capsule review

Xi MTower 64 AGL-SLI

At a Glance
  • Xi Computer MTower 64 AGL-SLI

    PCWorld Rating

Xi MTower 64 AGL-SLI
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

The folks at Xi Computer really know how to build a fast PC. Like its predecessor of the same name, this latest MTower 64 AGL-SLI desktop posted the fastest WorldBench 5 mark and graphics scores we've seen to date (as of 3/15/06).

Thanks in part to AMD's top-of-the-line, dual-core 2.6-GHz Athlon 64 X2 FX-60 processor and 2GB of DDR400 SDRAM, the MTower scored 142 on our WorldBench 5 tests, beating the next-fastest system by just 1 point.

The MTower also posted the best scores yet on our gaming tests for Unreal Tournament. Informal game play on Doom 3 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein moved quickly and smoothly on the 19-inch ViewSonic VP930B flat panel display that accompanied our review unit. Small, 6.8-point text displayed by the monitor also appeared crisp and easy to read.

If the MTower's power isn't enough to entice gamers, its support for SLI dual graphics cards and its one open X16 PCI Express slot for adding a second graphics card should. The MTower also comes with something you don't often see anymore: a package of game software that includes Myst and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six.

Audio enthusiasts will like the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic sound card with support for 7.1 surround sound, as well as the system's dual optical and coaxial S/PDIF audio outputs and a line-in with mike. And if you burn a lot of discs, the 8X dual-layer DVD±RW drive supports HP's LightScribe technology for burning a monochrome label or graphic onto the top of LightScribe-compatible media.

Should the system's 300GB of hard drive storage not be enough--a reasonable expectation for many gamers and multimedia enthusiasts--two more hard drives fit in the hard-drive chassis, and the motherboard has two open SATA II connectors. Better yet, if you don't want to crack open the case, an external eSATA connector on the back of the system offers an easy connection for additional high-speed storage. Other connectors on the black-and-silver midtower case include seven USB 2.0 ports, two FireWire ports, ethernet ports, and two DVI connectors, but no VGA connector--so anyone using a CRT monitor will need an adapter.

Still, for the $4199 (as of 3/23/06) price of our test system, I'd also like to see a bigger and more accessible case. One PCI slot is blocked by the graphics card. Thankfully, nothing obstructs the two open RAM slots, the two other PCI slots, or the two open PCI Express slots--one X1 and one X16. Cable and power connectors, however, complicate access to the single open drive bay and hard drive bays.

The MTower comes with an excellent Logitech wireless mouse and keyboard, which feels solid and comes with multimedia controls, screen controls, and 14 programmable and device-control buttons. Documentation consists of a basic user manual that quickly covers upgrades and maintenance. Individual manuals for the motherboard and other components provide technical details. We have no data on Xi in our Reliability and Service tech support survey.

In the end, the MTower 64 AGL-SLI is one of the fastest--and one of the most expensive--gaming systems around, offering great graphics and audio options.

Kirk Steers

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This expensive system earned our best WorldBench and graphics scores to date.

    Pros

    • Superlative speed
    • Creative X-Fi Xtreme Music sound card

    Cons

    • Very expensive
    • Funky case design
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