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Polywell Poly 590SLI2 - Athlon 64 FX 62 2.8 GHz - 24 TFT review: Polywell Poly 590SLI2 - Athlon 64 FX 62 2.8 GHz - 24 TFT

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Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Polywell Poly 590SLI2 is how nondescript it looks. At first glance the default black case seems more like a budget system chassis than a high-end screamer. If basic black doesn't suit you, the system's configuration page on Polywell's Web site lets you swap in a variety of cases, ranging from subtle to gaudy. Despite its bleak look, the Poly 590SLI2's standard case holds up well upon closer inspection. It has room for four optical drives, two 3.5-inch external drives, and four hard drive slots, which means there's plenty of room for expansion down the road.

7.4

Polywell Poly 590SLI2 - Athlon 64 FX 62 2.8 GHz - 24 TFT

The Good

Athlon FX-62 chip helps power the system to new benchmark heights; reasonably priced; plenty of room for expansion; long warranty.

The Bad

Uninspiring design; might be eclipsed very soon by new Intel CPUs; real top-of-the-line requires quad-SLI.

The Bottom Line

With AMD's latest chipset and top-of-the-line CPU hidden inside a plain-Jane case, the Polywell Poly 950SLI2 doesn't look the part of the owner of the fastest benchmark scores we've ever seen. Be warned, however, it may not hold the title for long.
If you're looking for blazingly fast performance but care not a whit about aesthetics, then Polywell may have the perfect PC for you. Systems from smaller vendors are often hit or miss, and Polywell is no exception. But when the company nails a concept as with the Poly 590SLI2, you can get a solid computer for less than what high-end boutique vendors would charge. The Polywell Poly 590SLI2 is one of the first systems we've seen with AMD's new and the new top-of-the-line Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU. Add in two GeForce 7900 GT graphics cards in an SLI setup, 7.1 Creative speakers, and a 20-inch Samsung LCD, and the $4,399 price doesn't look quite so steep. Still, if you absolutely must be the first on the block to get an FX-62 system, you probably will want a four-card quad-SLI rig--and once you're in this price range, what's another $1,000 or so between friends? (Yes, Polywell also offers a quad-SLI config for this machine.) Speed-conscious buyers should also consider the imminent release of the next generation of Intel CPUs, which could quickly turn your envy-inducing FX-62 system into yesterday's news.

Our test system features an Asus M2N32-SLI ATX motherboard, which along with AMD's new Athlon 64 FX-62 processor, boasts 2GB of DDR2 RAM (four 512MB sticks) and two 150GB 10,000rpm Western Digital Raptor hard drives, striped together in a RAID 0 array (essentially combining them into one giant hard drive, but without the data redundancy of other flavors of RAID setups). There are also two Sony optical drives on board, one DVD burner, and one CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive.

Connectivity options include six USB 2.0 ports (two front, four back), three FireWire ports (one front, two back), and DVI and S-Video outputs. One external 3.5-inch drive bay holds a media card reader.

If you're looking for a major speed boost from the new dual-core 2.8GHz Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU, you won't be disappointed. The chip helped the Polywell Poly 590SLI2 post the fastest numbers we've seen from a reviewed system to date on CNET Labs' SysMark 2004 application benchmarks, coming in at 327. Technically, the other FX-62 system we've looked at, the Falcon Northwest Mach V, was even faster at 339, but a preproduction Asus motherboard kept us from giving the Mach V a formal rated review. A typical high-end FX-60 system such as the ABS M6 Sniper scored 12 percent slower in the same test.

As you would expect from two GeForce 7900 GT cards in an SLI setup, the Polywell Poly 590SLI2 is a ridiculously fast gaming rig. It's no secret that even the newest games can't really take advantage of the four GPUs in the new breed of quad-SLI systems. The Poly 590SLI2 's 143.4 frames per second in Doom 3 at 1,600x1,200 resolution is fast enough to satisfy the most jaded gamer. Nevertheless, knocking the specs back a notch each to an AMD Athlon FX-60 CPU and a pair of GeForce 7800 GTX video cards, as in the Velocity Micro FX-60, drops the frame rate only slightly, to 132.4 frames per second--a difference the naked eye would have a hard time distilling.

Bundled with our test system was a Logitech cordless mouse and keyboard set, along with a boxed version of Nero 7.1 Ultra Edition, a CD and DVD burning suite. Our test system included a Creative Labs P7800 7.1-speaker system and a 20-inch Samsung SyncMaster 204T LCD monitor. Skipping both of these will drive down the system price approximately $500.

One of the problems about dropping a few grand on a new PC is that you usually get only a one-year warranty. Polywell offers three years of coverage for parts and five years for labor, which is a nice bonus. There's a 24-hour toll-free tech-support phone line for in-warranty customers, and the company actually offers lifetime phone support on a more limited basis (Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT) after that. Polywell's Web site has a basic page for downloading drivers and manuals, and it offers live chat during Pacific-time business hours.

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

3D gaming performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Doom 3 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF  
Doom 3 1,024x768, 4xAA 8xAF  
Half-Life 2 1,600x1,200 4xAA 8xAF  
Half-Life 2 1,024x768 4xAA 8xAF  

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
ABS M6 Sniper
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-60; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI x16 chipset; 2,048MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (SLI); two Western Digital WD946D 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA, one Seagate, 500GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 RAID class controller (RAID 0)
Cyberpower Gamer Ultra X1900XT
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-60; ATI RD580 (ATI Crossfire Xpress 3200) chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 512MB ATI Radeon X1900 XT (PCIe CrossFire); two WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; one Western Digital, 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated ULI SATA/RAID controller CM1575/N1697 (RAID 0)
Polywell Poly 590SLI2-FX62
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-62; Nvidia Nforce 590 chipset; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 1066MHz; two 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX (SLI); two Western Digital WD946D 150GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce 590 RAID class controller (RAID 0)
Polywell Poly 939N4SLI2/FX60
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-60; Nvida Nforce 4 SLI x16 chipset; 2,048MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (SLI); two Western Digital WD946D 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA, one Western Digital WDC2500KS-00MJB0 250GB Serial ATA II; integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 Serial ATA RAID Controller (RAID 0)
Velocity Micro Gamer's Edge Dual X
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.9GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-60; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI x16 chipset; 2,048MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe); two Hitachi 500GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 Serial ATA RAID controller (RAID 0)

7.4

Polywell Poly 590SLI2 - Athlon 64 FX 62 2.8 GHz - 24 TFT

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 7Performance 9Support 7