As you can see from our other two reviews, today has seen AMD return to the fore with a big bang. I'm sure lots of our more technically minded readers are already plotting their upgrade paths and raiding the Internet for the best prices.
But what if you aren't the type of person who has the confidence to build their own computers. After all, most of us weren't to begin with and even now those of us with self-built PCs are vastly in the minority.
If you're going to buy a pre-built computer there mainly appears to be two big routes you can go down. The first is the generic "store" PC which is usually underpowered and overpriced. Sold to the masses who don't know much better and think that 1GB of RAM is plenty. The second is to get a system that definitely has the go and the show, but costs an absolute fortune to get the latest hardware.
So what if you know what you want, haven't got the time or the expertise to build it yourself, but also don't fancy taking out a mortgage to cover the cost?
Enter Overclockers UK with the Ultima Raptor.
Overclockers UK have been providing pre-built PCs for years now, and in the last year the range has really exploded to cover every imaginable pocket from the exceptional value, to the full Monty. The Ultima Raptor we have in today is balanced neatly in the middle of the OCUK range, priced at £1199 at the specifications we've got today.
Often when reviewing customisable items the provided sample has all the options. Anyone who's seen a car advert or road test will know what I mean. But for the test today we've got the vanilla one. The baseline model. That isn't to say it's lacking at all. Let's have a look at the specifications.
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Six Core Processor - Pre-Overclocked to 4GHz
ASUS 890FX Crosshair 4 Formula Motherboard
ASUS ATI Radeon HD5870
2x2GB Corsair DDR XMS3 @ 1600MHz
Western Digital Caviar 640GB
Corsair TX650 PSU
Titan Fenrir CPU Cooler
Antec 902 Nine Hundred Two Case
As you can see it's a hefty specification indeed, with a 4GHz six core CPU, 4GB or RAM and a HD5870 this should munch through anything you throw at it. Also considering the X6 1090T is only released today, you're getting the very latest hardware for your hard earned pound.
Taking the Ultima Raptor out of the packaging we can see the familiar Antec 902 case. It's not a case to everyones liking and is a little fussy for my personal taste with bumps and bits sticking out here and there. However it serves our purpose well.
With the side removed we get our first look at the insides of the Ultima Raptor. Clearly dominated by the Titan Fenrir cooler which is vertically mounted to help the hot air exhaust quickly out the top fan.
As you can see here in the confined space of the Antec 902, Overclockers UK have done a great job in managing the cables. This is especially true as the Corsair TX650 is a non-modular PSU and so you've always got a bunch of spaghetti to deal with whether you use it or not.
Let's take a look at some of the star players.
With any purchase there are always a few elements that sway your decision towards that particular item. So here we've highlighted what we think are the four big products within the Overclockers UK Ultima Raptor.
Firstly, the thing that makes everyone salivate, the graphics card. Here we have a Radeon HD5870 which is pretty much the weapon of choice for any self-respecting gamer, providing great performance and bulletproof reliability. This particular model is from ASUS, although being a reference design it doesn't make a huge difference, nonetheless it's nice to know a major manufacturer is on board.
Of course, although represented here by the mammoth cooler, the major player is without doubt the new CPU. The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor. If you've been impatient and read the review of that before this one, you'll know what a big deal this is. If not the numbers we have on offer here should give you a good taste of how much performance you're getting at a mainstream price.
Like a house is useless if built on quicksand, the benefits of a great motherboard as the foundation for your system cannot be overstated. Here we have one of the very best AMD motherboards around in the ASUS Crosshair 4 Formula. This Republic of Gamers branded motherboard provides all the very latest hardware bells and whistles along with the famous ASUS reliability and tweakability.
Finally the Corsair TX650. Corsair power supplies are now so refined that you can pick almost any model from their line-up and know that it will be built like a brick outhouse and just as stable.
Premium parts throughout. How does it fair in the OC3D labs?
So with the system fired up and running we installed the standard set of OC3D benchmarks and got to work seeing how well she ran.
Because this is a system that has been pre-overclocked to 4GHz by the Overclockers UK team, our graphs are a little sparser than normal. However after the behemoths that have been the other ones you've seen today I'm sure you'll be pleased.
We'll start with SiSoft Sandra, which tests the calculation abilities of the Ultima Raptor and its included AMD Phenom II X6 1090T. Don't forget that this is a ready to run 4GHz six core system.
The Whetstone and Dhrystone tests give us the capabilities of the system in GigaFLOPS (FLoating point Operations Per Second) and GigaIPS (Instructions Per Second) respectively.
Our Cryptography tests showed a good amount of available bandwidth across the board with only the AES dipping below a GB/s.
