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ABS SPC 5 review: ABS SPC 5

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The Good Blistering performance; outstanding LCD monitor; wide range of inputs, including seven-in-one media reader/writer; recordable-DVD drive; wireless/optical keyboard, mouse.

The Bad Small software bundle; generic user manual.

The Bottom Line The ABS SPC 5 offers full-strength performance without the full-size case.

8.2 Overall

Review Sections

The ABS SPC 5 lacks the audio/video versatility and fancy Plexiglas casing of the Polywell Mini Qbox, but it's no less a contender for the small-form-factor, heavyweight-performance crown. Based on an AMD Athlon XP 3000+ processor that's backed by 512MB of 400MHz DDR SDRAM and a 7,200rpm 120GB Western Digital hard drive, the SPC 5 has enough computing muscle to satisfy even the most demanding users.

The system also offers a terrific selection of components, including a 128MB ATI Radeon 9700 Pro graphics card, an NEC ND-1100A DVD+RW drive, Creative Labs' three-piece I-Trigue 2.1 3300 speaker system, and Microsoft's Wireless Optical Desktop keyboard-and-mouse combo. Given its cutting-edge appeal, we were surprised that our SPC 5 test system came equipped with a floppy drive, which is actually part of its seven-in-one digital-media reader/writer. Topping off our test system was Samsung's 17-inch SyncMaster 172W wide-screen LCD monitor, one of the best flat-panel displays we've seen. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised by the adeptness of both the monitor and the Creative speaker system for 3D-game-playing and DVD-movie playback. The SPC 5's software bundle is limited to a copy of Microsoft Works 7.0 and Ahead Software's Nero Express for burning CDs and DVDs.

Like the Qbox, the SPC 5 owes its reduced footprint to the remarkably compact Shuttle XPC chassis. Although the 7-by-7.8-by-11.5-inch case doesn't offer much in the way of expansion--its single PCI slot is occupied by the modem card--you'll find a useful selection of ports on its front plate, including a digital (S/PDIF) audio output, two USB 2.0 ports, and one FireWire port, as well as connections for a microphone and headphones. More FireWire and USB 2.0 ports--two of each--reside on the back, as do two VGA and two S-Video connectors, three analog audio outputs, and serial, Ethernet, and modem ports.

While the SPC 5's SysMark2002 performance rating was about 13 percent lower than that of the Pentium 4-based Qbox, its 268-point score weighed in on the high end for comparable Athlon XP 3000+ systems we've tested. Moreover, the SPC 5's Radeon 9700 Pro card slightly outperformed the Qbox's All-in-Wonder model on the 3DMark2001 SE Pro and the Quake III Arena tests. To be sure, smaller form factor does not translate to any sacrifice in computing power.

ABS covers the system with a one-year-parts/lifetime-labor warranty and lifetime toll-free technical support, available on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET. Upgrading to a year of concurrent onsite service and 24/7 phone support costs an additional $29.

Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 rating  
SysMark2002 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark2002 office-productivity rating  
Dell Dimension XPS (3GHz Intel P4, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
319 
449 
227 
Velocity Micro Vector VX-W (3GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
308 
426 
222 
Polywell Mini Qbox 845-3000 (3.06GHz Intel P4, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
307 
432 
218 
ABS SPC 5 (AMD Athlon XP 3000+, 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
268 
338 
212 
Hypersonic Cyclone (AMD Athlon XP 3000+, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
259 
338 
199 

3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 Second Edition Build 330 (16-bit color)  
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 Second Edition Build 330 (32-bit color)  
Dell Dimension XPS (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
17,925 
17,712 
Velocity Micro Vector VX-W (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
17,142 
17,068 
Hypersonic Cyclone (Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra)
16,478 
16,052 
ABS SPC 5 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
16,214 
15,734 
Polywell Mini Qbox 845-3000 (ATI All-In-Wonder 9700 Pro)
15,386 
14,962 

3D gaming performance in fps  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Quake III Arena  
Dell Dimension XPS (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
313.7 
Velocity Micro Vector VX-W (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
292.6 
Hypersonic Cyclone (Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra)
284.0 
ABS SPC 5 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
266.1 
Polywell Mini Qbox 845-3000 (ATI All-In-Wonder 9700 Pro)
262.5 

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