Building off its successes in the high-performance notebook market, WinBook has introduced a line of desktops called PowerSpec. If the PowerSpec 9340 model we tested is any indication, WinBook chose an apt name. The 9340 sits atop the PowerSpec line and--with a 3GHz Pentium 4 processor, an Intel 865PE chipset, and 1GB of DDR400 memory--gives home users and SOHO workers more than enough muscle for office chores. High-end touches such as a roomy 120GB hard drive and a multiformat DVD burner open the door for multimedia tasks such as digital video editing. Novices might need a bit more hand-holding during setup than WinBook provides, but a year of onsite service is included in the warranty and will appeal to business users.
The WinBook PowerSpec 9340 is housed in an understated, black midtower case. Removing two bolts from the side panel will get you inside, where you'll find four PCI slots, one 5.25-inch bay, and two 3.5-inch bays (one internal, one external) for future expansion. One power-supply fan and one cooling fan keep the air moving; chassis noise, though noticeable, is not too loud.
Four USB 2.0 ports, three FireWire ports, and Ethernet and modem jacks can be found on the back panel.
The Intel D865PERC motherboard offers plenty of connectivity and room to expand. The PowerSpec 9340 ships with two 512MB DDR400 SDRAM modules, leaving two additional DIMM slots for memory upgrades. Four of the system's six PCI slots are available for adding cards. The motherboard provides a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Lucent 56K V.92 WinModem supplies dial-up connectivity.
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Two USB 2.0 ports are on the front edge of the right-side panel for your convenience.
A quick check of the rear reveals all of the expected legacy ports, plus newer ones such as the three FireWire ports provided by a PCI FireWire card, and four USB 2.0 ports. Two more USB 2.0 ports are located on the very front of the right-side panel, making it easier to connect your digital devices than having to reach around the back. The Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 AGP graphics card offers a VGA port for CRTs or analog LCDs, along with a DVI port for digital LCDs, such as the Samsung SyncMaster 172W included with the evaluation unit.
WinBook built the PowerSpec 9340 system on an Intel 865PE chipset, which has enough features--including onboard Gigabit LAN, two Serial-ATA ports, and room for up to 4GB of memory--to serve your multimedia needs far down the line. For now, WinBook populates the motherboard with a 3.0GHz Pentium processor with an 800MHz frontside bus, 1GB of memory, an ATA100 120GB hard drive, and Nvidia's GeForce FX 5200 graphics card, which will have any home office humming along at maximum efficiency.
Your PowerSpec choices are limited because WinBook doesn't offer an online configurator. You must choose from five preconfigured PowerSpec models and find the one that most closely matches your needs. All models feature a Pentium 4 processor (ranging from 2.4GHz to 3.0GHz), DDR memory, 80GB or 120GB hard drive, and either a CD or DVD recordable drive.
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Versatile burner: the Sony DVDÂ±RW drive writes to all the popular formats.
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DVDs look sharp on this wide-screen Samsung flat-panel display.
For multimedia work, the PowerSpec 9340 has a 16X DVD drive and a relatively speedy Sony DVDÂ±RW drive. This Sony drive is one of the new breed of multiformat drives, writing to both DVD+ and DVD- formats. Its write/rewrite/read speeds are as follows: 4X/2X/8X for DVD-R/RW and 2.4X/2.4X/4X for DVD+R/RW. It also functions as a 24X/10X/32X CD-RW drive. The single 120GB hard drive certainly has the capacity to keep most users satisfied, but if digital video editing and filmmaking become more than a hobby, you may want to consider adding a second drive to hold your large video files.
Topping it all off, the system's 17-inch Samsung SyncMaster 172W display has a wide-screen format that's an ideal match for watching DVDs or creating your own movies. It also has built-in speakers, although the system ships with its own two-piece set. (WinBook does not sell the Samsung monitor through its own Web site. To order, you must go to &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Emicrocenter%2Ecom">Microcenter.com, which, like WinBook, is owned by Micro Electronics. The 172W model will not be sold until mid-August, though a SyncMaster 172B model is currently available, and the only difference is the color of the bezel.)
The PowerSpec's 9340 software bundle covers the basics. Included with the system is Microsoft Works for office tasks and NTI's CD&DVD Maker Gold app for CD and DVD creation. You also get a copy of PowerDVD for watching movies.
Having tested a number of systems with the Intel 865PE chipset and a 3.0GHz Pentium 4 processor, we've noticed that they compare favorably to 3.0GHz systems using Intel's higher-end 875P chipset. The WinBook PowerSpec 9340 is no exception. Using the 865PE chipset, it narrowly edged the 875P-based Dell Dimension 8300 on SysMark2002 tests. The difference in scores is very slight and well within the margin of error for the test, but it does illustrate the point that the 865PE and 875P chipsets are quite similar. The PowerSpec 9340 turned in impressive application scores and will have no trouble powering any office app.
Application performance (Longer bars indicate better performance)
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, an industry-standard benchmark. SysMark measures a desktop's performance using off-the-shelf office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).
3D graphics and gaming performance
The PowerSpec 9340 uses Nvidia's new GeForce FX 5200, the budget board in the new FX line, replacing the popular GeForce4 MX series. It delivered roughly twice the performance on 3DMark compared to an MX 420. Its Quake III score was even more impressive, pumping about 2.5 times the frame rate of an MX 420. Keep in mind that Quake III is an older game; serious gamers looking to play today's latest games and those of tomorrow will want a high-end card such as the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro.