TI’s Intel Core 2 Dual Extreme was our mid-range PC choice for a year. In that time its specs have been updated, but it’s a measure of the PC market that there haven’t been too many earth-shattering advances for PCs since Core 2 first appeared.
Megaware, a newcomer to PC Authority, uses Intel’s new 2.66GHz E6750 Core 2 Duo processor – essentially an E6700 with a front side bus speed upped from 1066MHz to 1333MHz. Alongside 2GB of PC2-5300 RAM and a 320GB hard disk it, managed 1.15 in our benchmarks – disappointing considering that TI’s competitor was 15% faster with an E6700. But the TI does have two 320GB hard disks running in RAID0 for speed. Also, as of this month, it will also come with an E6750 – the Megaware in comparison is not as fast.
However, in terms of 3D it’s another story. TI’s machine now comes with a 320MB version of Nvidia’s 8800 GTS card, but Megaware sports ATI’s flagship 512MB 2900 XT card. In our toughest Call of Duty test it averaged an impressive 41fps, suggesting that it will barely break a sweat playing any pre-DirectX 10 game at 1600 x 1200 with full detail settings. But it’s still too soon to judge DirectX 10 game performance, the drivers are still very poor – in our high Call of Juarez test, it only averaged 8fps, and with the balanced settings running at 1280 x 1024 and at the 1440 x 900 native resolution, it averaged a barely-playable 25fps.
Everything looks great on the stylish Asus widescreen monitor. The resolution allows for noticeably more desktop real estate than TI’s 4:3-aspect offering. Colours are great, a crisp and clear desktop is produced, and movies and games looked good. Viewing angles bothered us, however.
Megaware also bundles Creative’s Inspire M2600 2.1 speakers. These look good and can sound reasonable, but it takes very little for the sub woofer to distort horribly. This means you can’t push the satellites too far, even though they cope with high and mid-range well.
The basic keyboard and mouse are adequate wireless offerings from Logitech. In terms of expansion, the PC has two PCI slots, one PCI-E 1x slot and a PCI-E 16x slot for a second graphics card. There’s space for three more hard disks, an extra optical drive, and two external 3.5in drives. Outside at the front lie two USB ports and two audio jacks, while at the back there are 6 USB ports, FireWire, eSATA, coaxial S/PDIF and Gigabit Ethernet. Note there’s only one PS/2 port.
It looks a touch classier than TI’s machine and runs very quietly when idling. The one year RTB warranty is a bit measly but we prefer Megaware’s widescreen LCD and powerful graphics card. It’s devilishly close, but we feel Megaware’s system just edges TI’s champion system off the A-List this month.
This Review appeared in the September 2007 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine