capsule review

Amax Max 3100+

At a Glance
  • Amax Max 3100+

    PCWorld Rating

Amax Max 3100+
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

Most PC cases have the hard drives at the front and the power supply at the back, but the $1549 Amax Max 3100+, which uses an Antec Overture case, is a little different: Its power supply is located at the front and the hard drives are at the rear. The case is designed to look more like a hi-fi component than a PC--it sits flat on a surface, and you could put an LCD monitor on it--and to minimize noise so it'll fit in with a home media system (two quiet, low-speed fans blow hot air out the rear).

As expected, the desktop-style case offers less expansion room than most standard tower cases: It provides only one vacant internal drive bay and one vacant externally accessible drive bay, though this is more than we've seen in other such cases. A third vacant bay is for a floppy drive alongside the media card reader. But there is no shortage of expansion slots--three PCI and three PCI Express x1 slots should be enough for most. You also won't lack hard drive space--there are two 120GB SATA hard drives arranged in a RAID array for a total of 240GB.

The 17-inch AG Neovo M-17 LCD monitor that came with our review unit has an interesting design, with a frosted plastic edge that extends beyond the cream bezel on the right and bottom sides. Two buttons (for auto calibration and the screen mode) sit on this plastic edge. A power button, a directional control for menu navigation, two USB ports, and a couple of small speakers are located on the white bezel. The plastic edge gives the LCD a very different look, but it's on only two sides, so the monitor ends up looking unbalanced because the screen isn't at the center of the panel, as you'd expect. But the LCD delivered good image quality. Sharp text and colors looked reasonably bright and accurate, especially when the display was set to the appropriate choice among the three available modes: games, text, and movies.

Our review unit came with a set of Sicuro RW-350XL 2.1 speakers, which produced reasonable sound quality. There was plenty of volume, though the audio sounded a little flat, with muddy bass and little detail in the treble range. The system includes support for up to eight channels of sound and has both digital and optical SPDIF outputs--a useful touch if you are thinking of connecting the system to a high-end hi-fi setup.

Our system used a 1.8-GHz Sempron 3100+ processor and 1GB of DDR400 RAM to achieve a WorldBench 5 score of 85--more than adequate for general use, but a little slower than systems we've tested that run on the faster Athlon CPUs or on 3.2-GHz or higher Pentium processors.

For a desktop-style system, the Max 3100+ offers a good number of features--including digital hi-fi connections--and it performs well enough for everyday tasks.

Amax Max 3100+

WorldBench 5 score of 85, 1.8-GHz Sempron 3100+ CPU, 1024MB of DDR400 SDRAM, Windows XP Professional, two 120GB hard drives, double-layer DVD±RW drive, Asus Extreme N6600/TD graphics card with 256MB of graphics RAM, 17-inch AG Neovo M-17 monitor, Sicuro RW-350XL speakers, desktop case. Three-year parts and one-year labor warranty; 24-hour daily toll-free support during warranty period.

Richard Baguley

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This system, which comes in a desktop-oriented case, provides a good balance of performance, expandability and price.


    • Extras such as digital hi-fi connections


    • Slim case offers limited expansion
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