Hypersonic's Cyclone OCX LE
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 dualgraphics 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 thewe 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 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.