“The Reactor costs $2,000 less than the Blackbird and is just as potent, if not more so.”
- Highly overclocked; stable and quiet; great build quality and documentation
- Chassis is a bit generic as a boutique offering; no recovery process
Uberclok is a new PC builder that sells nothing but overclocked gaming PCs. It only offers two models, and both are reasonably priced (compared to other high-end gaming PCs, that is). We received its high-end Reactor for review and we have to say, this is one impressive machine. Not only is it overclocked to the nines but still whisper quiet and totally stable, which is quite a feat. It’s one hell of a machine, and it also comes with superb documentation and a fantastic 30-day guarantee and a 3-year warranty.
Features and Design
Since the hallmark of this system is its overclocked status, let’s delve into that first. Uberclok doesn’t just overclock the CPU and call it a day. Oh no, it overclocks the CPU, the GPU (graphics processing unit, or videocard to the layman) the PCI Express bus and the system memory.
The Reactor we sampled came with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600, which runs at 2.4GHz in its native state. Uberclok has overclocked it all the way to 3.2GHz, and uses an aftermarket heatsink/fan to keep it chilly. If a quad-core CPU isn’t your cup of tea just yet and you want a dual-core processor, you can also opt for a Core 2 Duo E8400 overclocked to 3.7GHz.
The Reactor includes an NVIDIA 8800 GTX videocard, which is one of the fastest videocards available today. The card in our system has its core clock, shader engine and video memory overclocked. You can also opt for a second GTX for SLI, or even order 8800 Ultra(s) if you have recently inherited a lot of money.
Our last stop on the overclock express is the motherboard, which is an eVGA 680i SLI board. Uberclok has taken the time to overclock its 2GB of Corsair XMS2 Dominator memory from 800MHz to 850MHz. It has also overclocked the frequency of the PCI Express bus by 33%.
Chassis and Cooling
Uberclok has chosen the Antec 900 as its chassis of choice for both of the PC configurations it sells, and it’s easy to see why. This is a long-time favorite among gamers due to its tremendous airflow, good looks and spacious interior. Since everything in this PC is overclocked, airflow is supremely important, and the Antec 900 delivers with two 120mm intake fans in the front, one 120mm exhaust fan on the back, and a giant 200mm fan on top of the case.
You can choose any case you want, as long as it’s the Antec 900. We love this case, so our feelings are not hurt.
Three drives are included with the Reactor: two optical and one magnetic. The optical drives are Lite-On models, and include a DVD writer with LightScribe as well as a DVD reader. The lone hard drive is a gigantic 1TB Hitachi 7K1000 with 32MB of cache. If you don’t want this much storage (what’s wrong with you?) you can opt for a 500GB drive or a 150GB WD Raptor. RAID options are included in the configuration step on the website if you are looking for a mirrored or striped array.
Nobody likes bloatware (trial software), and apparently neither does Uberclok. The Reactor came with no trialware installed whatsoever, but the company did pre-install several software titles. The pre-installed software includes stuff most of us would install ourselves, including iTunes, Mozilla Firefox, CCCP codec pack, nTune, Adobe Flash Player and Reader, Divx, Quicktime, Java, Nero Essentials and Extract Now for unzipping RAR files.
Vista or XP?
The Reactor we sampled came with both Windows XP and Windows Vista Ultimate installed in a dual-boot configuration. When configuring the system you can choose whatever OS you want; XP costs the same as Vista Home Premium. Or you can dual-boot, which will cost you an extra $170 USD for the additional OS as long as its Vista Business or Home Premium.
Use and Testing
The first thing we noticed once we hoisted the Reactor from its box is that it includes a swank binder for all the included documentation and materials. We’ve seen a lot of these binders over the years and the Uberclok binder is possibly the best we’ve ever seen. It is very well laid-out, with fantastic information throughout including tech support info, how the system is configured and more. The manuals for all the parts are included and it’s all presented beautifully. The only thing missing from the binder is a system recovery DVD that is used to roll back the system to how it was fresh off the factory floor. Almost every PC we review includes some type of recovery process, so we’re not sure why Uberclok skipped this feature.
Each system includes a very well put-together binder with tech info, system details and manuals for all the parts.
The binder includes a welcome letter, introduction to the system and folders for all the component manuals in the back.
Looking at the system itself, it is very well put together. Though it’s basically a stock Antec chassis Uberclok has affixed a tasteful sticker atop it that says Uberclok. We prefer this subtle approach to a more garish look. We removed the door and took a peek at the internal wiring, and were pleasantly surprised. The wiring job is well-done, with some wires routed behind the motherboard and the rest pulled out of the way. For example, the power cables for the videocard and zip-tied to the side of the chassis to keep them out of the way. All the extra power cables (it’s not a modular power supply) are stashed away at the bottom of the chassis for future upgrades.
Uberclok did a great job on the Reactor’s wiring. Functional cables are strapped to the chassis and unused ones are tucked out of the way.
We fired it up and noticed it was a dual-boot configuration. We booted into both Windows XP and Vista and had no issues with the configuration. Once we got to the Windows desktop we were pleased with how sparse it was. There’s no bloatware at all, and all the pre-installed applications are ones we like such as FireFox and iTunes. Uberclok even turned off UAC in Vista, which is awesome.
General performance in Windows was blistering, and we attribute most of the speed to the overclocked processor as well as the hellaciously fast Hitachi hard drive. Benchmarks have shown the 7K1000 terabyte drive to be in the same league as the legendary WD Raptor, and after using the Reactor for a while we can see why. Programs open instantly, and Windows Vista ran so smooth we could have mistaken it for XP had it not been for the transparent Windows.
As expected, gaming performance was also exceptional. We ran Crysis with everything set to Very High and had no framerate issues at all at 1280×1024. We also ran 3DMark06 and received an astounding score of 13,659 which is even better than the score we saw on the world-beating HP Blackbird 002.
Is it Stable?
Stability is always a concern on an overclocked system, especially one that is overclocked in multiple ways and running on air-cooling. To test the stability of the system we ran five instances of CPU Burn-in to max out CPU usage, and then we looped 3DMark06 for 24 hours. Surprisingly, the system had no trouble grinding through this torture test. Its temperatures never even got super-high like you would expect. In fact, the CPU only got up to 49C under load, which is amazing considering it’s an overclocked quad-core CPU running on air-cooling and we had the CPU fan set to “low” the whole time, which makes the system whisper quiet.
Uberclok has clearly done its homework here. We’ve reviewed countless PCs over the years and they always have a few glaring faults – always – but not this time. We can’t find much to complain about here. Everything from the documentation to the build quality to performance was simply top-notch, and we didn’t have any issues with the machine at all. In fact, we can’t remember the last time we sampled a PC that provided such a comprehensively awesome experience. About the only gripe we can muster is that there’s no recovery DVD or separate partition with a “stock” image of the system as it shipped from the factory. Most PC builders include this functionality so we’re not sure why Uberclok skimped on it. If pushed we’d also note that despite this machine’s awesomeness its “off the shelf” chassis isn’t as sexy as the custom enclosures from other boutique builders, the HP Blackbird 002 being the most notable example. However, we’ll cut them some slack; the Reactor costs $2,000 USD less than the Blackbird and is just as potent, if not more so.
• Highly overclocked
• Stable and quiet
• Great build quality and documentation
• Chassis is a bit generic as a boutique offering
• No recovery process