The exponential growth of the Insomnia gaming festival over the past few years is proof, if any was needed, that PC gaming has never been stronger. With LAN events like Insomnia becoming more popular so too are portable gaming rigs that can be easily moved around at the owners behest. Today we are taking a closer look at a pre-built system from CyberPower PC that targets that exact market. Their new FANG Battlebox-I 970 system crams an impressive amount of hardware into a portable gaming PC. Nvidia’s power efficient GTX 970 is what makes it possible to pack such a significant gaming punch in a small form factor as it eases the traditional heat and power problems associated with high-end graphics hardware. Intel’s Core i5 4690K provides the brains of the system offering up a strong balance between price and performance, assisted further by the 4.2GHz overclock it ships with. Straight away it has become clear that CyberPower PC have made smart decisions with their component selection: this system offers a solid mixture of hardware that is spot on for a portable gaming PC.
- Name: CyberPower PC FANG Battlebox-I 970
- Case: CyberPower FANG Battlebox case
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97N-WiFi mini-ITX
- Processor: Intel Core i7 4690K @ 4.2GHz
- Processor Cooler: Cooler Master Seidon 120M All-In-One liquid CPU cooler
- System Memory: 2 x 4GB Kingston HyperX Fury 1866MHz Dual Channel
- Main Boot Drive: Kingston V300 240GB SATA III SSD
- Additional Storage Drive(s): Western Digital Blue 1TB 7200RPM Hard Drive
- Graphics card: MSI GTX 970 4GB Gaming
- Power Supply: Cooler Master B600
- Optical Drive: Not included
- Wireless: Intel 2T2R AC 7260 2.4/5GHz
- Monitor: Not included
- Peripherals: Not included
- OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
- Warranty: 3 Year Labour, 2 Year Parts and 1 Month Collect & Return (upgrades available)
- Price: £999.99 Including Shipping and VAT
Packaging & Accessories
This compact system comes with a compact shipping box. CyberPower PC ship the FANG Battlebox-I 970 with a durable soft cell foam to prevent shipping damage.
The accessory package includes all of the accessories and adapters for the motherboard, graphics card and power supply. CyberPower PC cram these accessories into the motherboard box and also provide a Windows installation DVD and troubleshooting guide if your system doesn’t work straight away.
A Closer Look
Did someone call Bob the Builder? Okay, a little harsh, but in all fairness this case does appear to resemble a toolbox. You could say it’s an acquired taste, but based on my observations of trends in PC cases over the past 5 years I don’t think that this case will be popular. PC cases have tended towards more classy and understated designs, even for gaming cases, whereas this case has that cheap and plasticky theme to it that I’d associate with budget case brands like Cougar and HEC.
The top is fitted with a carry handle, which doesn’t feel as sturdy as I’d hoped, and a latch to lock the front of the case in place. Dual USB 3.0 ports, a power button, reset button and indicator LEDs make up the usual I/O area. Note how there’s no front panel audio headers for headsets and the like – a strange omission for a gaming PC.
From the front we see a lock is present which a useful feature if you’ll be using this at LAN events. You can also observe the finger print marks everywhere: this case is a finger print magnet and once they are on they are very difficult to get off. That’s not exactly ideal for a case that’s designed to be handled a lot. CyberPower PC’s logo at the front is fairly modest and we see lots of ventilation for the internal components.
The right side offers more ventilation with an aggressive inlet design.
The left side reveals the I/O to the motherboard, graphics card and power supply. The power supply input is a passthrough to the front mounted power supply.
The FANG Battlebox-I 970 has feet on the bottom so you mount it in a way where the handle doesn’t face the top of the case. It really does look quite strange with that orientation.
You can still mount it handle facing upwards, like how CyberPower PC picture this system, but there are no dedicated feet for that.
Internally the CyberPower PC is space constrained as you would expect. As a result cable management was always going to be a challenge and the choice of a non-modular power supply didn’t help either. My concern with the cable management is that when I mounted the system with the handle facing upwards the cables at the bottom of the system were getting chewed up in the graphics card fan. That is not acceptable: cables should always be tied back to prevent conflict with moving parts like fans. Given this is meant to be a portable PC for LAN that will frequently get moved around I am even more shocked that this blunder gets through quality control: there should be extra attention paid to cable management and system durability.
