Sound is also worth a quick mention, as unlike many gaming machines Fujitsu hasn’t just left audio duties to the motherboard’s integrated effort. Instead you get a Creative X-Fi Titanium PCIe sound card. The X-Fi is the most widely-supported sound card in gaming, with many titles programmed specifically to take advantage of its EAX Advanced HD 5 effects. Aside from this it offers full hardware Dolby and DTS decoding, CMSS-3D for virtual headphone surround sound and many other features besides.
Of course the real highlight for any gamer is going to be the Quad-SLI setup offered by the twin nVidia GeForce 295 GTX cards. Until the AMD/ATI Radeon HD 5970 arrived the GeForce 295 GTX was pretty much the fastest card on the planet, and with two of these dual-chip cards on full bandwidth Gen2 PCIe slots we should finally have a PC that can truly shrug its industrial shoulders at Crysis.
However, the potentially awesome performance of these cards does come with a few caveats, namely heat, noise and power (not to mention price). It’s a good thing the shroud provides extra cooling as they get seriously hot in this chassis, and though in normal use the Celsius ULTRA stays relatively quiet, under load it becomes a bit of a vacuum cleaner – 80 per cent of which can easily be attributed to the graphics setup. Likewise power use is correspondingly high, with the Gaming Workstation using around 220W at idle (that’s as much as most mainstream systems use at load) and up to 650W at load in our testing. Of course, if you can afford this system in the first place you probably won’t be worried about the electricity bill.
As far as software goes, you’re saddled with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Business. While this goes well with the whole workstation image, it’s hardly the ideal OS for a consumer-oriented machine. Having said that, though you lose Media Center functionality you do gain Windows Backup and Restore, and if you ever feel a pressing need you could upgrade the RAM beyond Home Premium’s 16GB limit (as one would hope, an upgrade voucher for Windows 7 is included, and we would recommend you upgrade straight away). Aside from Cyberlink’s PowerDVD 9, to play Blu-rays, it’s a totally clean install, which to our minds is just the way ‘real’ gamers like it (though ‘real’ gamers also build or at least spec their own systems).