- Excellent all-round performance
- sturdy case with plenty of expansion potential
- reasonable price.
- Case may be too bulky for some tastes
- no LAN connection, either on-board or via PCI card
- only three of the four free PCI slots are available for card expansion.
Best Price Computers, whose PCs go out under the Poweroid brand, prides itself on its ability to build high-performance systems at a good price. So it was with particular interest that we approached the review of the 8001 model, a power-user’s desktop PC featuring Intel’s 533MHz-bus Pentium 4 processor. In fact, the 2.4GHz Poweroid 8001 turned out to be the fastest desktop PC we’ve tested to date.
The system is housed in a sturdy CoolerMaster 710 case that, as its name suggests, is well kitted out with cooling gear – there are four fan bays available, although only two were occupied in our review model. Add in the PSU and CPU fans, and the one on the GeForce4 Ti 4400-based graphics card, and you’ve got no fewer than five devices whirring away within the (bulky and heavy) case. Despite all this air-shifting equipment, we didn’t find the Poweroid 8001 unduly noisy in use.
The motherboard is ASUS’s P4T533-C, which can accommodate 533MHz- and 400MHz-bus Pentium 4 chips. The chipset is the Rambus-supporting 850E, and two of the motherboards quartet of RIMM slots are occupied by 256MB PC800 modules, giving a total of 512MB. There are five PCI slots, one of which houses a 56Kbps modem card. However, only three of the remaining PCI slots are actually free, as one of the berths is taken up by a backplane unit with a MIDI/game port and a pair of USB 2.0 ports linked to the relevant motherboard connectors. There’s another backplane unit above the AGP graphics card slot, this one providing digital S/PDIF audio inputs (RCA and optical) for the integrated audio subsystem. There’s no integrated LAN connection (although it’s an option on the motherboard) and no card, so you’ll have to add one yourself if you want to connect to a wired network.
Hard disk storage is provided by an 80GB Maxtor Ultra-ATA/100 drive with a rotational speed of 7,200rpm. There are two optical drives -- a Toshiba 16-speed DVD-ROM and a Lite-On CD-RW drive. In our review sample, the latter had a CD-R write speed of 24X, a CD-RW rewrite speed of 10X and a CD-ROM read speed of 40X. However, Best Price Computers informs us that it’s now fitting 32X-write drives as standard. All of the removable media drives – there’s a 3.5in. floppy as well – are located behind a lockable door.
The CoolerMaster 710 is a bulky case, and it provides plenty of scope for drive expansion. There are two externally accessible 5.25in. bays and one external 3.5in. bay free, and inside you could fit another three internal 3.5in. drives if necessary.
The Poweroid 8001’s graphics subsystem is based around a Leadtek WinFast A250 card, which uses an nVidia GeForce4 4400 chip and has 128MB of on-board memory. This drives a high-quality 18in. LCD monitor in the shape of Iiyama’s 4637UT – an Editors’ Choice award-winning product.
As mentioned earlier, Best Price Computers is as well known for building fast PCs as it is for keeping the cost down, and the Poweroid 8001 certainly didn’t disappoint when we ran the benchmarks. In the application-based tests, its Business Winstone 2001 and Content Creation Winstone 2002 scores were both the fastest we’ve recorded to date, at 70.3 and 41.4 respectively. The system’s outstanding hard disk performance (a Business Disk WinMark score of 14,200) has a lot to do with these results – in addition, of course, to the fast CPU and 512MB of RAM. The Poweroid 8001’s graphics susbsystem comes up trumps too, delivering the fastest 3DMark 2001 score we’ve seen, although its 11,066 only just pips the 11,030 recorded by Dell’s 2.4GHz Dimension 8200 with its GeForce4 Ti 4600-based card.
Rounding off this fast and well-built PC is Logitech’s Cordless Desktop Optical keyboard and mouse combo, and a software bundle comprising Windows XP Home, StarOffice 5.2 and various utlities.
This is a very fast PC that’s also well put together and housed in a case that looks as if it could withstand an earthquake or two. Backed up by a one-year one-site warranty (extendable to four years return to base) and offered at £1,679 (ex. VAT), it’s well worth considering before you turn to one of the bigger and more familiar vendors.