The Good Quick, stable performance; versatile, fast-refreshing LCD monitor; smart hard drive configuration; 7.1-channel speaker system gets good and loud; great deal for its class.
The Bad Tower gets noisy when fan throttles up; graphics cards block PCI slots; wired volume control gets in the way; no discrete sound card; 24/7 phone support requires warranty upgrade.
The Bottom Line Serious gamers will covet the Polywell Poly 939N4-SLI2/FX-60 because of its utterly stable game performance at the highest settings. It also takes the edge off the sky-high price by including a monitor and speakers. We just wish the design and support were more polished.
Polywell Poly 939N4-SLI2/FX-60
Polywell Poly N4-SLI2/FX-60
Built for hard-core gamers who live to push pixels as fast as they can go, the Polywell Poly 939N4-SLI2/FX-60 squeezes blazing performance from its AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 dual-core processor and SLI-connected 512MB GeForce 7800GTX cards. Our $4,730 configuration also shipped with a fast-refreshing 19-inch LCD, a seven-channel speaker system, and even a copy of the outstanding World War II shooter, Call of Duty 2. Sounds like gaming gold, right? It would be, except for some missing overall polish. Among other issues, there's no discrete sound card, the system gets exceedingly noisy, and Polywell's support leaves a lot to be desired. Relative good deal or not, we demand more from such a pricey, high-end PC. Despite its high-powered interior, the Polywell Poly 939N4-SLI2/FX-60's outward appearance is plain but pleasing to the eye. The tower is mostly black, with a silver-accented front panel and grille-style bezels covering the unused drive bays. A single screw holds the tower's side panel in place, and a pair of inelegant tabs extends off the panel to assist in removing it.
Once you get inside, you'll see a clean case interior. As with other SLI systems, the two Nvidia GeForce cards collectively occupy five expansion slots' worth of space. This leaves you with access to only a single x4 PCI Express slot. You might also be able to eke out space for one regular PCI card; it will involve the bracket on the SLI bridge chip spanning the two graphics cards (you'd need to remove the chip from the bracket) to free up access to the expansion slot between them. Bothand did this in their FX-60 systems to accommodate a sound card, for example. You can drop in another pair of memory sticks if you choose, and the tower also has room for another couple drives--though it was plenty crowded in our review unit already, given the three hard drives and the two optical drives. The Polywell is a well-ordered system, with removable hard drive cages and cleanly routed wires and cables.
With a total of five fans inside, it's not surprising that the Polywell makes a fair amount of racket--especially when the system is performing an intensive task such as gaming, at which point the fans throttle up and raise the noise level from acceptable to annoying. If ever a PC cried out for liquid (that is, silent) cooling, it's this one. Unfortunately, Polywell offers no such option.