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Psystar OpenPro review: Psystar OpenPro

Review Sections

Cinebench (in seconds)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Velocity Micro Edge Z15
14,040 
3,948 
Psystar OpenPro (Vista)
12,612 
3,513 
Psystar OpenPro (OS X)
11,352 
3,300 
Psystar Open Computer
4,482 
2,368 

Based on our test results, we can't say running Apple's operating system gives the OpenPro a significant performance advantage. Both its Vista and its OS X scores land where we expect them to given its specifications, but in almost every case the Velocity Micro system (the $1,799 model), is faster, we suspect in large part to its overclocked CPU. The one exception is the multitasking test, wherein the OpenPro simply destroys anything we've seen before it. That's useful, but on balance, the Velocity Micro desktop is faster all-around at digital media-related tasks, for significantly less cost.

Unreal Tournament 3 (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200  
1,280x1,024  
Psystar OpenPro (Vista)
118 
175 

Crysis (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600x1,200  
1,280x1,024  
Psystar OpenPro (Vista)
21 
38 

It's also no great surprise that the Velocity Micro system is better at gaming than the OpenPro. Even if the OpenPro has a GeForce 9800 GTX card, which Apple doesn't offer yet, Velocity Micro's pair of Radeon HD 4850 cards offer more overall 3D horsepower. The OpenPro will deliver respectable gaming performance, but again, not as much as the less expensive Velocity Micro PC.

One note on the gaming tests. The most robust OS X gaming title is Quake 4, which we normally use for testing Macs because it's perhaps the most demanding OS X game. We weren't able to run that test on the Psystar system. For whatever reason, Quake 4's built-in benchmark wouldn't start. We were able to play Quake 4 without any trouble. The FlatOut 2 OS X demo was similarly trouble-free. We're not too bent out of shape about the Quake 4 testing difficulty, simply because OS X remains a largely inadequate gaming platform. Psystar may sell this system with higher-end 3D graphics card options than Apple offers, but if you're going to spend the money on that hardware, you'd be much better served to opt for a Windows-based OpenPro, or at least one with a Windows option like our review unit.

For the rest of the OpenPro's hardware, we saw some things we liked and others that were less impressive. The Blu-ray burner is most notable. Mac OS X doesn't support Blu-ray movie playback yet, but we were able to use the drive to burn data to both a DVD and a blank Blu-ray Disc. Playback in Windows worked without a hitch.

The GeForce graphics card in this system doesn't come with an integrated HDMI port, but it did include a DVI-to-HDMI adapter. Unfortunately, Psystar didn't connect the GeForce's audio to the motherboard. Unlike ATI cards, GeForce cards require an internal pass-through to send audio over the HDMI port. More inconvenient, we didn't even see the appropriate cable in the box.

We were happier to find an optional external Serial ATA port input included in the packaging, however. The system arrived with eight USB 2.0 ports, three FireWire inputs, 7.1 analog audio, and both optical and coaxial S/PDIF audio outputs by virtue of the motherboard. FireWire 800 is an $80 option, but the bundled eSATA card insert is welcome for anyone who needs to swap external storage between systems. Sadly, Psystar doesn't include a media card reader either in the box or as an upgrade.

The standard warranty for this system gets you a one-year parts-and-labor coverage. You can upgrade the support for longer protection at a reasonable cost. Psystar's Web site offers some help by way of a FAQ, a user forum, and a toll-free number. Phone support is live from Monday to Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. PT.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Apple iMac (20-inch, 2.4GHz)
Apple OS X 10.5.4; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 1GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT graphics chip; 250GB 7,200rpm hard drive.

Apple iMac (24-inch, 2.8GHz)
Apple OS X 10.5.2; 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive.

Psystar Open Computer
Apple OS X 10.5.4; 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4500; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics card; 250GB 7,200rpm hard drive.

Psystar OpenPro
Apple OS X 10.5.4; Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 (64-bit); 2.83GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX graphics card; 750GB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive (OS X); 250GB 7,200rpm hard drive. (Windows).

Velocity Micro Edge Z15
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; (2) 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics cards; 750GB 7,200 rpm Hitachi hard drive.

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