For over 20 years, iBuyPower has been making wild-looking performance-focused gaming PCs from this mech head looking thing (opens in new tab) to some RTX 3080-powered behemoths (opens in new tab). The system we are messing with today, the Element CL Plus, tackles one of the major challenges for a lot of PC makers, liquid cooling.
Processor: Intel Core i9 10900K
Graphics: MSI RTX 2080 SUPER 8GB VENTUS GP OC
Memory: 32GB DDR4-3200 G.SKILL Trident Z RGB
Storage: 1TB Adata SX8200PNP PRO M.2 NVMe SSD
Connectivity: HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, 6x USB 3, Ethernet, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)
OS: Windows 10 Home/Pro 64-Bit
Dimensions: 14.4 x 12.3 x 6.7 inches
Weight: 35 lbs
Warranty: 3 year
Price: $2,200 (opens in new tab)
What makes the Element CL Plus (the CL stands for Custom Loop) special is its approach to custom hardline liquid cooling. It's special because the system itself, with all its high-end components, manages to squeeze in an impressive-looking liquid cooling system for only $2,200.
If you've ever shopped for a pre-built liquid-cooled system, then you'll know manufacturers tend to charge a premium because they are a nightmare to ship due to their fragility. All the packing material in the world is no match for the careless delivery person. Even the slightest leak can ruin all of your PC's precious innards which is a customer service nightmare. The system itself was packed very well with soft-foam along with a complimentary gaming keyboard and mouse.
The configuration for the Element CL Plus (opens in new tab) I was sent came armed with an Intel Core i9 10900K CPU, 32GB DDR4-3200 G-Skill Trident Z RGB RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD and an RTX 2080 Super taking the lead on the graphics front. You should note that we got this review system prior to the release of the RTX 30-series GPUs. It's an affordable high-end system that comes with a custom hardline definitely worth checking out. If you want to save some cash there's a config of the Element with a Core i7, RTX 2070 Super, and 16GB RAM for only $1,700 if you don't mind the slight performance dip.
Cinebench R20: 6011 (multi-core) 502 (single-core)
Geekbench 5: 10427
x264: 60 fps
CrystalDiskMark Q32 Sequential (Read): 4,383 MB/s
CrystalDiskMark Q32 Sequential (Write): 4000 MB/s
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1080p, Ultra, RTX): 82 fps
Division 2 (1080p, Ultra): 118 fps
Gears Tactics: (1080p, Ultra): 134 fps
Far Cry New Dawn (1080p, Ultra): 103 fps
Total War: Warhammer II (1080p, Ultra, Battle: 110 fps
Metro Exodus (RTX): 73 fps
3DMark Fire Strike: 23787
3DMark Fire Strike Ultra: 6893
3DMark Time Spy: (GPU) 11792, (CPU) 13713
3DMark Port Royal: 7083
PCMark 10 Express: 5851
Most of the components (aside from the processor and graphics card) can be easily upgraded and be accessed pretty easily, but it's worth noting that the water blocks are designed specifically for the 2070-80 Super GPUs. If you're looking to upgrade to RTX 30-series cards, you should hold off for now since iBuyPower is currently working on water blocks for those cards, but realistically you may not see those systems until early next year.
That being said, loop care on this system is a pretty painless process with the drain ports accessible behind the front panel. Cable management is clean and hardly visible at a glance which is always a welcome non-sight. The tempered glass panels give a nice view (and easy access) at the two pairs of hardline tubing heading from the reservoir to the GPU and CPU. The custom single-bend tubing costs down on cost and labor, according to iBuyPower, which would explain the affordable pricing. RGB lighting on the fans, RAM, and water blocks are all controlled via ASUS Armory software.
Even though RTX 30-series cards are out in the wild, good luck finding one. The Element CL has got an RTX 2080 Super, which is an impressive card but suffers comparisons to the RTX 3080 which is the same price, but much, much faster. It makes reviewing this system in a bubble a little difficult when comparing the performances of the two cards.
That in mind, the 2080 Super is still capable of producing good numbers at 1080p averaging over a hundred frames per second on the highest graphics settings. There were a few stand out results like Gears Tactics hitting over 130fps and the always demanding Total War Saga: Troy hovering around 98fps. Of course, with RTX cards we're always curious how these systems handle ray tracing. Here you're looking at 82fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and 73fps in Metro Exodus, both with ray tracing turned on.
Right now the only thing holding back the Element CL Plus back from being full recommendation is that there aren't any RTX 30-series configs and the inability to upgrade to the newer generations GPUs just yet. If you're looking for a future-proof gaming rig, you're better finding something you can upgrade with a next-gen GPU. But, if you're looking for a solid performing gaming pre-built with impressive liquid cooling and nice-looking case, the Element CL Plus should be on your radar especially during the shopping season when the price eventually drops even if it already feels a little outdated.