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How much power do you need for esports? Last I checked, some PC gamers were playing at 1080p or less, but iBUYPOWER Trace line gills with up to an Intel Core i9-9900K CPU and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX graphics card. Certainly, a machine like the iBUYPOWER Pro Element 047i is branded for high-end gaming, for along as you can afford it. If you have a modest budget, the new iBUYPOWER Trace2 9250 is something you should be looking at.
It’s billed as a gaming machine, but its’s a powerhouse you can use for just anything. For around one grand, you get some of the bets pack-in peripherals we’ve seen in a very long time. To prove its raw muscle, our review unit is maxxed out with an Intel Core i7-9700F (8-Core), Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, 16GB DDR4-2666 RAM and 256GB SSD + 1TB hard drive storage.
The Trace2 9250 shares looks with its predecessor, the iBUYPOWER Trace 9230 that we reviewed earlier this year. That means you get a brushed dark grey, fairly angular design without much RGB. The front of the case gets two top-bottom LED stripes on the curved edges. However, unlike its predecessor, the new model adds a third LED stripe on the lower curve, just below the iBUYPOWER logo.
Both sides are the same dark gray color, but as with most iBUYPOWER desktops, it comes with a transparent glass panel for showing off your innards. All it takes is securing some riser screws that allow for airflow before you can secure the panel. Note, there is a small logo on the holding panel beneath the clear panel: “iBUYPOWER.” It comes off as creative to me, especially for a desktop with an aggressive design.
The iBUYPOWER Trace2 measures 23.1 x 21.9 x 13.5 inches, so it isn’t very large for a gaming rig these beefed-up specs. The CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Master GMA1394A is slightly petite in comparison at 18.5 x 8.2 x 18.7 inches. On the top panel, there’s a magnetic removable dust filter that adds practicality to this machine.
We can’t help but appreciate how many easy access ports are on the front of the Trace2 9250: two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-A) ports, headphone and microphone ports, a reset button and a power button. All are available without reaching the back of the panel.
Of course, there’s plenty more on the back including pairs of USB 2.0, USB 3.1, Ethernet, and audio 7.1 channel. The new Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card also includes one HDMI, one DVI and one Displayport. It doesn’t have a VirtualLink connector, the latest versions of the ubiquitous technologies you’d need to power most G-Sync HDR monitors but found on the Turing RTX 2070 and above.
To connect to wireless networks, there’s 802.11AC Wi-Fi and is Bluetooth ready. Also bundled into the package are an iBUYPOWER Gaming Keyboard & RGB Gaming Mouse. A monitor isn’t included, but you can buy the system with a 27-inch Dell D2719HGF with AMD FreeSync as part of the package.
While the iBUYPOWER Trace2 9250 is billed as a gaming rig, the feature set makes it a good candidate for pretty everything else. Our configuration ships with a 9th-generation Intel Core i7-9700F (eight-core) processor, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB solid state drive and an extra 1TB hard drive for storage. Its bigger sibling, the iBUYPOWER Trace 9230 features a high-end spec sheet – Intel Core -9-9900K processor and Nvidia’s new GeForce RTX 2070 (8GB), but the rest of the features are similar. Back to our review unit, the processor and memory combination are enough for web browsing, photo-editing, heavy productivity tasks and some moderate video encoding.
Storage comes in way of a snappy 240GB solid state drive and an additional 1TB hard drive for your large downloads and other large files. We appreciate this storage option, delivering fast 1,249 MB/sec read and 1,012 MB/s write speeds. Both drives and the 16GB RAM are easily upgradable should you find yourself requiring more space for your game files and other documents.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
Our review unit configured with the Nvidia GeForce 1660 Ti (6GB) isn’t the most powerful configuration preset that iBUYPOWER offers in this chassis. But for enthusiast gamers who need something practical that will remain relevant for years to come, the Trace2 9250 makes for an excellent rig. It includes all the power you need for playing today’s AAA titles at 1080p resolutions.
If you’re gung-ho about 4K, consider upping your graphics card choice to a GeForce RTX 2080 in something like the CYBERPOWERPC Gamer GXiVR8080A4, as the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti in our unit is right on the edge of playability in some of today’s games.
Unsurprisingly, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB can tear through games at 1080p resolution and High settings. When you play Battlefield 1 and Far Cry 5 in 1080p with all of the settings on high, it will run between 135 fps and 109 fps. At 1440p, it runs at 99 fps and 81 fps, which is still acceptable for an entry-level GPU. On SteamVR performance, the desktop reaches a perfect 8, making it Oculus Rift and HTC Vive ready.
The iBUYPOWER Trace2 9250 is a gaming desktop that accomplishes what it is set out to do, while at the same time providing a professionally-built gaming platform. The pre-configured model we’ve reviewed is reasonably priced relative to assembling it yourself from parts. We don’t imagine anyone doing a cleaner wiring job, and component selection as our review unit is top-notch. Other highlights of the Trace2 include decent cooling, component expansion, and a high degree of factory customization.
Is there a better alternative?
There are other pre-configured models that offer the best value, but iBUYPOWER will do everything from custom painting to hardline liquid cooling if budget isn’t a factor. For instance, the company offers the iBUYPOWER Trace 9230 with a new Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU and a peppy Intel Core i9-9900K processor that you can easily consider for a few hundred dollars more.
On the other hand, if you need to save a few hundred dollars but score 1080p games at high resolutions, the CYBERPOWERPC GAMER GXIVR8060A7 offers exactly that, configured with an Intel Core i5-9400F processor, an entry-level GTX 1660 graphics card and 8GB memory.
Should you buy it?
Yes. For its all-round excellence, it easily makes for a choice mid-tower gaming desktop that gets a little better over competitors. The iBUYPOWER Trace2 9250 performs as it should, and comes at a sweet price considering the components inside. The only thing you’ll miss here are the joys of building your own, if that’s your thing.