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iBuyPower Element CL Pro review

A gaming PC with stunning liquid cooling

iBuyPower ElementCL Pro
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The iBuyPower ElementCL Pro is a great gaming PC, packing hardline liquid cooling, and a ton of flashy RGB lighting. The hardline cooling might end up being a hassle to work around if you're not comfortable draining it every time you service your PC, though.

For

  • Beautiful build
  • Excellent performance
  • Runs virtually silent
  • Competitively priced

Against

  • Cooling can make it difficult to service
  • Basic motherboard

Boutique gaming PCs like the iBuyPower ElementCL Pro were traditionally luxury items: kit out a gaming PC through a website, and have it custom built to your specifications, usually with a hefty markup. But given that building your own PC is so incredibly expensive right now, this might just be the best option for anyone looking for the best gaming PC at the moment. 

The big selling point with the ElementCL Pro, moreso than iBuyPower's more mid-range offerings, is the custom hardline water cooling that comes standard on this PC. And, honestly, we can see why it's the main focus: it's absolutely stunning, with the whole front panel being a transparent reservoir for the coolant, where you can see it pumping in real time. And it's not just the CPU that gets liquid cooling, either, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 is also liquid cooled, which means you can push this fantastic GPU even further. 

However, this is PC is kind of pricey, starting at $1,999 for a pre-configured system. That will get you an Intel Core i7-11700KF, 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070. You can bump that up to 32GB of RAM standard and an Intel Core i9-11900KF for $2,389, which is also the baseline configuration if you want to customize the build, but that processor really isn't worth the price increase – trust us.

Spec sheet

Here is the iBuyPower ElementCL Pro configuration sent to TechRadar for review: 
Case: ElementCL Pro
CPU: Intel Core i7-11700K (8 Cores, 16 Threads, up to 5.0 GHz)
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
RAM: 16GB DDR4; 3,200MHz
Motherboard: Z590 Wifi
Power Supply: 650W 80 Plus Gold
Storage: 1TB M.2 WD Blue
Ports front: 2 x USB-A 3.0, 1 x headphone jack, 1 x microphone jack
Ports back: 3 x USB-A 3.2, 3 x USB-A 2.0, 3 x analog audio jacks, 3 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI, Ethernet, 1 x PS/2
Connectivity: Integrated 802.11 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5
Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Weight: 30 pounds (14kg)
Size (W x D x H): 18.1 x 8.5 x 18.1 inches (460 x 215 x 460 mm)

What's really surprising about the iBuyPower ElementCL Pro is its price. Usually when you go for a system with luxe hardline water cooling like this, it's incredibly expensive, but this PC just isn't. At $1,999, it's significantly cheaper than the Alienware Aurora R12 with similar specs, and that system doesn't have the slick water cooling. 

There are a couple components that are a little basic, namely the motherboard and the SSD, but you're really not missing much over a more premium board – we would have just liked to see more ports on the back. 

That low price with the fancy cooling is likely in large part due to the system only being available with one graphics card and one PC case – the hardline tubes can be mass produced, rather than having to go through the effort of bending them in the right shape for different chassis and GPUs. But that hardline cooling does have some downsides. 

For one, if you're not really comfortable messing with a custom watercooling setup, upgrading or servicing this PC is going to be a bit of a pain. The SSD and RAM are luckily pretty accessible, and you won't have to drain the loop to get to them, but if you ever want to replace your graphics card, you're going to have to drain the loop and spend a good amount of time disassembling the system. 

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Although, with how quiet and cool this PC runs, even during the most demanding games, that frustration might genuinely be worth it. Even after hours of Dirt 5, we could barely hear the fans in the iBuyPower ElementCL Pro.

But when you're spending this much cash on a gaming PC, performance is what really counts. And, again, you're really not getting much extra performance for all of the exotic cooling that this gaming PC offers. By and large, the iBuyPower Element CL Pro performs just like any other gaming PC with similar specs would, but that's nothing to scoff at. 

Benchmarks

Here’s how the iBuyPower ElementCL performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Cinebench R23: 13,890 points
Geekbench 5.3 Single Core: 1,685; Multi Core: 8,661
PCMark 10 Home: 7,640
3DMark Time Spy: 12,814 | Fire Strike: 25,873 | Night Raid: 66,117
Total War: Three Kingdoms: 275 fps (1080p, low); 106 fps (1080p, ultra)
Metro Exodus:  166 fps (1080p, low) 92 fps (1080p, ultra)

Through our benchmark suite, the iBuyPower Element CL Pro performs admirably, easily scoring 12,814 points in the 3DMark Time Spy test, and a respectable 13,890 points in Cinebench R23 – even if the 11th-gen Intel Core i7 has its own problems (just read our 11900K review to find out more). In actual games, though, the RTX 3070 is still the hero of a graphics card it always was. Not only does it easily hit 92 fps in Metro Exodus on Ultra settings at 1080p, but it holds its own at 4K, too. 

Playing a bunch of Dirt 5 maxed out at 4K, we are constantly sitting around 55-60 fps. The game honestly looks stunning at this resolution and with these graphics settings, and it's amazing that you don't have to compromise anything to play games  with this PC. 

You probably won't be able to just crank up the settings to max and forget about it with every game at 4K, though. Cyberpunk 2077, in particular, will start to push it to its limits, especially if you try to enable ray tracing.

iBuyPower ElementCL Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The strong hardware in the iBuyPower OpenCL Pro will also be very appealing to creative professionals, too. Especially now that most of the apps in the Adobe Creative Cloud suite can be accelerated via CUDA in the RTX 3070, video editing, photo editing and even 3D rendering are going to be a breeze for this gaming PC. And, that's kind of the magic of gaming PCs in 2021, anyways. Because gamers are always demanding the most powerful hardware, getting an excellent gaming PC like the iBuyPower Element CL makes business sense – and even lets you cool down after work on the same machine. 

In the past, it would have been hard for us to recommend a boutique gaming PC like the iBuyPower ElementCL Pro. However, now that it's becoming harder and harder to buy the components necessary to build your own PC, something like this PC makes way more sense than it would have even a year ago. 

However, the added expense you might run into if you have to get the PC serviced, due to the hardline cooling that may make some folks uncomfortable, might push it over the edge. But if you're confident in your abilities to work around the exotic cooling, this could be the gaming PC for you. 

iBuyPower ElementCL Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You want great 1440p gaming performance
With an Intel Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, the iBuyPower ElementCL Pro is an excellent choice for anyone that wants to play games at 1440p. 

You think water cooling is cool
The iBuyPower ElementCL Pro has some exotic watercooling that would usually cost much more than it does here, and as a bonus, you don't have to get out a heat gun to bend your own pipes.

You want flashy RGB lighting
This gaming PC is absolutely filled to the brim with flashy RGB lighting. The ElementCL Pro is definitely a PC you're going to want to show off.

iBuyPower ElementCL Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Don't buy it if...

You're not comfortable servicing a PC with hardline cooling
The iBuyPower ElementCL Pro has some pretty neat cooling, but if you're not comfortable going through the hassle to drain the loop every time you want to service the PC, you may want to skip it. 

You want to build your own PC
It's hard to buy components right now, but still, if you like to build your own rig, you can probably do better yourself. 

Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.