Everest Ultimate Edition
It's a shame that AMD didn't include the AES instruction set we've seen from the 980x, but still it's a good score.
zLib naturally takes huge advantage of our six cores and produces the kind of score to make any archive quiver in fear.
PhotoWorxx and CPU Queen give equally good results showing that the Ultima Raptor is an all round beast.
POV-Ray and CineBench
POV-Ray tests sheer raw processing power, something the 1090T within our Ultima Raptor has in spades. Around a thousand pixels per second per CPU core is impressive stuff in anyones book.
Although CineBench tests the CPU equally as well as POV-Ray, the OpenGL section tests both the accuracy of rendering two images, and how fast the HD5870 can churn the data out. Of course we're all aware of how powerful the 5870 is, and paired with the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T it definitely rocks and rolls, sticking out over 35 FPS.
PC Mark Vantage
One of the great benefits of testing an entire system, such as the Ultima Raptor from Overclockers UK, is that we get a chance to run all of those tests that are normally specific to certain types of hardware and get a real feel for how well a system performs in daily use rather than solely for gaming or suchlike.
In PC Mark Vantage scores very well indeed. The TV and Movies test is vastly reliant on the storage medium, and with the Western Digital 640MB HDD just breaking through 3000 points then the TV and Movies test score reflects this. However, the rest of the scores handily break through the 6000 barrier, with the gaming result taking advantage of the 5870 to really bang in the numbers.
3D Mark Vantage
Firing up 3D Mark Vantage in its Performance mode provides a good score with over 18000 total marks and the CPU score breaking through the 20000 barrier. This should give us a great High score.
Moving to the much more realistic High settings sees the score drop to a hair under 13000. This will give playable frame-rates at good image quality in all but the most demanding games.
The main benefit of buying a rig such as the OCUK Ultima Raptor is that you just take it out the box, fire it up and you're gaming. So of course we'd be foolish not to do so ourselves.
A 4GHz Six Core processor and one of the premium graphics cards on the planet just screams out for the playable, graphical showpiece that is Codemasters Dirt 2 in all its DirectX 11 glory.
Even with all our settings on a metaphorical 11, the Ultima Raptor has no issues at all with proving just under 75 frames per second average.
Need For Speed Shift
Electronic Arts reboot of the Need For Speed franchise is well loved around the OC3D offices. It perfectly balances on the knife edge that is between arcade and simulation, managing to keep both camps satisfied.
With the tracks and cars being sumptuous to look at, detail and those small touches everywhere you look, and the settings all the way up to the stops we still see just under 80 FPS average.
Good old Crysis Warhead. Still making systems hide in a darkened room at the mere mention of it. Despite it unsurprisingly being a performance hog it actually highlights a good point that has so far not really stood out in our testing.
With an ATI card all the PhysX has to be handled by the CPU, thanks nVidia, and the extra cores of the Phenom II X6 1090T really shine giving an immense boost to the minimum frame-rate. 34 FPS is the kind of figure that not too long ago we'd have been happy with as an average. It's WAY above any other minimum rate we've seen.
At the start I was saying how end users are split very much into separate camps, and usually with very separate needs. So where does the OCUK Ultima Raptor fit in?
Well firstly let's speak to the OC3D audience. It's very easy to look at any pre-built system and have a derisory sneer at how you can "build a much better system, far cheaper". Hold on a moment there sparky. Sure at a quick glance it might appear to be slightly expensive. But anyone who likes to laud the, undeniable, pleasure of building your own always speaks through rose-tinted spectacles.
No-one mentions the elements that are so familiar to us. Parts not arriving at the same time so you're left looking longingly at boxes. One element not working properly and having to spend a week fault-finding, another couple of weeks waiting for the RMA, and then building again. Maybe reading that manual one more time will ease the pang of not using it eh. Even if everything goes well you'll still going to spend a few days building it, eradicating those little foibles, and getting the overclock fine-tuned. Not so here. Doesn't look quite such a foolish decision after all does it?
To everyone else the realities of the Ultima Raptor are simple. For not much more than you'd pay for some half-baked "internet ready" PC full of generic hardware, Overclockers UK can provide a PC that is crammed full of the latest hardware.
Corsair PSU and XMS3 memory. ASUS high-end motherboard and graphics card. Brand spanking new AMD six core processor overclocked to 4GHz.
Wherever you look you have premium hardware, from premium brands, backed up by the piece of mind that comes from knowing it doesn't need a weeks testing. Or crossing your fingers that you've got the right part.
Open box. Plug in. Play.
It's so rewarding and hassle free we start to wonder why we built our own in the first place.
For sheer performance and for providing a rig that can genuinely be called a gaming rig but without the normal price-tag, we happily award the OCUK Ultima Raptor our Gamers Choice Award.
Many thanks to Overclockers UK for providing the Ultima Raptor for todays review. Discuss in our forums.