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PC Club Enpower Edge review: PC Club Enpower Edge


Massive and brilliant blue, the Cooler Master ATC-620 aluminum case is plenty roomy enough to accommodate a lot of hardware, and PC Club didn't hesitate to load it up. The three hard drives stand out, as much for providing ample storage capacity as for aiding performance. A pair of Western Digital 10,000rpm 74GB Raptor drives in a RAID 0 configuration provide the speed; the third drive, a 250GB SATA unit, provides the space. The optical drive tandem--a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive and a double-layer DVD burner--complements the internal storage. Beneath the optical drives resides a 6-in-1 media-card reader in the floppy bay. All of them are hidden behind the wavy front-panel door.

7.0

PC Club Enpower Edge

The Good

Lots of horsepower; three hard drives deliver speed and storage space; booming audio.

The Bad

Pricey; limited configuration options; subpar response time with bundled LCD.

The Bottom Line

Only a mismatched monitor dampens our enthusiasm for PC Club's understated Enpower Edge, which enthusiasts will find more use for when the gaming day is done.
PC Club Enpower Edge
The PC Club Enpower Edge is billed as an elite gaming machine, and it's certainly no performance slouch, with its speedy 3.8GHz Intel Pentium 4 570, 1GB of DDR2 SDRAM, and Nvidia's GeForce 6800 GT graphics card. We also like the trio of hard drives, which will serve PC enthusiasts in many multimedia endeavors beyond gaming. Our main gripe is with the bundled 19-inch RealSync MS798 LCD monitor, which struggled with fast-moving images in our tests. Starting at $2,999, our review system found its way up to $4,118 after processor, OS, and keyboard upgrades, plus the addition of the 19-inch LCD. Its excellent all-around performance means you can throw more than just the latest games at this blue beast, but you'd be better off choosing another display.

The rest of the PC Club Enpower Edge's front panel looks refreshingly clean because the case provides easily accessible ports on top of the case instead of in front. A pop-top lid hides audio jacks, two USB 2.0 ports, and a FireWire port. In total, the machine supplies five FireWire and six USB 2.0 ports. Networking options are abundant--the system not only has an integrated 802.11b/g wireless radio but also two Gigabit Ethernet ports, equipping it for complex LANs or even for use as a server in a pinch. All this gear inside the Cooler Master case and on the ASUS P5AD2 Premium motherboard leaves little room for expansion: two additional memory slots, two open PCI slots (one a very tight squeeze with the video card), and two open 5.25-inch drive bays. Lastly, we love the color of the blue case--the only color PC Club offers for the Enpower Edge.

A 3.8GHz Pentium 4 570 CPU, 1GB of DDR2 memory running at 533MHz, and a 256MB Nvidia 6800 GT PCI Express video card (with dual DVI outputs) anchored our Enpower Edge review unit. The system performed extremely well in our benchmarks, returning a SysMark 2004 score of 222, which was right in line with systems we've tested from Falcon Northwest and MPC that use the same Pentium 4 component. The PC Club Enpower Edge even narrowly edged ZT Group's system, which uses the newer (and much more expensive) 3.73GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition chip. The Enpower Edge's Half-Life 2 performance clocked in at a fast 72.6 frames per second (fps) on our 1,024x768-resolution test and at a playable 42fps at 1,600x1,200. Better news still, the GeForce 6800 GT can easily be overlocked to match 6800 Ultra performance levels.

We tested the system with the included flat panel, a 19-inch RealSync MS798 LCD. Although its crispness, contrast, and wide viewing angle are not in question, its response time was disappointing. It's specified at a relatively high 25 milliseconds (the lower the response time, the better), and we encountered distracting smearing during fast-action games.

Audio is a different story. The Enpower Edge's dulcet tones come courtesy of a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS sound card outputting to a Logitech Z-5500 system of compact but crisp and powerful speakers. Luckily, the speakers and sound card are excellent, because PC Club provides no other choices for these components on the Enpower Edge's configurator.

User input is provided through the Logitech diNovo Media Desktop, a Bluetooth-based wireless optical mouse and two-piece keyboard combo. Like many wireless devices, they suffer from a slight "wake-up" delay after moderate periods of inactivity, but other than that, they perform well. The mouse tracked well even over a smooth, black desk surface.

The minimal software bundle is limited to a DVD player and basic system-protection tools: eTrust's PestPatrol Anti-Spyware and EZ Antivirus. PC Club Enpower Edge systems come preconfigured with Windows XP Home, but ours was running XP Professional. You can configure the system with one of four Microsoft productivity apps should you want to get some work done when not gaming.

The company provides a standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty, and you can upgrade to three years for an additional $279; however, onsite service is not available in either package. Telephone support is toll-free but available only Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. Online support is minimal, with just a download section and a few FAQ pages. PC Club includes no documentation except for a few component manuals. Online help is lacking; PC Club's Web site doesn't clearly list a dedicated e-mail address for support and has no trace of a phone number. We received a prompt but not entirely accurate response to an e-mailed question regarding FireWire ports. When we dug up a support contact number, we got through with no hold time and received the same answer.

Application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  

Half-Life 2 custom demo (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Half-Life 2 1,024x768 4XAA 8XAF  
Half-Life 2 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF  

3D gaming performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,024x768  
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby-Antalus 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF  

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
ABS Ultimate M6
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-55; Nvidia Nforce 4 Ultra SLI chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 GT (PCIe, SLI); two Seagate ST3200822AS 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Silicon SiI 3114 SoftRAID 5 controller

Falcon Northwest FragBox 2
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.8GHz Intel P4 570; Intel 925X chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra (PCIe); two Maxtor 6B300S0 300GB 7,200rpm, Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801FR SATA RAID controller

MPC Millennia 940i Dream Machine
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.8GHz Intel P4 570; Intel 925X chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra (PCIe); Hitachi HDS722525VLSA80 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; two Hitachi HDS724040KLSA80 400GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801FR SATA RAID controller

PC Club Enpower Edge
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.8GHz Intel P4 570; Intel 925X chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 GT (PCIe); two WDC WD740GD-00FLX0 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA; WDC WD2500JD-50HBB0 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801FR SATA RAID controller

ZT Group Pro Gaming PC X6647
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.73GHz Intel P4 Extreme Edition; Intel 925XE chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon X850 XT PE (PCIe); Seagate ST3400832AS 400GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

7.0

PC Club Enpower Edge

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Support 5