Note: The following article is the original review
for a product currently appearing in PC World's Top 100. Price and some other
information may no longer be current and may not match this month's chart specifications.
10. Xi Computer 333A MTower
||Speedy Celeron-based system with exceptionally
large hard drive
||Poor access to upper drive bays, mediocre
keyboard, no system manual
Xi Computer's $1399
333A MTower takes the prize as the best overall Celeron-based system we've reviewed. 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
The 333A 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
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
Matrox's 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 KeyTronic 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.