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Call it an alien artifact. Call it the world's sexiest toaster. Either way, the iBuyPower Revolt 2 ($899 starting, $1,400 as reviewed) is one of the most uniquely stunning gaming desktops I've ever used, to the point that just about everyone in the Tom's Guide testing lab stopped by to drool over it.
The Revolt 2 is more than just a pretty piece of tech, however, with a space-saving design and instant-access storage bays that are built for the competitive gamer. Couple that with an Intel Core i7 processor, a GTX 970 graphics card and some useful packed-in peripherals, and you've got a package that can back up its showstopping design with equally strong gaming performance.
Design and Lighting
While many gaming PCs bury your graphics card in their belly, the Revolt 2 makes it the star of the show. The desktop features a transparent plastic lid at the top, which, with the help of some really fancy backlighting, lets you gaze at your GPU's spinning fans and silver streaks in all their glory. The PC's center is flanked by a pair of white, sharply angled side panels, creating a menacing yet elegant look that wouldn't be out of place in the Death Star's theoretical gaming room.
The Revolt 2 is built with eSports in mind, with a space-saving 18 x 15 x 9-inch chassis that leaves plenty of room for other PCs at your next LAN event. The PC is a bit heavy for its size at around 18 pounds, but I didn't have too hard of a time lugging it around our lab.
While the Revolt 2's chassis is head-turning enough on its own, the PC truly becomes a showstopper once you play around with its lighting. You can program the desktop's insides to glow one of 16 million colors, which make staring at your SSD and graphics card infinitely more fun. The included Lightning Controller app offers plenty of pattern and speed options, whether you want to make a single color glow steadily or prefer to produce a hypnotizing rainbow light show.
Ports and Upgradability
The Revolt 2's striking design isn't just for show, packing an easy-open plastic lid that lets you instantly access the two 2.5-inch storage bays located right in the front. This is yet another feature built for competitive gaming, as those using the Revolt 2 at their next LAN party or tournament can simply pop in a drive full of games and get right to playing.
While popping that same lid will let you see your graphics card in action, you'll need to do some extra work to actually swap it out. Storage drives aside, you'll need to screw open the back of the Revolt 2 to replace any other components.
iBuyPower's PC features all your standard plug-and-play connections in the front, with two USB 3.0 ports and headphone and mic jacks. The only anomaly is the computer's slim, rectangular power button — which my colleague accidentally pressed, thinking that it was a memory card holder.
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The Revolt 2's MSI Z170I motherboard hosts the remaining ports in the back, where you'll find four USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, two optical cable inputs and a PS/2 port for older accessories. For audio, there are line-in, line-out, center, subwoofer, mic and S/PDIF connections. The mobo itself packs an HDMI port and DisplayPort; for more monitor options, you can use the DisplayPort, HDMI port and two DVI ports on the PC's Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card.
Armed with an Nvidia GTX 970 GPU and 4GB of video memory, the Revolt 2 had no problems powering through graphically intense games at high settings. I jumped, shot and swam my way through Rise of the Tomb Raider at 2560 x 1440 at a smooth 60 frames per second, allowing me to take in the game's gorgeously lit environments and lifelike character models without being distracted by stutters.
The desktop was more than ready for the tactical shooting action of Rainbow Six: Siege, running the game's benchmark at 109 frames per second at 1080p on high settings. At 4K, the game slowed to a still-smooth 65 fps on low graphics, and just made our playable threshold on high settings at 31.5 fps.
The Revolt 2 was mostly capable of handling the more-demanding Metro: Last Night, cruising through the game at 1080p at 161.7 fps on low settings and 47.67 fps on high. The game ran at a perfectly playable 68.3 fps at 4K on low settings, but became a 7.7-fps slideshow on high.
In terms of synthetic benchmarks, the Revolt 2 netted a 2,695 on the 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra test, trailing the GTX 970-powered, $1,599 Digital Storm Vanquish 4 (2,787) as well as our 4,156 average.
