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  • unclebud - Friday, September 01, 2006 - link

    having to push the optical drives closed instead of being able to press the eject button to do it? terrible design
    hopefully it won't require a couple hundred customers rmaing their drives to change it someday
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 02, 2006 - link

    I've never had a problem pushing the tray to close a CD-ROM. The trick is that you push it gently rather than trying to slam it shut. I could see children having a bit of an issue doing this, but I would wager heavily that most children pushed the tray in regardless of whether or not you can access the eject button. Reply
  • Iceboie - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    Will we see an article in the future for us who wants a Conroe system but on a low budget scale? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, September 02, 2006 - link

    Just drop from the E6600 (tested) to an E6300, dropped the graphics card down to a lower-cost version, maybe get a smaller hard drive, and you can quickly get the cost down to under $1000 (not including monitor). The system as a whole is fine, so basically just get whatever CPU and other settings you can afford. Reply
  • giantpandaman2 - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Nice Review. Only things that'd be nice to add is how long it takes to get a system shipped to you and how difficult is it to RMA something. Can you take it to the store? Do they give you a run around? Is it painless? I figure you guys could use a girlfriend/buddy to bring in the computer so you can remain anonymous. :) Sounds like getting things fixed should be pretty easy since they have stores, but it'd be nice to know for sure. Reply
  • giantpandaman2 - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    oops, I know you can take it to the store. Reply
  • Capt Jook - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Hi all,

    James here, manager of the Tigard, Oregon PC Club. Just wanted to say thanks for a great review and maybe answer a few questions.

    RMA through the web can be a bit of a the moment we do not offer a cross-shipping option for defective parts, so it can take a week or two to get back a good part after you send in the faulty one. In store, if we(PC Club) build the system and it is in warranty, we swap a new part right off of the shelf, 1 year warranty or 3. On 3 year warranty systems, we also cover End of Life(EOL), so if a CPU is 2 years old and EOL...we give you the logical replacement or an upgrade. We usually hire enthusiasts at our stores, so many people feel welcome when they want to discuss multipliers or voltages, etc.

    We do use all standard, off the shelf components...nothing proprietary. Our "restore" CD is actually just an XP CD. We are sure to give the customer physical copies of all of the software installed on the system, in case of a catastrophic drive failure. We have a">Customer support Forum that has help available 24/7. Mostly other PCC customers, but I know of at least 10 store level employees that frequent the forum on a daily basis(myself included).

    The Allied 350W PSU has seen at least 10,000 hours of(combined) testing in the configuration listed. All of our system configurations must pass at least 5,000 hours of testing by our Engineering Department before they are released for sale to the stores and the web.

    Each store is required to have a tech on duty 7 days a week, 362 days a year(we are closed xmas, Thanksgiving and 4th of July), so service is available if you are local to a store.

    Thanks for your time!
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the additional information, James. (I'm up north of you in Olympia Washington, so the closest store to me is in Tacoma.) I actually do know a couple enthusiasts that work at PC Club stores, so I agree that the local support should be good. I wish I had some place like PC Club close by my house, as other than ordering online my only options are an overpriced brick-and-mortar store down the street, or I can try my luck at Best Buy. Needless to say, nearly all of my purchases come from web sites. Reply
  • giantpandaman2 - Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - link

    Thankfully I'm in Bellevue. I can go anywhere. :P Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    I own a Vewsonic VA1912wb 19" widscreen monitor, and its a great monitor, however, its also rated @ 8ms, not 5ms listed in your review (I know what Viewsonics webpage says, but according to my box, manual, and newegg, this is incorrect) -"> Perhaps Viewsonic has since reworked this part, but In my opinion, that would call for a new part # ?

