Pacstar X-AM2DUO

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Pacstar X-AM2DUO

Pros

  • Very powerful, good case design

Cons

  • Not enough storage for some

Bottom Line

If it's been a while since you have upgraded, you'll be blown away by the performance. Only 70GB of storage is probably not enough for most people's long-term needs, but that aside, this is a very powerful machine for under $2000.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 9 stores)

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Packed with some of the latest power-hardware and priced at less than $2000, Pacstar's X-AM2Duo machine will have you running the newest and hottest 3-D games and even Windows Vista with many of its new and flashy trims -- when it hits our shores. Utilising an AM2 Socket-mounted AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600 dual core CPU, a Gainward GeForce 7950GT and 1GB of DDR2 Corsair TwinX 667MHz RAM this system simply oozes great frame rates and process-crunching power. To see if it performs as well as it sounds we ran it through our PC WorldBench 5 software to see how it handled multitasking and CPU intensive processes. We also hit it with a number of gaming benchmarks to find out how well it will handle the latest in gaming.

In WorldBench 5 it scored 109, a very good result. The Pacstar X-AM2Duo comes installed with 2x 512MB RAM DIMMS in a twin channel configuration. Doubling the RAM should do wonders for improving the performance even further if you plan to do some hefty multitasking. With a Gainward GeForce 7950GT installed, it's safe to say Pacstar had gamers in mind. The 7950GT with 512MB of DDR3 RAM is a step above NVIDIA's 7900GTX, but a step down from their latest top-end release the 7950GX2. That means you're looking at a lot of gaming power. Older games will run without any problems as shown by a score of 26,550 in 3DMark 2001 SE. On a more relevant scale 3DMark 2006 tests resulted in an impressive score of 5235, more than enough to play everything on shelves today and for some time. Using FEAR to get a feel for in-game performance resulted in equally impressive scores. FEAR's in-game benchmark set to a resolution of 1280x960 and full quality, including 4x antialiasing (AA) and 16x anisotropic filtering (AF), averaged 59fps (frames per second), a very playable frame rate.

Two 10,000rpm 36GB hard drives in a RAID-0 or striping array managed to copy 4.12GB of data in 2min 48sec, a fast result, but using small hard drives to lower the price tag will only defer expenditure on hard drive space, as most people will find that 70GB is not enough. Upgrading to 2x 150GB hard disks with Pacstar will bring the total price to $2469.

The case design is simple except for a small touch of flare on the front panel. The side panels are a little flimsy, but shouldn't cause anyone problems under normal circumstances. An LG DVD rewriter with dual-layer capabilities fills one of the four 5.25in drive bays; a 3.5in floppy drive and a media card reader (MS/MS-Pro/MS Pro Duo/CF/Microdrive/SD/MMC/SM) take up two external 3.5in drive bays; and the two hard drives take up two of the five internal 3.5in drive bays. All the drive bays face front to rear, but are easy to access. You might find it easier by removing the graphics card before you start installing new hard disks. Cables have been neatly tied and shouldn't get in the way. Cooling consists of only one 12cm fan pulling external air from the front panel and blowing it over the hard drives. The power supply is left to extract the rest of the air while a small shroud gives the CPU dedicated airflow from a vent in the side of the case. There's also a fan mount at the rear of the case for another 12cm fan.

Two free DIMM slots leave space for RAM upgrades and the 500watt power supply should be ample to handle a few more devices safely. Integrated gigabit LAN provides networking. On the front panel, 3x USB 2.0 ports and two audio ports provide some quick access. At the rear, a FireWire port accompanies another 4x USB 2.0 ports.

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