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Original URL: http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,121170,00.asp / http://www.pcworld.com/article/121170/article.html

Xi MTower 64 AGE-SLI


Xi MTower 64 AGE-SLI
Powerhouse performer with massive storage should appeal to high-end gamers.  

Manufacturer's Specs
Monday, June 06, 2005 by Richard Jantz

The blazing speed of Xi's MTower 64 AGE-SLI should provide plenty of power for graphics professionals as well as for gamers looking for extreme performance--it's one of the fastest performers we've seen. Using a 2.6-GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 and 2GB of DDR400 SDRAM, our test model scored 125 in our WorldBench 5 tests, the highest mark recorded so far.

Equipped with a 256MB EVGA E-GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics card, the $3799 MTower also posted strong performance scores in our graphics tests. At 1280-by-1024 resolution, it churned out 152 frames per second in Return to Castle Wolfenstein and 390 fps in the Unreal Tournament 2003. Only two or three other systems narrowly outperformed the MTower at the same resolution.

The case's front door provides access to bays for five removable-media drives, including a floppy disk drive and a multiformat, double-layer DVD±RW drive. Clearly, with those extra bays this machine is designed for users who want to add components, such as a memory-card reader. A small flap under the door reveals a FireWire port and two of the PC's six USB 2.0 ports, but no audio sockets, so you have to fumble on the back to hook up headphones or a microphone. One other (albeit minor) concern: Because the front door opens to the left, it hampers easy access to the front drives if the case is on your right.

Case locks are included for the front door and a clear acrylic side panel, which requires a screwdriver to open. Inside the roomy interior, we found neatly organized cables and plenty of expansion options, including six drive bays, two open memory slots, and five open PCI slots. However, one of those PCI slots isn't really available because its bracket rail is used by the motherboard's USB/game ports module. Even though several fans keep this blistering performer cooled, we didn't hear any significant noise with the MTower except when using the floppy disk drive, which made a grinding sound.

Our MTower system shipped with a flexible 19-inch ViewSonic VP191b LCD monitor that tilts, swivels, adjusts horizontally, and pivots to portrait mode. (Perfect Portrait pivoting software is included.) When displaying our test images, the monitor showed clear readable text and colorful graphics with fine details. DVD playback also was impressive, with bright, realistic color and smooth motion quality.

Our review configuration came with the Logitech X-620 (6.1-speaker) sound system, which produced strong and full sound in our tests, and came with ample cables for placing the speakers far apart. Other components included a Logitech cordless keyboard and optical mouse, both of which performed well. We especially liked the additional shortcut keys, such as the dedicated media player controls, on the enhanced keyboard. Xi also provides several applications, including Corel WordPerfect Office 11, an ArcSoft graphics suite, and some older game software. Documentation is limited to component guides; no overall system manual is included.

Upshot: The MTower 64 AGE-SLI is a powerhouse system for entertainment or industrial-strength graphics applications. There's even plenty of room to grow if your needs change.

-- Richard Jantz