Build, Heat, and Noise

Given that the iBUYPOWER Erebus GT we have for review now is essentially identical in terms of build quality to the one we reviewed a month-and-a-half ago, there isn't a whole lot to update on. Build quality on this review unit was excellent, period, and the components iBUYPOWER chose were all solid, name brand selections. If anything, I think part of it might have been over-engineered.

Where things get interesting is when we look at system thermals and power draw. We've heard that Ivy Bridge runs hotter than Sandy Bridge does, and I can confirm those findings by comparing the thermal readings from our Sandy Bridge-based Erebus GT against our Ivy Bridge-based Erebus GT.


Intel Core i7-2700K-based Erebus GT


Intel Core i7-3770K-based Erebus GT

First, it's pretty obvious the water-cooling loop is doing its job on the video cards, and by doing so they give NVIDIA's GPU Boost a lot of thermal leeway. iBUYPOWER didn't overclock the GTX 680s in the Erebus GT, but odds are good you could probably eke out even more performance if you were somehow not satisfied with two GTX 680s in SLI. Second, the i7-3770K definitely runs hotter than the i7-2700K. Not by a tremendous degree, but there's a difference. Keep in mind that the ambient temperature in the room when testing the i7-3770K was closer to 21C, and definitely lower than it was when testing the i7-2700K.

Something to consider is that Ivy Bridge is a smaller chip than Sandy Bridge, but while it's more power efficient (see below), it's also more power dense. If we just use the base TDP, Sandy Bridge 4C is 95W in a 216mm2 die, for a power density of 0.44W/mm2. Ivy Bridge 4C by comparison is 77W in 160mm2, or 0.48W/mm2. That's only a 9% increase, but given how IVB reacts to overclocking and voltage, it's not too surprising that maximum reasonable overclocks are down for this first round of 22nm parts.

I'll say I'm not sure that HWMonitor's wattage readings are 100% accurate, either; the 203W it reports for the overclocked i7-2700K doesn't line up with our own power consumption test results, while HWMonitor reported between 50W and 70W for the i7-3770K. That's a little more believable given how frugal this configuration was with power in our test results, but still seems on the low side.

In terms of noise, it seems like someone heard my complaint about the fans in the first Erebus GT because this one comes with a fan controller. iBUYPOWER employs NZXT's six-channel analog fan controller, and it's very easy to adjust fan speeds to strike a good balance between noise and performance. I use the same controller in my own personal desktop.

Power Consumption

Where things get really exciting, actually, is in how much power this Erebus GT pulls from the wall. Keep in mind we're still dealing with a custom liquid-cooling loop, but thankfully iBUYPOWER applies an offset voltage that allows the system to idle properly.

Idle Power Consumption

Load Power Consumption

Power consumption is, frankly, outstanding. Intel's i7-3770K, at least overclocked where it is in this system, still sips power, and the pair of GTX 680s are able to provide performance comparable to or better than a pair of GTX 590s at roughly half the power draw.

As a result, I honestly feel like the 1.2kW PSU is absolute overkill for the Erebus GT. It simply doesn't need it; a 750W unit would've done the job with plenty of headroom to spare. This configuration is incredibly efficient for the performance you get, so there's no need to waste the extra money on a huge power supply.

Gaming Performance Conclusion: Still a Solid Buy
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  • Ryan Smith - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Soon. Reply
  • randinspace - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    What impresses me the most about the system is that iBUYPOWER is actually able to obtain not one, but TWO WHOLE 680s... oh wait a minute tigerdirect has a PNY model at least listed as in stock right now, so I guess anything's possible. Reply
  • Nickel020 - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    I'm quite disappointed that you pretty much only reviewed performance. The review would have been much better (and up to the Anandtech standard), if you wrote more about the build, the cooling system/noise, the value of the system and support (options). Those are also very important for the purchasing decision, yet you leave many questions open here.

    Please provide full information on the build/ the components of the system. What are the components of the watercooling loop? In the other Erebus GT review you talk about the case being based on a NZXT case - why leave that information out here? Also: Please provide more/better pictures! If there were more pictures, I could identify the full watercooling the system. Surely you have someone on staff at AT who could do the same and provide information on whether this is a good setup or not. (One thing they did wrong is to connect the GPUs in series, parallel would have been better in this configuration).

    More on noise (incl. measurements & a subjective comparison) would be very nice. You mention it has a fan controller, but make no mention of how it works, and how the system compares to an air cooled high-end system (because at stock settings that's what you're getting the watercooling for: it's more powerful and thus potentially quieter than air - but is it quieter here?). What fans are used, and what is the minimum RPM you can set them to, and is that setting still able to cool the system under full load?

    I can understand that you don't know the price yet, but you should still talk about value. Since pretty much all of these parts are retail parts, I would like to see a listing how much it would cost to buy them and assemble the system yourself. How much extra has iBUYPOWER charged in the past over component price? What service/warranty do you get for that?
    Reply
  • ggathagan - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    This is a review of a complete system.

    If you want to compare it to DIY, that's *your* job to find out the components.
    Call or email IBUYPOWER.
    Reply
  • rickmoranisftw - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    i went to ibuypower to mess around with the customization, and i could not find the Z77 platform. Also, i could not find the liquid cooled 680 as an option on any of them. Is this something they are updating soon, or am i just completely missing something? Reply
  • Denithor - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    What benchmark/software do you run to max out power consumption for the load testing? I'm curious because to be valid it would have to be something that maxes both CPU and GPU, otherwise you aren't getting a true load value. Reply
  • Folterknecht - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    1,36 V for that 3770K max Voltage reported by HW-Monitor - which genius came up with these BIOS-Settings??? Even water cooled - that cant be good in the long run. Every review and forum discussion I read suggests that 4.4 GHz on Ivy is doable with 1,15 - 1,25 V and u start to get serious temp problems if you go above 1,25 V - even water cooled. Reply
  • nemt - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    I've never heard of someone having a good experience with ibuypower. Everyone I know who's purchased a prebuilt (or semi built) machine from them has regretted it almost immediately.

    The specs are nice, but I doubt the built quality is worth the eventual price of admission.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Based on my recommendation, a friend bought one of their systems two years back. It had better specs than Dell or other large OEMs, and the total price for the box was $800. He's been very pleased with the computer and hasn't had any hardware problems at all. It runs quiet and fast, though it's not like he actually pushes it that hard. So there you go: at least one story of someone that bought IBP and didn't regret it at all. Reply
  • gmallen - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Our two iBuypower machines have good build quality, all brand-name parts and worked out of the box. Almost two failure-free years later, we are ramping up to buy two more, using the old machines as a media server and an NAS. So, ignore troll and check iBuypower forums for real comments by actual owners. Reply

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