Powerful desktop gaming PCs do more than just let you play the latest titles with smooth visuals. Most also offer easy upgrades, blingy cases and fans kitted out with LED illumination, and sometimes head-turning designs, such as compact cubes. What they typically lack is wallet-friendliness, and the Overpowered Gaming Desktop (starts at $ 1,399; $ 2,099 as tested) is no exception. It looks the part and delivers very good performance, but despite it being a Walmart exclusive, it’s not the parts-for-money value that you might expect.
A Vision of Power, Under Glass
Many PC gamers have strong opinions about how their desktops should look, which is why boutique builders such as Falcon Northwest, Maingear, and Origin PC offer a dizzying array of customization options, everything from dual graphics cards to flecked metallic-paint finishes. The Overpowered Gaming Desktop line, manufactured by Esports Arena and available only at Walmart, offers none of that customization, but it does offer enough bling to keep the gaming brigade interested.
The version I’m reviewing is the DTW3, the most expensive of three different fixed configurations Walmart is offering. Before you plug it in and turn it on, its clean lines and black exterior are pleasing to the eye, if not necessarily exciting. The front panel is a sheet of glass, mounted to the front of the chassis with a roughly half-inch gap to facilitate airflow into three fans. The left panel is also solid glass, embossed with a love-it-or-hate-it “OP” logo, and four thumbscrews make it easy to remove for component access. Both panes are tinted black to match the black metal of the rest of the case, and they’re translucent enough to allow you to gaze at the components within through the internal-lighting haze.
The front panel has little more than its own OP logo to interrupt its glass expanse, which means that the I/O ports that might have otherwise been added to it are mounted on the case’s top. These ports comprise three USB ports (two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0), and discrete 3.5mm audio jacks for headphone and mic.
Around back, you’ll see a familiar assortment of both old-fashioned and cutting-edge ports connected directly to the motherboard. The group comprises a PS/2 port, six USB ports (three USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, and a USB Type-C connector), an Ethernet jack, and a cluster of six audio ports. Also on the I/O panel are DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs, but you won’t be using those, since the desktop also comes with a discrete graphics card.
In the DTW3’s case, that card is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, and it occupies the two uppermost PCI Express card slots. The generous selection of video outputs available on this Gigabyte version of the GTX 1080 Ti comprises three DisplayPorts, an HDMI, and a legacy DVI.
The GTX 1080 Ti is certainly a proficient GPU, but it’s nearing retirement and has already been usurped in Nvidia’s lineup by the GeForce RTX 2080 and GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. The Overpowered Gaming Desktop would be a bit more compelling and future-proof if it offered one of those two cutting-edge cards, which support ray-tracing and several other forward-looking technologies. Base models of the RTX 2080 aren’t much costlier than the GTX 1080 Ti.
As for the storage scheme, the Overpowered Gaming Desktop I have on hand comes with two storage drives: a 512GB SATA solid-state drive (SSD) and a 2TB platter hard drive with a 7,200rpm spin rate.
All told, the system weighs 25 pounds and measures 17.8 by 8.5 by 16.5 inches (HWD).
An Organized Interior
Inside the chassis, cables are well-organized, and you’ll see plenty of room to access and upgrade the components. In fact, you might even say there’s some wasted space, since the system uses a MicroATX motherboard despite the fact that the case’s motherboard tray has room enough for a larger full-ATX board, which might afford you room to install some extra PCI Express add-ins. As it is, the existing motherboard does have a second PCI Express x16 slot that you can access and use, unblocked by the video card, but you’ll want to note a further wrinkle around what it can take.
The motherboard is an H370-chipset model, which does not support SLI or CrossFire multiple-video-card arrangements. (You’d need a board based on the Z370 chipset to accommodate that.) H370 also doesn’t support CPU overclocking. That’s not an issue for the factory configuration of this machine, which ships with a locked Intel Core i7-8700 CPU (as opposed to the overclockable Core i7-8700K), but don’t plan on using this desktop as a base to grow into an overclockable powerhouse later on. (The CPU air cooler that comes installed isn’t much of a breeze-pusher for serious overclocking, anyway.)
As you’d expect in a midrange gaming desktop, a few of the components have some integrated LEDs that boost the flair factor. The exhaust fan at back and the three fans mounted at the front of the case to draw air in all feature customizable RGB lighting, and the Gigabyte logo on the graphics card lights up in various colors, too. There’s no RGB RAM, or any additional case lighting beyond the fans, but the customization options largely make up for that. To adjust the lights, you can use the little included remote control, or press a button on the top of the case to cycle through various color modes.
Missing from the Overpowered Gaming Desktop are a bundled mouse and keyboard (no big deal—you should buy your own anyway) and any form of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection (potentially a big deal, though you can always use the PCI Express slot for a PCIe x1 Wi-Fi card). You get a standard one-year warranty, and Walmart also offers its own extended warranties in three- or four-year flavors for an additional charge.
Serious Graphics Horsepower: To the Test
If you’re going to spend more than $ 2,000 on a desktop at Walmart, customizable lighting is all well and good, but what you ought to be getting for the money is performance.
The components inside suggest that the Overpowered Gaming Desktop can chew through anything that less-demanding games, such as esports titles and MMOs, can throw at it. It should also offer super-smooth frame rates on more demanding games at 1080p or even 1440p screen resolutions.
