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Multivision Ionix Pro A64
The Multivision Ionix Pro 64 is one of the first affordable systems based on an Athlon 64 CPU.
What is amazing about the Multivision Ionix Pro A64 is its price; at £1291.33 inc VAT this is by far the cheapest Athlon 64 system to date. It does have a few compromises, but far less than expected and all of them can be upgraded at a later stage.
The base of the Ionix Pro A64 is an MSI K8T Neo motherboard, which is based on the VIA K8T800 chipset. This offers a full speed Hyper Transport bus running at 16bit and 800MHz. The great thing with this board is that it comes with pretty much every thing you’d want and a little more as standard. There are four S-ATA connectors, all of them supporting RAID (although only two drives per array) and IDE RAID (again for only two drives).
You get 5.1-channel audio, from a Realtek audio codec and the motherboard I/O panel features discrete outputs for all channels as well as optical and coaxial S/PDIF. There is also onboard FireWire and you’ll find a six-pin and a four-pin connector on the back of the board. The only disappointment here is that the Multivision case supports side mounted FireWire, but as there is no internal connector on the motherboard this can’t be used. Gigabit LAN is standard and Multivision has also fitted a 56k modem for Internet access.
512MB of PC3200 DDR SDRAM has been fitted which should be plenty of memory for most users. A Maxtor 120GB S-ATA hard drive is connected to the Promise RAID controller and is the kind of size you would expect to get in a modern computer. It is amazing how cheap DVD writers have become in the past few months and Multivision has managed to squeeze in an NEC drive that is capable of handling both DVD+ and DVD- media as well as normal CDs. There is also an MSI DVD-ROM drive thrown in for good measure.
The weak point of the Ionix Pro A64 is the graphics card, although at this price it’s hard to complain and the MSI FX5600Ultra is still an acceptable card. It didn’t do too well in the 3D benchmarks but it will play most current games at more than respectable speed. It does however offer video in and out, so you could use it together with a video camera or any other video source that connects via S-Video or composite Video. It ‘s therefore a shame that there is no video editing software supplied, as the Ionix Pro A64 could be a great home video editing machine.
The monitor is a 17in Sharp TFT display which provided a decent image. It’s not the best 17in flat panel we’ve seen, but considering the price and the rest of the spec it’s a worthy addition. The best thing is that it features both DVI and D-SUB which means you could connect a second PC to it if you needed to. If you’re tight for desk space, it even comes with a set of integrated speakers and a pass through for headphones.
A set of Creative Labs Inspire 6700 6.1 speakers are also included, although a set of 5.1 speakers would have sufficed as the onboard sound is only capable of producing 5.1-channel output. Both the keyboard and mouse are quality items from Logitech and both perform well.
Rounding off the package is a two-year on-site warranty, which should give prospective buyers piece of mind.
Where the Ionix Pro 64A falters is in the benchmarks, where it can’t keep pace with the Evesham Axis XP 64 3200. This is very strange as most of the components are similar; although it seems that the extra memory fitted to the Axis XP 64 3200 gives it an edge over the Ionix Pro 64A. That said, the Multivision beats the Evesham on price by quite a margin.
It is hard to fault the Ionix Pro 64A at this price point and even though it does have a few minor drawbacks this is currently the most affordable Athlon 64 system available. Multivision has done an excellent job putting this system together and if you’re looking for the most cost effective entry into 64bit computing this is it.