The front of the case has no significant dust filtering which is bad news for maintenance. It also appears that those RED LEDs that CyberPower PC advertise on their website are nowhere to be seen.
Here’s a few more angles of what’s going on inside the case. We didn’t disassemble anything because we didn’t want to significantly alter the system from its shipped state, that would be changing the fairness of the review.
With the system powered on it becomes obvious that the advertised front LEDs are nowhere to be seen, only the logo gets lit up.
Just to confirm here’s a shot of the system in a dark room: definitely no LED strips here.
To test each system or notebook, we want to stress every component of the system to check stability and performance, giving us an idea as to why those particular components were picked for this particular system. We use a wide variety of applications to gain a broad spectrum of results for comparing diverse aspects of system performance
- Acoustic dBA meter
- AC “Killawatt” power meter
- AIDA64 Engineer
- Cinebench R15
- Passmark PerformanceTest 8.0
- PCMark 8
- Super PI
- Unigine Valley 1.0
- Bioshock Infinite
- Metro Last Light
- Tomb Raider
Total System Performance
The PCMark 8 Home benchmark includes workloads that reflect common tasks for a typical home user. These workloads have low computational requirements making PCMark 8 Home suitable for testing the performance of low-cost tablets, notebooks and desktops. Home includes workloads for web browsing, writing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat. The results are combined to give a PCMark 8 Home score for your system. Download here.
Total system performance should be fairly strong for the FANG Battlebox given the combination of an SSD, GTX 970 and overclocked Haswell i5. However, the performance does look a little low: this should be beating PC Specialist’s Vanquish 230XT thanks to a vastly superior GPU. We did re-run this test multiple times to no avail; the result stayed the same.
The new 3DMark includes everything you need to benchmark your hardware. With three all new tests you can bench everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. Download here.
3DMark reveals impressive numbers: the overclocked MSI GTX 970 is an absolute beast of a GPU. Combined with an overclocked Haswell i5 the CPU bottleneck is removed giving very strong scores.
Valley Benchmark is a new GPU stress-testing tool from the developers of the very popular and highly acclaimed Heaven Benchmark. The forest-covered valley surrounded by vast mountains amazes with its scale from a bird’s-eye view and is extremely detailed down to every leaf and flower petal. This non-synthetic benchmark powered by the state-of-the art UNIGINE Engine showcases a comprehensive set of cutting-edge graphics technologies with a dynamic environment and fully interactive modes available to the end user. Download here.
That GPU strength carried over into the graphics intensive benchmark Unigine Valley where the FANG Battlebox posts an admirable result.
BioShock Infinite is the third and last game in the BioShock series. It is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K Games. BioShock Infinite supports dynamic shadows, post-processing, light shafts, ambient occlusion, object level of detail, Diffusion Depth of Detail, FOV adjustment controls and other advanced DirectX 11 features.
This PC is built for gaming and it certainly delivers. While our benchmark suite is clearly in need of some updated games and newer re-tested systems, we can still see excellent gaming performance driven by the MSI GTX 970.
Metro Last Light
Metro: Last Light (formerly Metro 2034) is a first-person shooter and horror video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It was released in May 2013. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features a mixture of action-oriented and stealth gameplay. Metro: Last Light features technology which boasts new lighting effects and improved physics claimed to set a new graphical benchmark on the PC and consoles.
In Metro Last Light the FANG Battlebox tops our charts.
In Tomb Raider, the player is confronted with a much younger Lara Croft who is shipwrecked and finds herself stranded on a mysterious island rife with danger, both natural and human. Tomb Raider is a demanding game offering up ultra quality textures, full DirectX 11 support, SSAA, FXAA, MSAA and AMD TressFX technology.
Tomb Raider sees another chart-topping performance – not bad at all. For a gaming PC this system delivers solid gaming performance.
Cinebench is a widely respected benchmark for testing the performance of x86 CPUs. The program allows you to test single and multi-threaded performance as well as GPU performance by rendering with Open GL. Download here.
Without hyper-threading the Haswell i5 4690K does fall behind i7 based systems but the real-world effect is negligible.
