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Bully Tyrant review: Bully Tyrant

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The Good Well built, with geek-chic design; plenty of fast hard drives; three-year warranty; free shipping (tower only).

The Bad Performance does not match price; uses older Intel chipset; AGP instead of PCI Express graphics.

The Bottom Line Built with the same TLC provided by better-known gaming system vendors, the Bully Tyrant is a decent machine, but we expected newer technology and better performance.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7
  • Support 8

Bully Tyrant

Founded in 2003, Bully Computers is carving a niche in the highly competitive gaming-PC market. The $4,580 (as of November 2004) Intel-based Bully Tyrant certainly has the look gamers crave, but for the price, we expected it to turn in better performance numbers. Though the Tyrant includes a powerful Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor, the price of the system seems oppressive when you consider that the machine comes with an older AGP graphics card instead of the almighty PCI Express GeForce 6800 Ultra. Factor in that speakers and a monitor are not included in the price, and you'll soon feel like Bully Computers is holding you upside down and shaking the lunch money out of your pockets.

With its shiny black, all-aluminum Cooler Master Praetorian chassis, offset by glowing red fan lights with custom-cut grilles, the Tyrant has a decidedly wicked look. The clenched fist etched into the side-panel window is a sharp piece of artwork and doesn't obscure the view of the Tyrant's interior, which is a work of art itself. The impeccably sheathed and neatly tucked cabling not only improves airflow but also lets you know that this system was built with care--a point driven home by the shipping case. To protect the system, Bully handcrafts its shipping crate out of 3/4-inch pine, complete with industrial-size hinges, locking hardware, and a combination lock. Our review system arrived unscathed, but the total weight was 61 pounds. Fortunately, Bully picks up the shipping tab on the tower, though you'll pay shipping on additional items such as monitors and speakers.

Thinking outside the box: The Bully Tyrant's wooden shipping crate protects your investment during transit.

Expansion room includes four PCI and two memory slots, a 5.25-inch external drive bay, and a 3.5-inch bay. A small panel on the front bezel flips out to reveal two USB 2.0 ports; four more are on the back along with two FireWire ports, S/PDIF-in and S/PDIF-out connections, six-channel audio jacks, and a Gigabit Ethernet port--the wide array of ports you'd expect to see on a performance PC. Although the side cover and the expansion slots are tool-free, you'll need a screwdriver to install and remove the drives.

You have a Hobson's choice of case colors--black--but the Tyrant can be configured any number of ways, with Intel or AMD processors and various motherboard, video, sound, and memory options. There's also a variety of hard drives and optical drives to choose from. Unlike Alienware, Falcon Northwest, and other high-performance shops that cater to the gaming crowd, Bully does not offer any systems that use Intel's latest 915 and 925 chipsets, which support PCI Express I/O technology and DDR2 memory. We were assured that they are on the way.

Our test system was based on an Intel 3.2GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor paired with an Abit IC7 Max3 motherboard, which uses Intel's 875 chipset. The system was configured with 1GB of PC3200 DDR memory (two 512MB modules) and a 256MB eVGA GeForce 6800 GT graphics card. Though we pine for DDR2 memory and PCI Express graphics, we have no complaints with our test system's drives: two Western Digital 74GB SATA 10,000rpm Raptor drives set to RAID 0 and a 200GB Western Digital Caviar 7,200rpm SATA drive for bulk storage. A double-layer, multiformat DVD burner and a DVD/CD-RW combo drive cover the gamut of recordable-media options and are bundled with Sonic's RecordNow software.

Below the optical drives, you'll find another of Tyrant's unique features: an attractive panel that displays vital system statistics and, for kicks, the local weather conditions. Instead of relying on the motherboard's six-channel audio controller, the Tyrant uses an Audigy 2 ZS card, though you'll have to pay extra for a good 7.1 speaker system to take advantage of it.

Geek appeal: A fist etched into the windowed side panel gives the Tyrant a fierce appearance.

In addition to Windows XP Professional, the Tyrant ships with Microsoft's Works Suite 2005. As a bonus, Bully throws in a full version of a popular game, but you won't know which until your system arrives. Our Tyrant came with Far Cry.

Although the Tyrant turned in respectable scores on our benchmark tests, it lagged most other high-end systems due to its lower processor speed and older chipset. As a 3D performer, the Tyrant held its own against Cyberpower's Gamer Infinity 6800GT system (3.4GHz Extreme) on our Unreal Tournament tests and actually bested it in one of our Far Cry tests (1,024x768 mode), but it couldn't match the numbers put up by the Alienware Area-51 ALX and Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX systems, both of which use more powerful processors and Intel's 925 chipset. The Tyrant ranked last on our business-application tests, however, when compared to the same three machines. Considering the price of the Velocity Micro ($3,425) and Cyberpower ($3,599) systems, which provide better performance and features, it's hard to justify paying a higher price for the Bully Tyrant.

The Tyrant comes with a generous three-year parts-and-labor warranty, but onsite service is not available. Instead, Bully will pay for shipping both ways if, after a call to tech support (not toll-free), service is deemed necessary. Support phone hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT. The Web site does not provide help or driver downloads. Each system ships with listings and details for each part, but that's all; there are no quick-start or user guides.

Application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  
Note: * Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX and Alienware Area-51 ALX CPUs and graphics cards are overclocked

To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2004, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).

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