capsule review

Micro Express MicroFlex 60B

At a Glance
  • Micro Express MicroFlex 60B

    PCWorld Rating

    This is a good system for power-hungry tasks like editing video, but its interior has sloppy cabling that may hinder expansio

Armed with a 2.6-GHz Athlon 64 X2 FX-60 processor and 2GB of RAM, the MicroFlex 60B earned a score of 139 on our WorldBench 5 test suite. Until recently, that score would have wowed us, but with systems built around the Core 2 Extreme processor roaring to scores as high as 181, it makes less of an impression.

Nonetheless, the system nicely balances performance and price. The MicroFlex 60B costs $2499 (as of July 14, 2006), and is one of the least-expensive models to make our power chart (at this writing, only the Dell XPS 410, which uses Intel's 2.4-GHz Core 2 Duo E6600 processor, costs less).

On our graphics tests, the MicroFlex 60B scored reasonably well, too, placing in the middle of the pack of our current field of power systems. Equipped with an ATI Radeon X1900 XTgraphics card, the system achieved 156 frames per second in our Return to Castle Wolfenstein test at 1280-by-1024-pixel resolution, and 440 fps in Unreal Tournament at the same resolution. Those numbers aren't as good as the ones we've recorded for systems with dual-GPUs, but the MicroFlex is capable of handling most modern games at high resolutions.

The system's plain, black exterior has a clean design, but its interior is a messy nest of cables that were loosely tied and stuffed inside haphazardly. The messy cabling could impede the flow of air inside the PC, and it blocked access to the internal drive bays--to get to them, we had to push the cables out of the way.

The MicroFlex 60B's big chassis offers copious room for components. It has six externally accessible drive bays (four are open; one accommodates a double-layer multiformat DVD burner, and one hosts a four-in-one media-card reader), and four internal drive bays (two are open, and two are occupied by 250GB SATA hard drives in a striped RAID array, for 500GB of disk storage). The system has a total of four open slots, including a PCI Express 1X slot, a PCI Express slot, and two PCI slots.

At the back of the case, you get six USB 2.0 ports, plus two more under a small panel on the top of the case. The latter could be useful if you put the system under a desk and have access to the top of the chassis; but an elevated top panel precludes you from setting an external device, such as a USB hard drive, on the top of the system. FireWire ports are located on the back and top of the system, and dual gigabit Ethernet adapters sit at the rear (this can be useful if you run multiple networks--say, with one dedicated to accessing the Internet and one for internal use--or if you usie the system at peer-to-peer gaming parties.

The 19-inch LG L1950S LCD monitor accompanying our review system produced fairly accurate color, but our test images looked a little washed out. Blacks and shadows didn't appear as dark as they should have, particularly in the gloomy scenes of Doom 3.

We found the Microsoft wireless mouse and keyboard comfortable and responsive to use. The keyboard has a padded wrist rest and a convenient selection of keys for controlling multimedia.

The MicroFlex 60B provides good bang for the buck, but you'll need to do plenty of cable organizing inside the case to improve airflow and to make room for component upgrades.

Richard Baguley

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This is a good system for power-hungry tasks like editing video, but its interior has sloppy cabling that may hinder expansio

    Pros

    • Plenty of processing power
    • Well-situated USB ports

    Cons

    • Interior is messy, with awkward cabling
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