PC Club Enpower Silencer
Why is there a Pentium M 755, a Centrino Mobile processor, in a desktop computer? Operating at 2.0GHz, and with a desktop-standard 400MHz frontside bus and 2MB of L2 cache, this CPU is no lightweight. Better still, it runs cooler than a typical Pentium 4, and in the $2,399 PC Club Enpower Silencer's cramped case, keeping the thermal levels in check is mandatory. Overall, the system is very cool--we were able to tell, thanks to the illuminated front-panel thermostat. As a result of the reduced heat, the fans don't need to work as hard, allowing the Enpower Silencer to live up to its name, with exceedingly quiet operation.
Because laptops need to squeeze their components into such tight quarters while keeping an eye on power-consumption matters (that is, battery life), they typically can't keep pace with their desktop counterparts. More than the CPU, it's a laptop's other components--the slower, smaller hard drive and the integrated graphics to name two--that hold back performance. The PC Club Enpower Silencer combines the best of both worlds for a small-form-factor (SFF) PC by combining a surprisingly capable mobile CPU with full-fledged desktop parts.
The Enpower Silencer's Pentium M 755 may be running at only 2.0GHz compared to mainstream desktops systems, such as the Dell Dimension 4700C, that use a chip clocked at 3.0GHz, but the Silencer is able to hold its own in terms of performance, thanks to the Pentium M's healthy dose of L2 cache. For instance, the Pentium M 755 serves up 2MB to the Pentium 4 530's 1MB of L2 cache. (Intel recently announced its Pentium 4 600 series of desktop chips, which offer 2MB of cache.) L2 cache is a memory reserve located on the motherboard, close to the CPU, that's more quickly accessed than the main system memory.
So, PC Club took the Pentium M 755 CPU and paired it with 1GB of PC3200 DDR memory, a 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 GT graphics card, and a 10,000rpm Western Digital SATA hard drive to create a stable and surprisingly powerful SFF desktop in the Enpower Silencer. The system's SysMark 2004 score of 175 overall places it in the middle of today's mainstream desktops in terms of application performance. It narrowly edged the score of 173.
The Enpower Silencer is a powerful gamer as well. Its 3D results were bolstered by its 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 GT card, giving it a remarkable 245 frames per second on our 1,024x768 Unreal Tournament 2003 benchmark. The Enpower Silencer even beat (albeit by a very slim margin) theand its overclocked CPU and graphics card, an impressive feat.
Undo the two thumbscrews, remove the side panel of the 14.5-by-6.0-by-14.5-inch (HWD) Athenatech Micro-ATX A106 case, and you're greeted by a sardine can of a PC. You won't find any open drive bays, just two vacant PCI slots. The overhang from the video card's exhaust fan and the add-in rear plate for the FireWire port, however, prohibit adding any expansion cards. You'll also have to toss out the two existing 512MB SDRAM modules (if you can reach them) to upgrade the memory. If the inside sounds a little claustrophobic, at least the Enpower Silencer provides four USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire port on the back panel and two more USB 2.0 ports on the front.
PC Club packed a multiformat, double-layer DVD burner in the system, with the Nero Burning ROM 6.3 Suite for burning discs and CyberLink's PowerDVD 5.0 for watching movies. The Logitech Z-640 5.1-speaker system PC Club bundled with our test system is no wall shaker at 51 watts RMS, but it does the job well enough with help from the integrated audio chip.
You have a choice of displays from the PC Club Web site, but the company recommends the Samsung 710N-2BK 17-inch LCD with a 12ms response time, which on paper at least, should be good enough for blur-free gaming. (PC Club did not submit a monitor with our Enpower Silencer test system.) The included Logitech Bluetooth Cordless MX Duo is tough on left-handers due to the righty-sculpted mouse, but overall, it's a high-quality remote keyboard and mouse. In fact, we'd like to see more vendors include Bluetooth devices. If you're wondering about batteries, they're all included: standard alkalines for the keyboard, and the nickel-metal-hydride rechargeables that the mouse requires.
The biggest drawback to the otherwise excellent Enpower Silencer is PC Club's service and support. The company provides a standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty, and you can upgrade to three years for an additional $189, but 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.
(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).