X

Systemax Wildcat Athlon 64 FX 60 2.6 GHz review: Systemax Wildcat Athlon 64 FX 60 2.6 GHz

According to its spec sheet, the Systemax Wildcat should be near the top of the benchmark heap. But our tests reveal that this gaming PC's performance is no more inspiring than its design.

img-1204
Rich Brown
img-1204

Rich Brown

Executive Editor / Reviews - Home and Wellness

Rich moved his family from Brooklyn to Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013 to start CNET's Appliances and Smart Home review team, which includes the CNET Smart Home, the CNET Smart Apartment, and the Appliances Review lab. Before moving to Louisville, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D-printed guns to Z-Wave smart locks.

See full bio
5 min read

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Before we even got the performance results from our lab tests, we found the Wildcat's design uninspiring; it simply doesn't stand out from the crowd. The full-tower case features a blue plastic door on the top half that opens to reveal the usual assortment of 3.5-inch and 5.25-inch drive bays. One cool feature is the switch on one of the 3.5-inch panels that lets you toggle the blue interior cathode ray lights--not exactly mission critical but still kind of handy. The side panel comes off easily enough, although you'll need to disconnect the always annoying panel fan power cable to get the side fully out of the way.

5.2

Systemax Wildcat Athlon 64 FX 60 2.6 GHz

The Good

Competitive price; modular power supply minimizes internal cable clutter.

The Bad

Disappointing performance; messy cable routing looks sloppy and restricts airflow.

The Bottom Line

According to its spec sheet, the Systemax Wildcat should be near the top of the benchmark heap. But our tests reveal that this gaming PC's performance is no more inspiring than its design.
When the Systemax Wildcat arrived on our doorstep, its $4,500 price raised an eyebrow or two. For one thing, its AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 CPU is a step behind AMD's latest, the , but a quick trip to other desktop vendors' sites showed us that the cost is right where it should be for the given specs, which include almost all of the latest in high-end gaming parts. For $4,500, the Systemax Wildcat gives you 2GB of system memory, two 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX graphics cards, and an Ageia PhysX physics accelerator. Sounds great, but even if it cost $3,500, we'd balk at the Wildcat because of its performance, which simply can't keep up with similarly outfitted gaming systems.

The Wildcat supplies a feature we always appreciate inside a case: outward-facing hard drive cages for easy drive swapping. With two 150GB 10,000rpm Raptors and a 400GB 7,200rpm drive, however, you shouldn't need to tinker, at least for a while. We also liked the modular 550-watt, power supply, which lets Systemax minimize internal clutter by leaving out the extraneous interior power cables. Systemax didn't route the cables it does use very neatly, though, which kind of defeats the purpose of the modular PSU.

You're also out of luck if you want to add any parts to this configuration, although it's full featured as is. Between the two double-slot graphics cards and the PhysX card crammed between them, you're left with just a single x1 PCI Express slot for expansion. There are still only a few cards available for that slot, mostly Gigabit Ethernet cards, which the Wildcat already has integrated, and USB 2.0 or FireWire port expanders. But if you're buying the Wildcat for gaming, between the 3D cards and the PhysX card, you should be covered. The operative word in that last sentence, unfortunately, being should.

We've looked at several systems similar to the Systemax Wildcat, so we expected that its performance would be right in the same ballpark. It isn't. On CNET Labs' SysMark 2004 application benchmark, its overall score trailed the next closest competition, the Cyberpower Gamer Ultra X1900 XT by 55 points, a large margin. Worse, its gaming scores lagged. At 1,600x1,200 on our Doom 3 test, the Wildcat managed only 63.3 frames per second (fps). Compared to the ABS Ultimate M6 Sniper's 98.4fps, the Wildcat's score is unacceptable, especially considering its price.

We gave the Wildcat a thorough going-over to determine the source of the problem, and we found every part in working order and configured properly, so we don't believe that anything was damaged in shipping. This leads us to the conclusion that something in Systemax's build is simply holding performance back. The good news is that the Wildcat is due for a refresh soon, and Systemax will offer it with the new Athlon 64 FX-62 processor and a brand-new Socket AM2 motherboard. Perhaps in configuring the newer parts, Systemax can root out the performance bottleneck as well.

If you run into issues with a Systemax system you've purchased, the company generally has you well covered, but you might have to dig to get the help you need. With each Wildcat, you automatically receive a year of onsite service, along with a year of parts and labor coverage. You can extend the warranty for a reasonable price (an added $79 for three years), but not the onsite support. Tracking down the support phone number is tricky. We couldn't find a phone number on Systemax's Web site. The company's Contact Us tab takes you to a lame Web form, and the Support link sends you to a spare, generic-looking support database. Instead, the only place we saw the phone number was on the invoice. And as for the support database, it actually has some useful information, but the search results are awful (the first return from "graphics driver" gave us info about a Lexmark printer), so you'll need to be patient.

Application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  
Polywell Poly 590SLI2-FX62
327 
402 
266 
ABS M6 Sniper
292 
368 
232 
Systemax Wildcat
229 
286 
184 

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  
Polywell Poly 590SLI2- FX62
143.4 
193.7 
135.6 
**Velocity Micro Raptor 64 Dual X
132.4 
188.1 
106.3 
120.1 
ABS Ultimate M6 Sniper
98.4 
155.8 
79.1 
112.5 
Systemax Wildcat
63.3 
134.2 
101.2 
111.3 
Cyberpower Gamer Ultra X1900XT
59.8 
106.1 
125.9 
137.8 

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
ABS Ultimate 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 7800GTX graphics cards (SLI); two 74GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA hard drives (RAID 0), one 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drive; integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 RAID class controller

Cyberpower Gamer Ultra X1900 XT
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 X1900XT (CrossFire) graphics cards; two 74GB Western Digital 10,000rpm Serial ATA hard drives (RAID 0); one 250GB Western Digital 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drive; integrated ULI SATA/RAID controller

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) graphics cards; two 150GB Western Digital 10,000 rpm Serial ATA hard drives (RAID 0); integrated Nvidia Nforce 590 RAID class controller

Systemax Wildcat
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-60; Nvidia Nforce 4 SLI x16 chipset; 2,048 DDR SDRAM 400MHz; two 512MB Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX (SLI) graphics cards; two 150GB Western Digital 10,000 rpm serial ATA hard drives (RAID 0); one 400GB Seagate 7,200 rpm Serial ATA hard drives; integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 RAID controller

Velocity Micro Raptor 64
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 graphics cards; two 500GB Hitachi 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drives (RAID 0); integrated Nvidia Nforce 4 RAID controller

5.2

Systemax Wildcat Athlon 64 FX 60 2.6 GHz

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 7Performance 4Support 5