Now that the home entertainment market has moved towards streaming video services and Blu-ray content, there has never been a better time to convert DVD collections to digital.
PLUS Stealth IV - Quadro Gamers Edition
- Scored very well in our gaming and 3-D benchmarks, it's well-built, offers good potential for overclocking
- The case has an awkward layout; has a single, 74GB system drive, but a RAID 0 array for data storage
As a total gaming package, this Plus Corporation machine is almost all you could ever want. It ships with a 22in BenQ monitor, Logitech speakers, a comfortable Logitech G5 Laser mouse and a Logitech G11 gaming keyboard, whose keys light up to make them easier to find them in the dark. In the end though, we have to question the hard drive configuration in this PC, which, to us, seems a little odd.
Price$ 5,299.00 (AUD)
Unlike most of the PCs we've tested to date, the Stealth IV actually ships with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista installed, but it's still capable of running 32-bit applications. Plus Corporation has made sure that all of this system's devices have perfectly working 64-bit drivers, and to this end, it has high-end components installed for gaming and productivity endeavours.
It ran all of our tests without any problems and, thanks to its Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 CPU and GeForce 8800 Ultra graphics card, reached an impressive score of 12617 in 3DMark06 -- this is among the fastest scores we've seen. It also recorded the second fastest score we've seen to date in the DirectX 10-based Call of Juarez benchmark -- 26 frames per second (fps) -- and the fastest score we've seen to date in the Lost Planet benchmark -- 29.5fps.
It's worth noting that this machine can be bought with an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 for the same price, but at the time of testing, Plus Corporation did not have this CPU in stock.
The Extreme edition CPUs are perfect for overclocking, too, and the ASUS P5N32-E SLI offers plenty of scope in this area for those of you with a need for speed. Plus Corporation has paired the Extreme CPU with 2GB of Corsair XMS 800MHz DDR2 RAM and a 10000rpm Western Digital hard drive is installed as a system disk. Unfortunately, it's only 74GB in size, which may not be enough space if you're a keen gamer and run all your games off the hard drive, unless you install them onto the 'E' drive. This drive scored 32MBps in our hard drive transfer test, which is a good result for a single drive.
For data storage, two 500GB Western Digital drives in a RAID 0 array are installed, providing a total capacity of 1TB, and these drives scored 65MBps in our data transfer test -- an impressive result. There's ample space here for storing data, but there's no redundancy for that data, in case one of the drives in the array dies. We would have preferred a RAID 0 array to be the system drive and a large, single drive for data storage, which would boost the machine's overall performance when loading and running applications.
In WorldBench 6, the machine notched up a score of 107, which is a couple of points less than we expected, but it was only let down in the Nero Burning ROM test. In all the other tests, especially the Photoshop CS2, Firefox, multitasking, 3dsMax rendering and Windows Media Encoder 9.0 tests, it produced fine results. Solid times were also recorded in our Cdex and iTunes MP3 encoding tests.
Physically, the machine's components are housed in a Lian Li PCV-1000 Plus mid-tower ATX case, which differs from the norm. The motherboard is positioned on the left side of the case, rather than the right side, and it's upside-down. The 850W Silverstone power supply is installed at the bottom of the case, right next to the hard drives, which leads to a royal mess of cables, especially if you want to fill all six of the available hard drive bays. Indeed, the case is a little cramped and unnecessarily complicated because of this layout, but Plus Corporation's technicians have done a great job making it as neat as possible.
A convenient Serial ATA-based Pioneer DVD burner has been installed, and this means there aren't any flat ribbon cables to further clog the interior of the case. The Pioneer drive is a reliable one, and also a relatively quiet operator.
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