    As for the Pre-built system, interresting choice of motherboards, they frown on OC'n, yet they offer the best OCable motherboard for the C2D ? You would think, they would have picked something a bit more stable like the ABIT AB9 Pro or something . . .
  • nah - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Good work, as always. How about an update on the CPU?GPU guides ? Reply
  • modo - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Just went over to and configured a Core 2 duo E6600 with the MSI 965 mobo, 500W PSU, 1 gig ram, 250 gig HD, 7900Gt 256mb, dvd burner, with a mini-liquid cooler for the cpu for $1245 (without monitor). Enter 'ibuypower' code when you order and you get 5% off, taking the total down to less than $1200.

    Better system for $200 less?
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Add in the OS and monitor, and the total comes to $1522 with the discount. ($1361 without $229 LCD = $1293 with discount.) You need a 16MB cache HDD and a DVDRW with LightScribe if you want to make things "equal" on components. You can also add some extras that may or may not be available elsewhere. Anyway, it's still slightly cheaper; is it worth considering? Sure - it comes with a 3 year warranty. How's the support? I don't know. As stated in the conclusion, PC Club has some reasonable offers people might want to look at - especially if you live near a local store and would like that sort of support. There are a ton of competing system vendors out there. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    MSI . . . I can not speak for everyone else, but I've had less than good results using MSI products. They may work fine for a period of time, but can not really be comparred to someone like ABIT, or Gigabyte. Who makes the PSU ? Why do you need a 'mini-liquid cooler' ?

    I've personally configured (but not bought) a simular C2D budget system, but using a E6400, and a 7600GT, and overall cost was around $800usd. Of course, I had planned on migrating a PSU (Antec), and HDDs from an older system. This is why I almost always suggest quality parts, as quality parts often last for years, and can be reused (in the case of a PSU, and HDDs here). You can go even cheaper if you use something along the lines of the Asrock 775Dual-VSTA motherboard, and migrate memory, and video from current system. *shrug* My personal experience with Asrock however, is that usually they are very solid boards (for the price), but are often less than top tier stable, and more often then not, are fairly quirky, and missing Features such as offering a SATAII controller, but disabling (or not including) command queuing(which is part of the SATAII spec, unless I'm mistaken).
  • QueBert - Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - link

    funny, while I don't really care for MSI, never had a problem with them. Now Gigabyte UGH, on my 3rd board right now for this 939. And my last Gigabyte board (Athlon XP) gave me problems from day one. It's crazy how one person can never have a problem with a brand, and the guy next to him has nothing but problems. I think MSI has gotten a lot better then they were in the past. I live 2 blocks from a PC Club, and i can tell you this, whatever prebuilt systems they sell, they've done A LOT of component testing. As I've never heard somebody complain about an Enpower system, besides those who screw things up themselves with viruses and such. I only shop at PC Club, unless it's something they don't carry. They cost a bit more then Newegg, but the service is great. I walk in, they know me by name. They sold me a MB + Memory, I was dumb and didn't check, the MB was DDR2 and the memory was DDR1, I wanted DDR1, so they took the open MB back, no hassle.
  • bob4432 - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Nice article and seems like a decent system for the $$$$. One question - where can we get the bf2 1.3 benchmark you are using?

    bob :)
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Sure,">have at it. Standard "this is beta" disclaimers apply. If you don't know how to tweak a batch file, you're on your own. :)

    --Jarred Walton
  • bob4432 - Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - link

    thanks, i had the 1.22 but lost it, then 1.3 came out. Reply
  • regnez - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    why is that in the feature list the graphics card is a 7900gt and in the benchmark setup it is a 7900gtx? is this a typo or was the graphics card switched out for the benchmark setup?

    also, it does not seem as if a 350 watt psu is enough to power that graphics card...

    and one more thing: this system is called a mid-range system in the review, and I quite disagree. a mid range system would be something in the price range of $700-$900. this is a high end system, and it would not take much ($400 ish more) to bring it up to enthusiast level.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    It was a typo; the system (as configured and tested) uses the 7900 GT. In terms of power, look at the power tests on page 9. Even with a 25% overclock and maximum load, the system draws 213W of power. That's not even accounting for PSU efficiency; remember that the PSU rating is what can be output, not the total wall power draw. Say it's 75% efficient; that means the system is using about 160W of power at maximum load. I've got a few generic 350W PSUs running similar configurations, and none of them have ever had issues.

