We thought Pacstar had sent in a high-end PC at first – the swanky 22in monitor and Quad-core PC simply looked too expensive. But no, the price tag really is under $2000. The Huntkey Aeolus case looks like some effort has gone into its design – the grilles and panels look good and enhance airflow, it’s stylish and feels very solid.
Inside is a 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor, 2GB of RAM and two 320GB hard disks running in RAID0 for speed. These combined to score a respectable 1.29 in our benchmarks – 29% faster than our old reference PC but not as fast as other Quad-core systems. However, a score of 1.68 in the multi-tasking component is massive and illustrates how ardent multi-taskers won’t bemoan system hang-ups.
Pacstar also includes Nvidia’s impressive new 512MB 8800 GT graphics card (page 46). This waltzed through our difficult (1600 x 1200) DirectX 9 test, Call of Duty 2 by averaging 59fps. It even made a decent fist of our punitive Call of Juarez, Direct X 10 test by averaging 14fps at High Settings. We also tried running the beautiful Crysis in-game demo. At 1280 x 1024 with Medium detail settings it averaged 60fps. However, this is a game that should be played at full (Very High) detail settings and here it struggled – averaging 17fps. The motherboard does sport an extra PCI-E for an extra graphics card, however, it’s not SLI compatible so you’d have to buy two AMD cards to really boost game performance.
Everything looks great on the 22in Asus LCD. This has various handy preset modes to enhance gaming, photo viewing or office work. Colours look great and there’s virtually no ghosting when watching movies. The 1680 x 1050 resolution offers plenty of desktop real estate and even the design looks sleek and stylish. The lack of gloss limits reflections. It even sports speakers, and while these don’t get particularly loud and bassy, they’re the best we’ve heard from a standard monitor.
Other features include an 18x optical drive with LightScribe and a media card reader/floppy drive at the front. Inside there’s space for two extra DIMMs, two PCI cards and a PCI-E 1x card plus two more hard disks and three 5.25in drives. Connectivity is excellent with four USB ports, FireWire and eSATA adorning the front, the same at the back (with an extra eSATA port), coaxial and optical S/PDIF out plus serial and parallel connectors.
In short there’s a huge amount of power on offer and only very high-end gamers will want for more. It runs quietly and has plenty of scope for future upgrading. The cheap Microsoft keyboard and mouse are minor disappointments (as is the one year RTB warranty) but aren’t nearly enough for us to not stick the 88GT Gamer straight on to the A-List.
This Review appeared in the February 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine