MPC Millennia 920i Creative Studio - P4 3.2 GHz - 17 CRT review: MPC Millennia 920i Creative Studio - P4 3.2 GHz - 17 CRT

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The Good Lightning-fast performance; 6.1-speaker set provides rich sound; plenty of USB and FireWire ports.

The Bad Boring exterior; no media-card reader; included Samsung LCD doesn't display video well.

The Bottom Line Drab as it may appear on the outside, MPC’s Millennia 920i is an out-of-this-world performer with a distinct taste for multimedia.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Support 6

NDA 06-22 MPC Millennia 920i

Combine Intel's new 3.2GHz processor with 1GB of 400MHz memory, dual Serial ATA 160GB hard drives, and the ATI 128MB Radeon 9800 Pro, and you don't just get a fast system--you get the fastest system we've seen to date. The MPC Millennia 920i may not look inspiring, but the first 3.2GHz Pentium-based system to pass through our labs took top marks on each and every one of our benchmarks. (Of course, it will soon see stiffer competition as we review other 3.2GHz P4-based systems.) Although the bland exterior lacks the aesthetic punch of other high-end systems' and the 920i is perhaps one additional component away from achieving configuration greatness, it nonetheless offers fantastic multimedia capability that will satisfy demanding users, from gamers to digital video editors.

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You don't have to reach around back to plug in USB or FireWire devices.
Compared with other high-end performance systems, the MPC Millennia 920i's bland exterior looks like a throwback. Even high-volume producers such as Dell have made some effort to jazz up their cases to compete with the likes of boutique PC makers Alienware and VoodooPC. The benefit of the gray-plastic, unadorned Millennia case, though, is that it keeps the system's price down. And it's not without some polished touches, either: The Millennia 920i provides two USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks, and a FireWire port on the front of the box.

Getting inside the case is easy: simply twist one captured thumbscrew and depress two plastic latches. In fact, among the side panels we've encountered, it's one of the easiest to remove. But while it's easy to take off the front bezel to access the drive bays, the plastic rail system on which the 5.25-inch drives slide out is hard to manipulate.

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Full house: our test system included a Radeon 9800 graphics card, an Audigy 2 sound card, a FireWire card, and a modem card.
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With dual optical drives and dual hard drives, you won't find much room inside to expand.

The interior is also bare bones--no fluorescent light or transparent fan shrouds here--and it's something of an organized mess, to boot. Expansion space is limited to one 3.5-inch drive bay and two PCI slots, and almost every bay, port, and slot is easy to access, except for the one into which all of the excess IDE ribbon cable has been stashed. The remaining cables are in no way tidily tied down, but they are strung and looped sufficiently out of the way. We appreciate the screw-free clamp plate on the PCI and AGP card slots, but it would not take much design effort to improve upon the plate's tough latching mechanism.
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Samsung's LCD showed crisp text, but it experienced a few hiccups with video.
The MPC Millennia 920i is the first system we've looked at with Intel's spanking-new 3.2GHz Pentium 4 processor. Combined with the 1GB of DDR400 memory, dual 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drives, and the 128MB ATI Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card, the system can handle about any consumer-level task you care to throw at it. In fact, it posted the highest benchmarks across the board of any PC we've seen to date.

Should you be looking for a more bare-bones system from MPC's Millennia line, you do have the option of scaling back. Our test system technically falls under the Creative Studio series, which is built for high-end multimedia tasks, such as digital video editing--not to mention running the latest 3D games. Therefore, its default configuration includes more bells and whistles than those of either the Professional or the Xtreme lines; the Creative Studio line comes standard with double the memory and hard drive size, the Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card, a FireWire PCI card, and 5.1 speakers. Virtually the same configuration options are offered across all three lines, however, and our test configuration costs more than double the $1,699 default Creative Studio configuration.

In addition to the aforementioned 320GB of drive space, the two items that most add to the cost are the DVD-R drive and the 19-inch Samsung LCD. In an odd twist, you can actually save a few bucks by choosing the Creative 6.1-speaker set instead of the Altec Lansing 5.1 set. But the DVD-recordable drive and the ample drive space heighten the 920i's multimedia appeal. The Creative Inspire 6600 6.1 speakers connected to the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 card give an amazing amount of depth to music, as well as game and DVD audio. We were less enamored with the bundled Samsung SyncMaster 191T 19-inch LCD, however; though text looked crisp in our tests, the image was not particularly clean with some of our test DVDs. Finally, a 48X/24X/48X CD-RW provides speedy CD burning.

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The 6.1 speakers trump a 5.1 set by including a front-center channel speaker.
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Optical duo: DVD-R and CD-RW drives have it covered.
A total of four FireWire ports and Pinnacle Studio's Studio 9.0 and Hollywood FX video-editing software give you the flexibility to connect all of your digital devices and put your movies together with polish. We feel that a multimedia card reader would be the perfect addition to one of the two available 3.5-inch bays and were disappointed to find that it isn't an option on MPC's site.

Rounding out the setup are Microsoft's Wireless Optical Desktop mouse-and-keyboard kit, replete with multimedia buttons, a blank DVD-R disc, Ahead Software's Nero Burning ROM software, and Microsoft Office XP Small Business Edition.
Application performance
The MPC Millennia 920i is the first system we've tested using Intel's new 3.2GHz Pentium 4 processor, the successor to the 3GHz P4 processor; it ups the ante again in the race to be the fastest processor available. The Millennia 920i's SysMark2002 rating of 336 bested by 5 percent the previous speed leader, the similarly configured 3GHz P4-based ABS Ultimate X5. This result comes as no great shock (after all, 3.2GHz is 6.7 percent faster than 3GHz in raw clock speed), but it means that the Millennia 920i has more than enough power for any application you're likely to run.

Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 rating  
SysMark2002 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark2002 office-productivity rating  
MPC Millennia 920i (3.2GHz Intel P4, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
ABS Ultimate X5 (3GHz Intel P4, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Dell Dimension XPS (3GHz Intel P4, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Gateway 700XL Digital Film Maker (3GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Polywell Poly 880NF3-3200 (AMD Athlon XP 3200+, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
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
The MPC Millennia 920i uses the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card, which is the fastest graphics card we've seen in any system to date. So, it's no surprise that its 3DMark2001 performance is among the fastest we've witnessed, beating Nvidia's GeForce FX 5800 Ultra by a healthy margin. (We have yet to see Nvidia's newest card, the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra, in a system.) Quake III performance continued to skyrocket, but anything more than 200 frames per second (fps) is all gravy. The bottom line is that the 9800 Pro can handle anything and any game you can throw at it.

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)  
MPC Millennia 920i (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
ABS Ultimate X5 (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Dell Dimension XPS (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Gateway 700XL Digital Film Maker (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Polywell Poly 880NF3-3200 (Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra)
To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark2001 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  
MPC Millennia 920i (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Dell Dimension XPS (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
ABS Ultimate X5 (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Gateway 700XL Digital Film Maker (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Polywell Poly 880NF3-3200 (Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra)
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 Ultimate X5
Windows XP Home; 3GHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB; two Seagate ST380023AS 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801ER Serial ATA RAID controller

Dell Dimension XPS
Windows XP Professional; 3GHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB; two Seagate ST3120023AS 120GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; Promise FastTrak TX2000 S150 TX2 Serial ATA controller card

Gateway 700XL Digital Film Maker
Windows XP Home; 3GHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB; two Maxtor 6Y200P0 200GB 7,200rpm

MPC Millennia 920i
Windows XP Professional; 3.2GHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB; two Seagate ST3160023AS 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801ER Serial ATA RAID controller

Polywell Poly 880NF3-3200
Windows XP Professional, 2.2GHz AMD Athlon XP 3200+; Nvidia Nforce-2 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra 128MB; two Western Digital WDC WD360GD-00FNA0, 36GB 10,000rpm; Highpoint RocketRAID 1520 SATA RAID controller
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. If you are a believer of the maxim, "Better safe than sorry," you can extend the warranty all the way up to five years of coverage for $349. We are of the opinion that a high-end system should include a standard multiyear warranty. It doesn't have to be five years, but two or three seem fair for the amount of money you'll spend on your system.

The company includes a quick-start guide, as well as 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, of course, if your PC crashes.

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