After two solid experiences with machines from ABS, we revisit them to see if they’ve graduated from a Tier-2 OEM to a true “boutique” builder. This time, we'll take a look at their high-end, liquid-cooled Ultimate M6 Sniper gaming rig.
As many of you might know, [H] Consumer doesn’t "review" personal computer systems; we evaluate the experiences they facilitate. We order the system the same as you would and weigh every aspect of the end-user experience. Not only does this give us a better idea of what hardware an end user actually receives, it also allows us to obtain a more accurate picture of just how each company functions and treats its customers. As fast as PC hardware has become over the years, we think giving a personal computer "5 stars" based on how quickly it ran a synthetic benchmark is simply irresponsible. We think service, support, and reliability are much more important factors in today's climate than speed. Fast is easily paid for, but purchasing and ownership satisfaction can be elusive.
ABS, as you may know, owns first-class parts supplier (and [H] sponsor) NewEgg.com.
We had very good experiences with both the M5 Vortex we evaluated last February and their Mayhem G4 laptop last November. Both machines performed quite nicely overall and earned high marks for stability. We weren’t overly impressed with ABS’s tech support, however, and we encountered some minor problems in other areas as well.
All parts of an evaluation are important, but priorities change for different computers. For a systems integrator like ABS, we’re looking at a) the components selection a company offers—more isn't necessarily better, b) how well those parts work together, and c) what happens when something goes wrong? The M6 Sniper is most definitely a gaming computer, so we’ll be emphasizing its performance with the games in our office.
Previously, we have focused on mid-range systems from ABS, but this time around we splurged on one of ABS’s higher-end powerhouses. We went with the AMD Athlon 64 4000+ (2.4 GHz), two NVIDIA 7900GTs in SLI, 2GB of RAM, and a liquid cooling system for good measure.
One common factor we noticed previously with ABS was how a few missed (if minor) details led to real problems. With a premium system such as this, we expect ABS to have taken care of all the details before shipping it out. We’re also going to see if ABS has improved their technical support. After all, the company takes its name from an acronym for “Always Better Service.”