The Reaper Junior is a fresh addition to the arsenal of gaming machines available over at PlayTech. At $2599 this is the most affordable of the three 'Reaper' rigs on offer - the other ones being the Alpha and Bravo editions - but it still seems to be packing a respectable amount of heat.
Aimed squarely at gamers, the Reaper Junior features an Intel Core i7 quad core processor overclocked to 3.6GHz - quite a big step up from the default speed of 2.66GHz, and covered under warranty too which is a bonus. It's cooled by the excellent Thermolab Baram CPU cooler (not pictured, the Thermalright model seen below sold out just prior to this going to press). Coupled with this is 6GB of high speed DDR3-1600 triple channel RAM and a very serious-business-looking EVGA X58 motherboard.
Pushing the frames per second in this box is an XFX GeForce GTX 275 896MB video card, one of the most powerful graphics Nvidia cards currently available. You'll find some gaming performance numbers below, but with this sort of gear you can already tell that it's going to be a very capable beast.
On the storage side of things you've got a huge 1TB (1,000GB) Western Digital Black hard drive, and to power it all PlayTech have chosen a top quality 620 watt power supply from Corsair. This PSU is modular, meaning the cables that aren't needed can be unplugged and stored away, great for keeping the case clutter-free.
All this fine gear is housed inside the very popular Antec Mini P180 Black case. For an mATX case, the Mini P180 is surprisingly roomy inside, and is very solid and functional - typical Antec qualities right there.
The inside of this machine looks as clean and sleek as the outside. All cables are routed very tidily - most are hidden where possible, and the ones that are visible are tied down and bundled together to maintain the Reaper's professional look. Even the wiring underneath the motherboard tray has been organised securely.
Good cabling will help airflow through the case but of course you need something to be pushing that air in the first place, so three 120mm UV-green Gelid fans have been installed into the case to keep all the components cool. The front fan draws room temperature air into the case which heads straight towards the video card and CPU (the two hottest components in any system). The CPU cooler also has a Gelid fan mounted on it forcing cool air over the heatsink, and then finally the rear 120mm fan expels warm air out of the case.
The Antec Mini P180 also has a built-in 180mm fan mounted to the top of the case to exhaust warm air.
There is a switch controlling the speed of this fan and ideally it should be left on low so as not to interfere with the airflow of the other three fans.
While the machine isn't exactly silent while it's running, it definitely isn't as loud as you'd imagine a system with this many fans would be. This is thanks in part to the thick walls of the Antec Mini P180 but also to the Gelid 'Gamer Wing' fans used. These fans use patented Nanoflux Bearing technology - which basically means the load of the fan impeller is carried by an electromagnetic field, reducing friction and noise.
Now to the fun part...gaming! To test the performance of the Reaper Junior I've used four popular titles at the following settings:
Stalker Clear Sky: DX10, Enhanced (daytime, GSC GameWorld benchmark tool)
Crysis Warhead: DX9, Gamer (Ambush, FrameBuffer benchmark tool)
FarCry 2: DX10, Very High (Ranch small, built-in benchmark)
Trackmania Nations Forever: DX9, Very High (built-in benchmark)
As you can see, this rig powers through these demanding titles. Stalker and Crysis do suffer a bit once the Anti-Aliasing is cranked up, but these settings will bring most video cards to their knees so the results are still quite impressive.
In the world of high performance gaming rigs, $2,599 is actually quite a bargain. For this price PlayTech have provided a well built machine with an excellent selection of parts, along with a considerable overclock on the CPU.
If you're after a gaming machine in this price range, the Reaper Junior is definitely pablo-approved.
Our thanks to PlayTech for providing the review samples.