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Xi Computer 400A MTower SP

Product Information
PRO: Great speed for a Celeron-400 PC
CON: Poor documentation

Small-business users in need of snappy performance at a price that won't break the bank will like Xi Computer's new $1499 MTower SP. With a PC WorldBench score of 199, this Celeron-400 PC ranks among the fastest sub-$1500 machines we've encountered--and the very fastest Celeron-400 PC we have examined to date. The MTower SP comes well configured, too, with high-end components like a 13.8GB hard disk, a 4X DVD-ROM drive, and a bright 17-inch monitor that displays crisp, vivid images. The Altec Lansing ACS45 speakers and subwoofer deliver full-bodied sound with real punch. The Keytronic keyboard feels comfortable and quiet. Thrown into the mix at this great sticker price is Microsoft Office 97 Small Business Edition.

This tallish midsize tower looks like any other beige computer except for the inclusion of a sliding plastic cover, ostensibly to protect the floppy, DVD-ROM, and expansion drives from dust. Unfortunately, this innovation proved to be more of a nuisance than a nicety: Ours was difficult to slide down when we needed to access drives; and because the cover doesn't lock, it proved more convenient to leave ajar than to close up. We had to undo a couple of screws to loosen the case's side panels, but then the panels slid off easily to reveal a clean, tidy interior that afforded us ready access to the slots and bays.

Reviews - PCWorld - Top20 Documentation was the only major disappointment in the MTower. We found only separate manuals for the components, and many of those contained excessively technical language. MTower owners would benefit from a general user guide--as matters stand now, many new users may simply resort to calling support when they run into problems setting up their PC. (Xi says it intends to beef up the system documentation in the near future.) Fortunately, support representatives are available around the clock; in our recent anonymous calls, Xi Computer's reps proved courteous and knowledgeable.