The iBUYPOWER Trace 5 MR 178i is a solid pick for a midrange gaming tower, that packs fluid Full HD and QHD gaming performance into a quality package, although it’s not quite the top value in its class.
- Neatly organized, compact case
- Room to expand inside
- Highly configurable
- Good value
- Could use a Type-C port
- Lacks a card reader
The iBUYPOWER Gaming PC line has always been an excellent alternative to OEM gaming PCs from major manufacturers like HP, Lenovo, and Acer, offering systems at almost all price ranges. Our review unit, the iBUYPOWER Trace 5 MR 178i, is a midrange gaming PC that delivers enough muscle for Esports and multiplayer games at 1080p in a mid-tower chassis at a competitive price.
The Trace 5 MR 178i is built around Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 GPU and an eleventh-generation Intel Core i7 processor. With its glass side windows and game-inspired façade trimmed with RGB circles on the front panel, it’s got a lot of style in its otherwise straightforward chassis. This is an appealing gaming PC that’s not over-the-top in its gaming aesthetic that ends up looking gaudy.
The CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme SLC8260A5 remains our top pick among midrange pre-built gaming towers for its even cleaner looks, beefier Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU, and AMD Ryzen 7 3800X GPU. Still, the iBUYPOWER Gaming PC is a fine, more affordable alternative.
iBUYPOWER Gaming PC Specs
- Desktop Class: Gaming & Entertainment
- CPU: Intel Core i7-11700F (2.50 GHz)
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060(6GB)
- RAM: 16GB DDR4
- Storage: 480 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
- Connectivity: 2.5G Ethernet, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
- Operating system: Windows 10 Home
- Weight: 30 pounds
- Size (W x D x H): 23 x 23 x 13 inches
Design and Features
The iBUYPOWER Trace 5 MR 178i has a clean aesthetic that’s different the common pre-built gaming PC look. In fact, the design on the Trace line has changed since we reviewed the first iBUYPOWER Gaming PC in July 2019, with a few variations depending on the model, and the spec sheet has greatly improved over time.
Those inclined to over-the-top gamer aesthetic will find the Trace 5 MR 178i’s look quite appealing. Well, it isn’t screaming with Sci-Fi inspired design, but it gets its share of RGBs on the front panel, some illuminating from the tempered side glass window and around the rear cooling fan. The façade has its upper and lower sections squared, and an iBUYPOWER logo at the bottom reminds you this is a gaming system.
Beyond that, however, the iBUYPOWER Gaming PC doesn’t have any exceptional design frills, which we honestly like. We also like the black chassis theme, though we’ve seen white chassis designs on machines like the Skytech Shiva that look equally appealing. The side panel pops open effortlessly; all you need to do is unscrew a few thumbscrews on the side glass panel. This gives you easy access to the neat interior, especially if you want to upgrade or customize.
Read More: CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme SLC8260A5 review
Port selection is good, but it lacks USB Type-C, that’s becoming pretty standard even among gaming towers. In total, you have four USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, and an Ethernet port. Should you need to hook the system to more than one display, there are DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI ports on the RTX 2060 graphics card.
These ports are handy when connecting your PC to a VR headset since the Element MR 208i is VR Ready out of the box. Wireless connectivity comes via 802.11AC Wi-Fi.
Also bundled into the package are a gaming mouse and keyboard, not the best, but we appreciate that you have something to get you going before you can purchase a serious gaming combo.
iBUYPOWER Gaming PC performance
In 2021, we’ve seen Nvidia and AMD go head-to-head with top-tier GPUs – GeForce RTX 3090 and Radeon RX 6900 XT, both delivering incrementally fast gaming performance than ever before, of course at a premium price. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB) in the Trace 5 MR 178i sits at the bottom of the ladder, but this GPU brings quite a few things to the table. Not only has it mastered Full HD and QHD gaming, but it also lets you enjoy the fluency of Nvidia’s ray-traced future while keeping things affordable.
Despite having the smallest complement of RT and Tensor Cores in Nvidia’s RTX lineup so far, the Nvidia RTX 2060 still manages to pull of all the Turing architecture’s tricks including DLSS and ray-tracing, something you wouldn’t do with the predecessor – Nvidia GTX 2060. In fact, this GPU can play Battlefield V at a consistent 71-76 fps with the game running at 1080p with Ultra quality settings and ray tracing.
Unfortunately, tuning up the fidelity to 2,560 x 1,440 on the same game drops the frame rate to 44fps – 40fps, still on ultra-quality settings and ray tracing. However, 4K played at the same settings is surprisingly still somewhat playable with the frame rate averaging around 26fps.
While the Element MR 208i is billed as a gaming PC, its configuration makes for a capable productivity/entertainment machine. The 11th generation Intel i7-11700F processor, 16GB RAM, 480GB SSD + 1TB HDD are more than enough for anyone looking for a workhorse that doubles up as a gaming hub. It runs at stock speeds, making it ideal for real-world productivity, content-creation workflows and pretty everything you’d want to run on a mainstream desktop PC.
Should you buy the iBUYPOWER Trace 5 MR 178i?
Though the iBUYPOWER Element MR 208i doesn’t stand above the SkyTech Shadow 3.0 or the CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme SLC8260A5, it’s a worthy affordable alternative that deserves consideration. Consistently good quality inside and out, sleek gaming look with RGB lighting, lots of storage, latest components, and future upgrade potential make it a safe choice.
That said, our only real reservation with this tower is that for a few hundred dollars more, you can get an Nvidia RTX 3060 with better performance over the RTX 2060 used here. Still, we’re glad that even iBUYPOWER themselves offer lots of configurations to choose from. But if your budget doesn’t take you that far, the iBUYPOWER Trace 5 MR 178ii won’t make you wish you spent extra.
CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme Liquid Cool Gaming PC, AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 3.9GHz, GeForce RTX 3060 12GB, 16GB DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, WiFi Ready & Win 10 Home (SLC8260A5)
3 used from $1,299.99