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Review: Polywell tops list of 15 best office PCs

PC World

By Richard Baguley

(IDG) -- Starting this month, we are combining the power and value PC charts to give you all the information on business desktops that you need in one place: A single chart now tracks seven power and eight value PCs.

This month also sees the debut of our new benchmarking application, PC WorldBench 4 (to read about how it works, see "A field guide to PC Worldbench 4," link below). We updated the application so that it provides an even better measurement of today's remarkably powerful personal computers by timing a variety of real-world tasks in common programs. Note that the results produced by PC WorldBench 4 are not comparable with the results produced for previous issues by PC WorldBench 2000; we have retested all of the machines we reviewed over the past few months.

Last month's Best Buy, the Dell Dimension 8200, is no longer on the chart: Dell claims to be having supply problems and has discontinued the 2-GHz version of this system. That leaves the top spot open for the Polywell Poly 815TS-1260, which uses a 1260-MHz Intel Pentium III-S CPU.

Debuting on the chart this month is the Gateway 700CB Deluxe. Based on a 2-GHz Pentium 4 processor, this system achieved a score of 119 in our new PC WorldBench 4 tests. It's packed with features -- such as a fast ATI Radeon graphics card -- for a reasonable price of $2,287. INFOCENTER
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The value chart has several new entries. The ABS Conquest VP comes in at number two with a strong combination of features and performance for $1,199. The Sys TaskMaster 1000D (which uses AMD's new 1-GHz Duron processor) captures fourth place, while the Compaq Evo 500 and the Gateway E-3600 enter the chart at number five and number six, respectively. Both offer a wide range of corporate features such as remote manageability and a case design that allows you to remove and insert drives without using tools.

Several new systems fell short this month. The Sys Performance 2000 received a score of 117 in our PC WorldBench 4 tests, but its $2,419 price helped keep it off the power chart. And though the Xi 1800+ MTower (with AMD's new Athlon XP 1800+ processor) earned a respectable PC WorldBench 4 score of 120, its very high price of $2,999 caused it to miss the power chart as well.

Top 7 power systems

  1. Polywell Poly 815TS-1260: For users in small to medium-size businesses looking for high-powered performance without heavy power consumption, the Poly 815TS-1260 should fit the bill. However, we recommend an upgrade to another monitor, such as the ViewSonic GS790 or the ViewSonic PF790 (Polywell carries both).
  2. Sys Performance 1400TD: This swift Sys contains impressive components and would make an excellent system for a small office.
  3. Gateway 700CB Deluxe: The Gateway 700CB Deluxe delivered the goods on our benchmark and gets kudos for splendid tool-less access and upgradability, as well as an easy-on-the-eyes display.
  4. MicronPC Millennia Max XP2: With easy upgradability, fine speed, and an excellent display, the XP2 has the chops for any small office.
  5. HP Vectra VL420: The HP Vectra VL420 doesn't come cheap (although cost-saving seems to be the point of using the 845 chip set and SDRAM). But the well-designed case, excellent flat-panel display, and suite of management tools will suit medium-size or large businesses that need a versatile, easy-to-manage system.
  6. Polywell Poly 880K7-1400: With 80GB of storage, an IEEE 1394 card, and the fastest Athlon processor, this Polywell delivers everything serious video editors need.
  7. Caliber Explorer 720: The Explorer's bargain price appeals, but less-than-stellar performance and some unimpressive components might detract from the savings for some users.

Top 8 value systems

  1. Micro Express MicroFlex 1200C: Budget-minded buyers looking for top speed might well consider the 1200C. However, we recommend choosing a better display (Micro Express offers other 17-inch and 19-inch options) even though doing so will increase the package price.
  2. ABS Conquest VP: Geared for the video editor, the Conquest VP is powerful and inexpensive, although the included monitor was disappointing.
  3. Tangent Valera PC: Despite its messy interior, the speedy Valera has ample room for expansion. It would make a capable small-office system for users who need its dual-display or RAID hard drive capabilities, but you'd have to pay extra for a second hard drive to take advantage of the latter.
  4. Sys TaskMaster 1000D: Sys delivers respectable budget performance and an above-average 19-inch display, plus some extras -- the CD-RW drive and dual-head graphics card -- that add nicely to the ensemble.
  5. Compaq Evo D500: Its performance is average, but the D500's low price, small size, and security and manageability features point to its use as a mainstream workstation in large companies.
  6. Gateway E-3600: Although the E-3600 offers only adequate performance and storage, it is an excellently designed machine with plenty of features for network managers, including management software and chassis-intrusion detection.
  7. Dell Dimension 2100: Many small to medium-size businesses should appreciate this stylish, affordable system. Companies looking for higher-level processors and components might want to reexamine the options list, however -- especially the CPU line.
  8. Polywell Poly 830K7-1000: With impressive performance and a removable hard drive, this Poly will suit users who shuttle large amounts of data, as well as small businesses that need to store sensitive information off-site.


• Top CD-RW drives
September 19, 2001
• Review: Top 10 CD-RW drives
May 4, 2001

• A field guide to PC Worldbench 4
• Chart: Top 15 office PCs
• Top 15 home PCs
• Top 15 notebook PCs
• Top 10 color laser printers
• Top 10 digital cameras for less than $500
• Top 10 CD-RW drives
• Top 10 graphics boards for gamers

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