capsule review

WinBook PowerSpec Extreme 9200

At a Glance
  • WinBook PowerSpec Extreme 9200

    PCWorld Rating

    Excellent performance and an upgradeable SLI motherboard make this fast system a good choice for power users.

WinBook PowerSpec Extreme 9200
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

Power users looking for a full-featured PC with top-tier performance, great expandability, and a pleasing price should take a good look at the WinBook PowerSpec Extreme 9200. This $1850 (as of January 17, 2006) system--including a 19-inch LG 1930B LCD monitor--delivers a combination of features and muscle rarely seen on sub-$4000 models.

The PowerSpec Extreme 9200's hardware is much the same as that found on power and gaming systems costing many hundreds of dollars more, but it cuts just the right corners to save money without sacrificing too much performance.

Outfitted with a dual-core 2.2-GHz Athlon 64 X2 4200+ CPU, 2GB of DDR400-SDRAM, and two 200GB Samsung 7200-rpm hard drives striped in a RAID 0 array, the PowerSpec Extreme 9200 returned an impressive score of 118 on our WorldBench 5 tests, making it the fastest value system we've seen to date. In fact, even when matched against high-priced power systems, the 9200 achieved the seventh fastest score ever.

As far as money-saving features, the PowerSpec Extreme 9200 uses a single, less-expensive eVGA nVidia GeForce 6600 card with 256MB of RAM instead of two top-of-the-line GeForce 7800 GTX SLI graphics cards, the graphics board of choice on many more-expensive PCs. Accordingly, the PowerSpec's frame rate scores on Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Unreal Tournament put it in the middle of the pack for all the systems we've tested--well below the beefiest systems, but fast enough to run all but the most graphics-intensive games and software comfortably.

For full SLI functionality, you need only add a second eVGA nVidia GeForce 6600 card to the MSI K8N-SLI motherboard's second X16 PCI Express expansion slot. The card currently sells online for around $120. Since dual SLI cards must be identical, installing a faster graphics card would entail buying two new cards.

The PowerSpec Extreme 9200 forgoes the sculpted shapes and colored backlights that adorn costlier PCs, but its black aluminum case with anodized blue accents definitely catches the eye. The large midsize tower case's roomy interior is an upgrader's dream. Access to the slots and bays is unobstructed, and you get plenty of open slots and bays, including two PCI slots--one open, and the other holding a fax modem card--and two free PCI X1 slots. Three of the five external drive bays are open, and two internal bays can hold additional hard drives.

Hands-on users who leave the cover off their PC because they're always tinkering will love the quick release mechanisms on all of the drive bays and expansion card slots. Other than the two thumbscrews securing the case's cover, no screws are necessary.

The Extreme 9200 has all but one of the connectors you'd expect to find on a top-tier system, including eight USB ports, two FireWire ports, analog audio jacks that support 7.1 surround sound, and coaxial (RCA) and optical (Toslink) S/PDIF digital audio-out ports. The only thing missing was an external SATA connector for accommodating SATA external hard drives.

The system's optical mouse was a bit light for my taste, but the keyboard was first-rate; the large multimedia control buttons were easy to find by touch, and twelve function buttons line the keyboard's top edge. I also liked the LG 1930B 19-inch LCD monitor's realistic color. Small (6.8-point) text was clean and legible at the display's native resolution of 1280 by 1024.

Excellent performance, an upgradable SLI motherboard, and a competitive price make the WinBook PowerSpec Extreme 9200 a good choice for gamers and power users who need a fast system.

Kirk Steers

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Excellent performance and an upgradeable SLI motherboard make this fast system a good choice for power users.

    Pros

    • Excellent performance and upgradeability

    Cons

    • Midrange graphics card slows frame rates
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