NERD TREK Q&A with iBUYPOWER

I am a gamer, but was unfamiliar with the iBUYPOWER brand until a fellow gamer introduced me to their products.  I had been in the dark as to what is available these days due to many years building “Franken-computers” out of spare parts.  (Although this method may function to educate one about the many intricacies of internal computing components; it does little to add that extra oomph that your computer needs to run SKYRIM with everything turned up to 11.)

We stopped by the iBUYPOWER booth at PAX Prime to speak with George Yang and obtain some information on the iBUYPOWER brand of computers.

The iBUYPOWER girls at PAX Prime - WOW!

George Yang was more than happy to tell us all about their brand of computers while an intoxicating iBUYPOWER girl with blue hair covered our bodies in red feline stamps.  A strange ritual, but when in Rome…  Their website offers a fully customizable experience where you can build your own PC from the ground up.  You get to choose everything: the computer case, processors, RAM, and even light effects!  Prices vary from a few hundred dollars into thousands depending on what kind of system you want.

Console vs. PC

Perreault was with me at the iBUYPOWER booth at PAX so I asked Yang about console vs. PC gaming.  I already knew the answer, but I thought it was good to get it out there for those who have not made the jump over to computers.

The difference between a console and a PC is simple: You can never upgrade a console.  When you buy a console you are limited to whatever specs the device comes with.  There is no chance of upgrading to play the newest greatest releases.  That’s why Oblivion on Xbox 360 looks like crap compared to the same game running on a gaming PC with everything cranked up to max.  “I can see the rivets in my character’s chain mail moving as he breathes!”

I think Perreault still prefers his console, but perhaps over time I will convert him!

 

PAX Prime has been over for a couple weeks now, but I still wanted to know more about iBUYPOWER.  I contacted Ricky Lee, iBUYPOWER Marketing Manager to conduct an interview regarding the iBUYPOWER brand, their products, and some of the crazy behind the scenes things we never get to hear about.

 

Interview with Ricky Lee, Marketing Manager for iBUYPOWER

 

Who started iBUYPOWER?  Can you tell us a bit about how the company got started? 

iBUYPOWER was founded in 1999 by Alex Hou with the goal to give PC Gamers the option to fully customize their gaming experience. PC Gamers come in many breeds. Some love strategy games, others grind for hours in MMOs or spend countless nights counting headshots. iBUYPOWER was created in order to provide the options to satisfy each gamer’s unique need, without the technical headaches associated with building their own systems.

 

What kind of growing pains has the company experienced over the years?

iBUYPOWER is a rapidly growing company. Since we’ve started, we’ve moved facilities twice, most recently about three years ago—and we’ve already outgrown our current facility. One of the challenges with running such a rapidly growing company is that we need to maintain the same high level of quality even when our supply lines and facilities are pushed to their limits. There have been times where we’ve had quite a few systems sitting around waiting for one back-ordered part, and it’s frustrating, because we want to get the system out to the customer and make them happy, but the manufacturer is telling you the part won’t be in anytime soon, and so we have to call each customer up personally, explain the situation, and offer alternatives. We’ve been in business for over a decade now, and we’ve gotten a lot better at handling the rapid growth of our company, so delays like this have gotten much easier to manage. Usually the delay will either be so short it doesn’t make a difference, or we’ll offer a very attractive alternative that comes at a really great value.

 

What does iBUYPOWER provide that other computer companies do not?

There’s a lot to say here. The easiest thing to see from our site is that we offer more choices and better value than essentially everyone in the industry. A customer can come to our site and put together the system that they want, with the brands and components (down to the model number) that they want, and they can do it at a much lower cost than they will at other computer companies.

iBUYPOWER - Erebus System (liquid cooled)

What’s not apparent is that we’ve also got some of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry. We’re very proud of our A+ rating on the BBB and our top marks in customer service on sites like ResellerRatings. What a lot of people think when they go buy a system is that you “get what you pay for”, but in our case, you actually get more than you pay for, relative to the industry. Our service and customer satisfaction ratings are on par with some of the most expensive “boutiques” while our pricing is actually among the lowest. Which, we think, makes for one hell of a value proposition.

