Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Purchasing Experience from

This was the case I ordered.
This post is to serve as a review of my first purchase from I Buy Power, the eSports high-end PC gaming machine builder company.

My previous PC died after what must have been a power surge. The current place I live in has questionable wiring, particularly in what seems to be the room where all of our most expensive electronics rest. The silver lining to all of this is that I've been thinking of getting a super-charged computer for a while, and this setback just happened to align over Thanksgiving 2013 - leaving my searching online for Black Friday deals.

I had been recommended iBuyPower from a number of friends and acquaintances. I liked the prospect of tweaking a build and then letting someone else take care of the assembly. I haven't built a computer in around 10 years at this point, and can no longer afford the time to learn how new-fangled bits click together, though I hear that it has become easier in recent years.

D-DAY: The Black Friday deals were great. Initially tempted by a build with an SSD, I ended up foregoing the extra expense and finishing up around the $1200 mark. Still pretty hefty for a PC. Not the most expensive, for sure, but quite enough for me.

D+3: The company request that you add your shipping address to your credit card account, if you want it shipped elsewhere. This was the case for me, and was the first real hurdle after getting my head around which components I wanted in my new build. The bank let me down and there seemed to be serious problems getting my shipping address added to my account. After three days of back and forth with the iBuyPower sales rep, we agreed to change my shipping address to my billing address. It was going to add a little time to me collecting it, but at least the process would start moving forward.

Moments after, my sales rep contacted me to let me know that the free engraving I had opted for would not be possible with the case I had selected. This was no big deal to me, and originally I had found it hard to resist the offer, though I could not think of anything worth engraving.
In the days prior, I'd read stories of cases getting tossed about in shipping, causing parts to break. iBuyPower offer customers a premium packing service that fills the case with foam in an effort to reduce this risk. I asked if I could add this to my order, and my sales rep threw it in for free. That was neat.

About two hours after this call, I received an email alert stating:
Your order is being forwarded to our inventory queue - Please note that it may take several days before this process begins.
'Fine by me!' I figured. All I had to do now was anxiously refresh the page every few hours, hoping upon hope that I'd see a shipping update. Typical turnaround time as stated on the site, from order to shipping, is 5-10 days. At this stage, my order is five business days old.

D+8: Email update: Parts Gathering: Beginning. The inventory department has begun gathering the parts for my build. Expected turnaround is 'some days'.

D+10: Email update: Parts Gathering: Completed. The computer has moved to the assembly department. Depending on complexity, it may take a day or two before reaching Quality Control. The next expected update is that the computer has been assembled.

At this stage, in terms of 'business days', I am expecting shipping before the end of the week.

Four hours after gathering has completed, I receive an update my machine has been assembled and will now enter Quality Control. This phase tests the hardware for faults, installs Windows and necessary drivers. Things are looking good!

D+11: Quality Control is completed, and the build is moving to burn-in tests. These are 'grueling stress tests' that ensure the computer can take the strain of intensive use, I assume. Next step is shipping, so it looks promising for tomorrow. Fingers still crossed. Crossing toes just to be sure, too.

Burn-in was a short process, for sure! Just one hour later, and the machine has moved to the shipping dept. It will ship either today or tomorrow.

Five hours later, and my FedEx tracking number is emailed to me. ETA: Thursday by 8pm, in two days' time.

D+13: FedEx deliver on schedule, and the machine is in my hands. The box it comes in is massive.

Setup is a little complicated. The protective packaging I opted for is difficult to remove, and it is not always clear if it is caught on a piece of circuitry or not, due to the way it is installed. It's a plastic bag filled with two chemicals that solidify upon mixing, which allows it to get right into the hollows of the case to protect things like ram and graphics cards from getting knocked around in transit.

On boot, the computer is untouched, and I register my Windows 7 serial (marked on the side of the case with a product sticker). All is well.
In the flesh.
All in all, the experience was positive. The system that obstructs shipping to other addresses is awkward, but it wasn't a total catastrophe for me. All in all, the process took 8-9 business days, excluding shipping. I will update this post if anything noteworthy happens, but as it stands, it's a pretty neat piece of kit.

January 5, 2014: It's been several weeks since I posted this, and the computer continues to run like a dream.