There’s a common misnomer that PC gaming costs an extortionate amount of money which can deter console players from making the switch. During the last decade, developers haven’t pushed the boundaries of high-end graphical hardware due to a fixation on the console market. Additionally, the current crop of consoles are incredibly weak and struggle to maintain 30 frames-per-second at 1080P. As a result, budget PCs can easily cope with the latest games and graphics cards have a surprisingly long lifespan. On another note, CD Key resellers provide huge discounts on pre-orders which results in average savings between £20-30 compared to the £45-55 console versions. This makes PC gaming affordable and some argue it can be cheaper in the long-term.
One major hurdle newcomers face is the confusing selection of components and lack of building experience. Thankfully, companies like Vibox source the parts to create a balanced system and utilize their engineering team’s skills. Recently, they decided to dispatch the Vibox Element X Green for review purposes which features an AMD FX-6300 processor, 8GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM, MSI R9 380 graphics card and 120GB boot SSD. Other notable mentions include an Aerocool Integrator 600W power supply, 1TB data drive, MSI 990FXA-GD65 motherboard, and Thermatake Water 3.0 closed-loop-cooler. This is a fantastic specification considering the affordable price bracket, and I expect it to perform exceedingly well in 1920×1080 gaming benchmarks.
- Name: Vibox Element X Green Gaming PC
- Case: Vibox Predator Green Gaming Case
- Motherboard: MSI 990FXA-GD65 Motherboard
- Processor: AMD FX-6300 6-Core CPU Overclocked to 4.4GHz
- Processor Cooler: Thermaltake Water 3.0
- System Memory: 8GB Patriot DDR3 1600MHz
- Main Boot Drive: 120GB Patriot Blast SSD
- Additional Storage Drive(s): 1TB Toshiba DT01ACA100 1TB SATA 6GB/s 7200RPM HDD
- Graphics card: MSI Radeon R9 380 GAMING 2GB GDDR5
- Power Supply: Aerocool Integrator 600W 80+ Bronze
- Peripherals: None
- Monitor: None
- Optical Drive: 24x DVD-RW
- Wireless: None
- OS: Windows 10 64-bit
- Warranty: 2 Year Parts Cover, Lifetime Labour & Tech Support
- Price: £649.22
Packing and Accessories
The system arrived in a durable box with precautionary labels to reduce the chance of damage occurring during transit. I was pleased to see two hand tabs which makes the packaging easier to carry for both the courier and customer.
Once opened, the chassis box is protected on the top and bottom by cardboard covers. These help to reinforce the packaging and prevent the case from moving around in an abrupt manner.
Here we can see the chassis’ box which showcases the unusual design and Vibox branding. The cardboard is quite thick and does a stellar job of keeping the case free from cosmetic defects.
In terms of accessories, the PC is bundled with a DVI-VGA adapter, driver disks, documentation, USB PCI bracket, and UK power plug. The Vibox instructions are fantastic and contain clear diagrams in colour to assist with the initial setup process. The guide also includes information about contacting the customer hotline in case any technical problems arise.
A Closer Look
The Vibox Predator chassis opts for a rather ostentatious design philosophy and proudly displays the internal components through a side panel window. From an aesthetic standpoint, I think the system looks quite impressive due to the sharp contoured edges and striking Vibox branding. Although, this is extremely subjective and the bold appearance might not be to everyone’s tastes. Nevertheless, the system doesn’t look overly cheap and feels solid.
When uncoupling the side panel window, it’s imperative to adopt a gentle approach which prevents the LED cabling from becoming damaged. Vibox utilized heavy-duty industrial tape to hold the cables in position and produce a tidy path to the molex adapter.
The front portion features two LED bars and a temperature monitor. Unfortunately, the thermal gauge is completely inaccurate and pretty useless. It comes across as a bit gimmicky but at least it matches the system’s green and black colour scheme.
Here we can see the internal build and quality of workmanship. Notice how tidy the cabling is in regards to the 24-pin, and PCIe connectors. Furthermore, the SATA cables are obscured by the graphics card which makes for an excellent finish. Also, the radiator fitting is straight and the tight tubing adds a professional touch. Overall, the system looks great but is lacking in colour coordination. This is expected given the price though and shouldn’t pose a problem once the green LEDs are powered on.
The solid state drive and mechanical hard disk are installed in the bottom two trays. This means there is enough room to properly feed the side panel cabling and prevent it from easily showing through the visible window.
Vibox included a 600 watt 80+ bronze non-modular power supply which contains enough headroom to easily power the system and is fairly efficient. Next to the PSU, is an extremely bright green LED strip which remains hidden behind the chassis’ frame. This can become overpowering, but it’s easy to disconnect the power cable.
The Thermaltake Water 3.0 pump is aligned perfectly and I didn’t detect any vibration under heavy load. Additionally, the fan cable is neatly routed behind the AMD mounting hardware, and held in position with a zip-tie. This creates a very uncluttered appearance around the CPU socket.
From this image, we can see the logical cable path to the front panel connectors.
