The Bottom Line
Feb 27 2013 - While the iBUYPOWER Gamer Extreme NE731i offers a fairly solid gaming system for under $1000, it does have some big drawbacks that all are the result of an older, smaller motherboard. Essentially iBUYPOWER has limited the potential for the system to be upgraded in memory, external peripherals ports and even graphics. Essentially, if you are fine with what you get in the package, it is a good system but if you plan on modifying it over the years, you are very limited in what you can do.
- Strong 3D Performance
- Runs Fairly Quiet For A Gaming Rig
- Older Chipset Really Limits Systems Features
- No USB 3.0
- Relatively Small Hard Drive
- Intel Core i5-3570K Quad Core Desktop Processor
- 8GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Burner
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Graphics Card With 2GB Memory
- Intel HDA 7.1 Audio
- Fast Ethernet
- Eight USB 2.0 Ports, DisplayPort, HDMI, Two DVI
- Windows 8, Office Starter
Review - iBUYPOWER Gamer Extreme NE731i
Feb 27 2013 - The iBUYPOWER Gamer Extreme NE731i is based around the Intel Core i5-3570K quad core desktop processor. This is a solid choice for a performance oriented system as it does a good job with just about any task and is really good with existing games. It may not be quite as fast as a Core i7 when dealing with something like desktop video editing but it is going to be faster than most average users will need. The processor is unlocked which means it has the potential to be overclocked although the motherboard has limited features for this processes. The processor is matched up with 8GB of DDR3 memory which allows it to run smooth for Windows but it would have been nice if they used 1600MHz modules instead of the 1333MHz included. In addition to this, the system only has two memory slots meaning it can't be upgraded without completely swapping out the existing memory modules.
Since this is a gaming based system, iBUYPOWER was less concerned with the storage features. For instance, it comes with just a 500GB hard drive that is half the size of most desktops in it price range and there are a larger number that even offer two terabytes now. Performance from the drive is decent thanks to the 7200rpm spin rate but it does lag behind larger drives by a bit. If you need additional storage space, there are plenty of available drive bays and two SATA 3.0 Gbps ports for internal storage. I mention this because the system only has USB 2.0 ports which limits external hard drive performance compared to USB 3.0 drives. There is a dual layer DVD burner for use with CD and DVD media but there is no media card reader for use with flash cards from digital peripherals.
For the graphics, the system uses an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 graphics card. This is a solid performing graphics card for 3D gaming and should easily have no problems running modern games at the 1920x1080 resolution of most monitors and at high detail levels. If you plan on not gaming, the graphics card also has a fair amount of performance for accelerating non-3D applications such as Photoshop as well. There is no space for a second graphics card for the possibility of higher performance for multiple monitor setups as there is a just a single PCI-Express graphics card slot. The system does have a 500 watt power supply which means that it can upgrade to a slightly faster graphics card but it probably isn't really worth the money.
Most of the faults with the Gamer Extreme NE731i that I have mentioned so far all arise because of the motherboard that iBUYPOWER has elected to use. It is an older Intel H61 based board with a mATX form factor. The chipset and the limited space on the board mean that many of the features that are standard to most competing desktops are simply not here. Now if you don't need more more, external storage space or upgraded graphics, then it will work fine but most of these obstacles can't be overcome without completely replacing the motherboard which is a serious upgrade job.
With a price point of around $900, there are a couple of gaming specific systems that directly compete with the iBUYPOWER. The Avatar Gaming A1077 is a bit more affordable but sacrifices a number of performance areas by using an AMD A10 APU with a Radeon HD 7770 graphics card. It does feature twice the memory and storage space, USB 3.0 ports and a higher wattage power supply for better upgrade potential. The Cyberpower Gamer Xtreme 1372 offers the same processor and memory setup with with more memory and USB 3.0 ports but with lower 3D performance from the Radeon HD 7850 graphics card. There is also the option of the Alienware X51 which can be found for under $1000 with the same GeForce GTX 660 graphics card in a smaller case but it sacrifices performance by using a slower Core i5-3330 processor.