Super PI is a single threaded benchmark that calculates pi to a specific number of digits. Super PI is a single threaded benchmark ideal for testing pure, single threaded x87 floating point performance and while most of the computing market has shifted towards multithreaded applications and more modern instruction sets, Super PI still remains quite indicative of CPU capability in specific applications such as computer gaming. Download here.
Single threaded performance in SuperPi is right where we’d expect for the frequency and type of CPU used.
AIDA64 Engineer is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for engineers. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. Memory and cache benchmarks are available to analyze system RAM bandwidth and latency. Download here.
CyberPower PC made the excellent choice of using a pair of 4GB DIMMS instead of a single 8GB DIMM. This means you can benefit from dual channel (DC) operation giving better memory performance. Of course, being a mini-ITX system this move does also limit the upgrade potential but I think 8GB is more than enough for the forseeable future.
Storage and USB Performance
AIDA64 Engineer is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for engineers. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 Disk Benchmark determines the data transfer speed of hard disk drives, solid-state drives, optical drives, and flash memory based devices. Download here. We always use the same Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB USB 3.0 drive to test USB 3.0 performance.
Kingston’s V300 SSD isn’t the strongest performer so the FANG Battlebox ends up in the middle of the pack. HDD and USB 3.0 performance are both run-of-the-mill so no complaints there.
CrystalDiskMark is a portable storage drive benchmark utility that enables you to measure sequential and random read/write speeds on different block size data. CrystalDiskMark will work with any storage drives including hard drives, SSDs and USB flash drives. Download here.
CrystalDiskMark reveals the strength of the SandForce SF-2281 controller on the Kingston V300 240GB SSD in writing data.
Passmark PerformanceTest 8.0
The PassMark Advanced Network Test (which is part of PerformanceTest) is designed to test the data transfer rate between two computers both of which must be running PerformanceTest. One of the computers must act as the server and will sit waiting for a connection. The other computer acts as a client. It connects to the server machine and sends data to it for the duration of the test. You can download a trial version of PerformanceTest fromhere.
Gigabyte’s Z97N-WiFi motherboard uses dual-Gigabit controllers, you can choose from Intel’s I218V or Qualcomm’s gigabit solution. We tested the Intel NIC as it is one of the most respected out there, based on the results it’s easy to see why.
The Gigabyte Z97N-WiFi is labelled “WiFi” for a reason. It ships with Intel’s latest dual band AC WiFi and Bluetooth solution meaning there’s super fast 5GHz 802.11 AC WiFi performance available. If you own an older WiFi router 2.4GHz is supported too.
Noise, Power Consumption and Temperatures
The amount of noise produced by any computer is a vital consideration for most buyers, even gamers don’t really want a noisy PC because less noise is always better. We use an acoustic dBA meter held 2 feet behind our test system at idle and under load to get the idle and load noise levels for the system. For idle we allow the system to sit at the Windows desktop, for load we let Unigine Heaven 4.0 and Prime95 to loop together – we take the acoustic measurements 5 minutes into both of these scenarios.
The Achille’s heel of most pre-built systems comes from ignoring acoustic output in the design process. CyberPower PC have made that fatal mistake here. Out of the box the FANG Battlebox is too noisy with all the fans spinning at 1400RPM or more at idle. At load these fan speeds creep up even higher but the damage has already been done at idle. CyberPower PC need to have a major rethink of the acoustic performance, lower fan speeds will greatly improve the end-user experience.
To test power consumption we measure the total system power draw during idle and load scenarios. For idle we allow the system to sit at the Windows desktop, for load we let Unigine Heaven 4.0 and Prime95 to loop together – we take the power measurements from the “Killawatt” AC power meter 5 minutes into both of these scenarios at the same point.
The GTX 970 and Haswell i5 combination is as power efficient as you’ll get. We see impressive power consumption numbers but they are hampered a bit by the uncertified Cooler Master power supply. An 80 Plus Gold unit would have knocked off an additional 25 watts or so.
To test thermal performance we measure average CPU and GPU core temperatures during idle and load scenarios. For idle we allow the system to sit at the Windows desktop, for load we let Unigine Heaven 4.0 and Prime95 to loop together – we take the temperature measurements from within CPUID HWMonitor 5 minutes into both of these scenarios at the same point. For load we take the average of the maximum temperatures, for idle we take the average of the minimum temperatures.
