Xi MTower IGE-SLI
This fast, water-cooled, dual-core PC generated high video frame
rates with just one graphics card.
Using the same components found in other high-end systems, Xi
Computer builds PCs that regularly top our performance charts--and the
MTower IGE-SLI Gamer (priced at $3655 as of March 16, 2007) is no
Of the eight Vista-equipped power desktop systems we recently tested
using the Beta 2 version of our WorldBench 6 test suite, the MTower
earned the second-highest score--a mark of 127, just behind the 129
posted by the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Ultimate. The MTower cemented
its gaming credentials by posting the top frame rates in our Doom 3 and
Far Cry tests at various screen resolutions. Its mark of 204 frames per
second while running Far Cry at a 1024 by 768 resolution beat the frame
rate of its nearest competitor--the Gamer Infinity Ultimate--by more
than 10 percent.
The MTower achieved this performance with a less-powerful processor
and graphics card combo than the CyberPower used. The MTower sported a
dual-core, 2.93-GHz Core 2 Extreme X6800 overclocked to 3.2 GHz and a
single EVGA 8800 GTS graphics board. The MTower posted the top score on
the multitasking portion of our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 tests, too.
The lesson: You may want to forgo a quad-core CPU and a second
graphics board until more software can take advantage of these features.
Fortunately, the MTower's nForce 680i motherboard gives you the option
of waiting until later to upgrade; it supports Intel's new quad-core
CPUs and can accommodate a second SLI graphics card.
The MTower's black midsize tower case isn't terribly stylish: A large
window on one side reveals the system's innards bathed in an eerie blue
light, but otherwise the exterior is standard fare. The unit came with a
floppy drive; this may come in handy for BIOS upgrades or RAID installs,
but most hardcore gamers would rather have a second DVD drive and a
third hard drive to complement the two 150GB, 10,000-rpm Western Digital
Raptor drives (which are optimized for performance in a RAID 0 array).
Unlike many water-cooled PCs equipped with SLI, the Cooler Master
water-cooling system in the MTower is quiet and permits unobstructed
upgrading. The case's cover pops off without balking to reveal an
uncluttered, roomy interior. The presence of a single SLI graphics board
helps avoid blocking the expansion slots (dual-card systems tend to make
access more difficult). You may have to brush aside a few cables and
cooling lines to reach the drive bays or RAM, but they are easy to
I especially liked the Logitech MX3200 laser mouse and keyboard. The
mouse has a pleasing ergonomic fit and lots of control buttons that
aren't prone to accidental clicks. The keyboard includes a small LED
screen and plenty of multimedia and other control buttons--among them,
The $200, 22-inch Sceptre X22WG-Gamer flat-panel display delivered
rich, colorful images in still graphics, game play, and DVD movie
playback. Small (6.8-point) text was readable, though the edges of
letters did blur slightly.
The MTower may not have the fancy looks of boutique PCs that cost
thousands of dollars more, but it should satisfy any power user who
wants fast performance and easy upgrading.
-- Kirk Steers