The iBUYPOWER Trace 9230 belongs to a new crop of cost saving midrange gaming PCs that are powerful enough to handle professional productivity tasks like media creation, but ring very reasonable prices than mainstream competitors bearing the same components.
- A capable Intel Core i7-9700K CPU.
- Powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU (Turing – Founders Edition)
- Nice, clean aesthetic
- Incredible price for the feature set
- Would do with a USB-C port
- Tempered side panel doesn’t add much utility
With a standard footprint, the Trace 9230 under review is among the company’s fastest gaming tower, sporting top-of-the-line components like an eight-core Intel i7-9700k CPU and the latest Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics card. Below it is the Trace 9220, featuring the same GPU and a six-core Intel i7-8700 processor; while the Trace 9240 wraps it up with a peppy Intel Core i9-9900K (8-core, 9th generation) the same TRX 2080 (8GB) graphics card. With a reasonable pricing considering what’s packed inside, and performance to match, the trio of iBUYPOWER’s Trace 9200 Series earn an Editors’ Choice for midrange gaming desktops.
Over time, we have seen gaming behemoths with insane LEDs on the chassis, some requiring some real estate to be operated. The Trace 9230 is built into a standard tower case, that doesn’t look like a gamer-inspired PC but has lots of style on the sides. It is cut into a black steel frame with a pair of LED fins cutting from the front-straight to the bottom on both sides. Measuring 19.76 by 8.54 by 19.84 inches (HWD) and weighing 30 pounds, this system is designed to stay in one place, either in a corner somewhere or on your desk.
For limited spaces, a small-form-factor (SFF) desktop like the Asus GR8 II-T044Z is an ultimate space-saver. On the left is a tempered glass side panel that gives a peek into neatly organized compartments and components. To kill boredom, the case features an innovative 16 color RGB lighting that can be controlled remotely. Also, there is a liquid cooling compartment and air vents on the opposite panel alongside a bundled iBUYPOWER branded gaming keyboard and mouse.
Like most 2018 desktops, this one doesn’t have an optical drive, reasonable considering that you rarely need to play from DVDs, not with almost all PC games being downloadable from digital services like Steam and Origin. All it has are easy-access ports on the top-front panel: two USB 3.1, microphone/microphone combo and a Reset button.
Around the back, there are additional ports: two USB 2.0, two USB 3.1, Ethernet, and audio 7.1 channel. The new Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card also includes one HDMI 2.0b and two DisplayPort 1.4, alongside a VirtualLink connector, the latest versions of the ubiquitous technologies you’d need to power most G-Sync HDR monitors. To connect to wireless networks, there’s 802.11AC Wi-Fi and is Bluetooth ready.
Thanks to a relatively spacious build, there is plenty of room to work inside the case, should you desire to swap out a few components or do some maintenance. You’d be hard-pressed to throw in new parts over what comes pre-installed, however. Here, we’re talking of a Core i7-9700K, Intel’s unlocked 2018 flagship processor on its 9th Generation mainstream CPU line. The Core i7-9700 chip is part of the main consumer platform, in the same league with the i5-9600K and the high-end i9-9900K, outfitted in the iBUYPOWER Trace 9240 gaming PC.
Released around the same time is the 18 cores and 36 threads Intel Core X-series processor family, billed as the most powerful thing to ever happen to a desktop PC. As we move into the year, all eyes are AMD to counter with peppy Ryzen CPUs but the Core i7-9700K is among the best in the market for multi-threaded applications. At least for now, alongside the Core i9-9900k. It is an eight-core, 16-thread CPU with base clock of 3.6 GHz (4.9 GHz Max Turbo) on an Intel Z370 Express chipset.
The i9-9700K is a component Intel bills to be the best thing to ever happen in gaming, which practically makes it an excellent choice for professional creatives and multi-taskers who find the need to stream content side-by-side with CPU sipping apps. To that, add 16G B DDR4 system memory, a 256GB M.2 solid-state drive (SSD) and an additional 1TB spinning hard drive, while the Trace 9240 wraps up storage with a 1TB SSD and a 1TB spinning hard drive.
Nvidia RTX 2070 (Turing – Founders Edition) GPU
For graphics, the Trace 9230 is fitted with the still-hot GeForce RTX 2070 GPU, which is part of Nvidia’s Turing-Founders Edition that leverages new technologies to enable real-time ray tracing on modern games and deep learning Tensor cores. In the same family are the GeForce RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti for the pro-gamers, making a generational upgrade for gaming cards. While the overclocked GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition almost ties with the GTX 1080 on benchmark tests, the slight hike in price is justified by higher Tensor Core and deep learning.
As far as comparisons to more expensive systems go, gaming still is, a different story, as many pricier desktops boasts two graphics cards. Compared to the rest with just one, though, the Trace 9230 holds its own, again as a less-expensive option. Overall, the RTX 2070 included in this system utilizes the new Nvidia Turing architecture to deliver more cores than existing GPUs.
The GeForce RTX 2070 boasts 2,304 CUDA cores, 8GB memory and 1,620MHz boost clock, significantly higher than GTX 1070’s 1,920 CUDA cores and a 1,683-maximum frequency. With that, the new chip gets a 20 percent (or thereabout) jump in performance, hailed by crisp frame rates per second over last year’s Pascal GTX 1070 chips.
In the meantime, 288 Tensor Cores now bring artificial intelligence (AI) to consumer graphics cards, and Nvidia intends on using these to effect even better anti-aliasing. For gaming, a combination of a Turing RTX 2070 GPU and Coffee Lake CPU outfitted in the Trace 9230 will deliver excellent frame rates on modern titles including: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (33fps – 4K, 99fps – 1080p); Far Cry Primal (32 fps – 4K, 88fps – 1080p), all in Ultra presets. For a single card GPU, these scores are very impressively and PC gaming can’t get any better. Plus, short of the Nvidia RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti, you won’t find another more capable graphics card than what you have on this system.
For anyone in the market for a do-it-all gaming desktop that zealously handles productivity tasks like media creation underlain by the latest components out here, the iBUYPOWER Trace 9230 is an excellent buy. It offers impeccable performance for a midrange system that cost almost a third of what a similarly configured mainstream PC would cost, and half what a DIYer would spend to pair up the components used to build this rig. For a clean aesthetic, very reasonable pricing and solid gaming performance, the Trace 9230 is among our Top Picks for midrange gaming desktop PCs.