Polywell Poly i680SLI - Core 2 Extreme QX6700 2.66 GHz review: Polywell Poly i680SLI - Core 2 Extreme QX6700 2.66 GHz

The Good Potent GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card and Intel quad-core CPU blow through current games and are poised for next-gen gaming excellence; decent amount of expansion room; price tag won't bankrupt you as much as typical high-end PC's would.

The Bad Boring chassis with a few silly or superfluous design elements; needs a bigger power supply if you want to add a second graphics card.

The Bottom Line We expect that we'll see better-looking and better-thought-out PCs with Nvidia's new GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card inside, but Polywell gets the distinction of having the first PC in our Labs with this next-gen part. And while its visuals and its power supply could use some attention, its price-performance ratio is hard to beat.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Support 6

Last week we got a crack at a few new PCs with Intel's new Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad-core chips. This week, we have the quad-core Polywell Poly i680SLI, which has the new chip as well as Nvidia's latest, the next-gen GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card. This potent combination of high-end parts makes Polywell's new PC the first we've seen that looks truly ready for next-gen gaming. It might be a little while before you can put all of the new hardware to the test, but while you wait for the software to catch up, you should be able to shred through current-generation games at the highest possible resolutions and with maximum detail levels. And the best part is that Polywell has put a semi-approachable price tag on this PC. For $3,799, you can have one of the fastest gaming PCs on the block today and be ready for the games of tomorrow.

On the outside, the Poly i680SLI doesn't look that remarkable. It has a generic third-party chassis that has some awkward design elements. Its power and reset buttons and all of the frontside ports hide behind an unnecessarily bulky plastic door that sits on the machine's upper front edge. And its fan ports, including the massive 120mm side panel vent, come with blandly stylized plastic trim. Perhaps using an uninspired case helps Polywell keep the costs down, but even a nice case would add only an extra $100 or so.

Inside, Polywell paid a bit more attention to the Poly i680SLI's appearance. The hard drive and the optical drive cables are mostly tied down and routed out of the way. Polywell opted for the "stash the power supply cables in the empty drive bay" approach, which always looks a little sloppy, but at least the power supply's cables are bound in mesh.

The Poly i680SLI's basic specs include a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700, a 768MB GeForce 8800 GTX 3D card, two 150GB 10,000rpm hard drives, and 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM. All of those parts are plugged into Nvidia's latest high-end motherboard chipset, the i680SLI. Polywell played a conservative hand here and didn't overclock anything. That's probably a smart move. We've heard from various PC vendors that they're happy with the GeForce 8800 GTX's stock heat spreader, but if you touch the card while it's running, it feels very warm even at its stock speeds.

We're not too worried about the lack of overclocking given the Polywell's performance. On our 3D gaming tests, the Poly i680SLI and its single GeForce 8800 GTX card beat two heavily overclocked PCs running an ATI Radeon X1950 XT CrossFire setup, each with two previous-gen $500 3D cards. The only system that was faster was Dell's XPS 710, and that comes with a previous-generation Nvidia Quad SLI setup. For all of the Dell's raw horsepower, it doesn't support the image quality and next-generation features of the Polywell's single GeForce 8800 GTX. You can make the argument that there are no games that will really challenge the GeForce 8800 GTX card today, but if you can get this kind of performance and be ready for next-gen titles when they hit next year, there's almost no reason not to buy this system now.

Multitasking test (simultaneous McAfee AntiVirus scan, DivX 6.1 video encode, CAB file extraction)
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Multimedia multitasking test (simultaneous QuickTime and iTunes encoding)
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Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test
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Apple iTunes encoding test
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CineBench 9.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Gateway FX530XL
Apple Mac Pro
Dell XPS 710
ABS Ultimate X9 III

3D gaming performance (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
F.E.A.R. 1,600x1,200  
F.E.A.R. 1,280x1,024  
Quake 4 1,600x1,200  
Quake 4 1,280x1,024  
Dell XPS 710
Polywell Poly i680SLI (quad-core)
Gateway FX530XL
ABS Ultimate X9 III

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