Once upon a time, ColorWare was just a tech-product body shop, custom painting the Xboxes and iPods of the world. But recently, the Minnesota-based company began selling its own line of AMD- and Intel-based desktops and notebooks. Of the company's three desktop lines spanning the midrange and performance classes, we looked at the high-end Great White Shark. This $3,569 test system's custom-painted case and matching peripherals make a splash, but some high-end components add brawn to its beauty.
The Shark isn't cheap, but its high-gloss paint job is visually striking. The candy-apple-red case looks posh, with smooth curves instead of boxy corners. Don't like red? You can choose from 23 other colors. The multiformat Plextor 8X DVD-R drive's cover blends with the case, and one FireWire and two USB 2.0 ports hide behind a flip-down front panel. Two side-panel latches slide forward for easy interior access, and a pull-up handle on top is meant for lugging the system around when needed--though it feels far from sturdy.
Expansion room is plentiful, both inside and out. Vacancies include one 3.5-inch and three 5.25-inch external bays, plus two 3.5-inch internal bays. Adding or removing any drive is an easy, tool-free venture. In addition, four of the motherboard's five PCI slots are free (one is occupied by the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS card), as are two of the four memory slots. The back of the system holds six USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire port, though the latter is occupied by the front-panel port's cable, which ColorWare routed through the back of the system--a surprisingly inelegant solution on an otherwise polished system.
Design aside, the ColorWare Great White Shark packs a potent component mix, including a 3.4GHz Pentium 4, 1GB of fast 400MHz memory, a 120GB Serial ATA hard drive, and a 256MB ATI Radeon 9800 XT graphics card. ColorWare gives you the option of configuring the Shark via its Web site, where you can, for example, double or halve the 1GB of RAM found on our test system, add a second optical drive in the form of a speedy 52X CD burner, or choose two SATA hard drives instead of just one.
The Great White Shark's performance scores on CNET Labs' benchmarks were suitably impressive. Its SysMark 2004 application performance score of 195 matched that of the similarly configured Shuttle XPC G2700. These two systems also share the same graphics card, so it came as no surprise that the ColorWare Great White Shark equaled the Shuttle PC's score of 204fps on our low-end Unreal Tournament 2003 test and 59fps on our high-end Unreal test.
The bundled 17-inch BenQ FP767 LCD delivers the performance needed for gaming and looks good doing it. It's painted to match the system, as are the Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer and the Logitech Elite keyboard that come bundled with the Great White Shark. ColorWare also includes a powerful six-piece set of Logitech Z-680 speakers in their standard black color.
ColorWare's warranty covers parts and labor for an industry-average one year. Extended two- and three-year warranties are available at additional cost. Online support is limited to e-mail, but toll-free phone support is available 24/7 for the duration of the warranty.
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
|Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768||Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF|
Windows XP Professional; 3.4GHz Intel P4 Extreme Edition; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB; two WDC WD740GD-00FLX0 74GB Serial ATA 10,000rpm; integrated Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller
Windows XP Professional; 3.4GHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 XT 256MB; Seagate ST3120026AS 120GB Serial ATA 7,200rpm
Shuttle XPC G2700
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004; 3.4GHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 XT 256MB; WDC WD2000JB-00FUA0 200GB 7,200rpm
Windows XP Professional; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-53; Nvidia Nforce-3 Pro 150 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB; two WDC WD360GD-00FNA0 36GB Serial ATA 10,000rpm; one WDC WD2000JB-00EVA0 200GB ATA/100 7,200rpm; integrated WinXP Promise FastTrak 378 controller