system with exceptionally large hard drive
access to upper drive bays, mediocre keyboard, no system manual
Computer's $1399 333A Mtower takes the prize as the Best
overall Celeron-based system we've reviewed.
(The Xi MTower 333A uses a SuperMicro motherboard). This new midtower earned
an impressive PC WorldBench
98 score of 182--higher than that of any similarly
configured system we've seen in this processor class, and a full
10 points above average.
Mtower also excels in storage. Most Celeron-333 and Pentium II-350 systems
sport hard drives of 8GB or smaller, and many include a mere 4GB to 6GB of
drive space, so the 333A Mtower's 14GB hard
drive really stands out. The system comes equipped with
Microsoft's popular Office 97 Small Business Edition.
Xi Computer offers an
above-average three-year warranty on both parts and labor. In our recent
anonymous calls to the company's tech support line, which operates 24 hours
a day, Xi's representatives provided helpful advice.
popular Millennium G200 graphics adapter and a 17-inch Optiquest V773
monitor combine to provide pleasing, crystal-clear pictures. The monitor
easily supports the G200's maximum resolution of 1280 by 1024. Xi also
includes a handy combination microphone/headset for use with the
voice-mail/speakerphone capabilities of the bundled Lucent modem. Although
we liked the layout of the 333A's Keytronics keyboard--especially the
enlarged L-shaped Enter key--it seemed a bit noisy and felt flimsy.
Since you never know
when you may want to add components to your PC, it pays to purchase a system
that opens easily, allowing you to perform surgery on the innards. It takes
only a few seconds to remove the 333A's two thumbscrews and get inside. With
two open DIMM sockets, four available slots, and five free drive bays, the
333A Mtower offers slightly above average expandability.
However, a wide bar runs
the entire length of the computer, hampering access to either of the upper
two 5.25-inch drive bays. Two other minor grievances: The Xi 333A comes with
no system documentation, just individual component manuals (for the
motherboard, modem, graphics card, and the like). And despite the LAN-ready
network utilities that come with the system--including LANDesk and a DMI
wizard--it doesn't ship with any kind of network adapter.