- Review Price: £1499.00
The uptake of the AMD Athlon 64 platform seems to be somewhat slow, even though there doesn’t seem to be any component shortage. The main reason for this seems to be the fairly high price tag that’s associated with the Athlon 64 platform. Even though we have seen a few attempts to create affordable Athlon 64 systems I don’t believe there will be complete systems available for under £1,000 before the end of the year.
The Systemax Inspire 4007 is a high-end Athlon 64 gaming PC, or at least that’s how Systemax describes it. This is also where AMD is hoping to gain some sales, so it all makes sense. The core of the Inspire 4007 is of course an Athlon 64 3200+ processor as this is currently the only speed grade available. The memory is a whole 1GB of PC3200, but it is JEDEC spec which means that it’s fairly slow. This is more than plenty and does add to the whole gaming PC feel.
The motherboard is the familiar MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R that seems to be one of the most popular Athlon 64 boards at the moment. It has an impressive feature set which includes onboard 5.1-channel sound, 10/100Mbit LAN, FireWire, S-ATA and IDE RAID. Systmax has taken advantage of most of these features, which makes a lot of sense. The only thing that suffers here is the sound, as integrated sound is usually not as good as a dedicated soundcard for games, especially when it comes to the latest environmental effects.
The 160GB Seagate S-ATA hard drive should offer plenty of storage, although this is not an amazingly large drive by today’s standards.
A Sony DVD writer capable of handling DVD+R/RW and DVD–R/RW media is also included as well as a high-speed Samsung CD-RW drive.
Being a gaming PC, one of the most important components is the graphics card. Systemax has decided to team the Athlon 64 process up with one of the new nVidia FX5950Ultra cards, which wouldn’t have been my number one choice, but it is a more affordable solution than the ATi Radeon 9800XT. It’s not a slow graphics cards by any means and unless you feel the need to have the absolute fastest graphics performance available, then this should be a great gaming card.
A good gaming PC needs a high quality monitor to go with it, but this is sadly where Systemax has slipped. The supplied CTX CRT monitor is far from great, even though the colour scheme matches the case. Even though it is a 19in unit capable or resolutions up to 1,600 x 1,200 at 75Hz the poor quality of the tube completely lets it down. It is a real shame that Systemax was unable to supply a better monitor, especially as this is not a cheap PC.
A set of Videologic ZXR-750 speakers comes as part of the package. This is a good set of speakers, but one has to wonder why Systemax has supplied a set of 7.1-channel speaker when the system only has 5.1-channel sound.
You also get a Hauppauge WinTV Go TV tuner card, which is pretty much as basic as you can go. It is capable of recording TV programs to the hard drive, but as it only has mono sound, don’t expect great quality. It is supplied with PVR software, but this relies on the CPU to do all of the work. You might notice that this card is not present in the internal picture of the Inspire 4007, but I was assured by Systemax that it will be included in customer systems. There is of course also a standard 56k V.90 modem fitted.
Internally the system is reasonably tidy, but the big lump of cables in the middle is going to make it nigh on impossible to upgrade the system. There is also a strong possibility that you could damage the cables when you have to cut the cable ties holding them together.
There is a matching Logitech keyboard and mouse, but the silver and black finish just doesn’t quite look right, although this is obviously subjective.
The software bundle consists of Ability Office 2003, PowerDVD 5, PowerProducer 2.0 DE, PowerDirector Pro 2.55 DE, PowerVCR II 3.0 and B’s Recorder Gold. So the question here has to be, where are the games?
For a PC targeted at gaming it comes as quite a surprise not to find any games in the box. I suppose the reason for this is that it’s up to the user to buy the games they want to play, but it still seems a little stingy.
Unfortunately the price is pretty high considering the specification at £1,499 inc VAT. This is compounded by the fact that you can buy the Mesh Matrix64 3200+ Extreme for only £27 more. The Mesh does however have a slower graphics card, but personally I would suffer this and have the much better TFT display. It’s true that some gamers prefer a CRT monitor to a TFT, but the CTX monitor that Systemax has bundled just isn’t good enough to support that argument.
The Inspire 4007 is fast enough in the benchmarks, but it is not as fast as the Mesh Matrix64 3200+ Extreme in Sysmark 2002 or PCMark 2002. The 3D benchmarks came out better though due to the faster FX5950 based graphics card.
An overpriced system that has missed its target market by a mile, a better monitor would make up for a lot of this, as would a decent game bundle. As things stand, the Systemax Inspire 4007 is overpriced for what you’re getting.
Score in detail