Unfortunately, the graphics card sags quite badly but it’s not the worst example I’ve seen. In everyday use, the strange angle will not affect performance or suddenly damage the PCIe slot.
In terms of cable management, the system is fairly good considering the lack of a modular power supply. There’s enough room to easily shut the side panel door, and Vibox have employed a large amount of zip-ties to prevent any cables from protruding outwards.
The excess SATA connectors are held together quite tightly with other cables which results in an excellent finish.
Once again, Vibox utilized various zip-ties, and intelligent cable paths to help keep everything neat.
Despite Vibox’s best efforts, this section is marred by a large quantity of Molex adapters which can only be described as messy. However, this isn’t a major cause for concern once the side panel has been closed.
Testing & Methodology
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.
Unless specifically stated, all games are running at maximum settings but any vendor-exclusive features such as TressFX or PhsyX have been disabled to make the results fair. There are some titles where the maximum preset can be altered further in regards to AA, AF, Tessellation, and Draw Distance. To allow our readers to make the most informed decision, any additional options will be clearly labelled in this section.
- Acoustic dBA meter
- AC “Killawatt” power meter
- AIDA64 Engineer
- Cinebench R15
- MSI Afterburner
- Passmark PerformanceTest 8.0
- PCMark 8
- Super PI
- Unigine Heaven 4.0
- Grand Theft Auto 5
- Metro Last Light
- Tomb Raider
- Bioshock Infinite
PC Mark 8
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.
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.
Heaven Benchmark with its current version 4.0 is a GPU-intensive benchmark that hammers graphics cards to the limits. This powerful tool can be effectively used to determine the stability of a GPU under extremely stressful conditions, as well as check the cooling system’s potential under maximum heat output. It provides completely unbiased results and generates true in-game rendering workloads across all platforms, such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Download here.
Grand Theft Auto V
Our GTA5 Benchmark is run on the standard benchmark with MSAA=Off, FXAA=On, Very High Preset, Advanced Graphics Disabled and the settings detailed below:
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.
Very High Preset, AF=16x, Tessellation=Very High, SSAA=Off, PhysX=Off
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.
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.
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.
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.
AIDA64 Engineer Edition
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.
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.
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 from here.
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.
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.
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.
PC Mark 8
While the system’s FX-6300 isn’t the most capable CPU, it still performs relatively well during basic photo editing and web browsing tests. Additionally, I didn’t encounter any slowdown or evidence to suggest it was struggling during the benching procedure.
In 3DMark, the Element X Green achieved fantastic scores when you consider its remarkably low price-point. Furthermore, the MSI variant appears to cope rather well due its factory overclocked core.
Here we can see a similar pattern as the R9 380 attains very respectable results.
Grand Theft Auto 5
GTA V ran surprising well considering the GPU’s extremely limited 2GB of video memory. At 1920×1080, it almost managed to maintain an average of 60 frames-per-second which is astonishing.
Metro Last Light
Metro Last Light’s advanced effects didn’t prevent the system from reaching 52 frames-per-second at 1920×1080. Granted, this did involve some steep frame drops to 28, but it’s still a very good result nonetheless.
Tomb Raider is visually stunning and optimized rather well. This is shown in the data, as the system manages over 100 frames-per-second at 1920×1080. Additionally, it even manages to exceed the magical 60 mark at 1440P; this is remarkable and another example of the unit’s marvelous price to performance ratio.
The results in Bioshock Infinite showcase how capable the system is at various resolutions.
CPU & Memory Performance
When compared to some of the most powerful mainstream chips out there, the FX-6300 fares quite badly. However, this isn’t a surprising revelation given the CPU’s target market and doesn’t significantly bottleneck performance in modern game engines.
Unfortunately, the compute time in SuperPi is more than double that of an Intel mobile chip. It’s important to remember though that this is a test of single-threaded performance. As a result, AMD CPUs really struggle in this department and this is clearly shown in the data below.
In terms of memory bandwidth, the system’s dual-channel DDR3 1600MHz performs as expected and provides the resources to help with demanding tasks.
Storage and USB Performance
CrystalDiskMark – Sequential Read
The 120GB SSD does quite well for a budget drive, and isn’t too far off premium SATA-based alternatives. Also, the mechanical hard disk surpasses 200MB/s and offers great read speeds.
CrystalDiskMark – Sequential Write
I was pretty impressed with SSD write results which almost reached 450MB/s.
Passmark PerformanceTest 8.0
The system’s Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit Ethernet interface provides a stable and consistent connection. As a result, there shouldn’t be any sudden dips or latency during intense online games.
Acoustic, Power & Thermal Performance
There was only a negligible increase in the system’s noise output between idle and load conditions. Under extreme load, the amount of noise produced is extremely low and makes for a magnificent gaming experience. However, the idle results are bizarre and pretty loud for an ATX system. Thankfully, this can be rectified by reducing the fan’s RPM values during low power states.
As you might expect, the R9 380 consumes more wattage than NVIDIA’s highly efficient Maxwell architecture. Additionally, the FX-6300 utilizes a higher TDP than Intel chips. Once combined, this results in acceptable load results but the idle wattage is less than ideal. However, when you factor the price differences between AMD and other hardware, it’s not a major problem.
