When I first received the BTS11 in for review, it was a little while ago; normally I don’t take this long to post things, but there were a number of extenuating circumstances behind this delay. However I’ve gotten all of my notes in order, and I’m more than ready to give my thoughts, opinions, and findings on this true beast of a system. Designed for gamers in school without an unlimited budget at their disposal, iBUYPOWER has come through to show that you don’t need to sacrifice power and performance by getting a system that only runs a grand.
Now to be honest, I have not used a pre-built PC since I was a kid. I’ve always felt that I could build a PC that was just as good as one from a big box store, for half the price because I wasn’t paying for a brand name – and while I still do feel that way about major brand name towers from companies like Dell or HP, the iBUYPOWER rig has made me think twice about other manufacturers. When it first came in its giant box, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean I had seen the pictures – seen the specs; but I wasn’t really ready for the joy that awaited in the box.
The first thing that my wife said was that the case reminded her of a Stormtrooper (a thought then echoed by all three kids), and I have to agree to that as well. Just the sleek arctic white appearance with the finely defined black highlights make the appearance what it is. When powered on, there is a cool blue glow that comes from the LEDs showing the fan controls on the top of the case – I really think the case would benefit from a piece of lexan on one side and some cold cathodes – but I digress. I’ve always liked to throw in cold cathodes for the light factor, but the NZXT Phantom case that they use has solid outer walls.
Another thing with the case, is that it’s freakin’ HUGE! There’s plenty of space for adding drives and such while still maintaining proper airflow. Ecerything on the inside looks clean (not like the Frankenstein monster jobs I normally do) because all of the cables are mounted perfectly. On the top of the case are two USB 2.0 ports, and an eSATA plus your standard headphone and mic jacks. On the rear, there’s a boatload more, showing a whopping four more USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, analog audio AND S/PDIF digital audio jacks, plus a handy HDMI connector (for people like me who hook rigs up to TVs). There’s also a standard Ethernet port (which is important because for some reason there’s no built in WiFi), a serial port, and a parallel port. Quite enough to make sure everything you have can be plugged in somewhere.
Inside the case are two PCI Express x1 slots, two standard PCI slots, and another PCI Express x16 (wired as x4) slot. There’s four RAM slots, but only two are free – the other two hold 4GB of RAM each. There’s a 700-watt power supply running the whole thing too – which is more than ample for the stock components (though you may need to upgrade later on if you add a lot). One thing that really confused me, is that they stick an NVIDIA GTX 550 TI 1GB card in it for graphics, but the Gigabyte motherboard (GA – P6 – 7A – D3 – B3) that is in it supports CrossFireX – not SLI. It’s not that big of a deal because the video card runs quite well, but if you ever want to run a dual card system, you’ll have to get two new cards and not just one.
Another component that is glaringly nonexistent in this configuration, is a card reader. Luckily I had an EyeFi reader to plug in for myself, but others might not be so lucky, or realize that one’s not there. While they’re fairly inexpensive on their own, it’s something that probably should have been standard; especially considering this is supposed to be for students. There’s no Blu-Ray drive either, which again seems odd considering all the other high tech goodness crammed into this package. The BTS 11 also comes standard with a 750 GB hard drive, which is more than enough to get someone started. Lastly, this system DOES come with a keyboard and mouse – but they’re as basic as you can get. However you can add better ones while configuring the system at an additional cost.
So hardware out of the way, one question remains – how does it run?
Well for starters, I loaded up the Witcher 2, and tried running it on what the game recommended – the maximum settings. This ran incredibly smooth (especially since I had been used to playing games on my garbage laptop), and I instantly wanted to see how far I could push it. Borderlands ran like a dream on maximum – as did Battlefield 2, which even though it’s an older game it still can be taxing in big modded servers. I had to go down one setting off of max when playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Bad Company 2 (and Starcraft 2) had to be set to only “High” settings in order to play without any tearing or artifacts. For me – that’s a really decent system, because you’ll at least be able to run future games for a while before having to upgrade. As an example, two days before the BTS 11 was taken away from me I got a Beta code for Diable 3, and it looked (and played) better than I could have expected.
You can no longer get this system direct from their website, but you can still from TigerDirect, which is great. On a side note though, I had multiple friends come and play with this computer while I had it, and I know at least three of them who either are ordering, or have now ordered from iBUYPOWER because of how impressed they were with this system. I too plan on spending part of my tax return on a rig from these guys – the first “bought” PC I’ll have owned in close to 18 years. If that doesn’t show my faith in these guys, nothing will.
The Bottom Line: If you’re a kid somewhat strapped for cash, and doesn’t mind a few things missing in order to get the most gaming performance for your buck, then iBUYPOWER definitely has you covered – not just with this system, but with many others as well.
- Extremely powerful system for the money – even trying to build this yourself, you’d save so little it wouldn’t be worth it
- There’s more room inside the case than most people will know what to do with, and it still stays cool
- iBUYPOWER has been making a lot of waves lately for sick systems, and this one is no exception
- No Blu-Ray drive means you’re still using your PS3 for those movies
- The distinct lack of WiFi will leave you scratching your head as to “why?”
- Having to get two new cards if you want a dual system just seems like a poor choice
You can get the BTS 11 from TigerDirect for $979.99