for a new PC to play Diablo 3 in a couple of weeks, the LAN Warrior II is all you’ll need and more to never miss a frame of the action.