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.
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.
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 MPC that use the same Pentium 4 component. The PC Club Enpower Edge even narrowly edged 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.and
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 asystem 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, 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.