capsule review

Amax Power 660+

At a Glance
  • Amax Power 660+

    PCWorld Rating

    The Power 660+ delivers good performance and easy expandability--without making you pay a top price.

Amax Power 660+
Artwork: Rick Rizner

The Amax Power 660+ offers a nice compromise between cost and performance that will appeal to the serious gamer or power user who can't quite afford a cutting-edge system.

Our $3119 Power 660+ review unit came with a 3.6-GHz Pentium 4 660 CPU, 1GB of DDR2-533 SDRAM, an Asus EN6800Ultra graphics card (based on nVidia's GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics chip), and two 200GB hard drives in a striped RAID 0 array. The system produced a very respectable but not chart-topping score of 100 on PC WorldBench 5. More important to gamers, the Power 660 demonstrated the ability to comfortably run 3D programs: Graphics tests on Return to Castle Wolfenstein at 1280-by-1024 resolution returned a frame rate score of 143, the ninth fastest result we've seen. For Unreal Tournament at the same resolution, it achieved 317 frames per second, the eleventh best yet.

At first touch, the Power 660+'s thin aluminum case feels a bit flimsy, except for the thick aluminum door that covers the front panel. The security conscious will like the door's lock, which denies access to the startup button; the media-oriented will like the Sony DW-D26A/B2 double-layer 4X DVD+R drive (up to 16X in single-layer DVD+RW mode), the Sony 16X DVD-ROM drive, and a 6-in-1 media-card reader. The practical-minded will need a screwdriver to remove the door and access useful ports. You won't find any conveniently located USB or other ports on the front of the case; instead, they're under a hatch on the top of the box--a definite annoyance for anyone who regularly stacks things there.

Accessing the interior is simple; the cover pops off after removing two big thumbscrews. Once inside, adding and removing hardware is relatively easy--the expansion slots have convenient latches instead of screws. Likewise, the small chassis holding the system's two (of a possible five) hard drives slides horizontally out of the case. On the downside, you'll have to wrestle with a rat's nest of power cables if you want add RAM to the two free RAM slots or add another optical drive to one of the two free 5-inch drive bays.

Other upgrade pluses: The Asus P5WD2 Premium motherboard comes with PCI Express x1 and x16 slots in addition to the x16 slot occupied by the graphics card. (But this is not an SLI-capable system, so it can't combine the processing power of two graphics cards.) If you want to, you can upgrade to a dual-core Pentium D CPU. An external SATA connector on the back panel offers an easy high-speed connection for external hard drives.

The DVD playback of our test movie looked great. The AG Neovo M-19 flat-panel monitor's display appeared a bit dark, but details were clear and motion was very smooth. Small font text (6.8 point) was crisp and well defined, and images looked clear and realistic. The Sicuro 5.1 speakers, which look like chrome-plated jet engines, had good range with clear tones. Setting up the speakers required some work: We had to manually configure each sound jack in the Realtek Sound Effect Manager program in Windows Control Panel. This was tedious but not difficult.

The Power 660+ delivers strong performance and easy expandability for less than a top price.

Kirk Steers

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The Power 660+ delivers good performance and easy expandability--without making you pay a top price.

    Pros

    • Good balance of performance and price

    Cons

    • Cabling blocks access for some upgrades
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