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ABS Digital 8 review:

ABS Digital 8

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The Good Fast; excellent speakers; cool-looking case.

The Bad No weekend support; onsite service is optional.

The Bottom Line The ABS Digital 8 offers leading-edge performance and features at a low price but with limited standard support.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

If the ABS Digital 8 were any cooler, you'd have to wear mittens to handle it. From its fast performance and feature-packed configuration to the stylish case design, it's sure to please SOHO and home users looking for a system that can take on anything. Opt for cheaper speakers, and the Digital 8 even works for business. What doesn't work quite so well is the company's standard support policy, which lacks the weekend support and the free, onsite service that novices and businesses would prefer. Compared to the Alienware Aurora DDR, the ABS Digital 8 comes out a little on the expensive side, however; consider the Aurora if you're ready to make an even bigger design leap. If the ABS Digital 8 were any cooler, you'd have to wear mittens to handle it. From its fast performance and feature-packed configuration to the stylish case design, it's sure to please SOHO and home users looking for a system that can take on anything. Opt for cheaper speakers, and the Digital 8 even works for business. What doesn't work quite so well is the company's standard support policy, which lacks the weekend support and the free, onsite service that novices and businesses would prefer. Compared to the Alienware Aurora DDR, the ABS Digital 8 comes out a little on the expensive side, however; consider the Aurora if you're ready to make an even bigger design leap.

State of the art
The Digital 8 comes packed with up-to-the-minute features. These include a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 with a 533MHz frontside bus, 512MB of PC1066 RDRAM, a 100GB hard drive with an 8MB buffer, both DVD-ROM and CD-RW drives (the latter is a 40X unit), and a 128MB GeForce4 Ti 4200 graphics card.

As you'd expect with this configuration, the Digital 8 gets top marks in our benchmark tests. Its SysMark2002 scores tie with those of similarly priced but less impressively configured PCs such as the Dell Dimension 8000 series. The Digital 8's fast 223.3fps (frames per second ) in Quake 3 is also pretty good for its class. However, on application tests, the system manages only a slim 4 to 6 percent lead over the 2.4GHz DDR SDRAM-based Falcon Northwest Mach V, so the extra gigahertz may not be necessary if your budget's tight.

Add style and sound to speed
If its performance and configuration don't grab you, the case and the peripherals will. Granted, brushed aluminum is becoming old hat. But ABS's version, with a clear acrylic side panel, looks like an electronic fish tank. It might even be small enough to share space on your desk with the 19-inch ViewSonic PF790 display. The monitor's 0.25mm dot pitch and flat screen present an excellent canvas for 2D and 3D graphics, as well as video. But you'll also need to find space for the 5700-series Creative Inspire 5.1 speakers, a six-piece Dolby Digital set that also includes an external control box. You can tuck the 30-watt subwoofer out of sight, but the 21-watt center channel and the four 7-watt satellites deserve thoughtful placement for optimal sound. They're a perfect match for the Sound Blaster Audigy card, which includes a rear FireWire port for video capture. ABS even bundles Corel WordPerfect Office 2002 and Norton AntiVirus, so you can use your PC for more than gaming and watching movies.

A few holes in support
ABS's standard support policies are pretty good, but they're designed more for experts than for novices. The three-year parts and labor warranty is very good, but onsite service costs extra: one year for $29. Phone support, while toll-free, is available only during business hours, Pacific Time. If you're used to tinkering with your own systems, you may not mind the few holes in the support policy, but anyone who wants or needs extra help may want to buy from a company that provides more comprehensive services.

Performance test
100=performance of a test machine with a PIII-800 processor, an Intel 815EEA motherboard chipset, 128MB of 133MHz SDRAM, a GeForce2 with 32MB DDR, ATA/100 hard drive, Windows 2000 with Service Pack 1, and Windows' display properties set to 1,024x768 and 16-bit color at 75Hz
Longer bars indicate better performance

Overall rating   
Internet content creation   
Office productivity   
ABS Digital 8
250 
344 
182 
Dell Dimension 8200
249 
341 
182 
Falcon Northwest Mach V
240 
332 
174 
 
Quake III Arena test
Longer bars indicate better performance
Dell Dimension 8200
233.6 
ABS Digital 8
223.3 
Falcon Northwest Mach V
221.9 
 
MadOnion's 3DMark2001 Pro test
Measured in frames per second (longer bars indicate better performance)
16-bit color   
32-bit color   
ABS Digital 8
11,955 
11,529 
Dell Dimension 8200
11,675 
11,225 
Falcon Northwest Mach V
11,301 
10,912 
 
ABS Digital 8
Windows XP Home; Pentium 4 2.53GHz; 512MB RDRAM 800MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600; WDC WD1000JB-32CWE0 120GB 7,200rpm

Dell Dimension 8200
Windows XP Home; Pentium 4 2.53GHz; 256MB RDRAM 800MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600; WDC WD1200JB 120GB 7,200rpm

Falcon Northwest Mach V
Windows XP Home; Pentium 4 2.4GHz; 1GB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB; 2X IBM IC35L040AVVA07 40GB 7,200rpm

Good performance is a given with top-of-the-line components, and the Digital 8 gets top marks throughout our benchmark tests. As expected, this system ties with similarly priced PCs such as the Dell Dimension 8000 series. However, on application tests, the Digital 8 manages only a slim 4 to 6 percent lead over the 2.4GHz DDR SDRAM-based Falcon Northwest Mach V, so the extra gigahertz may not be necessary if your budget's tight.

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