We appreciated the lack of wires on the included Logitech Internet Pro keyboard and mouse, but gamers will want to opt for one of the more precise mouse options that ABS offers, among them the Razer Copperhead and the .
The M6 Sniper ships with Windows XP Pro, though you can opt to save a few bucks and choose XP Home instead. Bundled software includes , which includes Microsoft Word, as well as EliteSuite, a bundle of dated productivity applications such as Quicken 2003, McAfee VirusScan 2004, and Ulead PhotoImpact 8. ABS also bundles a few games, which will vary. At the time of this writing, the titles included Microsoft's Rise of Nations, Flight Simulator 2004, and Age of Empires III.
Even though its CPU was running at the stock 2.6GHz clock speed, the ABS M6 Sniper turned in impressive results on our SysMark 2004 tests. Its score of 292 lagged behind the overclocked Falcon Northwest Mach V's 306 rating but beat the overclocked 2.9GHz Velocity Micro Raptor 64 Dual X. This is likely due in part to its use of speedy 10,000rpm hard drives; the Velocity Micro system uses 7,200rpm drives.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
Gaming performance, on the other hand, was notably slower than on the Falcon Northwest and Velocity Micro FX-60 systems, which offer added performance from both overclocking and their use of the 512MB version of the GeForce 7800 GTX cards. The M6 Sniper's 79.1 frame rates in Half-Life 2 at 1,600x1,200 resolution are impressive from a gameplay perspective, but they pale in comparison to the 109.1 and 106.1 frames per second from the Falcon Northwest and Velocity Micro systems, respectively.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Doom 3 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF||Doom 3 1,024x768, 4XAA 8XAF||Half-Life 2 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF||Half-Life 2 1,024x768 4XAA 8XAF|
Pure performance, however, is only part of the story. While the M6 Sniper can't match those FX-60 systems in gaming benchmarks, we ran into none of the power supply-related stability issues that we encountered with the overclocked FX-60 systems. The only game we encountered any issues with was F.E.A.R., which required us to disable SLI support in the Nvidia drivers. However, F.E.A.R. often has problems on systems using SLI.
If you're willing to sacrifice bragging rights for the peace of mind of system stability, the M6 Sniper has plenty of horsepower for the most demanding games and applications, even if it's not the top performer. It'll still run any of today's games at reasonable resolutions, most importantly at the included LCD's 1,200x1,024. Only gamers with larger displays will really need something more.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
ABS Ultimate M6 Sniper
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-60; Nvidia Nforce4 SLI X16 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (SLI); two Western Digital WD946D 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA, one Seagate 500GB Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce4 Serial ATA RAID Controller (RAID 0)
Falcon Northwest Mach V (AMD Athlon 64 FX-60)
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.9GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-60; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI X16 chipset; 2,048MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX (SLI); two Maxtor 68300S0 300GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA 150; integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 RAID class controller (RAID 0)
Maingear F131 SLI-AMD
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX (SLI); two 74GB Western Digital Raptor 10,000 RPM SATA; one Maxtor 300GB 7,200rpm SATA
OverDrive PC Torque SLI
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX (PCIe SLI); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; one Seagate ST3200826AS, 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce RAID class controller (RAID 0)
Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge Dual X (AMD Athlon 64 FX-60)
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.9GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-60; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI x16 chipset; 2,048MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7800GTX (PCIe); two Hitachi 500GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 Serial ATA RAID controller (RAID 0)
Given the ABS Ultimate M6 Sniper's price, we expected a longer standard warranty than one year of parts-and-labor coverage. The problem is that ABS offers no extended warranty options, so one year is all the coverage you can get. It also throws in one year of onsite coverage and 24/7 tech support from third-party-provided 2Net, so at least the single year of coverage is robust. Online help is only adequate, too: the ABS Web site provides a user discussion forum, a driver database, and a searchable technical knowledge base. The M6 Sniper comes with a well-organized binder with restore discs and component-specific manuals, though the system user manual is generic.