Review: The mother of all beasts powered by EVGA
After a month of benchmarking and game testing it's time to deliver our verdict on a very powerful computer, the kind you don't see every day. We tested the Genesis XOC. While you might say you've never heard of it, it's a name that is becoming heard more and more among high-end enthusiasts that can afford such a behemoth.
Genesis is a part of Ultra Violet Machines offerings, a new high-end computer company from Great Britain.
It’s interesting to note that all the computers from Ultra Violet Machines come with EVGA components. In our preview, we mentioned that EVGA and Ultra Violet Machines work closely together, and that the reason behind EVGA parts in these machines is pure quality.
The best thing about it is its sheer power. You can count on this computer in any situation, no matter what the job; this baby can handle it. We tried numerous games on it and not once did our crosshairs tremble.
Ultra Violet Machines sent us the full computer gaming setup. However, you can opt for a full package, or just buy Genesis XOC without the peripherals, meaning monitor, keyboard and mouse. Apart from these, and with some additional cash, you can opt for a number of other devices. Our Genesis XOC came in a huge shock resistant flight crate that looks capable of withstanding almost anything man or mother nature could dish out.
However, you have to order this crate separately, and of course it costs extra. To us, it came in quite handy because during the testing period we used the crate as a desk. Although we received a BenQ 22-inch monitor, 1680x1050 is probably not a resolution that would satisfy a Genesis XOC owner. The machine itself is capable of much more, so we recommend at least a 24-inch monitor. It would be a pity to waste such potential.
The computer case is very well made, and it’s quite sturdy and robust. The case is actually a modified Silverstone TJ07 case, coated with several layers of beautiful looking paint. Our sample was a color known as Agent Black. The piano black finish was so flawless that we did not want to touch it, since touching it leaves smudges and fingerprint marks. An included polishing cloth with some polishing fluid would have been a very useful addition to the goodie-filled crate.
If you don’t like the Agent Black color, you can opt for several others, including Bruised Pink, Roswell Pearl and Blood Red.
On the left side of the case there’s a Perspex window, a nice feature which will make your friends green with envy at the view. If you don’t like the UV logo, you can order your machine without it and have an unobscured view of the water cooling blocks. You can also opt for a closed, windowless version.
Although made of light aluminum, the case is quite heavy. The weight of the case is from the water cooling system. However, the extra added weight makes it very stable.
Inside the crate we found a Logitech G15 gaming keyboard, as well as a Razer Copperhead Blue mouse. While there’s no better keyboard listed in the offer, hard core gamers can get a Logitech MX Revolution mouse for £22 extra.
Genesis XOC is a gaming dream machine, and the two water cooled EVGA 8800 Ultra Black Pearl cards speak for themselves.
In the picture above are two EVGA GeForce 8800 Ultra cards with water blocks, and in between the blocks you can see a Creative X-Fi Extreme Gamer Fatal1ty Pro sound card. In the last PCI slot there is a card with four additional USB 2.0 ports, and Genesis XOC packs a total of 12 of these.
EVGA calls their water cooled cards Black Pearl, and they are unique when it comes to speed. All Black Pearl cards are handpicked and have undergone extensive testing before they find their way to the store.
The cards are, of course, overclocked to some impressive speeds. Unlike the reference cards with 612MHz clocks, Black Pearl cards run at 655MHz. With two of these with 768MB of memory running at 2250MHz, there can be no hiccups.
Of course, you can save some cash if you opt for EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX Black Pearl cards. Both Geforce Ultra and Geforce GTX are water cooled, and as far as cooling goes, it’s the only solution for Genesis XOC. This is due to Black Pearl motherboard’s limitation to single slot card coolers only. Regular, air cooled Geforce 8800 can’t fit in here because its cooler is dual slot and the water block on the Southbridge chip gets in the way.
A glance inside the computer; you can see the motherboard’s water blocks.
EVGA's 680i Black Pearl motherboard is unique, and Genesis XOC is one of few machines to use this “pearl.” All components are water cooled and the motherboard has four water blocks in total; they’re positioned on Northbridge and Southbridge chips on this chipset, as well as on the CPU and mosfets. EVGA uses high quality Innovatek water blocks, and it’s an ideal solution for quiet, yet overclocked computers. The motherboard itself is prized for its specially manufactured water blocks, but that does reflect on the price – you can’t buy a 680i Black Pearl for less than €500.
If you take a closer look, you’ll see all the above mentioned water blocks, as well as the water tank filled with a blue cooling liquid. Again, you have a choice. You can choose whether your system will glow in blue, green or red. Two coolers take care of heat exchange; one is in the lower part and it’s easy to spot, while the other is on the top of the case. This cooler has two fans that blow the heat out through the vents on the top of the case.
