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Xi's 850MHz Dream Machines

Absolute Speed
Intel's arch rival again beats the chip giant to the punch with an 850MHz chip. 

By Ken Feinstein

Editors' Choice - Xi MTower (AMD Athlon 800 MHz)  

Xi Computer's 850MHz Athlon Workstation

Xi MTower (AMD Athlon 850 MHz) 

Not a month goes by without a new leader in CPU speed, and AMD's 850-MHz Athlon is the current king of the hill. In its MTower Athlon SP, Xi Computer deftly combines this powerhouse CPU with high-end graphics and sound, resulting in a machine that's sure to satisfy the technolust dreams of even the most hard-core gamer.

Absolute Speed
The MTower's $2,799 price proves that power doesn't come cheap, but at least the Xi gives you a lot for your money. In addition to its 850-MHz Athlon CPU, the system features 128MB of SDRAM and a 20.5GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive. On CNET Labs' tests, these components worked together to deliver the most outstanding business performance we've seen in a Windows-based computer.

Though its business-application speed was incredible, this system's game performance blew us away. The Hercules 3D Prophet graphics card, featuring Nvidia's GeForce 256 chip and 32MB of high-end DDR memory, helped the Xi deliver an absolutely amazing 70.5 frames per second (fps) in Quake III at 1,024 by 768 pixels with 32-bit color. That's almost 10 fps faster than Xi's Editors' Choice-winning 800-MHz MTower.

Games looked excellent on the Optiquest Q95 19-inch monitor (18-inch viewable), which displayed rich and vibrant colors. We were also impressed by its sharp display of text; even at 1,600 by 1,200 resolution, characters were crisp and readable. An 8X DVD-ROM drive provided clear, artifact-free software playback of movies. Gamers will also appreciate the Sound Blaster Live Value PCI sound card, which offers exceptional 3D audio support, as well as a bevy of useful audio utilities. 

Creature Comforts
In addition to its top-notch speed and multimedia features, the Xi includes plenty of expansion and peripheral perks. Even the most tech-savvy users are unlikely to want to upgrade the full-featured MTower, but in case they do, the system's tool-free case opens very easily. The bright-blue, molded plastic on the front provides a distinctive look for those seeking a departure from boring beige. The solid Logitech Internet Keyboard includes a slew of Internet-specific keys that we found slightly difficult to press, but the Mouseman Wheel's hand-conforming shape offers a smooth ride for work or play.

It's hard to find fault with Xi Computer's 850-MHz MTower. It promises blazing performance, and it delivers. The only questions are whether you're dedicated enough to pay the price for the absolute latest and greatest--and whether you can wait the few weeks it will take for this system to arrive. Although you can order the MTower 850 today, Xi won't be able to ship it to you until the end of the month.

The Xi MTower 850 absolutely blew away all previous scores on CNET Labs' 
business applications and games tests.

CNET Editors' Choice Awards - recognize computing products of the highest quality, design, and service to users. Products bearing the CNET Editors' Choice graphic have been rigorously tested and carefully evaluated by our panel of expert editors and writers. We are committed to making the CNET Editors' Choice seal the hallmark of good product design, performance, quality, and value.

For A In-Depth And Full Review - Absolute Speed
Intel's arch rival again beats the chip giant to the punch with an 850-MHz chip.

By Ken Feinstein

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