The PC-as-sports-car analogy has never been more fitting than with the $4,585 Hypersonic Cyclone OCX Limited Edition. It has the looks, the horsepower, and the price (relatively speaking) of a sexy, souped-up roadster. Indeed, this machine was practically built for racing--or any other games you fancy. Its dual Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX graphics cards can run the most visually demanding games at their highest resolutions with every available effect enabled. Unfortunately, your $4,585 investment doesn't include a monitor or speakers--or even a marquis game. You can add those and other items when you order your system, but they drive the price tag even higher into the stratosphere.
The mammoth metal Cyclone case features the same pseudo-BTX layout on the inside as the Voodoo Omen we reviewed in the beginning of the year. Because the motherboard is flipped upside down for more efficient cooling, you access the interior from the right side of the case instead of the left. The hard drives and the power supply each have their own separate compartments to isolate them in an airflow channel of their own, and a large 120mm fan blows across the already liquid-cooled CPU and graphics cards. The result is quiet operation and a striking internal design.
The exterior of the Hypersonic Cyclone OCX LE tower bears an attractive, glossy, deep-red finish. The interior glows an eerie red when the system is powered on, and you can't help but notice the huge, stenciled Hypersonic logo that spans the full height of the front panel and also lights up red. Such boutique color schemes can seem awkward when paired with standard PC input devices, but Hypersonic also included a matching Logitech Media Keyboard Elite and MX518 gaming mouse to complete the look, although you can opt for standard-color input devices to save money.
On the front of the case, the heavy-duty metal hinged door (no chance of accidentally breaking this one off) opens to reveal the Cyclone's double-layer DVD burner, 9-in-1 media-card reader, and three-high stack of empty external drive bays. Unfortunately, you also have to open the door to reach the power button. Thankfully, the system's front USB 2.0, FireWire, and audio ports don't have the same problem; they reside just below the door.
You'd expect endless expandability from such an enormous tower, and for the most part you'd be right. In addition to its external drive bays, the Cyclone has room for three more hard drives (for a grand total of six) and two more memory sticks. Hypersonic also provides a pair of uninstalled rear expansion slot add-in plates: one adds two extra USB 2.0 ports; the other, two extra FireWire ports. You can't install both, however; the tower has just one unused PCI slot. The Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS card and its accompanying game port plate occupy the other two. Most modern game controllers use USB connectors, though, so if you don't use a legacy joystick or a gamepad, taking out the game port plate is easy, should you need another expansion slot.
For storage, the Hypersonic Cyclone OCX LE combines a pair of 74GB Raptor hard drives (in a RAID 0 configuration for 148GB of contiguous space) with a 300GB, 7,200rpm Seagate drive. It's a smart configuration; you can store games, applications, and the OS on the faster drives, while leaving the big drive free for files, media, or backups. All three drives arrive mostly empty; the only bundled software is the pair of older games that come with the Audigy 2 card: Rainbow Six 3 and Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. We think a luxury gaming system should include at least Doom 3 or Half-Life 2, to say nothing of antivirus software. Gamers looking to save a little bank can forgo the 300GB drive and opt for just the two Raptor drives: speed over storage.
Just as most car drivers don't really need a 400-horsepower V8, few computer users--even hard-core gamers--will take full advantage of the Cyclone's AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 (currently AMD's fastest single-core processor) and 1GB of Mushkin DDR-550 RAM. But it's certainly a blast to go that fast, and the Cyclone doesn't let the power go to waste. Its SysMark 2004 score of 243 is impressive for a single-core system, and its 3D gaming performance was off the charts--only the Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX and the hyper-overclocked Overdrive PC Torque SLI have posted higher 3D numbers. Hypersonic helped achieve this nitrolike performance by overclocking the processor to 2.91GHz from 2.8GHz and the GeForce cards to 458MHz from 430MHz. You can also opt to receive the system with standard clock speeds.
Hypersonic offers both one- and three-year warranties; our configuration included the latter, a welcome change from the recent trend toward skimpy warranties. The coverage includes 24/7 toll-free phone support, onsite service, and free shipping. Tech-savvy users can save $249 by opting for the one-year warranty instead, although that's admittedly a high price for two years of coverage, we credit Hypersonic for coming in $400 less than the Overdrive PC and still having a better warranty. You also get a zippered leather case with the system that includes manuals and driver discs. Online support features a wealth of resources, among them driver updates, FAQs and a virus diagnostic tool.
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
|Doom 3 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF||Doom 3 1,024x768, 4xAA 8xAF||Half-Life 2 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF||Half-Life 2 1,024x768 4xAA 8xAF|
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Alienware Aurora 7500
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX (PCIe SLI); two Hitachi HDS728080PLA380 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce RAID class controller (RAID 0)
Dell XPS 600
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3.8GHz Intel Pentium 4 670; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI Intel Edition chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX (PCIe SLI); two Hitachi HDS725050KLA360 500GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 Intel Edition SATA RAID Controller (RAID 0)
Hypersonic Cyclone OCX Limited Edition
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 550MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX (PCIe SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; one Seagate ST3300831AS 300GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce RAID class controller (RAID 0)
Overdrive PC Torque SLI
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; one Seagate ST3200826AS, 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce RAID class controller (RAID 0)
Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge DualX
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB (2) Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; one WDC WD250JD-00HBB0 250GB 7,200rpm SATA; integrated Silicon SiL3114 SoftRAID5