iBUYPOWER Erebus GT Review: Ivy Bridge and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 680 in SLIby Dustin Sklavos on April 27, 2012 2:00 AM EST
Conclusion: Still a Solid Buy
My conclusions from the previous review of iBUYPOWER's Erebus GT are going to be echoed here: the system continues to be a solid value and worthy of enthusiast attention. What's also worth mentioning is that this review unit exhibited none of the issues I dealt with in the last one that merited the response from iBUYPOWER's Ricky Lee: it was solid from start to finish. Boutique systems tend to be a bit inflated in terms of price, but the Erebus GT is actually a good deal for an enthusiast looking for a liquid-cooled system but unwilling to actually wrestle with assembling one. Liquid-cooling the CPU is, at least in this reviewer's opinion, generally overrated unless you're really stressing it, but the video cards benefit from it in a major way.
I think the big story is actually Ivy Bridge and what it means to enthusiasts. Pretty much everyone else here has weighed in on it over the past few days, but as an enthusiast I'm a bit lukewarm to the i7-3770K. I feel like a lot of us were hoping for either a bigger performance improvement or better overclocking headroom due to the new process, but what we have instead is a chip that, when pushed to its conventional limits, is essentially still only the equal of its predecessor in terms of performance. It's difficult not to feel at least a little bit underwhelmed in that respect, but hopefully as Intel's 22nm process matures and new steppings become available, that overclocking headroom will improve and Ivy Bridge can fully supplant Sandy Bridge in the hearts and minds of enthusiasts. Such is the nature of Intel's "ticks", I suppose—Penryn and Westmere didn't exactly set the world on fire with improved performance.
On the other hand, where Ivy Bridge and Kepler do offer a substantial improvement over Sandy Bridge and Fermi is in performance-per-watt. This Erebus GT is hands down the most efficient gaming desktop we've ever tested, providing essentially the best quad-core performance and absolute best gaming performance we've ever seen while drawing less than 500 watts from the wall. When you're used to seeing gaming systems regularly draw far more than that, it's a big deal, and the best part is that idle power consumption is still entirely reasonable. This is one place where NVIDIA's and Intel's engineers can really be proud of themselves; Ivy Bridge may ultimately not provide enthusiasts any tangible performance advantage, but the power consumption advantage is undeniable.
In terms of gaming, the iBUYPOWER Erebus GT with Intel Core i7-3770K and pair of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680s in SLI is the fastest system we've ever tested. CPU performance is essentially competitive, but tasks that benefit from additional cores are going to continue to prefer Gulftown and Sandy Bridge-E. Those are, I think, corner cases with benefits that for the majority of users won't outweigh the added expense and power consumption. The result here is that iBUYPOWER has produced a system with exceptional component choices, excellent power characteristics, and solid thermals. The Erebus GT as a chassis and cooling solution continues to be exceptional, and now it benefits from advances made by Intel and NVIDIA in recent months. That's worthy of a recommendation.