capsule review

War Machine M1 Elite Desktop Computer

At a Glance
  • War Machine M1 Elite

    PCWorld Rating

With ominous images of skulls embossed on its sides, Project War Machine's M1 Elite is clearly targeted at gamers. But this gaming PC's strong performance and flexible configuration options make it a worthwhile choice for any power user.

Priced at $3846 (as of November 2, 2007), with a good 22-inch wide-screen Samsung LCD monitor included, our test unit came with a 3-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 CPU and four 1GB DDR2 Crucial Ballistix Tracer RAM chips for a total of 4GB of memory. Though hard-disk space could have been more generous, you do get two 150GB Western Digital Raptor hard drives configured in a RAID 0 array (both drives have 10,000-rpm speed).

As is common among vendors these days, War Machine's site lets you customize your system by choosing the CPU, memory, hard drive, graphics board, and other components from the listed options. All cases are black and feature the company's distinctive death's-head logo.

Running 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate in our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 test suite, the M1 Elite's impressive score of 121 is only about 2 percent behind the fastest performers we've tested to date, the CyberPower Infinity Pro (which earned a score of 124) and the HP Blackbird 002 (which managed 123). Both of those machines carry the same QX6850 processor but cost more than the M1 Elite. The M1 Elite even tied the Infinity Pro in the time it took to burn ISO image files on a hard drive in the Nero portion of our tests--5 minutes, 53 seconds--which was the second-fastest time for completing that task. The M1 Elite was also comparatively fast in most of its other WorldBench 6 Beta 2 tests, placing it smack in the middle of the seven competing power PCs we tested.

Using a single 768MB EVGA nVidia 8800 Ultra graphics board on an EVGA nVidia 680i SLI-ready motherboard, the M1 Elite didn't break any records in our gaming tests, but its overall scores were solid, earning it a rank of fourth place among recent rivals. It achieved an average of 161 frames per second in our Doom 3 test, running at 1280 by 1024 resolution with antialiasing turned on. That result is roughly 10 percent behind the 179 fps average of the faster CyberPower Power Infinity Pro, the HP Blackbird 002, and the Polywell Poly P3503-3DT.

Embellished with blue accent lights, the jet-black tower case (a Cooler Master Stacker) has a solid design that includes a front door and a very reachable connectivity port on top. Inside the side panel, which can easily be removed, the air-cooled interior includes a Zalman CPU cooler and two 4.7-inch fans (front and rear), as well as air vents on the top and bottom sides of the case. The four DIMM memory slots in our test system were already filled, but other open expansion options include five external and two internal drive bays, and three PCI slots. The oversized graphics board covers one PCIe x16 slot, and a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi sound card occupies one PCI slot.

The included 22-inch wide-screen Samsung 226BW LCD monitor nicely complemented the system. Its image quality (both still and moving images) and its text readability were fine in my tests, but a height adjustment control would help make the display easier to set just where you want it.

The Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard and G5 mouse both have extra features specifically designed for gaming. The keyboard's easy-to-use software includes gaming profiles with preset macros for use with many popular games (including Doom and Far Cry), and the mouse comes with a small set of weights for fine tuning its balance and feel. But if gaming isn't on your horizon, you may want to substitute these gaming peripherals for a standard set.

The M1 Elite offers solid performance and good expandability that will likely appeal to many users, but it is somewhat expensive, and its fanciful case may not appeal to everyone.

--Richard Jantz

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Offers solid performance and good expandability, but this quad-core desktop computer's flashy case won't appeal to everyone.

    Pros

    • Superior performance
    • Great expandability

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Lacks hard drive space
Related:
Shop Tech Products at Amazon