Absolutely blitzing the competition, Altech takes out our highly coveted Labs Winner Award, just beating IBM to the top spot.
Heavy on both the features and quality, this unit was one of only three units in the roundup to feature a 17in TFT display, with the others, the Pluscorp INTEQ V26 and Apple iMac, falling by the wayside on price, hardware spec and performance.
The Silver Cube is a gorgeous looking PC, measuring a mere 330 x 215 x 200mm and a huge space saver combined with the bundled Samsung 173V LCD monitor. If you're looking to conserve valuable desktop real estate, you'll be hard pressed to beat this system for size. The mirrored finish hides a pair of stealth drives, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive and floppy disk drive, although unfortunately there's no additional room for expansion here. You'll need to replace devices rather than add them should you want to add a DVD burner for business file archiving. Internally we find an 80GB hot-swappable SATA hard disk and 128MB of RADEON 9200 graphics to keep your workstation running smoothly. The highest spec graphics we received this month, while it may seem a little overkill, it does allow the unit to be used for a wider variety of tasks, including graphics work and limited 3D.
Unfortunately, being a small form factor system, size is crucial to its saleability and is its downfall when considering upgradeability. A little tighter to work in than say the IBM ThinkCentre S50 or a standard upright ATX midi case like the DigitalStar IntelliPro 4000GX, you may find it hard to manoeuvre hardware with the same ease. With the AGP already in use and only a single PCI slot you may find your upgrade routes cut off at the pass should you want to install additional devices.
Altech has hit the nail on the head by offering a three-year on-site next day warranty on its Silver Cube, perfect for the business that relies on solid uptime. This helped it score highest in our quality comparison during our roundup. On the software side, Altech supplied a copy of Norton SystemWorks 2003 and Microsoft Office Small Business Edition to get you up and working as soon as possible, while a wireless keyboard and mouse continues the looks and functionality of this system's desktop freedom.
Well priced for this much hardware and after sales support, Altech's Silver Cube is definitely worth checking out for small to medium operators with tiny workspaces and big expectations.