Awards

  • Recommended by TR

Summary

Our Score

9/10

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Inside the case things get a lot more interesting. The motherboard of choice is the Intel "Bad Axe" D975BX motherboard. Naturally based on the 975X chipset, it is coupled with an X6800 Core Extreme processor, which is Intel's fastest dual-core processor to date. As we covered in our Core 2 Duo article, this absolutely thrashes the AMD Athlon FX-62.

The board itself has a single IDE channel which is shared by both DVD drives. This makes copying from one drive to another a little on the slow side. I would have preferred to have seen some SATA drives used instead – especially as there are a total of eight SATA ports and only one in use by the 500GB Western Digital hard drive. Gigabit Ethernet is included, as is onboard 8-channel audio. This has full analogue outputs, as well as optical/coaxial S/PDIF. Would have been nice to see an X-Fi included on such a high-end machine, but the onboard sound is still very capable.

Two X1900 XT graphics cards are included in CrossFire, which is the most powerful and feature full graphics set up available at the moment. Running Multi-GPU setups is one of the only reasons you'd need a Core 2 Extreme/Duo right now, as these tend to be heavily CPU limited.

The memory is Corsair's 1,066MHz 2GB set. This is a little bit of a waste as the memory will only be running at 800MHz. However, this does give a little bit of head-room if you wanted to overclock the machine. As this is an extreme edition CPU, this is of course possible in the BIOS. Of course, this will vary from machine to machine, but the Intel board supports multiplier adjustment, front side bus adjustment and CPU voltage up to 1.6v. This is fairly limited, but you should be able to get a reasonable overclock out of the system.

All in all, this is an almost identical set up to our test-beds that we used to test our Conroe chips so it'll be interesting to see how it compares.

The machine comes pre-installed with Windows XP Media Center Edition. There's no TV tuner installed but adding one would be a minor (i.e. cheap) upgrade. Also included is Microsoft Works, PowerDVD and Roxio DVD Burning software. It is also protected by "PC Angel", which is used for recovering the system and returning it to its factory defaults.

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