Like most current-generation systems, this machine has plenty of input/output options, including lots of USB 3.0 ports, eSATA support, two flavors of digital audio outputs, gigabit ethernet, and multichannel analog audio. It even sports a PS/2 keyboard connector for hard-core gamers who want to use PS/2 keyboards capable of supporting overloaded keystrokes.
Like most of Corsair's cases, the 550D has plenty of room under the motherboard tray to route power and other cables.
Now that you've had a brief tour of the system, it's time to talk performance. Although this machine is built to run PC games at high frame rates, it's also not a bad all-around performer, and it posted great results in our PCMark 7 and 3DMark testing regimen. Both benchmarking utilities offer simplified versions that are free to download, so grab a copy of each and run your own tests to see how your PC stacks up against our power-sipping gaming machine.
For reference, we ran all the games at 1920 by 1200 resolution, with all detail levels completely maxed out and 4x multisampling antialiasing enabled. The Mainconcept test transcoded a 4.3GB high-definition video file from 1080p MPEG-2 to H.264 iPhone (304MB final size).
These performance numbers are quite good, coming within a few percentage points of a system running a Core i7-3960X CPU. Yet our PC idles at just 69W, significantly lower than the power usage of most gaming PCs (which pull hundreds of watts out of your outlet). What's inside this box? Let's take a look.
Next Page: Components and Cost
Inside the Box
Before going over the components, let's take a peek inside the finished PC.
It's All About Power
The key to the power efficiency of this system was selecting the right power supply. One important aspect of the decision was my complete lack of desire for a second GPU. Instead, I wanted a single, high-performance graphics card that could handle almost anything I threw at it.
Freeing myself from the need for a second GPU allowed me to pick a power supply with just two PCI Express graphics connectors. That power supply is the Antec Earthwatts Platinum 650W unit, which is 80 Plus Platinum certified. A power supply that's 80 Plus Platinum certified must maintain close to 90 percent efficiency throughout its range, even under load and idle extremes.