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MPC Millennia 910a Professional review: MPC Millennia 910a Professional

MPC Millennia 910a Professional

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
7 min read
The MPC (formerly MicronPC) Millennia 910a Pro is the sixth man of desktops. In the NBA, the starting five may grab the headlines and the big contracts, but it's often the work of the first guy off the bench that gives a team its recipe for success. You won't find flashy, top-tier components and leading-edge performance with the 910a Pro, but it's nonetheless a solid system at an attractive price. In fact, priced near $1,700, it's one of the least expensive PCs we've seen with a recordable-DVD drive. And it comes with an enormous amount of software. Overall, this Athlon-based PC is well equipped for small businesses, as well as for students and families looking to dabble in multimedia.

Color coordinated: the updated chassis design is a two-tone gray with matching peripherals.

Convenient front-mounted USB 2.0, FireWire, and audio ports.

Along with changing its name from MicronPC to MPC, the company also updated the chassis for its Millennia line of desktop PCs. Gone are the beige boxes of yesterday. The redesigned chassis has a two-tone, gray color scheme with matching monitor, keyboard, and mouse. You'll find two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, and microphone and headphone jacks on the front panel. The floppy's legacy continues on the new case design: a fixed 1.44MB floppy drive is featured on the front panel, as well. On the back there are four more USB 2.0 ports and dual Ethernet ports for home networking.

Around back, you'll find parallel and serial legacy ports in addition to dual 10/100 Ethernet ports, dual modem ports, and four USB 2.0 connectors.

Four of our 910a test system's five PCI slots were free for expansion.

Inside, the Millennia's new chassis doesn't incorporate flashing neon lights or detachable drive cages, but its layout is clean and simple. All of the cables are secured to the side of the box, providing clear access to two 3.5-inch and two 5.25-inch front-accessible drive bays. Of the motherboard's five PCI slots, four were free on our 910a Pro test system, providing ample room for expansion. There's also one free DIMM should you want to add more memory above the two 256MB DIMMs of our test system.

Our Millennia 910a Pro test unit featured an AMD Athlon XP 2400+ processor running on an Nforce-2 chipset and 512MB of PC2700 DDR memory. Although these components may not win system-performance awards, they're more than up to accomplishing day-to-day tasks. Our 910a Pro's Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 card is aging, but it's still an excellent card that should have no problems driving your 3D games.
You can upgrade any of the 910a Pro's components, but top-tier options aren't at your disposal. For example, the only other processor option on the 910a line is the Athlon XP 2800+, which is no longer AMD's speediest CPU. (The selection is a bit better on the 910a's sister configuration, the Intel-based 910i, which offers four Pentium 4 processors from which to choose.) And the graphics card choices top out at the GeForce Ti 4600; hard-core gamers looking for the new GeForce FX cards will need to look elsewhere.

We were delighted to see a DVD burner on such an attractively priced PC.

The Microsoft keyboard and mouse match the CPU tower.

The most noteworthy feature of the Millennia is its inclusion of both a DVD-RW drive and a speedy 48X CD-RW drive. The DVD-RW drive is a great feature on a system of this price, and the separate CD-RW drive means that you won't have to rely on the DVD drive's poky CD-copying abilities. The 80GB hard drive provides a good start for storing large video files or a library of MP3s (larger hard drives are available via MPC's online system configurator).
We were also impressed by MPC's bright 19-inch CRT, which showcased clean text and great-looking video that looked only slightly dark. Unless you're an audio buff, you'll be satisfied with the bundled 2.1 Altec Lansing speakers, which run off the built-in audio chip on the system's Nforce-2 chipset. A matching Microsoft Office keyboard and optical mouse round out the hardware.
The huge software bundle includes Microsoft Works Suite 2002, Pinnacle Studio, and Norton AntiVirus 2002. A boon for families is the Teacher's PET line of educational titles, five packs which range from preschool to high school (33 CDs in total). MPC also throws in the Family Software Pack, which contains 16 CDs ranging from graphics apps and games to Encyclopedia Britannica 2003 Ready Reference and Quicken 2002.