The motherboard looks like this.
The heart of this system is Intel’s 65nm QX6850 quad core processor. It runs at 3.00GHz, but you can get it overclocked to 3.50GHz. With our Genesis XOC we received a somewhat different processor, the QX6700, mostly because we received a machine that was assembled some time ago; in fact, it was one of the first Genesis XOC machines ever built. However, our test QX6700 came overclocked to 3.55GHz, which should yield results similar to those of QX6850. Intel QX6850 is the only processor that is currently offered by Ultra Violet Machines.
A couple of days ago we heard that the basic Genesis XOC configuration packs 4GB DDR2 PC2-8500 memory. We chose OCZ Reaper HPC memory that was not overclocked, and it ran at reference 1066MHz.
If you chose XP as your OS of choice, then 4GB of memory is overkill, because the system won’t recognize it anyway. To make use of all 4GB you have to get a 64bit OS, and we didn’t find it among the offered OS’s. Besides XP, you can opt for Vista, but again – not in 64bit.
The reason for this is some incomplete drivers for some computer components, and we’ve found out that as soon as this is taken care of, 64bit operating systems will find their way into the list.
It would have been much more interesting if the offer incorporated OCZ Flex XLC memory that has water blocks, instead of standard heat spreader coolers. Then one could really brag about having a completely water cooled system.
Genesis XOC is louder than we expected. At default setting the noisy fans operated at 100%, but they are much quieter on lower speeds. When the system heats up, the speed increases, so you really cannot escape the noise. However, keep in mind that the retail system will be much quieter, with fans at 60% power so the noise will be reduced.
You can see the NorthQ Giant Reactor 1000W PSU in the lower left of the picture behind the radiator. The system's maximum power consumption didn’t exceed 672W, although many components were overclocked. That means that a 1000W power source is a safe bet and it will be powerful enough to handle almost any future upgrade.
The front of the case is dominated by Alphacool's 240 x 128 LCD panel, which takes up two 5.2-inch bays. The panel shows RAM usage, and more importantly it displays the temperature on all four cores. The panel's integrated software allows you to choose exactly what you want on your display.
As you can see in the picture above, the idle temperature is not high, and RAM usage is 15 percent. A few days ago we measured the highest temperature we got during our month-long testing and gaming ordeal with the Genesis XOC.
The room temperature was about 27 degrees Celsius, and we played Medal of Honor Airborne. We turned all the effects on and viciously bombed enemy units, at which time we noticed that the temperature significantly rose; maybe a little too high for such an expensive water cooled system. Still, you have to keep in mind that the quad core QX6700 is overclocked to 3.50GHz, but the real culprits are the powerful graphics cards. Since the whole water cooling system is a closed cycle, the heat from the graphics cards is transferred to the processor. Although the water was previously cooled in the radiator, apparently it wasn’t cooled enough before it moved on to the processor. The new Intel quad core QX6850 with new stepping should be even cooler.
And here are the results of UV's Genesis XOC based on Intel’s QX6850 quad core processor overclocked to 3.50GHz. The graphics are handled by two EVGA 8800 Ultra Black Pearl cards, coupled with 2GB OCZ Reaper memory and Western Digital Raptor disks in a RAID 0 setup.
One of the first tests we’ve done was 3DMark03 where we tried to show the advantage of using two cards in SLI mode. The actual advantage was slightly over 40%. It’s unlikely that any test will score a double or at least close to double the performance of a single card. Still, 66465 marks are quite respectable.
A surprisingly low result; 3DMark05 shows speed increase of just 11.5%.
3DMark06 utilizes SLI a bit better; we got a 31% boost compared to using just one card. 18175 is a result you don’t see every day.
We downclocked the processor to 2.67GHz, and this, of course, resulted in less frames per second. Overclocking the processor will yield up to 40 fps more.
QX6850 in Genesis XOC runs at 3.50GHz, so its results should resemble the ones we got with QX6700 processor overclocked to 3.50GHz. The rest of the components are identical to the ones listed in the sample.
The score difference when using two cards in SLI as opposed to using just one was around 51%. That is a good sign, since the synthetic tests showed very little improvement.
Antialiasing and aniso filtering require some serious muscle, so the SLI system scores 68% more compared to a non-SLI system.
You can check the power consumption of such a system in the tables below.
We mentioned that GenesiXOC packs a NorthQ Giant Reactor 1000W PSU, which will keep you on the safe side away from overloads. The whole system required maximum 672W. In idle mode you’ll get around 431W.