GPU temperatures rock: the MSI GTX 970 Gaming is clearly a very efficient graphics card in terms of cooling. On the other hand the CPU temperatures aren’t so good.For a 4.2GHz overclock running Prime95 and Unigine Heaven inside a compact case an average of 90 is acceptable, but I still think the temperatures should be lower. CyberPower PC should consider a less aggressive overclock or a lower voltage. In the long term dust build up (especially from the lack of case dust filters) is likely to increase temperatures further.
The CyberPower PC FANG Battlebox-I 970 system as we have it configured commands a retail price of £999.99 including shipping and VAT. To promote complete transparency of what the system costs we like to break it down into its component parts and work out how much it would cost if you decided to build yourself an equivalent system.
- CyberPower FANG Battlebox case – £40 (this is based on a combination of an estimate and on the fact you can buy similar mini-ITX portable cases for around this price)
- Intel Core i5 4690K – £170
- MSI GTX 970 4GB Gaming – £275
- Windows 8.1 64 Bit OS – £70
- 2 x 4GB Kingston Hyper X Fury 1866MHz – £65
- Gigabyte Z97N-WiFi – £95
- 1TB Western Digital Blue HDD – £42.50
- Kingston V300 240GB – £80
- Cooler Master Seidon 120M – £45
- Cooler Master B600 – £40
To build it yourself you’re looking at a total cost of around £925 based on my calculations, which means that this pre-built solution is £75 more expensive than a self-build. While that’s not an exorbitant premium I do think the standard has been set very high by other system integrators, like PC Specialist, who typically build to retail cost or lower. A company like CyberPower PC is able to take advantage of economies of scales and specific manufacturer deals so I would like to see a lower price if possible.
The CyberPower PC FANG Battlebox-I 970 goes down in my books as the one that got away. The idea of a powerful and portable gaming PC based on Haswell and Maxwell is a smart one, but the execution has let this system down dearly. Things started off well; CyberPower made smart component choices. However, the positives were quickly replaced with issue after issue which make this system difficult to recommend. My issues started with the exterior: the case. Straight away the case was let down by a rather out-of-fashion plasticky toolbox style design which is further compounded by the fact that the advertised red LED strips are not present. The red LEDs could have prevented some of the aesthetic monotony but instead their absence merely added to it. The case’s appearance further deteriorates as it attracted finger prints too easily for a portable gaming system that is meant to be handled frequently and moved around for LAN events. On the subject of being moved around I was also disappointed with the quality of the handle, it didn’t feel as sturdy as it should for a LAN PC.
Moving inside the case and sadly I was greeted with yet more issues. Internally the lack of dust-filtering is problematic, if this LAN PC isn’t getting used in between LAN events then it’s going to accumulate dust. CyberPower PC have opted for a positive-pressure setup so if it’s being used frequently the dust shouldn’t be too bad, but dust filters never hurt anyone did they? Next I found the cable management to be sub-par. As I mentioned at the beginning when we mounted this case handle facing up, the logical way to mount this type of case, the graphics card fan was conflicting with wires at the bottom of the case. That’s not acceptable for a pre-built system no matter what the price point, size or shape. It’s especially concerning when you consider that this system is meant to be portable; there should be extra precautions taken for the fact that end-users might mount this in a variety of ways and move it around while it’s turned on. While we are on the subject of the fans it’s also worth mentioning that this system is noisy. CyberPower PC appear to have missed out the crucial fan tuning process: this is easily the loudest pre-built system I’ve encountered at idle and load.
In summary it’s fair to say that the CyberPower PC Fang Battlebox-I 970 needs work. CyberPower PC need to go back to the drawing board, take our criticisms on-board and come out with a revamped product that is able to overcome the pitfalls of the particular system we tested.
- Good overall component selection
- Strong gaming performance
- Good connectivity – WiFi, dual Gigabit, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, etc
- No dust filters in the case
- Noisy operation
- No red LEDs as advertised
- Case attracts finger prints
- Poor cable management
- Price premium is a little high
- Power supply is low quality considering the rest of system
“CyberPower PC’s FANG Battlebox-I 970 system is a novel attempt at making a powerful and portable gaming PC. While the idea behind the system is sound, the final product is let down by meager execution and too many oversights.”
Thanks to Cyberpower PC UK for providing this review sample.