Application performance
AMD's frontline weapon in its war with Intel is AMD's True Performance Initiative (TPI). TPI is AMD's claim that you can't judge a processor's performance merely by its clock speed. CNET Labs wholeheartedly agrees with this basic concept: there is a lot more to a CPU than just megahertz. Unfortunately, the vast majority of AMD Athlon XP+-based systems that have come through the Labs' doors don't quite live up to AMD's performance expectations.
The MPC Millennia 910a Pro is an excellent example of this fact. The configuration we tested was powered by an AMD Athlon XP 2400+ CPU. The 2400+ in the processor's name implies that it should be capable of performance equal to that of a 2.4GHz Pentium 4, even though the 2400+ actually runs at 2.0GHz. Our tests indicate that the system's office-productivity application performance is in fact comparable to that of typical 2.4GHz P4-based systems. The system's content-creation application performance, however, is not as impressive, performing on the low end of the range for 2.0GHz P4 systems. And the most significant results of our testing show that the 901a Pro's overall application performance is only a hair faster than that of typical 2.0GHz P4 desktops.
Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 rating  
SysMark2002 Internet content-creation rating  
SysMark2002 office productivity rating  
Gentech Performance 9000 (2.4GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
iBuyPower Gamer Force-2 (AMD Athlon XP 2700+, 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
MPC Millennia 910a Pro (AMD Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
Gateway 500S (2.0GHz Intel P4, 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz)
ABS Bravado 2230 (AMD Athlon XP 2200+, 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
Note: In order to find acceptable comparison systems, we included a number of system configurations that are no longer available.
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, 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
An Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 might not be the speediest graphics card available today, but unless you are a hard-core game enthusiast, the 910a Pro with its Ti 4200 should have no problem driving your 3D games and family titles, even at high screen resolutions. But if you think you'll need a little extra graphics oomph to vanquish those aliens, you can upgrade the configuration to a GeForce4 Ti 4600.
3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Second Edition Build 330 (16-bit color)  
Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Second Edition Build 330 (32-bit color)  
MPC Millennia 910a Pro (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200)
iBuyPower Gamer Force-2 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200)
ABS Bravado 2230 (Nvidia GeForce4 MX 460)
Gateway 500S (Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440)
Gentech Performance 9000 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600)
Note: 3DMark 2001 was not run on the Gentech Performance 9000.
To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Pro Second Edition, Build 330. We use 3DMark to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8 (DX8) interface at both 16- and 32-bit color settings at a resolution of 1,024x768. A system that does not have DX8 hardware support will typically generate a lower score than one that has DX8 hardware support.
3D gaming performance in FPS  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Quake III Arena  
Gentech Performance 9000 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600)
iBuyPower Gamer Force-2 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200)
MPC Millennia 910a Pro (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200)
ABS Bravado 2230 (Nvidia GeForce4 MX 460)
Gateway 500S (Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440)
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Quake III Arena. Although Quake III is an older game, it is still widely used as an industry-standard tool. Quake III does not require DX8 hardware support--as 3DMark2001 does--and is therefore an excellent means of comparing the performance of low- to high-end graphics subsystems. Quake III performance is reported in frames per second (fps).
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
ABS Bravado 2230
Windows XP Home; 1.8GHz AMD Athlon XP 2200+; 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 MX 460 64MB; two Maxtor 6L080J4 40GB 7,200rpm; Promise MBFast Track133 Lite RAID
Gateway 500S
Windows XP Home; 2.0GHz Intel P4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440 128MB; Maxtor 6L080J4 80GB 7,200rpm
Gentech Performance 9000
Windows XP Home; 2.4GHz Intel P4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB; Western Digital WD1200JB-00CRA0 120GB 7,200rpm
iBuyPower Gamer Force-2
Windows XP Home; 2.17GHz AMD Athlon XP 2700+; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB; Western Digital WD800BB-00CAA1 80GB 7,200rpm
MPC Millennia 910a Pro
Windows XP Professional; 2.0GHz AMD Athlon XP 2400+; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 64MB; Seagate ST380021A 80GB 7,200rpm

MPC backs its Millennia line of PCs with a standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty, 24/7 toll-free telephone support, and one year of onsite service. MPC includes a quick-start guide and operating system and application recovery discs, each with its own printed manual. Unfortunately, the company doesn't include a printed system manual. The electronic user manual is thorough, but it's useless if your PC crashes.

MPC Millennia 910a Professional

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 6Support 6