To find out if that’s the case, I compared the Overpowered Gaming Desktop’s performance on PCMag’s suite of gaming benchmarks with a few of its chief competitors: the Acer Predator Orion 5000, the Corsair Vengeance Gaming PC 5180, and the Velocity Micro Raptor Z55. These are the details on the competing configs…
On the 3DMark Sky Diver and Fire Strike graphics benchmarks, which render sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting, the Overpowered Gaming Desktop performed slightly better than both the Acer and the Corsair (the latter equipped with a newer-generation GeForce RTX 2080 card, the former with a lesser GeForce GTX 1080), though it lagged a touch behind the Velocity Micro Raptor.
The Velocity’s much-overclocked Core i7-8086K Limited Edition CPU likely accounted for the better showing there. Also, in PC Labs’ separate video card tests, the GeForce RTX 2080 and GeForce 1080 Ti didn’t score all that far apart on gaming benchmarks, so the close results between the Overpowered PC and the Corsair model are no surprise.
The Sky Diver and Fire Strike tests offer proprietary scores that are good for measuring relative performance. For a more real-world metric, check out the Unigine Superposition benchmark. At 1080p resolution, the Overpowered Gaming desktop achieved an average frame rate of 113 frames per second (fps). That is significantly better than the Acer and its GeForce GTX 1080, and on par with both the Velocity Micro and the Corsair.
In general, an average frame rate of around 100fps at a full HD (1080p) resolution should offer enough headroom to play today’s most demanding titles, as well as games that are released in the next few years.
Real-World Gaming Performance
Still, benchmark results, even ones that report frame rates, don’t always reflect actual gameplay. So I also ran a few tests using actual games. On the grueling title Far Cry 5, the Overpowered Gaming Desktop offered an average of 122fps on the Ultra quality setting at 1080p. That dipped to 101fps when I switched to 1440p at the same quality setting, and further to a still-respectable 56fps at a 4K resolution.
The results were much the same with another AAA game, Rise of the Tomb Raider. On that game, the Overpowered system rendered at an average of 118fps at 1080p and 64fps at 4K on the Very High quality preset.
These frame rates confirm that 1080p or 1440p gaming won’t present a problem for the Overpowered Gaming Desktop, even with demanding games. However, they also show that if you’ve got a 4K monitor, you might occasionally experience frame dips that affect the smoothness of play if you use that resolution. A frame rate of 60fps is generally adequate, but remember that’s an average score, and anything below that can result a bit of lag and stuttering on the screen, especially if you engage the in-game V-Sync feature.
Play Hard, Work Hard
With this much graphics horsepower, the Overpowered Gaming Desktop isn’t good only at gaming. It took just 2 minutes and 21 seconds to apply a series of 10 filters to a test image in PC Labs’ Adobe Photoshop CC trial, a result that makes it competitive with the Corsair and noticeably faster than the Acer. Partly thanks to its higher CPU clock speed and additional VRAM, though, the Velocity Micro is faster still, at just 2:01.
All three of the competing systems were faster than the Overpowered Gaming Desktop on the Cinebench R15 test, a synthetic benchmark that taxes all of a CPU’s available cores and threads. Despite this relatively disappointing showing, the Overpowered’s score of 1,228 is still excellent for a consumer PC, and along with the Photoshop result, suggests that it would make a proficient multimedia editing workstation.
And, of course, if it’s good at Far Cry 5 and Photoshop, it had better be excellent at basic tasks like editing spreadsheets, tweaking photos, and streaming web videos. Its results of 5,078 on the PCMark 10 productivity benchmark and 4,883 on the PCMark 8 Storage test confirm this, though these figures are very similar across this competitive set.
So…Does Walmart Deliver a Deal?
The Overpowered Gaming Desktop performs admirably, is well-built, and even includes the customizable lighting and interior organization that many PC gamers covet. But Acer, Corsair, Velocity Micro, and other better-known brands offer all that, as well. So to truly rise above the field of midrange gaming machines, the Overpowered offering needs to provide the healthy dose of value for which its retail-giant seller is famous.
Unfortunately, this test configuration does not, whether you compare it with a pre-built PC or with individual components that you assemble yourself. If you take the DIY route, you could build a system with comparable components for around $ 1,700, based on current list prices. Even if you value the warranty and labor that the Overpowered Gaming Desktop gains for you at $ 400 more, you’re barely breaking even.
The story is much the same when you look at competing pre-built systems. For instance, you can currently buy a Lenovo Legion T730 gaming desktop with a Core i9-9900K, a GeForce RTX 2080 card, 32GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 2TB hard drive for $ 1,800. Or, for just $ 300 more than the Overpowered’s list price, you could pick up the the GTX 2080-powered Corsair Vengeance Gaming PC 5180, PCMag’s current Editors’ Choice award winner for best midrange gaming desktops.
Of course, pricing changes all the time, especially during the holiday season. For instance, last week Walmart was offering a $ 200 discount on the version of the Overpowered Gaming Desktop I’m reviewing. That could tip the scales a little more in its favor, especially if you actually like the clean-but-plain styling. In that case, you’re in for a very enjoyable trip to Walmart. Otherwise, you’ll want to shop some of the alternatives I’ve suggested above.