Introduction

PC Club is one of the medium-sized computer resellers in the US, with 37 locations scattered across the western US (as well as a couple of stores in Oklahoma). We've looked at some of their previous offerings, and have found that they tend to target the middle ground. Their desktops may not be as exotic as some offerings, but the use of off-the-shelf components can put them one step ahead of the large OEMs when it comes to enthusiasts and those looking to squeeze just a little bit more power out of a system. They recently sent us their latest Enpower notebook offering, based on Intel's Santa Rosa platform. Their primary goal was to create a notebook that would be suitable for high school and college students - all while trying to stay affordable.


The PC Club Enpower ENP660 uses an MSI design with a few minor tweaks to the exterior. The system is based off of MSI's MS-1637 barebones notebook, and other than the Enpower logo on the cover we aren't aware of any differences between PC Club's offering and MSI branded models. Of course, by purchasing the computer from PC Club you get to deal with them when it comes to support and warranty issues, and particularly for those who live near a PC Club store that might be reason enough to choose the Enpower over a stock MS-1637. You also get to customize your laptop according to PC Club's components, which will generally make things easier when it comes to picking parts but it will also limit your choices somewhat. A quick look at prices indicates PC Club charges a modest fee to put the system together - $100 or so by our estimate.

With starting prices of $1200, some people might feel the notebook is a little bit more expensive than they would like. While it's true that there are cheaper notebooks out there, by the time you get the level of performance in this PC Club laptop you will almost certainly have to spend more than $1100. Let's take a closer look at the Enpower ENP660 and see what it has to offer.

PC Club ENP660 Features and Options
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  • Kayaker123456 - Friday, December 28, 2007 - link

    Be careful of buying anything from PC club. I took a computer and brand new case in for work and both cases were damaged. They stripped the alumium screws out on my Lian Li case and screwed in steel ones that stripped the holes. The black piano mirror finish on the Antec Solo case was scratched. Spoke to corporate and was told that they are not responsible. The have a poor rating by the BBB as they do not respond to complaints. Reply
  • Dadoftwo - Wednesday, August 15, 2007 - link

    In your opinion, what is the best notebook/laptop money can buy, under $1000? Primary purpose would be for my daughter, a soon-to-be freshman in college majoring in accounting. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 16, 2007 - link

    Look at some of the Turion X2 offerings. HP has some that come in at under $1000 with quite a few upgrades. The V6000Z for example - get a 1.8GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, and Office Basic 2007 for right around $1000. Dell's Inspiron 1521 is also pretty decent, and you can get a better LCD (say 1440x900 or 1680x1050) with 2GB and spend right around $1000. Basically, laptops don't tend to give companies a lot of ways to differentiate on the low end. Most $1000 or under laptops will end up being relatively similar - you can add memory and get a smaller HDD, or get a nicer LCD but have less RAM, or some other tradeoff. Reply
  • daytex5 - Wednesday, August 15, 2007 - link

    quote:

    "...we can really only see one thing that would make us choose the ENP660 ... the keyboard."


    Did the reviewer actually TYPE on the keyboard? After purchasing the the ENP660, I was initially impressed with the board's solid feel, but was quickly frustrated that such a broad case would include a compressed keyboard. Many of the right side keys (Backspace, Enter, period, etc.) are half-size or smaller. Even worse, the right-side Shift key is the size of a standard letter key making it difficult to hit. Whoever made the decision to include the ten-key numeric keypad was not keeping the target audience in mind.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 16, 2007 - link

    I used it quite a bit. It's a personal preference, obviously. The point is, outside of the keyboard there's really nothing else that separates this laptop from other laptops with a similar price and features - except for example the dv6500t is actually $125 cheaper. I like the numeric keypad, and I tend to use the left shift when typing. I was never bothered by the slightly smaller key size or the off-center location of the keys. However, I am sure plenty of people would feel differently. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - link

    It says on Page 13: "At times we even see the CPU exceed its normal 1.80GHz clock speed, and likewise the memory runs a little faster than DDR2-667. However, this only occurs for short periods of time and the system stability was never compromised by the changing frequencies."

    If you paid attention to the Santa Rosa platform, you'll definitely notice that the increased speed isn't the side effect, but a new feature. Santa Rosa platform has Enhanced Dynamic Acceleration Technology, which allows core speed to go up to one bin when one of the two cores are inactive.

    I didn't know it also changed the FSB frequencies though.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, August 15, 2007 - link

    The thing is, these are very short changes (like less than .5 seconds), and they occur when the system is only moderately loaded - like playing a WMV9 encoded movie in this case. It could be overclocking for Santa Rosa, but it's not even 1 bin. It's overclocking because the FSB is running at 350 MHz instead of 333 MHz for a brief moment. I realize Santa Rosa allows OC'ing of one bin, but for that I would expect a one bin increase. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - link

    Have you tested ASTRA32 on any other laptops which definitely have a newer/better panel? Unless HP uses the same OEM as the MSI barebones system, it would seem odd that there is that large a stock of old AU Optronics LCD panels laying around. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - link

    The most recent LCD manufacturing date that I've seen on a laptop came with the Gateway E-155-C (Jan 2006). However, I wouldn't be surprised if AU Optronics had a bunch of old inventory that they clearanced, which could then be used in laptops to keep prices down.

    Astra32 reports March 2006 on a Dell 3000WFP and December 2006 on an HP LP3065. It definitely does report more recent dates, then, but is it truly accurate? It might be wrong, but AUO does make a lot of LCDs, and the performance of the MSI/PC Club LCD leaves a lot to be desired. I find it hard to imagine that a more recent LCD would have a black level of nearly 1.0 nits.

    AUO also has a list of panels they produce, http://www.auo.com/auoDEV/products.php?sec=noteboo...">found here. The panels used in both the HP and MSI notebooks (and a couple other notebooks) don't show up in that list, though later version are there. At the very least, I thinks it's safe to say that the LCD used is an older model. 30 months old? Maybe not, but then why continue to use a 1280x800 panel on a new laptop if not for price reasons?
    Reply

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