There’s no floppy disk drive, which might be a problem when it comes to upgrading the BIOS, but a really nice touch is the inclusion of a removable card reader. Made by IcyBox, this actually plugs into an internal USB 2.0 connection set in the 3.5in drive bay, enabling you to take it out whenever you want to use it on another machine. A small USB connector emerges from inside, to enable you to do this. This is the first time I’ve seen this device and it seems like a clever idea to me.
Other removable storage options come by way of a Sony Dual Layer DVD Writer that sits next to the 16x DVD-ROM drive. Fixed storage comes courtesy of a pleasingly huge 250GB Western Digital drive. As I mentioned at the start the CPU is an Athlon 64 X2 4800+, giving you dual cores running at 2.4GHz. This is the second fastest Athlon available as the Athlon FX 55 runs at 2.6GHz. In fact as you can see from the scores that the CPU actually becomes the bottleneck for performance due to the raw speed of the SLI GeForce 7800GTX cards and the second core didn’t really help 3D performance as no current games are daul-core aware. Nevertheless dual-cores are the future of PCs and this should be more than capable of serious multi-tasking.
This CPU sits in an MSI MS-7185 nForce4 SLI motherboard based on the nForce 4 chipset. We’ve come across a number of unstable SLI motherboards in our testing so it was good to find that this setup was rock solid, especially considering the brand new technology inside it. There are two 512MB memory modules, giving 1GB of RAM running in dual channel configuration.
Evesham’s choice of keyboard and mouse are somewhat odd, however. The cordless keyboard and mouse are good quality, but wire-free doesn’t seem the right way to go for a system that’s undoubtedly set up for gaming. The system is priced without a monitor but Evesham will include a 20in ViewSonic display for an increased price of £2,629. However, looking at what you can get out of this machine, I imagine going for a CRT that can run higher than 1,600 x 1,200 or a widescreen display such as this 24in Dell, (though Dell has sneakily put the price up since the review first went up).
So finally let’s look at the numbers we got from this beast of a machine. Well let’s start with 3DMark03. At 1,024 x 768 it rocks out at 26,994. WOW!. The fastest machine we’ve tested up to now, featuring dual 6800 GTs produced only 18,897. In 3DMark 05 it bests that same system with a score of 11,023 compared to 8,565. Heady stuff. Moving to Far Cry and Half-Life 2 shows something astonishing – the scores barely change all the way from 1,024 x 768 with no effects up to 1,600 x 1,200 with both 4x FSAA and 8x AF enabled. It’s clear that the speeds of these two cards mean that games are now CPU limited and that even a X2 4800+ isn’t fast enough to provide geometry and set-up information.