Like the and the before it, the MPC ClientPro 545 is not your average business workhorse. Part of MPC's home-office/small-business line, our $3,745 test system arrived built for the most-demanding business applications: DV editing, animation, &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ewebopedia%2Ecom%2FTERM%2FC%2FCAD%2Ehtml">CAD, and other high-end graphics tasks. Indeed, the 3.2GHz Pentium 4-based ClientPro 545 is a strong performer, and it comes paired with an outstanding monitor, entertainment-friendly hardware, and a near-perfect warranty. For most businesses, this system is overkill, but creative professionals who are looking for a Windows-based machine should keep the ClientPro 545 in mind. The MPC ClientPro 545 isn't the most color-coordinated system we've ever seen, combining a two-tone gray tower with a differently two-toned keyboard and mouse, a silver-framed monitor, and all-black speakers. The tower looks a little dull, and each of the other components is attractive in its own right, but they don't match. Plus, although the exterior of the full-size tower is made entirely of plastic, it feels remarkably solid, and it's easily penetrable, thanks to a quick-release side panel held in place by a single captured thumbscrew.
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|The case is functional, if a bit drab.|
The tower's size belies its internal-expansion capabilities. The case has two 3.5-inch bays open (at least in our admittedly already well-stocked ClientPro 545 test system), and that's all of the available drive space. The motherboard's three PCI slots are unused, but one is blocked by the video card's heat sink. The motherboard supports up to 2GB of memory; thankfully, you can easily add another pair of modules to the pair already installed.
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|Our test system came loaded with features, leaving little room for future expansion.|
Luckily, you probably won't need to venture inside the tower for expansion because the ClientPro 545 has a seemingly endless supply of ports--four FireWire and eight USB. As all cases should, this one serves up a couple of ports on the front panel (two USB and one FireWire), along with microphone and headphone jacks. We do wish, however, that MPC offered a media-card reader for the system.
It is precisely because the MPC ClientPro 545 is so well stocked that it seems like overkill for a business system--but it'll be pure joy for power users and creative professionals. Our test system arrived with a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 processor, 1GB of 400MHz DDR SDRAM (two 512MB modules), and a pair of 120GB Serial ATA hard drives, the latter connected to an onboard RAID controller for a total of 240GB of storage. Unlike many RAID-based systems we've seen, the ClientPro 545 boots very quickly. DV editors and filmmakers looking for all the drive space they can get for storing large video files can configure the ClientPro with even more drive space--you can select three 250GB drives for a grand total of 750GB of drive space. That's actually more drive space than you can elect to add to Apple's stellar . But the G5, in its defense, offers high-end options, such as dual processors and Apple's own Cinema display in addition to its unparalleled design and wealth of software.
For outputting your digital creations, MPC offers a choice of its own monitors and three Samsung LCDs. Our test system came bundled with a Samsung SyncMaster 191T, a 19-inch LCD monitor that supports both Landscape and Portrait orientations (you have to install the pivot software yourself) and comes with excellent, easy-to-operate onscreen controls. Better still, it delivers an admirably wide viewing angle and some of the sharpest, most vibrant text and graphics we've seen on a desktop LCD.
The brains behind this video brawn? An Nvidia GeForce FX 5700 video card, currently the middle child in Nvidia's lineup. It's a powerful mainstream card, suitable for everything from video editing to gaming. Similarly, the included Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 sound card and the Inspire T5400 speakers are suitable for music and movies, offering 5.1-channel surround sound that's mighty impressive considering the speakers' $99 list price. Less impressive is the tacky-looking, hard-to-place wired remote, which controls the volume and the bass level and includes a superfluous headphone jack (the tower already has one).
Sharing the digital content that you've created on the MPC ClientPro 545 is a snap with the system's twin burners: a 52X Lite-On CD-RW drive and a 4X multiformat Sony DVD-recordable drive, which ships with , Nero Express 6.0, and Pinnacle Studio 8.5.