It’s impossible to directly compare this AMD-based system to Intel alternatives as the differences in TJMax and core architecture skews the real results. Nevertheless, the CPU’s load temperatures are within thermal limits and the overclock is completely stable. Additionally, the GPU attained excellent temperatures thanks to MSI’s Twin Frozr V cooler. Overall, the thermals under extreme stress are pretty good especially when you take into account the 4.4 GHz frequency and compact water cooling unit.
At the time of writing, Vibox has set a recommend a retail price for the Element X Green at £649.92. This includes a 2-year warranty which covers any component damage. Even more staggering, the company offers a magnificent lifetime warranty on labour and technical support. This is extremely unusual and adds a great deal of value to the overall package. As with all system reviews, we believe it’s vital to perform a component rundown and compare the costs of building an almost identical system yourself:
- Case: Vibox Predator Green Gaming Case = £49.99
- Motherboard: MSI 990FXA-GD65 Motherboard = £82.99
- Processor: AMD FX-6300 6-Core CPU Overclocked to 4.4GHz = £92.40
- Processor Cooler: Thermaltake Water 3.0 = £50.15
- System Memory: 8GB Patriot DDR3 1600MHz = £36.99
- Main Boot Drive: 120GB Patriot Blast SSD = £37.50
- Additional Storage Drive(s): 1TB Toshiba DT01ACA100 1TB SATA 6GB/s 7200RPM HDD = £38.13
- Graphics card: MSI Radeon R9 380 GAMING 2GB GDDR5 = £151.66
- Power Supply: Aerocool Integrator 600W 80+ Bronze = £28.76
- Optical Drive: 24x DVD-RW = £9.38
- OS: Windows 10 64-bit = £76.48
- Extras: LED Strips = £6.99
Once totaled up this equates to £661.42 and costs £11.50 less than a self-build while offering lifetime after-sales support.
The Vibox Element X Green is a fantastic starter PC for consumers on a tight budget. Despite its very accessible price point, the system is capable of high frames rates even when all the advanced graphical details are cranked up to maximum. Clearly, it’s designed for the mainstream 1920×1080 resolution but also manages to achieve respectable numbers at 1440P. Furthermore, if you reduce the texture quality or AA slightly, there’s no reason why 60 frames-per-second cannot be maintained. However, modern engines are beginning to utilize huge amounts of VRAM, and the GPU’s 2GB limit is incredibly small by today’s standards. As a result, I strongly recommend Vibox opts for the 4GB model instead to alleviate these concerns.
In terms of build quality, the chassis is pretty durable and adopts striking design. It’s certainly not for everybody though, and the bright green illumination can take some getting used to. Although, if you prefer a more subtle approach, simply unplug the LED strips. Personally, I think the case is good for the money, but it might feel flimsy to those who are familiar with higher-end solutions. Honestly, you cannot realistically expect a £39.99 case to be built from the finest materials and the overall construction is decent enough.
On another note, Vibox’s engineers have done a splendid job in the overall build and crafted a balanced system. For example, the memory doesn’t contain any lavish heat-spreaders which usually increases the price and has almost zero effect on performance. Everything has been carefully thought out to reduce costs and provide the best cost to performance ratio possible. The cable management is quite good given the chassis’ lack of rubber grommets and non-modular power supply. While it’s not perfect and the collection of molex adapters can look a bit garish, but the general picture is very impressive.
Under heavy stress, the CPU remained relatively cool and features a significant frequency increase to 4.4GHz. As expected, the single-threaded benchmarks showcased how far AMD are behind in synthetic tasks, but this doesn’t heavily impact on the gaming experience. The impeccable cooling hardware allows for minimal noise under load, but the idle output is disappointing. Thankfully, the fan speeds can be adjusted to operate in near-silence during basic tasks.
The system’s boot drive reported superb read and write speeds and wasn’t too far off more expensive models. For a basic gaming build, ultra-fast SSDs are pointless due to the cost involved, and the majority of data is stored on a larger mechanical disk anyway. The perfect combination is a low capacity, budget SSD and 1-2TB data disk.
In conclusion, the Vibox Element X Green is the perfect example of how affordable PC gaming can really be. The specification and gaming performance at 1920×1080 is magnificent devours the current crop of consoles by a considerable margin.
- Excellent load temperatures considering the 4.4 GHz overclock
- Fantastic networking
- Good cable management
- Lifetime after-sales support
- Perfect configuration for 1920×1080 gaming
- Remarkably quiet during intensive games
- Stunning price to performance ratio
- Superb SSD read/write speeds on a budget
- Wonderful setup guide with clear diagrams
- 2GB video memory could become a bottleneck in the future
- High idle power consumption
- Bright green case lighting might not be to everyone’s tastes but this is a subjective complaint
- Slightly loud during idle conditions but this is easily fixed in the BIOS
“The Vibox Element X Green offers an astonishing price to performance ratio and is the perfect choice for high frame-rate 1080P gaming.“
Thank you Vibox for providing us with this sample.