capsule review

Aeoncraft Aeon-8010

At a Glance
  • Aeoncraft Aeon-8010

    PCWorld Rating

    This high-performance, high-priced gaming system lacks the super-slick looks and upgrade options of some of its competitors.

Aeoncraft Aeon-8010
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

If you're on the prowl for a superfast PC, check out iBuyPower's new luxury brand, Aeoncraft. We tested Aeoncraft's Aeon-8010, which delivers the same hardware and superlative performance of a $5000-plus PC at the relatively reasonable price of $3595 (as of 3/23/06).

Our test unit owes its first-rate performance scores in part to AMD's dual-core, 2.6-GHz Athlon 64 X2 FX-60 processor and 2GB of DDR400 SDRAM. With this configuration, the system posted a score of 141 on PC World's WorldBench 5 tests--matching the second-fastest score we've recorded thus far and missing the top mark by a single point. (Xi Computer's MTower 64 AGL-SLI scored 142.)

The unit's graphics test results were also impressive thanks to ATI's top-of-the-line graphics card, the Radeon X1900 XTX with 512MB of DDR3 on-board RAM. With a frame rate score of 169 on our Return to Castle Wolfenstein gaming test at 1024-by-768-pixel resolution and 16-bit color, the Aeon-8010 ties for the highest score among our currently tested systems (as of 4/12/06). Not surprisingly, informal game play on Doom 3 was very smooth.

However, game play was a bit dark on the 19-inch ViewSonic VX924 LCD display that came with our test unit, even when we turned up the brightness.

You'll also find all the ports and connectors you'd expect on a $3595 PC. The system has an ample supply of USB 2.0 ports--three on the front and four on the back--but only a single FireWire port on the front of the case. The graphics card offers two DVI connectors and an S-Video port. One minor omission: The system lacks a VGA connection, so hard-core gamers using a CRT will need an adapter. An external SATA connector makes adding additional high-speed external storage a snap--a nice extra.

Audiophiles will appreciate the Aeon-8010's inclusion of all the necessary connections for amplifiers and sound systems. The standard cluster of audio ports on the back of the case supports 7.1 surround sound, and S/PDIF digital audio ports come in both optical and coaxial flavors.

From the front, our test unit's case looked more like a giant 1950s-era toaster than a futuristic gaming platform. (You can get a more standard silver case for an extra $30.) A large, rounded panel of reflective, shiny silver protrudes from the front of the case, which contains the dual-layer DVD±RW drive, five-in-one media card reader, and floppy drive behind a swinging door. The clear window in one of the side panels reveals a visually unremarkable interior, and a useless grille covers the back of the case, providing little aesthetic value but lots of potential for tangled cords when connecting other devices.

Though the midtower case lacks the roomy interior common in other high-priced, high-performance systems, it doesn't hinder access to most components. One exception: The ATI graphics card blocks two of the three PCI slots--the third PCI slot holds a wireless networking adapter. This leaves only one X1 and one X16 PCI Express slot available for upgrades. As a result, the Aeon-8010 falls a bit short on expansion options. Another big drawback for gamers: The motherboard doesn't support ATI's Crossfire dual graphics card technology.

To Aeoncraft's credit, the liquid CPU cooling system is much less intrusive than similar cooling systems found in many other PCs. The speed of the cooling fan--and hence its noise level--can be easily adjusted via a knob on the back of the case.

Two additional optical drives can reside in the two open drive bays, and two more hard drives can be added to the hard drive chassis--a likely temptation for any power user, since the Aeon-8010's 300GB of hard drive storage seems a little light for such an expensive system.

Documentation included manuals for the motherboard and other components, but little useful material for the novice user. The system's included Logitech keyboard feels solid and comes with multimedia controls but no programmable control buttons. The Microsoft optical mouse feels good in hand.

We have no data on Aeoncraft or iBuyPower in our Reliability and Service tech support survey.

The Aeon-8010 is a worthy alternative to gaming systems from Alienware and Voodoo as long as you don't need loads of free PCI slots and don't mind the quirky design.

Kirk Steers

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This high-performance, high-priced gaming system lacks the super-slick looks and upgrade options of some of its competitors.

    Pros

    • Outstanding performance
    • Adjustable cooling fan

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Limited expansion slots
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