    Finally, there is always debate about where market segments overlap price ranges. We consider budget to be $750 or less (maybe a bit more for budget gaming). Midrange is a huge segment that goes from around $1000 to $1500. At ~$1600, this is close enough, though it's definitely at the top of the midrange ladder. High-end starts at $2000 and can go way up from there. It's just a term anyway, and if you think $1500 is too high you're welcome to that opinion. The base configuration of the EN-SE5 comes with an E6300, 7300GS TurboCache, 160GB HDD, and costs $800 (including the OS). It's not longer really gaming worthy, but it will do everything else very well.
  • koomo - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Hi Jared,

    Any expectations for when the next mid-range buyer's guide will be posted? (Last one was May 9th, just prior to AM2 and Core 2 Duo).

    It sure would be nice to see one juat after you all have tested the soon-to-be released ATI lineup. I'll be very interested to see how power requirements compare between the mid-range NVIDIA and ATI cards, as well as comparative noise levels (will the new ATI blowers help that much?) Thanks!

    Very nice review, BTW.
  • Turin39789 - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Get in in under $1000 and We'll talk Reply
  • KorruptioN - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    It appears that the three right side holes are not utilized in screwing the motherboard down to the tray? They instead run the optical drive IDE cable underneath.

    Also, the choice of using an ALLIED PSU is a bad one -- consider it bottom-end generic.
  • QueBert - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    I consider your statement to be generic. Allied does make a lot of entry level, very basic PSU's. But, they make some">great ones.. Infact. the one I just linked to, replaced a Enermax that died in my system. Was very quiet, had plenty of power, and overall is a PSU I'd recommend to anyone looking. Allied makes a ton of different PSU's, some of they might very well be crap, I won't dispute. But the one I own, ran a system with 4 HD's, 2 Opticals, an X800, 2 120MM and 80MM fan and more then enough power left over. Powmax makes "bottom end PSU's" there's a HUGE difference between "bottom end" and "generic"
    A good # of the barebone cases PC-Club sell come with Allied, I build pc's for people for a living, and I've had very few problems, with even their lower end psu's *shrug*
    Allied gets a bad rap, which I'm sure is for reasons that date back 5+ years? Based off that line of thinking, Maxtor makes the worst HD's ever...
  • yacoub - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Good review, Jarred. Nice to see how a pre-built system can perform in a review that covers all the basics and even overclocking. Reply
  • Harkonnen - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    On the internals and construction page, third paragraph. PSU is typed as SPU.

    "If you want to do more than that, you may find that you need to replace the default SPU with a beefier unit."

  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    I dunno - I kinda like the way SPU rolls off the tongue. :D Reply
  • chunkychun - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Is it really a great time to upgrade? It seems that directx 10 would require you to upgrade your graphics card realitively soon. Should people just wait? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    DX10 may be important for games, but there's always something coming in the near future. I'm not aware of any games that are going to require DX10/WGF2 any time soon. I mean, we're only now getting a reasonable number of games that require SM3.0 (just in time for DX10, right?) At the ultra-high-end, it's probably worth waiting, but for mid-range a 7900 GT or X1900 XT level card is going to last quite a while at moderate detail settings.

    We need Vista before we'll get DX10, and I'm not holding my breath for an early 2007 Vista launch. I'm betting on closer to March. That's over six months away, so really I think now *is* a good time to upgrade... provided you haven't already done so in the past year or two. If you have a 6800/X800 GPU or better, you can probably wait. If you have an Athlon XP/Pentium 4 (prior to Prescott) or earlier CPU, upgrading to Core 2 wouldn't be a bad move. Maybe wait another month for prices to stabilize, but that's about it.
  • bamacre - Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - link

    Well said, JW. Reply

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