capsule review

Amax Max64 3200N

At a Glance
  • Amax Max64 3200N

    PCWorld Rating

    Easy upgrades, and an external hard drive make this Athlon 64 PC an appealing-but-pricey office system.

Amax Max64 3200N
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

Amax's Max64 3200N delivers sufficient performance and storage to satisfy office or business users looking for something a notch above a typical value PC. Equipped with a 2.2-GHz Athlon 64 3500+ and 1GB of DDR400 SDRAM, the system posted a respectable score of 94 on PC World's WorldBench 5 applications benchmark--about what we'd expect from a PC of its configuration, and certainly fast enough to handle standard business applications.

Demanding graphics tasks, on the other hand, aren't the Max64 3200N's forte. The integrated nVidia GeForce 6150 graphics system, which relies on system RAM to perform graphics chores, penalizes overall performance when running graphics-intensive programs. The system's frame rates on the game Return to Castle Wolfenstein, for example, were the lowest we've ever seen at the test's lowest resolution of 1024 by 768 with 16-bit color depth.

Drastically improved graphics performance is just an upgrade away, however: An open PCI Express X16 slot can accept any of a number of high-powered graphics cards. In fact, the easy-to-upgrade black-and-silver-mesh minitower case is this system's strongest feature. Whoever handles your PC's maintenance will like the quick-release mechanisms that simplify replacing the dual-layer 8X DVD+/-RW drive, the 16X DVD-ROM drive, or the combo nine-in-one media card reader and floppy drive. Cables and wires do obstruct the RAM slots, but access to the one free PCI slot and the one free PCI Express is unimpeded. A second PC slot holds a Wi-Fi adapter.

The 17-inch AG Neovo M-17 flat-panel screen included with the system looked a bit dark when displaying photographs. In our tests, 6.8-point text was discernable, but not comfortably readable.

The case has room for only the existing 200GB hard drive, but you get 250GB of additional storage in the form of a Western Digital Caviar hard drive housed in a Cintre Zdisk USB 2.0 external hard-drive case.

Connections include an ethernet port, four USB ports, and two FireWire ports on the back; two USB ports of the front; and three audio ports that support 5.1 surround sound. When IT folks peer at the back of the case, they'll appreciate seeing both VGA and DVI connectors there. That combination opens up more monitor options than VGA or DVI only. A sturdy, well-designed Microsoft keyboard has big multimedia control buttons and four programmable function buttons.

The least-appealing thing about this system is its $1499 (as of January 17, 2006) price. Even after you take the external hard drive into account, that price is several hundred dollars higher than the ones for similar systems we've looked at.

Swift performance, easy upgrades, and an external hard drive make Amax's Max64 3200N an appealing but pricey system for business and office users.

Kirk Steers

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Easy upgrades, and an external hard drive make this Athlon 64 PC an appealing-but-pricey office system.

    Pros

    • Respectable performance; easy upgrades

    Cons

    • Slow integrated graphics; dark LCD
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