Here at PC Authority we see a lot of computer systems. Not surprising really, it’s what we do. But it’s not often we see a system this carefully assembled. Every precaution has been taken to ensure the system has clear airflow to help regulate the temperature and keep it cool.
Built around a similar case to Modtech’s Civic 3200.dX system, the Grande Series does not feature the tool-less access snap panels, making it a little more difficult to work on, but not by much. We find cable tying often says a lot about a system’s creator and build quality and shows a fine attention to detail.
Unfortunately someone has to come last when benchmarking. This machine brought up the rear by just under 200 overall PCMarks, but the margin is relatively small.
Performing significantly better in 3D testing, the Grande managed to climb three places to finish sixth overall, beating other ATI RADEON 9600-based systems such as the Punch V2, Draco M3 and Viewmaster Raven.
Upgradeability is quite good, with a total of five PCI slots, four of which are available with the PCI modem taking the last. Hardware installation is made even easier by the generous spacing between the AGP slot and first PCI port on the motherboard, rather than cramping the space or making it unusable due to an oversized graphic card cooler.
There’s also plenty of hard disk expansion room to be found should you find the supplied 80GB Seagate is not enough. The AN7 motherboard has facility for SATA RAID, allowing you to get a matching capacity SATA hard disk and set up an array in either the striped or mirrored style.
Drive of choice this month, the PC QUEST machine also features the multi-format Pioneer DRV-107D DVD burner, capable of burning both plus and minus formatted discs at up to 8x and rewritable media at up to 4x speeds.
While not the fastest system around, it has plenty of upgrade potential, as well as some killer hardware out of the box. However, it’s just beaten by the Labs Winning Civic when it comes to performance and features overall.
This Review appeared in the May, 2004 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine