Our last experience with Systemax was less than stellar, but the company was brave enough to allow us to perform another evaluation in the future. The company leadership expressed concern and promised changes after our last evaluation, so we're interested to see if anything has changed.
As many of you might know by now, [H] Consumer doesn’t "review" systems, we evaluate the experiences they facilitate. We order the system the same as you would and evaluate 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 fast 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 bought, but purchasing and ownership satisfaction can be elusive.
We evaluated our first Systemax system in September of last year, and it didn’t go very well for the company. We purchased the Hellcat, which was an SLI-equipped gaming machine. Though it performed well in gaming, video encoding, and was a decent “desktop” machine, almost every other aspect of our evaluation was sub-standard. The company was unable to accurately track our order and update us with information on when our system would ship, and when it finally arrived, it was damaged.
It performed decently in our benchmarks, but we had trouble running several of the games in our testing suite, ultimately leading us to call the company’s tech support. Not only did the company fail to send us a new stick of RAM in a timely fashion, when we told them we were having video card troubles they RMA’d the entire system, and it sat in their warehouse for two weeks. When we finally called to find out what was going on with our new PC, we were told it would be shipped back immediately.
When we received our “fixed” system, it was still broken, with the same problem it had when we had shipped it to them. As it turns out, they RMA’d the entire system just to install new video card drivers.
We summarized our tech support experience in that evaluation as, “…a comedy of errors of Shakespearean proportions.” We think that was a rather accurate assessment of the company’s tech support that failed to serve the customer effectively on many levels.
This is a gaming system, so first and foremost it should excel at gaming. As always, it needs to be stable, quiet, and problem-free.
And like any other boutique gaming machine that we would order, we expect premium build quality, neat wiring, and a little bit of style built into the PC. A standard Desktop PC (think Dell Dimension) can get away with being a bit bland, but the phrase “gaming PC” has become synonymous with high-powered, exquisitely detailed machines with custom touches.
Finally, we’re severely hoping the company has improved its technical support experience since our last go-around, as we’re not sure we have the stomach to endure a similar experience a second time.
* Systemax no longer offers the Core 2 Duo E6400 with this configuration. This price is for the same PC with an E6300.