Its case design has room for improvement, but for pure bang for your buck WinBook's PowerSpec 9800, with its factory-overclocked Core 2 Extreme CPU, makes a tempting offer. Look elsewhere if you want to make a strong visual impression, but its performance compares well to systems that cost hundreds more.
The PowerSpec 9800 has very similar specs to many of the other Core 2 Duo systems we've reviewed over the past few weeks. It comes with a Core 2 Extreme X6800 CPU, 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, a 512MB ATI Radeon X1900 XT 3D card in dual-card CrossFire mode, a pair of fast 10,000rpm 150GB Western Digital Raptor hard drives, and a 300GB 7,200rpm drive for added storage. In short, it's as fully loaded a desktop as you can find right now, and it will meet all of your gaming, digital-content-creation, and pretty much any other high-end needs. Like systems from Alienware, Falcon Northwest, and Velocity Micro, WinBook overclocks the CPU (which is also covered by the warranty), bumping the chip from 2.93GHz to 3.2GHz. What's also impressive is that its strong application performance beat out Alienware's Area-51 7500, which at 3.26GHz was overclocked just a bit more aggressively.
|DivX 6.1 and McAfee VirusScan 2006|
|Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test|
|Apple iTunes encoding test|
|Microsoft Office productivity test|
|F.E.A.R. 1,600x1,200 SS 8xAF||F.E.A.R. 1,024x768 SS 8xAF||Quake 4 1,024x768, 4xAA 8xAF|
Although its case is boring compared to those of the Dell XPS 700, the Alienware Area-51 7500, and even the strong-but-staid Velocity Micro Raptor DCX, the PowerSpec 9800 earns points because of its low price. It comes in $500 less than the Alienware and $1,500 less than the Velocity Micro. And while Dell's is less expensive at only $4,005, if you ordered a WinBook today, you'd actually have it in your possession within a week. The same can't be said for the Dell.
If there's one system that the WinBook PowerSpec 9800 is most similar to, it's the Gateway FX510XT, the newest addition to Gateway's desktop family. At roughly $4,000 (without monitor) that system also has a better price than the WinBook, but it doesn't ship overclocked, and as a result, it's not as fast. It also has one fewer PCI slots than the WinBook. Both cases feature an uninspired design, which is fine--we understand that neon-yellow alien-head-shaped cases aren't for everyone. The interior of the Gateway is laid out better; the WinBook's hard drives don't face out, and they're also blocked in the drive cage by the 3D cards. Gateway's BTX case design makes it easier to swap the hard drives in and out. We'd rather have the faster performance, but if you do a lot of drive swapping, you should keep WinBook's difficulties in mind.
For the rest of the system, WinBook offers some impressive features, some of which likely contribute to its performance success. Its two 150GB Raptor hard drives are the fastest around, and the 300GB storage drive gives you plenty of space for digital media. The pair of DVD burners (WinBook trumps the single-burner Gateway here, as well) includes one with LightScribe functionality, not a make-or-break feature, but still fun to have for home-brew disc making. The obligatory media card reader rounds out the package for portable storage.
Compared to that of Gateway, WinBook's support is decent, but as we've said for all of these high-end gaming boxes, we think a three-year warranty should be the standard for any system that costs more than $3,500. WinBook gives you only one year of parts-and-labor coverage, but at least it includes onsite service. Its online support is also limited, but unlike Gateway's site, WinBook's links to the graphics driver software, arguably the most important driver to make available. Its phone support is not 24/7 like Gateway's, but it is toll-free and open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Alienware Area-51 7500
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.26GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; Nvida Nforce 4 SLI Intel Edition chipset; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX SLI; (2) 150GB Western Digital Raptors 10,000rpm Serial ATA hard drives; Nvidia Nforce RAID class controller (RAID 0)
AMD test bed
Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard; Nvidia Nforce 590 SLI chipset; Corsair Windows XP Professional SP2; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX; 74GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA hard drive; PC Power & Cooling 1kw power supply
Dell XPS 700
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; Nvidia Nforce 590 SLI chipset; (2) 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX SLI; (2) Western Digital 320GB 7,200rpm serial ATA hard drives; Nvidia Nforce RAID class controller (RAID 0)
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; Intel 975X chipset; (2) 512MB ATI Radeon X1900 XT (CrossFire mode); (2) 500GB Hitachi 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drives; Intel 82801GR/GH SATA RAID controller (RAID 0)
Velocity Micro Raptor DCX (Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800)
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.68GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; Intel 975X chipset; (2) 512MB ATI Radeon X1900 XT (CrossFire mode); (2) 150GB Western Digital Raptor 10,000rpm hard drives; 400GB Western Digital 7,200rpm hard drive; Intel 82801GR/GH SATA RAID controller (RAID 0)
WinBook PowerSpec 9800
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.2GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; Intel 975X chipset; (2) 512MB ATI Radeon X1900 XT (CrossFire mode); (2) 150GB Western Digital 10,000rpm hard drives; 300GB Western Digital 7,200rpm hard drive; Intel 82801GR/GH SATA RAID controller (RAID 0)