Packing an Intel Core i7-6700K processor and 8GB of RAM, the Revolt 2 was just as reliable for juggling big piles of geeky tasks as it was for just playing games at really high settings. The PC never faltered as I downloaded games, watched Twitch streams and installed updates all at once. When I played and broadcasted Street Fighter V at the same time, I was able to throw punches, kicks and fireballs without any annoying slowdown.
Despite strong real-world performance, the Revolt 2 was just slightly behind the pack in our lab tests. The Revolt 2 scored 15,833 on the Geekbench 3 performance test, falling behind the Vanquish 4's 18,890 (Core i7-6700K, 16GB RAM) and our 18,068 average.
The PC's 240GB SSD copied 4.97GB at a respectable 34 seconds, for a transfer rate of 146 MBps. That's not quite as quick as the Vanquish's 250GB SSD (221 MBps) or our 215.5 MBps gaming desktop average.
Mouse and Keyboard
The Revolt 2 ships with iBuyPower's MEK Mechanical Keyboard (normally $79) as well as an optical gaming mouse, both of which were a joy to use. The MEK's red mechanical switches have a satisfying, clackety feel to them, and felt responsive whether I was running around in Rainbow Six or chomping away at a Google Doc.
This fairly unassuming-looking keyboard hides a wealth of features, including six customizable profiles as well as two macro keys that can be programmed either in the Hermes gaming app or on-the-fly using button combinations. Using the app, you can also tweak the keyboard's red backlighting, remap individual keys, and even program sound effects that will play when you change settings. The MEK sports 256KB of onboard memory, allowing you keep your settings when you bring it to a tournament.
iBuyPower's red-and-black gaming mouse (normally $9) is fairly standard, packing two extra thumb buttons on the side and a DPI switch in the center. I found the accessory's ergonomic design cozy, and always felt in control of the action when I used it in-game.
Configurations and Value
The Revolt 2 starts at $899, which gets you an Intel Core i5-6500 processor, 8GB of RAM, a GeForce GTX 950 graphics card and a 120GB SSD. The $1,399 Revolt 2 Pro packs an Intel Core i7-6700K processor, 8GB of RAM, a GTX 970 GPU and a 120GB with a 1TB hard drive (we reviewed a $1,440 version of this config with a 240GB SSD). The Revolt 2 Extreme costs $1,899 and features a beefier 16GB of RAM, a GTX 980 Ti graphics card and a 240GB SSD.
There are also three configs available that feature higher-end X99 motherboards. The $1,299 X99 model packs a Core i7-5820K processor, 8GB of RAM, a GTX 960 GPU and a 120GB SSD with 1TB hard drive. The $1,699 X99 Pro ups the RAM to 16GB, the graphics to a GTX 980 and the SSD to 240GB. For those going all out, the $2,199 X99 Extreme features a Core i7-5930K processor, a GTX 980 Ti graphics card and a 512GB SSD.
The Digital Storm Vanquish offers a slightly better value at similar prices — its starting $899 config packs a GTX 960 card compared with the Revolt 2's GTX 950. The Vanquish's "Level 3" model — which is comparable to our $1,440 Revolt 2 Pro review unit — costs a bit more at $1,487, but you get 16GB of RAM in exchange for the extra scratch.
Whether you're looking for a gaming PC that will drop your friends' jaws or are simply strapped for space (or both), the iBuyPower Revolt 2 ($899 starting, $1,440 as reviewed) is absolutely worth a look. Its translucent design and customizable lighting will please style junkies, while serious gamers will appreciate the ability to switch out storage drives in seconds.
The Digital Storm Vanquish 4 ($899 starting) offers a little more for the money and is easier to tinker with. But the Revolt 2 is aimed at a very specific, looks-conscious gamer, and if you're already drooling at the thought of watching your PC glow every single color of the rainbow while you headshot your friends, it's probably for you.
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Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.