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Original URL: http://www.pcworld.com/product/review/id,30438/xi_mtower_igestacker.html
Published November, 2007.
Reviewed by Richard Jantz.

Xi MTower IGE-Stacker

CPU: 3-GHz Core 2 Duo E6850 • Graphics Adapter: EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX • Monitor Model: Viewsonic VX2255wmb • Total HD Size (GB): 300 • WorldBench 6 Word Score: Superior • Price When Reviewed: $3299
 

Xi MTower IGE-Stacker

This overclocked dual-core desktop outgunned pricier, quad-core systems.
 

The impressive MTower IGE-Stacker from Xi Computer proves once again that you don't need to move to quad-core computing--or take out a bank loan--to obtain a desktop system capable of winning performance.

This dual-core unit's performance surpassed that of the quad-core power and gaming systems we recently tested, and earned a record-breaking score of 139 in our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 test suite; the previous high was the CyberPower Gamer Infinity Ultimate's score of 129. Better still, at $3299 (as of September 12, 2007), it's one of the least expensive power-oriented PCs we've seen of late.

The MTower is equipped with Intel's fastest dual-core processor to date, the 3-GHz Core 2 Duo E6850, which Xi overclocks to 3.3 GHz (and covers under warranty). The CPU also boasts a faster frontside bus speed (1333 MHz) than its dual-core forebears had (1066 MHz). Using a single, 768MB EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX graphics board on an nForce 680i SLI-ready motherboard, our MTower was a racehorse in its graphics performance, earning the highest scores for most resolution settings among the four power systems we tested in the latest batch. For example, running at 1280 by 1024 resolution with antialiasing turned on in the graphically intensive game Far Cry, the MTower averaged 232 frames per second, compared with its rivals' average of 200 fps.

The MTower's black aluminum case (Cooler Master Stacker 832) features mesh grilles on both side panels as well as on the top and bottom sides. A hinged front panel conceals six external drive bays, two of which in our test model were occupied with a DVD burner and DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo player (but no multiformat card reader). Port connectors for USB, FireWire, and audio are sensibly located at the very top of the case, making them easy to access if the system sits on the floor. Additional USB and FireWire ports are provided on the back, but no parallel or serial ports for older devices are included.

The case's side panel and a second inner panel (featuring three of a maximum four 120mm fans) both come off easily without tools. The IGE-Stacker also has a liquid cooling system (Cooler Master Aquagate S1), and you can adjust its fan speed via a dial on the back of the rig (useful if you wanted to tinker with overclocking the processor yourself--though doing so would void Xi's warranty). As shipped, the liquid cooling of the MTower wasn't noisy or overly distracting, but I could definitely hear it humming along. Two of the four internal drive bays were filled with a pair of 150GB, 10,000-rpm Western Digital Raptor hard drives configured in a RAID 0 array, and of the four memory slots, two were occupied, giving our test machine a total of 2GB of DDR2 RAM. Our test model also offered two PCIe x16 and two PCI slots, but both PCIe x1 slots were unavailable: One was covered by the extrawide graphics card, and the other was blocked by the water cooler's adjustable dial bracket.

The bundled 22-inch wide-screen LCD, a ViewSonic VX2255wmb, delivered excellent color fidelity in both still and moving images, and readable text in small sizes. I also liked the convenience of its built-in microphone and 1.3-megapixel Webcam. The included Logitech Deluxe 250 keyboard and optical mouse were responsive but offered no extras; you may want to spend a few extra bucks on more versatile input devices.

If you don't require quad-core capability out of the box, the overclocked MTower IGE-Stacker offers top-flight performance and easy expandability at a very reasonable price.

--Richard Jantz

 

TEST REPORT

Pricing: Very Inexpensive: $3299 (8/3/2007)
 
Performance: Superior: 100
 
Features: Poor: 56
 
Design: Good: 77
WorldBench 6 Component Results (seconds)
Adobe Photoshop CS2 283 
Autodesk 3ds max 8.0 SP-3 DirectX 305 
Autodesk 3ds max 8.0 SP-3 Rendering 486 
Firefox 2 177 
Microsoft Office 2003 with SP-1 319 
Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0 103 
Multitasking 204 
Nero 7 Ultra Edition 316 
Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator 1.5 182 
Winzip Computing WinZip 10.0 163 
Graphics Tests (frames per second)
Overall Graphics Score Superior 
Doom 3, 1024 by 768, 32-Bit 187.27 
Doom 3, 1280 by 1024, 32-Bit 174.07 
Doom 3 with AA, 1024 by 768, 32-Bit 145.73 
Doom 3 with AA, 1280 by 1024, 32-Bit 171.33 
Far Cry, 1024 by 768, 32-Bit 226.86 
Far Cry, 1280 by 1024, 32-Bit 226.22 
Far Cry with AA, 1024 by 768, 32-Bit 228.41 
Far Cry with AA, 1280 by 1024, 32-Bit 232.49 
Features
Poor: 56  
Basics
CPU 3-GHz Core 2 Duo E6850 
System Memory 2048 
Video & Display
Graphics Adapter EVGA e-GeForce 8800 GTX 
Graphics Board Type PCI Express 
Graphics Board RAM (MB) 768 
Graphics Board RAM Type DDR3 
Monitor Model Viewsonic VX2255wmb 
Monitor Type LCD 
Monitor Size 22 
Storage
Hard Drives
Total HD Size (GB) 300 
RAID Type striped 
Optical Drive Type DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/-RAM 
Optical Drive Speed
Second Optical Drive Type DVD-ROM/CD-RW 
Second Optical Drive Speed 16 
Expansion
PCI Slots
PCI Express Slots
Open PCI Express X16 Slots
Open PCI Express X1 Slots
Open Slots
External Drive Bays
Open External Drive Bays
Internal Drive Bays
Open Internal Drive Bays
Ports
Serial Ports
Parallel Ports
Front USB Ports
Rear USB Ports
Front FireWire Ports
Rear FireWire Ports
Other
Audio Adapter Model Realtek High Definition Audio 
Audio Channels 7.1 surround 
Network Adapter gigabit network adapter 
Case Type Midsize tower 
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium (32 bit) 
Other Included Hardware cables: USB, S-video 
Included Software Cyberlink, Power DVD, BitDefender Antivirus one year, Game Bundle CD, Office PRO 90 days free trial, Nero Suite 1 v.6.6 
Warranty & Support
Labor Warranty (years) Three 
Parts Warranty (years) Three 
Weekday Support Hours 24 
Saturday Support Hours 24 
Sunday Support Hours 24 
Toll-Free Support Yes 
Design
Good: 77