Systemax Sabre Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93 GHz review: Systemax Sabre Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93 GHz

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

The Good Outstanding deal on a high-end PC; Core 2 Extreme CPU; ATI CrossFire graphics; 10,000rpm hard drives; bundled Razer Copperhead gaming mouse and a Saitek Eclipse backlit keyboard.

The Bad No-frills design won't win any awards; the system's many cooling fans makes for a loud PC.

The Bottom Line The Systemax Sabre can't compete with the higher-end PC shops' design and innovation, but Systemax blows them away with its aggressive Sabre pricing. If you're a gamer or simply someone looking for a powerhouse desktop for less, this desktop is one of the best deals on the market, despite its relative lack of polish.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 9
  • Performance 7
  • Support 5

Systemax is by no means alone as a vendor of affordable, spare PCs. iBuyPower, Cyberpower, Polywell, and others all reduce costs by building and selling desktops with off-the-shelf parts. This type of PC doesn't have as much of an identity as a model from a high-end, boutique vendor such as Alienware or Falcon Northwest, and you often can't buy this type of PC with factory-overclocked parts, liquid cooling, or other performance-enhancing tweaks. But once you jump over to and see the price tag on its high-end, house-brand model, the Systemax Sabre, you'll discover that the company's cost-cutting measures amount to a major advantage in price. For $3,499, the Systemax Sabre is one of the best deals we've seen for such a high-end combination of parts. It costs hundreds less than similarly equipped PCs and makes an attractive option for DIY overclockers and gamers who value price over polish.

Systemax sent us its default Sabre configuration, which includes an Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor, an ATI Radeon X1900-based CrossFire graphics card setup, and 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; you even get a pair of fast 150GB Western Digital Raptor 10,000rpm hard drives. In price, specs, and performance, that config stacks up well against similar systems' from Dell, Gateway, and other high-end PC vendors. You might want to tweak the hard drive configuration a bit, as 300GB goes pretty fast these days. Luckily, the Systemax Sabre's online configurator lets you customize those specs and others with a reasonably wide selection of options.

Systemax keeps the Sabre's price low by skipping some of the intangibles--custom paint jobs, hand-tied internal cable routing, proprietary cooling systems--found on PCs from the boutique shops. The red-painted case we received is actually out-of-stock at the time of this writing, so right now Systemax offers the same model in only a blander blue and gray. Four of the Sabre's fans are lit with red LEDs, and the internal cables are arranged neatly enough, but those two features and the see-through side panel are about it for unique design elements (and at this point, they're not that unique). The Sabre has little-to-no functional customizations such as sound-dampening foam, and the system is noticeably loud, thanks to its eight fans between the system, the CPU, the power supply, and the two graphics cards.

Many people might be willing to forgive a boring or even offensive design if the price and the performance are right, and in that case, we can wholeheartedly recommend the Systemax Sabre. The system to which it's most comparable is the Gateway FX510XT, a fixed configuration more or less. That PC costs $500 more than the Sabre, and the two have nearly identical performance. The Gateway has 4GB of memory (more than Windows XP can use) and slower 7,200rpm hard drives. Systemax's customization options are limited, so you can't get match it exactly to the Gateway, but if you configure the Sabre with 900GB of 7,200rpm storage (its current high-capacity limit), you'd actually drop the price another $100. Clearly, the Sabre is a much better deal. The only other systems that beat it on performance are either overclocked, like the WinBook PowerSpec Extreme 9800, or have a different and (possibly) more advanced chipset, like the Dell XPS 700. And even those performance wins aren't by all that much.

Mainstream performance results (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Multitasking test  
Apple iTunes encoding test  
Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test  
Dell XPS X700
Gateway FX510XT
Systemax Sabre
Dell XPS 410
Note: * System is overclocked.

Microsoft Office productivity test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Note: * System is overclocked.

3D gaming performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
F.E.A.R. 1,600x1,200 SS 8xAF  
F.E.A.R. 1,024x768 SS 8xAF  
Quake 4 1,024x768, 4xAA 8xAF  
Dell XPS 700
Systemax Sabre
Gateway FX510XT
Dell XPS 410
Note: * System is overclocked.

A DVD burner, a CD-RW/DVD combo drive, and a media card reader round out the system itself, and extras include a Razer Copperhead gaming mouse and a Saitek Eclipse backlit keyboard for gaming in the dark. Clearly those devices and the config in general make the Sabre a gaming-oriented box, but with all of those optical and removable media options, it makes sense to use this system with your digital still or video camera or for general digital media consumption.

Best Desktops for 2020

All best desktops

More Best Products

All best products