Sound comes from a Creative Audigy ZS. This is a 7.1-channel card which pumps its output to a matched set of Inspire T7700 speakers. The sound quality of the Audigy ZS card is extremely good, with low signal-to-noise and high clarity throughout the audio spectrum. Although this speaker set has the full complement of channels, it doesn’t do the sound card full justice. While treble and bass frequencies are reproduced well, there's a dullness and lack of presence to the mid-ranges. That said, this is likely to be less of an issue when watching movies and playing games, which is where a setup like this is aimed.
So how does it go? The simple answer is, like the clappers. If you couple a high-performance processor with a rabid greyhound of a graphics card, you would expect little less. The general-purpose SYSmark 2002 benchmark produced a score of 336, in itself a reassuringly good result, but when you look at the Internet Content Creation module of the test, which produced an index of 433, you get an inkling of how the system will perform on graphics-intensive applications.
We ran the 3DMark 2001SE and 3DMark03 benchmarks at resolutions of 1,024 by 768 and 1,280 by 1,024. The combination of the Athlon 64 FX-53 and the GeForce FX5950 Ultra makes for some impressive 3D performance.
The 3DMark 2001SE score of 19,738, at 1,024 x 768, is one of the highest we've yet seen from any system, but even on 3DMark03 at 1,280 x 1,024, we still saw a figure of 4,848. These scores are a good indication that this machine, as AMD would have expected, will be a killer games platform. When it comes down to it, if you’re a keen PC gamer and money is no object, this is exactly the type of machine you’d want.
The whole system comes with a three-year, on-site warranty, with a call-out of between two and five working days. In addition, though, the Neovo monitor is covered separately by a three-year, next-day, swap-out guarantee of its own. This is a good package in comparison to Carrera's main competitors and will cover you for most of the system’s likely service life.
Carrera has priced The Focus Extreme FX-53 fairly, but at just under £1,900, it's still a lot of money. However, you do get one of the fastest production PCs currently available, and potential bragging rights over your mates. This is a system that would be ideal for heavyweight, graphics-based applications such as video editing and could easily turn its hand to music creation. But the Focus Extreme FX-53 is really at home with heavyweight, 3D games. Carrera bundles both game pad and joystick as if to emphasise this, but ultimately, if you’re a serious enough gamer to buy a machine like this, you’ve probably already got a whole arsenal of controllers.
Carerra has made the most of AMD’s new Athlon 64 FX-53 and built a super-fast PC. If you’re a serious gamer and want a truly high-performance system to play on, this machine is definitely worth considering.