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MegaPC MPC-Kalashnikkov (AK47) 4GHz
Not your run-of-the-mill gaming PC
- CPU overclocked to 4GHz and ran reliably during our review period, 4GB RAM, great bang for your bucks
- Could use more SATA ports; the case has many good points, but we don't like the location of its front-panel ports and the door; no memory card reader
This is a well-built and affordable gaming system with a difference: you get a Xeon CPU and the 64-bit version of Windows Vista. It's well-worth picking it up if you're after a very fast system for under $2000.
Price$ 1,799.00 (AUD)
With this gaming rig, the guys at Mega PC have assembled a killer configuration for a competitive price. And it's not your typical run-of-the-mill PC either; it ships with an Intel Xeon CPU that has been overclocked to 4GHz, and it runs the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium.
Known as a CPU for workstation PCs and servers rather than home machines, the Xeon E3110 model that's used in this system has the same specifications as the Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 CPU. It's a dual-core CPU that's built from Intel's smallest transistors (45nm), it has 6MB of L2 cache, a 1333MHz front side bus speed, and it has a stock clock speed of 3GHz. Mega PC has overclocked it to 4GHz, while using a large heat sink with heat-pipe technology and a 12cm cooling fan. It ran faultlessly during our review period and Mega PC says the system is guaranteed to be 100 per cent stable.
The Xeon has been installed in an ASUS P5K-EPU motherboard, which runs an Intel P35 chipset and is one of ASUS' environmentally friendly boards. If you install the ASUS-supplied utility, the board's power consumption will be regulated depending on the CPU load. You can read about this feature in our review of the ASUS P5Q Deluxe, which also uses the same power conserving feature. For the AK47 though, its aim is to provide plenty of performance for games and CPU-intensive tasks. And it is quick.
In our WorldBench 6 tests, the machine scored 127, which is a little less than the 133-135 we were expecting due to the fast clock speed, but it's still a fast result. It could have been even faster if the AK47 had a RAID 0 array. For gaming, the machine is equipped with a Galaxy GF 9800GTX graphics card, which is not as fast as an NVIDIA GeForce 9800GX2 card, but it's still potent (you can read more about the GTX here). The 9800GTX scored 13,583 in 3DMark06, which is much more than we were expecting and no doubt helped along by the fast Xeon CPU. It should run most DirectX 10 games without any problems, but don't expect blistering performance at high settings — it scored 30 frames per second in the Call of Juarez test, for example, at a resolution of 1280x1024. DirectX 9 games will get much faster frame rates.
The rest of the machine's configuration consists of 4GB of 1066MHz DDR2 RAM, a 500GB Samsung hard drive (which runs quietly) and an LG DVD burner. It could use a lot more hard drive space, but for a sub-$2000 machine, we're not complaining. The 4GB of RAM, the 4GHz CPU and the fast graphics card are the parts that really count, and these make the AK47 suitable for just about any computing task. In the Blender 3D rendering test, for example, the machine completed a two-thread render in just 44sec, which is a fast result when compared to what the 3.2GHz Desktop Board D5400XS (Skulltrail) did when running two threads. But still, we think the AK47's time should've been a little lower. The PC's power consumption during this test was 176W, which isn't a bad result for such a powerful machine. When it was idle, it consumed 135W and when it was switched off, but plugged into the outlet, it consumed about 40W.
Physically, the critical components are packed into a mid-tower case with a windowed side-panel. It's fairly solid and has room for four hard drives and four optical drives, although we could do without the door in front of the optical drive bays, which is only there to make the case look better. We also wish the case's USB 2.0 and FireWire ports were on the front, rather than the side, which could prove awkward if you want to place the PC to the right of your seated area. The case has temperature readouts for the system, CPU and hard drive — and we love it.
Because it runs the 64-bit version of Windows, there is plenty of scope for upgrading the RAM — you can install up to 8GB of RAM — but the ASUS P5K-EPU board only has four SATA ports and no eSATA, so it is a little limiting for drive installations, especially as it uses a SATA-based DVD burner. You do get two PCI Express x16 slots, as well as two PCIe x1 and PCI slots. You get plenty of USB ports (12) and a Gigabit Ethernet controller. The system also runs with a low hum thanks to the large fans that have been installed.
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