Vibox Envy full review
Many PC manufacturers merely buy a selection of third-party components, and then build a sytem around them. Vibox, though, takes a rather more proactive approach. For a start, there's the sheer number of different flavours available to customers. Here we review the 'Standard' version of the Vibox Envy gaming PC, for instance, but you can also buy 'Extreme/Overclocked' and 'Liquid Cooled' versions.
The differences in components list and price are fairly small. For instance, the Extreme version of this Vibox Envy PC adds faster memory, nudges 0.1GHz to the overclocking, 50W-higher rated power supply, twice the hard drive storage, plus a faster SSD and network card. All of this costs an extra £110.
Those differences aren't perhaps large enough to merit a completely different model name, but as a means of adding extra flexibility without going down the potentially bewildering 'fully customisable' route, it works brilliantly. You also know that the overclocking has been handled very carefully, so that any increase in the speed has been justified by the improved hardware.
This Vibox Envy PC mostly maintained a consistent temperature of around 33 degrees celsius, only burbling up slightly to 33.5 during our toughest benchmarks. It also remained pleasingly quiet, adding very little to the sound levels in the room – a testament to the Envy's immaculately controlled overclocking.
Not that Vibox's attention to detail ends there. The Vibox Envy case is itself the design of the company, and if you want something a little special, the slashes of glowing green that adorn the front of the PC make it one of the more striking machines we've seen.
But there's functionality to the design as well, with the green display keeping you continually informed as to such useful details as system temperature, hard drive performance, and the length of the current session. (See our article: what's the best games PC?)
Vibox Envy: Case
The Vibox Envy case is a bit of a monster to get into, and you'll need a good screwdriver and plenty of grunt before you can remove the lid – most modern cases are easy-screw, making them a doddle to open up in comparison.
Once inside, space is a little lacking, and it's not easy to get to such components as the memory chips. Nonetheless, the system remains fairly cool, and the range of ports and connectors are ample.
The front has three USB ports (one of those USB 3.0), a memory-card slot, and headphone/mic sockets. You'll find a further 10 USB ports (two of those USB 3.0) to the rear, along with FireWire. Gigabyte's 3x USB Power is implemented, so you can use the USB 2.0 ports at the back to recharge some tablets that need more than the usual 500mA.
The Vibox Envy PC itself is modestly priced, although not quite as modestly priced as it might seem at first. That's because the £630 tag doesn't include an operating system. This does mean you have a wide choice of OSes. However, it's worth remembering that having Windows 8 installed, for instance, will add £75, bringing the real price up to £705. And that only covers the PC unit, so if you want a monitor, keyboard and mouse, those will add more still. Nonetheless, £705 is a low price for a bare gaming rig.
Inevitably, the pricing does show through in terms of some of the components. The drive options are pretty strong, though, with the 1TB WD Caviar Blue hard drive combining impeccably with the 120GB Kingston SSDNow V300 to deliver both capacity and high performance. The 24x DVD writer is a smooth performer too.
The Corsair Vengeance memory gives very serviceable 1600MHz speed, although 8GB isn't a mind-blowing amount. Fervent gamers will prefer the 1833MHz RAM of the Extreme version of this PC. They may also prefer a bit of extra pace on the AMD FX-4350 processor. Its baseline speed of 4.2GHz has been increased to 4.4GHz here, and the Extreme version of the Envy pushes this up a further notch, to 4.5GHz.
The Envy is aimed at the gaming market, but the FX-4350 processor does leave it a little underpowered in this arena – this processor can't get close even to the Intel Core i5-4670K systems, let alone the Core i7 powerhouses. It is worth considering the £705 price tag, though, before you look too unkindly upon the middling PCMark 7 score of 4216.
The Vibox Envy will be good for general PC work, but its gaming performance is capable rather than outstanding. In fairness, a lot of that is down to the low price tag. For this price, you can't expect more than the AMD processor and an AMD Radeon HD 7850 graphics card. There's nothing specifically wrong with either component, but they clearly aren't going to give you the same capabilities as PCs some £100+ higher in price.
Vibox Envy: Gaming performance
Strangely, that difference is most marked at lower detail levels. In Sniper Elite, for instance, the PC secured a score of 174fps at the lowest setting. This is a long way behind the 7870 and i5-4670K combo of the Arbico Elite 4670 OCX, for instance, which picked up 251fps in the same test.
The gap closed at more medium settings (the Vibox scored 69fps to the Arbico's 87fps) and narrowed to a mere 2fps at 1080p.
It was a similar story in Aliens vs Predator, where the Vibox's scores of 77 and 45fps (at 720p and 1080p respectively) were 17fps and 5fps behind the Arbico's. In fairness, the Arbico is around £124 more expensive, so we should expect such a gap. (See our article: what's the best games PC?)
Vibox Envy: Specs
- 4.2GHz AMD FX4350 (OC 4.4GHz)
- Gigabyte 970A-UD3 motherboard
- 8GB DDR3 RAM
- no operating system included in price (Windows 8.1 £75)
- 1TB WD Caviar Blue hard drive (7200rpm)
- 120GB Kingston SSDNow V300
- Vibox Predator Green Gaming case
- 550W XFX Pro PSU
- Raijintek Aidos CPU cooler
- MSI AMD Radeon HD 7850 with 2GB memory
- 3x USB 3.0
- 10x USB 2.0
- flash-memory drive
- 24x Lite-on iHAS124 DVD writer
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