PC Express PCX 3000

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PC Express PCX 3000
  • PC Express PCX 3000
  • PC Express PCX 3000
  • PC Express PCX 3000

Pros

  • SLI GeForce 8800 cards, overclocked and stable, four 320GB hard drives in a Raid-0 Striping array, plenty of upgrade potential, two e-SATA ports with an external power connection, cooling and cable management, four gigabit Ethernet ports.

Cons

  • Very heavy to move around, review sample installed with Windows XP Home and not Vista

Bottom Line

The PC Express PCX 3000 is a powerful system which has been overclocked for even better performance. If speed, power and particularly gaming are on the agenda, then you'll be happy with every aspect of this rig.

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The hulking black Coolermaster case says a lot about this tank of a PC. Built for power and speed, the PCX 3000 from PC Express has been overclocked, includes SLI GeForce 8800 graphics cards, has some excellent connectivity options and cooling, and sports a RAID hard drive setup of champions.

With four Western Digital 320GB hard drives in a RAID-0 striping array, two Point of View GeForce 8800 GTS (320MB) graphics cards in SLI, 2GB of Corsair TwinX 667MHz RAM, an ASUS SATA DVD re-writer with dual layer support, as well as all the other hardware and a solid aluminium case, it weighs enough to keep 'bend from the knees' in mind when lifting it.

The Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU has been significantly overclocked from its default frequency of 2.4GHz to 3.15GHz, but it remained stable throughout testing. Although the CPU will handle many of today's games and applications at the default setting, the increased speed provides flexibility for when taxing applications start to push its limits. Using the linked front side bus/memory overclock feature, the Gigabyte GA-N680SLI-DQ6 motherboard allows overclocking to be done without great difficulty. This is also made possible because the Corsair RAM is reliable at higher speeds. As long as you're remotely comfortable with the concept it should be easy enough to clock the system back to default and back up to 3.15GHz when you need it.

We ran tests with the system's default setting and also when overclocked to test stability and the performance increase. Be aware that PC Express tested the PCX 3000 at this setting and found it stable, as did we. We have not tested the ability of this system to overclock beyond 3.15GHz.

Using 3DMark 2006 and F.E.A.R and the DirectX 9 Lost Planet:Extreme Condition demo, we tested the system's gaming prowess. First, overclocked to 3.15GHz. In this configuration it scored 13575 using 3DMark's default setup (a 1280x1024 resolution, no anti-aliasing [AA] and no anisotropic filtering [AF]) - an excellent result. At the resolution of the included 22in Chimei monitor (1600x1200) and using 8xAA and 16xAF the system scored 7291 - also very good for this resolution.

In F.E.A.R using the overclocked configuration, at a resolution of 1280x960 with 4xAA and 16xAF the PCX 3000 averaged 229fps (frames per second), which is complete overkill. We also hoped to test the DirectX 10 enhanced demo of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, but the review sample we were given has Windows XP Home installed, which cannot run DirectX 10-based games (only Vista can). Using the DirectX 9 version of the demo it scored an average of 58fps, using a resolution of 1280x960.

Without the overclocking (running at 2.4GHz) the results were noticeably different. In 3DMark at default settings it scored 11014 (Vs 13575), while at 1600x1200 it scored 6929 (Vs 7291). In F.E.A.R it scored just 188fps, still overkill, but not as impressive as the 229fps when overclocked. In Lost Planet: Extreme Condition the PCX 3000 dropped from 58fps to 52.5fps.

We put the CPU through an MP3 encoding test where we take 53 minutes of WAV files and convert them to 192Kbps MP3 files. At the default clock speed the system achieved this in only 99 seconds, while the overclocked settings shortened that to just 76 seconds. Either way, the CPU shows enough speed to handle a number of taxing applications and also showed a stable improvement when overclocked.

One excellent feature of this machine is the hard drive setup. Four 320GB Western Digital Caviar (7200rpm) hard drives have been linked together in a Raid-0 striping array for added speed. We put them to the test by copying 4.12GB of raw data in varied sizes from one sport on the 1280GB combination drive to another. This test took the PCX 3000 just 133 seconds or 31MB per second.

With all this hardware and overclocking it's good to see there's plenty of cooling and a well managed cable setup. At the front of the case one 120mm fan draws air into the case, as does the side mounted 120mm fan. The side panel has mounts for a total of four fans should an extra three become necessary. A 120mm fan at the top-rear of the case extracts air. There's also space for a 120mm fan at the top of the case, should heat extraction become necessary. All but the rear extraction fan use a fine mesh as well as a metal mesh to filter dust and protect the hardware. All SATA cables and power cables within the case have been neatly tied together and are out of the way so as not to impede airflow. Despite the number of fans, the system runs with only minor noise issues.

The case offers plenty of connectivity including four USB 2.0 ports at the front of the case, a headphone port and a microphone port, as well as a FireWire port. At the rear there's an additional four USB 2.0 ports, a mini FireWire port, four gigabit Ethernet ports (to be used in binary for boosted bandwidth, or allow the PC to act as a gateway or game server), analogue and digital ports for 7.1 channel audio, as well as a serial port and PS/2 ports for a mouse and keyboard. PC Express has also added a bracket to the rear panel that adds two e-SATA ports and a Molex power supply - in case your external drive has no direct power source. An Antec TruePower Trio 650watt power supply is enough to handle all the installed hardware, however the case has room for a larger 1000watt power supply if it's needed at a later date.

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