The third part of this is that iBUYPOWER has become much more than just  the assembly factory that most other system builders are. We have a full-time R&D engineering staff that comes up with innovative new ways to approach system building. Our Internal USB Expansion system is one example of this. Basically the problem was that there was a LOT of cases coming to the market with 4 USB ports on the front panel, but most motherboards only came with 4 internal USB headers—which means that if you installed something like a card reader, which the majority of our customers opt for, because it takes up two USB headers on the motherboard. What we did is create what we call our “Internal USB Expansion System”, which is basically an internal USB hub which allows you to plug in additional internal USB devices (along with some additional perks, like providing extra power to the front ports, etc). Sounds simple, right? We have no idea why nobody else did it before us, but hey, it’s something simple we can point to and say “we were first”.  Other examples include things like Erebus, Side panel laser engraving, lighting options—even universal liquid cooling.

 

 How many different customizable options do you offer for a prospective buyer?

You only have to look at our site to know that there’s more options than we keep a specific tally on. But it’s definitely more than anyone else in the industry has.

 

You have an amazing online customizable computer building experience set up.  For some people this is too intimidating.  Is there another option for customers to contact you and get help building their own PC?

We definitely understand that not everyone is familiar with every part that we offer, so we make a few tools available to our customers: First, customers can call us at 888-462-3899 to speak to one of our knowledgeable representatives. Second, we have an option to jump in a live chat right from the configurator, and third, customers are always welcome to send us an email, which we’ll respond to within 1 business day. Our representatives are very experienced and have offered lots of advice to customers of all knowledge levels, so no question is too “dumb” to ask.

 

What is the most unique build a customer has ever ordered?

That’s a really difficult question to answer, because every system we ship is unique in its own way because of all the options we offer—no two systems are alike…I guess the best way to respond is to mention that we are the exclusive system builder for Erebus (designed by our engineers specifically for custom liquid cooling), and the Thermaltake Level 10. Both of these systems require special build queues as well as special shipping & handling procedures because they’re such unique products.


If I were to build a computer with the most expensive, top of the line products- how much would it cost at iBUYPOWER?  What would the specs be?

The top-of-the line system that we offer is the Erebus product line. The Erebus is the only system on the market designed specifically for custom liquid cooling, housing up to 4 Radiators, including one giant 4x120mm radiator and up to three 2x120mm radiators. That’s up to 3400w maximum heat dissipation. Just to put that into perspective, that’s more energy than a running refrigerator, microwave, tv, and standard room lighting, all put together. The system won’t pull this much power from the wall, of course, and that thermal headroom translates into super-low temperatures on the components. The cost depends on how you customize the system.


Tell us the craziest thing that has ever happened at iBUYPOWER

Hmm…I once threw a laptop off our roof to test Intel SSDs.

One time we ordered a large shipment of a couple hundred CPUs. Without mentioning names, believe me when we say that we placed this order direct with a reputable manufacturer that you would definitely recognize. Funny thing is, when they arrived and we opened up the boxes… there was just a pile of bricks in the crate. We were like “What the…?” and we checked the shipping manifest… the boxes came straight from the manufacturer’s factory. Nobody knew what happened—not the manufacturer, the shipping company, nor ourselves—but it definitely wasn’t what we ordered. We have video evidence of the boxes leaving the factory fine, and what looks like the same boxes arriving here… but who knows what happened in between? Our best guess is that someone broke into the shipment while it was en route, maybe at the docks, and pulled an Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Is most of your staff run by fellow nerds? 

Hell yes. Nerds FTW.

 

What are the specs of your home PC?

I used to have a badass gaming laptop until I got angry and threw it off the roof. Just kidding… or am I?
What are the specs of your DREAM PC?

Our Erebus V3 is pretty close. I’d make a few tweaks here and there, of course.


What is your favorite comic?

I’m a big fan of Japanese Manga.. I went through a phase where that’s pretty much all I read… which isn’t great, because I was also supposed to be studying for college at the time and what I wasn’t reading was my textbooks.

 

What is your favorite video game of all time?  Why?

Diablo II.   I learned a lot of valuable life lessons from playing this game. Things like: don’t do drugs, stay in school, and learn to balance gaming with reality.

 

Do you like bananas?  Have you ever considered a banana themed computer case tower?  
(Note: this question based on the original Skyrim questionfor NT by Khalid Yassin.)

Bananas are great because they are excellent sources of potassium, which is an essential vitamin used in nerve transmission of signals to the index and middle fingers of your mouse hand, as well as the fingers of your keyboard hand.

Really? A banana theme tower? THAT’s the fruit theme you want? Wouldn’t you rather have pirates that eat oranges (no scurrrrvy here!) or a robot that does umm…stuff with fruit?

…But I suppose if you really, really wanted it, I guess we could use our giant laser machine to make that banana theme system.


Thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview with NERDTREK.com!

Thank you too!

 

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.