capsule review

Pogo Linux Altura 64

At a Glance
  • Pogo Linux Altura 64

Pogo Linux Altura 64
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

PC manufacturers always struggle to balance performance and price. With the $1774 Altura 64, Pogo Linux has nailed that balance. The Altura's 2.2-GHz Athlon 64 3400+ processor, along with 512MB of DDR400 SDRAM, helped produce a 139 score on our PC WorldBench 4 test--within striking distance of much more expensive systems. The 128MB Asus V9570 graphics card, moreover, performed well on both our Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Unreal Tournament 2003 tests, producing frame rates in line with similarly equipped machines. Even at the 1280 by 1024 native resolution of the LCD monitor, the system was able to produce more than 50 frames per second, providing smooth movement in the games.

The Altura 64's big silver case looks flashy, with chrome accents and a cool-looking round front exhaust fan. The fan's mesh, unfortunately, quickly collects dust, marring the appearance a bit. The easy-to-access ports include six USB 2.0 ports (two up front, four on the back) and two FireWire ports (one front, one back). The big case has a roomy interior and provides tool-free access to the drive bays.

The attractive 17-inch BenQ FP791 LCD's black frame and silver buttons nicely complement the case. On our tests, the LCD displayed good text, although smaller text sizes were a little difficult to read. On our photo tests, color reproduction looked somewhat flat and unappealing. Moreover, the monitor looked grainy when playing back a DVD.

Our review model lacked a separate speaker system, instead relying on the small speakers integrated into the monitor. While that's OK in a pinch--say, if you don't have the space for external speakers--to listen to music or enjoy a DVD, we'd recommend upgrading to the optional Creative Inspire T7700 7.1 speaker set for an extra $149.

The documentation is also disappointing. The motherboard manual lacks troubleshooting information, and the included quick-start guide is poorly illustrated. Unless you're an advanced user, you won't find much helpful information here.

As the company name suggests, the Altura 64 is built to run Linux, and our test system was shipped with both Windows XP Pro and SuSE Linux Professional 9 installed. The system can boot with either: You choose the one you want to run from the boot screen. If you are a Linux user, you can save $148 from the price we list by opting to just have Linux installed, or you can save $79 by going for the free Fedora Linux distribution or by simply skipping Linux entirely.

The Altura provides good power features for the price, and it's one of the few systems we've seen that, off the shelf, dual-boots.

Pogo Linux Altura 64

PC WorldBench 4 score of 139, 2.2-GHz Athlon 64 3400+ processor, 512MB of DDR400 SDRAM, Windows XP Professional and SuSE Linux Professional 9, 120GB hard drive, 16X DVD-ROM/52X CD-RW combo drive, Asus V9570 graphics card with 128MB of DDR SDRAM, 17-inch BenQ FP791 monitor, Sound Blaster Live sound card, midsize tower case. Three-year parts and labor warranty; lifetime 9-hour weekday toll-free support.

Scott Plamondon

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At a Glance
  • Pogo Linux Altura 64

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