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MPC ClientPro 365 review: MPC ClientPro 365

MPC ClientPro 365

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
5 min read
Aimed at small and medium-size businesses, the MPC ClientPro 365 is a no-frills desktop that offers basic features, current technology (including Intel's 915G Express chipset), and an IT-friendly design. With a 17-inch flat-panel included, our $1,399 test system is a good deal, but unfortunately, its performance leaves something to be desired. MPC's support and software offerings up the ClientPro 365's value. Still, we prefer HP's excellent Business Desktop dc7100 or Dell's new BTX-based OptiPlex GX280.
The ClientPro 365's low-profile chassis features generally attractive lines, but the off-white CD-RW drive contrasts awkwardly with the rest of the system's gray coloring (monitor and keyboard included). The case lid slides off easily with the release of a single captured thumbscrew, revealing a spacious, largely modular interior. It's a snap to swap out either the hard drive or the CD-RW drive, though you do have to remove a couple screws from the former to free it from its metal cage. MPC also offers a roomier midtower case for the ClientPro 365, which provides greater expansion options, such as the ability to use full-height graphics cards.
You'll find unobstructed access to the ClientPro 365's lone x16 PCI Express graphics slot and two PCI slots, but the half-height case severely limits your choice of expansion cards (MPC offers but one low-profile graphics card for the system). You can easily add RAM to the system; two of its four memory sockets stand ready, though you may have to slide the CD-RW drive forward a bit to access one of them. Admirably, there's a 5.25-inch external bay available, and it includes a bracket for 3.5-inch devices (such as a second hard drive). Plus, you get eight USB 2.0 ports--half in front, half in back--and a FireWire port; the latter is rare in business-class systems.
We were concerned to find one of the power cables resting against the top of the CPU's heatsink, and while there was no evidence of any melting, MPC should take care to route cables more carefully. What's more, the case makes a little more noise than we prefer; the two fans produce a low but noticeable hum.
Our MPC ClientPro 365 review unit derives its power from a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 540 processor, 512MB of DDR SDRAM, an 80GB Serial ATA hard drive, and an integrated Intel GMA 900 graphics chip. The latter, from Intel's mainstream 915G Express chipset, offers surprisingly robust 3D performance, even enabling games like Unreal Tournament 2003 to run at a healthy clip--albeit at a modest resolution. However, our test system's overall performance wasn't too hot; it trailed similarly equipped Gateway and HP systems and couldn't even outpace Dell's 3.0GHz Dimension 4700C.
With any ClientPro PC, MPC offers a selection of its own CRT and LCD monitors and even a few Samsung flat panels. Our ClientPro 365 review unit arrived with the MPC F1760i, a 17-inch LCD. It doesn't move around much, it only tilts, but the F1760i creates a surprisingly sharp picture for an analog flat-panel, and its 450:1 contrast ratio should keep eyestrain to a minimum. The monitor's built-in speakers are a nice space-saving solution for business environments, where little more than basic audio is needed, and they give the ClientPro a slight advantage over Dell's OptiPlex GX280, which ships without speakers.
Our MPC ClientPro 365 configuration includes LANDesk Software's LANDesk System Manager 8.0, which provides low-level monitoring, alerts, and performance management. MPC can preload the software or let IT departments deploy it themselves. The ClientPro 365 also comes with Microsoft Office 2003 Basic, Nero Express 6.0 for disk burning, a 90-day trial of Norton AntiVirus, and recovery CDs, a fine blend of software for a business-oriented computer.
MPC earns a gold star for providing a three-year parts, labor, and onsite-service warranty. Customers also get toll-free, 24/7 phone support, though it too expires after three years. There's room for improvement at the company's support site, which we found generally confusing and lacking in a few key areas (such as real-time help). We'd also like to see some setup instructions; MPC provides no system-specific documentation whatsoever.
Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
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). Depending on the class of the system, we may report only the office-productivity or Internet-content-creation portions of SysMark.
3D gaming performance (in fps)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768  

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).
System configurations:
Dell Dimension 4700C
Windows XP Home SP2; 3.0GHz Intel P4 530; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB (shared memory) integrated Intel 915G ; Seagate ST3160023AS 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Dell OptiPlex GX280 BTX
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.4GHz Intel P4 550; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 128MB ATI Radeon X300 (PCIe); ST380013AS 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Gateway E-6300
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.2GHz Intel P4 540; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB (shared memory) integrated Intel 915G; Seagate ST3160023AS 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
HP Compaq Business Desktop dc7100
Windows XP Professional SP1; 3.2GHz Intel P4 540; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB integrated Intel 915G (shared memory); Seagate ST380013AS 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
MPC ClientPro 365
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.2GHz Intel P4 540; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB integrated Intel 915G (shared memory); Seagate ST380011A 80GB 7,200rpm ATA/100