It’s an exciting time to be a gamer. There are more choices than we ever thought possible, and new technological advances are being introduced at an alarming rate. Graphically advanced games can be played on tablets and phones, and VR is shaping up to be a technological marvel (if any of the hands-on experiences are to be believed).
Things are particularly exciting for PC gamers as the platform continues to evolve and expand to the living room. Having a PC as part of an entertainment setup is nothing new, and mini-PCs have certainly existed for some time now, but iBUYPOWER is determined to speed up the transition by taking mini-PCs to a whole new level.
iBUYPOWER’S latest Revolt 2 is a stepping stone in mini-PC engineering. It’s the first eSports mini-PC that can carry high-end parts typically reserved for standard-sized cases. The Revolt 2 is a surprisingly intuitive little box that’s designed for gaming enthusiasts who seek mobility and more flexibility from their setup. For the most part, the Revolt 2 outshines its competition without breaking a sweat. It’s beautifully crafted and the temperatures remain cool regardless of how much the system is pushed, thanks to the mandatory liquid cooling. However, upgrading parts isn’t as easy as the marketing implies, and our specific unit arrived with the HDD unrecognized by the operating system. But despite a few hiccups, the Revolt 2 is currently, without a doubt, the best mini-PC on the market.
As with all boutique PC builds, my review encompasses the entire shopping experience. This includes packaging, assembly, performance, system design and, of course, overall performance. iBUYPOWER sent us a system with the following specs: i7 6700K Intel CPU, Corsair H55 Liquid Cooler, 16 GB DDR4 2800 ADATA XPG-Z1, 240 GB ADATA SSD, 1 TB WD SATA-3, 64MB Hard Drive, Win 10 Home, 600W Corsair CX600 Power supply, Motherboard: Gigabyte Z170N - Gaming 5 and a GPU: Gigabyte GTX 980 4GB Xtreme Gaming.
"iBUYPOWER’S latest Revolt 2 is a stepping stone in mini-PC engineering. Despite a few hiccups, it is currently, without a doubt, the best mini-PC on the market."
Since ours is a custom build, the final price sits somewhere between the Revolt 2 Pro ($1,399) and the Revolt 2 Extreme ($1,899). The major difference is the 980 GPU that was used instead of the 970 in the Pro Edition and the 980 Ti in the Extreme Edition. This is an incredible deal considering the premium parts and the fact that Revolt 2 is exclusive to iBUYPOWER and can’t be acquired through a different vendor.
Shipping a PC across several states is always a gamble, regardless of how well it’s packaged beforehand. Fortunately, iBUYPOWER doesn’t skimp on protective measures. The Revolt 2 box ships within a massive, heavily padded secondary box that keeps the system safe from tumbling during transport. The main system packaging is enveloped by thick, foam-like pads that provide more than enough protection should the carrier handle it carelessly. Unless someone drives over the box with a vehicle, there’s no way to damage the contents.
Once unboxed, you really get to appreciate the creativity behind the case’s design. The Revolt 2 is one of the most uniquely crafted mini-PCs I’ve seen so far. The unusual shape doesn’t seem pragmatic at first, but every design choice has been made deliberately. iBUYPOWER deserves a big, big bravo for using a high-quality matte material for the main body surface. This allows the Revolt 2 to maintain its sleek and clean look even after it’s been sitting under the desk for a while. I can’t stress just how much a shift in materials can impact the look and feel of a case. The aesthetic can be best described as something straight out of a sci-fi movie. It’s modern, elegantly shaped, and boasts just enough flashiness to turn heads without looking kitch.
"Once unboxed, you really get to appreciate the creativity behind the case’s design. The Revolt 2 is one of the most uniquely crafted mini-PCs I’ve seen so far."
After the side panels are removed, the Revolt 2 reveals its true engineering magic. This miniature PC case successfully houses large components within a very tight space without overheating. The massive Gigabyte GTX 980 GPU sits on top of the case and can be reached via the center panel that also exposes the SSD. Both parts are easily replaceable thanks to the direct access even when the panels are screwed back on.
However, things are trickier when it comes to replacing other, harder to reach parts. The motherboard, power supply and HDD aren’t easily approachable since there’s little space in between. I have very small hands, and I struggle to grab the HDD, much less anything else. If you are an experienced builder, that’s not going to be an issue since you can just take everything apart and put it back together. If you’re inexperienced, the Revolt 2 might not be the best choice if you expect to upgrade parts yourself regularly. The iBUYPOWER engineers have organized the tight space meticulously, but the same care and precision can’t be expected from the average user. The Revolt 2 is designed for pro-gamers, but not every gamer is a pro-builder. So the Revolt 2 isn’t quite as easy to use or flexible when it comes to installing new parts, but it’s still the best, and possibly the only, option that allows high-grade parts to coexist within such a small container.
"The motherboard, power supply and HDD aren’t easily approachable since there’s little space in between. I have very small hands, and I struggle to grab the HDD, much less anything else."
iBUYPOWER also deserves kudos for installing only the most essential OS files without including useless trials. There are only two extra programs, the Gigabyte OC software and the Light Control software, but they’re very small and quite handy. Unfortunately, our build arrived with the HDD unrecognized by the OS, and I had to access the BIOS to re-initialize the drive. This isn’t difficult by any means, but as a paying customer who’s going through a boutique store and paying a premium fee for assembly, having a unit arrive with an unrecognized HDD is disappointing. HDD issues aside, everything else is assembled relatively well. The cables aren’t as neatly organized as when we reviewed iBUYPOWER’s Z170, but there’s only so much that can be done in such a limited space.
"The Revolt 2 has exceeded my expectations, and while it’s not as easy to replace certain parts as I hoped for, I can’t think of another case this size that accomplishes as much"
Ultimately, it’s all about performance, and it’s here that the Revolt 2 delivers flawlessly. My tests consist of running several AAA titles at max settings for several hours at a time to see how the case handles temperatures and noise. Even after playing something like The Witcher 3 on max settings for 5+ hours straight, the Revolt 2 remains cool and quiet. The only time the system ever came to feeling even remotely warm was after an entire day of non-stop use without sleep or hibernation. The Revolt 2 has a Corsair H55 Liquid Cooler installed, and it does a superb job at regulating temperatures. Noise levels are always low too. The only time the fans are heard is during the initial boot up, and on a few occasions when the system is pushed to the absolute limit. In fact, the Revolt 2 performs better than our main, decked-out gaming PC that we use for reviewing all of our PC games.
I’ve been testing the Revolt 2 for a full week now, and I haven’t experienced any technical difficulties. On more than one occasion, I had to remind myself that this is a mini-PC and not a large PC tower. There’s something very liberating about having your PC sit next to your PS4, Xbox One and Wii U. The Revolt 2 has exceeded my expectations, and while it’s not as easy to replace certain parts as I hoped for, I can’t think of another case this size that accomplishes as much. iBUYPOWER has crafted something very special here. They’ve set a new standard for mini-PC design, and when combined with their aggressive pricing for parts and assembly, there’s no better choice for gamers seeking a high-end boutique PC that’s slightly larger than the Xbox One.