You have to keep in mind that different BIOS versions score different results. All tests were done with AUTO settings, with no BIOS tweaking except for CPU VCore, NB VCore and FST Termination Voltage.
For Genesis XOC testing we opted for comparison with previously tested motherboards, where we used Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 processor and an AMD ATI Radeon X1950XTX graphics card.
Gordian Knot/XVID 1.1.3:
For our Gordian Knot testing we took an PAL episode of "Babylon 5" with a total length of 41 minutes, 57 seconds and 8 frames.
We tried to "emulate" the most common usage of Gordian Knot:
1st: We have a perfect master, so we only de-interlace the content and resize it, with no other manipulation, we marked this as "fast".
2nd: You get bad mastering on many DVDs, especially "old" stuff or when the studios are in a hurry for the release. In this case you like to improve the picture quality, which is done by filtering the content. You can choose from tons of filters for any purposes you can think of, we only used the most common "undot", "FluxSmooth" and "MSharpen". Of course we also de-interlaced, filters were done before any resizing took place (which is slower). We marked this as "slow".
Gordian Knot doesn’t harness multi-core power for now, so our quad core QX6700 scores are no better than dual core processors. Genesis XOC runs at 3.50GHz, so we see the advantage of the overclocked processor.
The same episode we encoded we also used for our MP3-testing. We don't recommend using MP3 for encoding, because AC3 can do the job better, and nearly 42 minutes gives us approximately the length of any given album.
A measurement in seconds, as many sites have, is useless, because the differences are too small. Therefore, we used the built-in play/CPU ratio which means the CPU is encoding x-times faster than the track-length. Fast memory does not play an important role here. For your convenience we also show you the single-threaded benches. They will be produced with any other L.A.M.E. version because only LameMT can do more than one thread and take advantage of a second dice.
We used the following settings: lamemt --vbr-new -q 2 -V 2 -m j --strictly-enforce-ISO --resample 48
Just like Gordian Knot, Lame also benefitted from the increased processor clock. However, although Lame benefitted from the second core, it’s still not optimized for quad core operation.
We mentioned Company of Heroes Opposing Front, where we’ve seen that Genesis XOC can churn out as much as 200fps on 1680x1050 resolution. Gaming performance is not in question when it comes to the configuration supplied by Genesis XOC. We all know what a Geforce 8800 Ultra is capable of, and to make things even better we had two of these in Ultra SLI. It was sheer pleasure to play any game, and yesterday we downloaded and tried out Unreal Tournament 3 demo.
The game is quite demanding, and we were expecting our system to at least hiccup from time to time, but Genesis XOC took it in stride. With maximum workload (16X anisotropic filtering and 32X antialiasing) our frame rate didn’t go under 49fps. Unreal Tournament 3 is the next PC blockbuster, but with cards such as these you just want more and more. However, we’re quite confident that future games won’t leave as much as a dent on Genesis XOC performance. When Nvidia tweaks their drivers, there’ll be even more fps on your screen.
World in Conflict is one of the games we’ve also tested, and we encountered some problems. However, they mostly had to do with Nvidia drivers and SLI support. We’re still uncertain whether the problem was solved, but one EVGA 8800 Ultra Black Pearl card with 4x antialiasing and 16x anisotropic filtering churns out 43fps. SLI should score more, but we were doomed to 45fps maximum, which clearly shows it is SLI’s fault.
Lost Planet was too easy. With 4xAA, 16xAF and SLI mode on, we reached 95fps. Using the same settings, one card reached 75fps.
While testing, we managed to finish Medal of Honor Airborne, and in the magnificent last scene where a German flak tower blows up, we measured 137fps. The settings were set to maximum with 4xAA and 16xAF. One card reached 92fps in the same scene.
This is an expensive machine that will easily handle any game on the market and even those that will appear in the next year or so. They will all run on maximum settings, guaranteed. 49fps in Unreal Tournament 3 with 32xAA and 16xAF is definitely a highlight, and this machine chewed it up and spat it out with no trouble whatsoever.
We hope that the machine you purchase is not as loud as ours, but as we've said, this issue is already resolved, and as for the performance – we doubt it gets much better than this. EVGA has done a great job together with Innovatek cooling; they cool the processor, motherboard and two graphics cards, so this machine could give you bragging rights for a very long time.
This mother of all beasts will set you back £4,533.93 INC VAT (without the monitor) and you can purchase it here.
Expensive? Maybe, but keep in mind that this machine is the Bugatti of gaming computers. Performance and style never come cheap.