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|Not your father's business PC: our ClientPro 545 test system boasts both CD and DVD burners.|
The ever-present security specter looms heavily over any PC purchase but especially over business-class systems. If you've been following the release of Windows Service Pack 2, you know that Microsoft released a number of security-minded improvements in the OS update, including SP2's new data execution prevention feature (DEP). This feature protects systems against buffer-overrun attacks from Sasser-like code. If you're considering an Intel-based purchase like this one, you'd be wise to note that, at press time, only systems using AMD processors can take advantage of this fix; DEP won't work on Intel-based boxes. Whether Intel is able to address the problem remains to be seen, but until it does, companies looking for maximum security should keep this limitation in mind.
MPC supplies no security or IT-oriented software; is the sole business application in the bundle on this Windows XP Pro-based PC, which is a disappointment, considering MPC's promotion of this system as a small-business box. MPC's Web site also promises a 90-day trial version of Norton AntiVirus, but we found no evidence of it in the box or on the hard drive.
Instead of the newer Prescott-core Pentium 4 chips released earlier this year, the MPC ClientPro 545 uses the older Northwood-core Pentium 4 processor running at 3.2GHz, which is still plenty fast, as the ClientPro 545 illustrates. Paired with 1GB of speedy 400MHz DDR memory and two hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration, the ClientPro 545 would be overkill for most offices. In fact, the comparison systems you see here are all high-end gaming PCs; but while the ClientPro 545 isn't built specifically for gamers, it is intended for businesses that use high-end graphics applications. The system did quite well on SysMark 2004; its score of 188 stands up well to the other 3.2GHz systems. It also bested the 3.2EGHz P4-based (a.k.a. Prescott) systems from Gateway and iBuyPower by 4 and 6 percent, respectively. On the whole, its application performance is above average for a 3.2GHz P4-based system. The MPC ClientPro 545 will ably handle any and all office tasks thrown its way.
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2004, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).
3D graphics and gaming performance
Unlike most high-end systems to pass through CNET Labs, the MPC ClientPro 545 isn't targeted at gamers. Instead, it is meant to be used by creative professionals involved with DV editing, CAD tasks, or other demanding digital-content-creation tasks. Since it isn't built primarily to run the latest 3D game titles, MPC scaled back on the graphics card by including Nvidia's midrange GeForce FX 5700. The ClientPro 545 trails a gaming system with a high-end ATI or Nvidia GPU, but it serves up enough oomph for its intended digital-content-creation tasks.
|Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768||Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF|
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2003, widely used as an industry-standard benchmark. We use Unreal to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8.0 (DX8) interface at a 32-bit color depth and at a resolution of 1,024x768 and 1,600x1,200. Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering are disabled during our 1,024x768 tests and are set to 4X and 8X respectively during our 1,600x1,200 tests. At this color depth and these resolutions, Unreal provides an excellent means of comparing the performance of low-end to high-end graphics subsystems. We report the results of Unreal's Flyby-Antalus test in frames per second (fps).
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs technician David Gussman.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Falcon Northwest Mach V 3.4 Extreme Edition
Windows XP Home, 3.4GHz Intel P4 Extreme; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB; two Seagate ST3120026AS 120GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller
Gateway 710X Performance
Windows XP Home, 3.2EGHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB; WDC WD2500JD-22FYB0 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
iBuyPower Gamer Extreme PC
Windows XP Home, 3.2EGHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800XT 256MB; Seagate ST3120026AS 120GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
MPC ClientPro 545
Windows XP Professional, 3.2GHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5700 256MB; two Seagate ST3120026AS 120GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller
Voodoo Rage F-50
Windows XP Professional, 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3400+; Via K8T800 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800XT 256MB; two Hitachi HDS722512VLSA80 120GB Serial ATA 7,200rpm; integrated Via Serial ATA RAID controller
As we've noted with other MPC systems, the MPC ClientPro 545's support policy is commendable, but it's lacking in one key area: online support. MPC provides an ample three-year warranty on parts and labor, with onsite service and 24/7 toll-free phone support included for the duration. The online support options, however, will leave you wanting: there's no real-time help, no FAQ page, and no easy way to e-mail tech support (the option is hidden on the Contacts page). MPC does not provide setup or system documentation, either, save for a brief guide to using the recovery and driver CDs.