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However, the system isn’t just well specified it also looks marvelous too. Holly has fitted two blue ultraviolet (UV) strips down one side and along the top and has even given them there own dedicated lights switch neatly drilled into the rear of the chassis. Flick the switch and it lights up the water in the front 5.25in bay and reflects of the blue tubing of the water cooling system, bathing it internally in blue light. Even the EIDE cables have orange UV reflective coverings.
So we’ve established that the Holly is well built, generously equipped and looks stunning. But how does the whole package stack up in terms of performance. On the whole, pretty darned well. The overall SYSmark 2004 score of 207 beats the 198 from the water cooled Armari T64-LQX and matches that of the 3.6GHz Armari T900-GT. It’s slower though than the Dell XPS by two marks, though the Dell does cost over £3,000. Moving to 3D the only major comparison we have across recent systems is 3DMark03, and the Holly beats all comers with it’s impressive score of 11,278. In Far Cry the Holly was a few frames slower than the water-cooled Armari T64-LQX system with 87.9fps compared to 91.7.
Moving to the very latest benchmarks the Holly hits 3,825 in 3DMark05 and 92.1 in Doom 3. 3DMark05 is too new to compare to any similar system but the Holly beat the Pentium 4/GeForce 6800 GT powered Armari T900-GT, with 92.1 to 83.1.
We then decided to take the Holly’s water cooling system out for a spin and crank up the clocks on its GeForce 6800 GT from its default of 350MHz core and 1GHz memory, to 400/1.15GHz pushing the score up to 97.4fps. We wanted to reach the magical 100fps mark but to do this we had to push the clocks to 445/1.17, demonstrating the law of diminishing returns. It also wasn’t completely stable at this level as other benchmarks wouldn’t run. At a more reasonable 420/1,200 the 3DMark05 would run, and the score leapt from 3,825 to 4,528.
These numbers are all very impressive, which is pretty much what you’d expect for a system at this price. However, as Lars commented on the Armari T64-LQX it would have made more sense to include a very top-end graphics card in the guise of an GeForce 6800 Ultra, rather than a ‘mere’ GT. However, Holly assured that this card was chosen due to a lack of supply at review time, and that Ultras are available. If you’re paying about two and half thousand pounds for your PC, you’re unlikely to balk at a few pounds more for the very best.
And the very best pretty much sums up the Holly S939 AMD64W. It’s more expensive than the Armari T64-LQX, but has the advantage that its water cooling system is housed internally. While the Armari has a sturdier case, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the way the Holly was put together. So while Lars would go first to Armari for his water cooled system, I’d prefer to knock on Holly Computer’s door.
Holly is clearly taunting me with this PC that looks a lot like mine but is way out in front in terms of specifications and build-quality. This last factor is important as while the system is expensive you have to remember that you're paying for a hand built, hand crafted system that takes serious man hours to put together. It’s too pricey to earn a recommended award as it’s above and beyond what most people would reasonably need or require from their PC. But factor in a three year on-site warranty and for those that can afford it, it would be churlish to complain about the price.
A name like Holly conjures up images of Yuletide gifts, and if my numbers came up I know what PC I’d be spending my winnings on.