WinBook PowerSpec 9340 review: WinBook PowerSpec 9340

WinBook PowerSpec 9340

7 min read

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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.


WinBook PowerSpec 9340

The Good

Strong performer; versatile DVD±R/RW drive; ample memory; potential for expansion.

The Bad

Virtually no documentation.

The Bottom Line

WinBook's PowerSpec 9340 comes with the right components to get home offices up and running now, while offering enough features to keep power users happy down the line.
Review summary
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.
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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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The case is kept clean because so many of the features are integrated onto the 865PE-based motherboard, keeping cabling to a minimum and freeing up PCI slots for future expansion.

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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 DVD±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 DVD±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.

Application performance
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)
BAPCo SysMark2002 rating  
SysMark2002 Internet content creation   
SysMark2002 office productivity   
WinBook PowerSpec 9340 (3.0GHz Intel P4, 1024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Dell Dimension 8300 (3.0GHz Intel P4, 1024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Velocity Micro Vector VX-W (3.0GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Polywell Poly 880NF3-3200 (AMD Athlon XP 3200+, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Gateway 500XL (2.6GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)

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.

3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 Second Edition Build 330 (16-bit color)  
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 Second Edition Build 330 (32-bit color)  
Dell Dimension 8300 (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Velocity Micro Vector VX-W (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Polywell Poly 880NF3-3200 (Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra)
Gateway 500XL (ATI Radeon 9600)
WinBook PowerSpec 9340 (Nvidia GeForce FX 5200)

To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark2001 Pro Second Edition, Build 330. We use 3DMark to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8 (DX8) interface at both 16- and 32-bit color settings at a resolution of 1,024x768. A system that does not have DX8 hardware support will typically generate a lower score than one that has DX8 hardware support.

3D gaming performance (in fps)  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Quake III Arena  
Dell Dimension 8300 (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Polywell Poly 880NF3-3200 (Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra)
Velocity Micro Vector VX-W (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Gateway 500XL (ATI Radeon 9600)
WinBook PowerSpec 9340 (Nvidia GeForce FX 5200)

To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Quake III Arena. Although Quake III is an older game, it is still widely used as an industry-standard tool. Quake III does not require DX8 hardware support--as 3DMark2001 does--and is therefore an excellent way to compare the performance of low- to high-end graphics subsystems. Quake III performance is reported in frames per second (fps).

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Dell Dimension 8300
Windows XP Home; 3.0GHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB; WDC WD2000JB-75DUA0 200GB 7,200rpm

Gateway 500XL
Windows XP Home; 2.6GHz Intel P4; Intel 865G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9600 128MB; Maxtor 6Y080L0 80GB 7,200rpm

Polywell Poly 880NF3-3200
Windows XP Professional; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon XP 3200+; Nvidia Nforce 2 chipset;1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5800 Ultra 128MB; two Western Digital WDC WD360GD-00FNA0, 36GB 10,000rpm; Highpoint RocketRAID 1520 SATA RAID controller

Velocity Micro Vector VX-W
Windows XP Home; 3.0GHz Intel P4; Intel 865PE chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB; WDC WD2000JB-00DUA0 200GB 7,200rpm

WinBook PowerSpec 9340
Windows XP Professional; 3.0GHz Intel P4; Intel 865PE chipset; 1024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 128MB; WDC WD120BB-00CAA1 120GB 7,200rpm

The PowerSpec 9340's service and support is its weakest spot. Although the one-year warranty includes onsite service and calls to tech support are toll-free for hardware-related questions from 7 a.m. to midnight CT (software support is fee based), the company's Web site is virtually bereft of practical instruction. You won't find anything in the way of online FAQs, downloadable files, PDF documents, or other features that most major PC makers offer. And printed documentation was limited to a stock manual for Windows XP Pro, a warranty page, and an Emergency System Recovery guide. There was no setup or troubleshooting information to help novice users.


WinBook PowerSpec 9340

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Support 6