capsule review

Polywell Poly P3503-3DT Desktop Computer

At a Glance
  • Polywell Poly 3503-QX6850

    PCWorld Rating

The quad-core Polywell Poly P3503-3DT is a generally competent desktop computer that includes a nice mix of features and offers reasonably strong graphics performance, but it turned in comparatively low scores in our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 tests. (Polywell offers the P3503 in other configurations, including a speedy Poly P3503 that we've previously reviewed.)

Bundled with a 22-inch LCD monitor, the new P3503 we looked at is priced at $4000 (as of November 2, 2007). Our test unit came with a 3-GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a spacious near-650GB of hard-disk space: two 74GB, 10,000-rpm Western Digital Raptor drives configured in a RAID 0 array, plus a 500GB (7200-rpm) Seagate hard drive for data storage and backup.

Running 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate in our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 test suite, the P3503-3DT earned a score of 108, a result that's roughly 12 percent slower than the average of 123 scored by three other quad-core systems we've reviewed that use the same QX6850 processor: the CyberPower Infinity Pro, the HP Blackbird 002 Lci, and the Project War Machine M1 Elite. Although the P3503-3DT's score in our Nero image-burning test was only a few seconds slower than the best performers, most of its other scores--in our 3D rendering, Microsoft Office, and Videowave tests, for example--indicated slower performance than in the other QX6850-equipped models.

In our graphics tests however, the P3503-3DT was a much stronger performer. Equipped with a single 768MB nVidia GeForce 8800 graphics board on an Asus P5K3 Deluxe Crossfire-compatible motherboard, it scored well at all resolution settings. It ran 173 frames per second in Doom 3 at 1280 by 1024 resolution with antialiasing turned on, making it the second-best scorer, just behind the top-ranked, Penryn-based CyberPower Power Infinity Pro, which turned in a score of 193 fps for the same test.

The midsize-tower P3503-3DT's boxy, utilitarian design lacks a door panel that would protect the front drive bays and also give the case a classier look. The only real design flourish comes from a blue cold-cathode tube inside the machine that backlights the ventilation grilles on the side and rear panels. Connectivity options on the front and back include eight USB ports, two FireWire ports, two SATA connections, and one eSATA connection, but the system has no ports for serial or parallel peripherals, and no media card reader.

The side panel is easy to remove, and inside the cables are secured so you can access most parts without too much hassle. The fanless thermal design includes a proprietary liquid-cooling system and a copper heat sink to help keep the machine cool. The case's drive bay area is constructed so that all installed drives are externally accessible. In our test system, two dual-layer DVD burners and the aforementioned three hard disk drives occupy five of the drive bays, leaving four bays open (for adding either external or internal drives). The four memory DIMM slots were filled, but five open slots (two PCIe x1, one PCIe x16, three PCI) are available for additional upgrades.

The included 22-inch wide-screen KDS 2200W LCD monitor was a bit disappointing. Though its image quality and text readability weren't bad, whites didn't look bright, and some pictures appeared slightly darker than on rival monitors. The display's lack of a height adjustment also made it less flexible to set up. The bundled Logitech Internet 350 keyboard and mouse were both comfortable and easy to use, but neither had any exceptional features.

The P3503-3DT is a reasonably good performer with a nice amount of storage capacity, but other quad-core QX6850 CPU models are faster.

--Richard Jantz

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This liquid-cooled desktop PC is nicely loaded, but it isn't as fast as other quad-core models with the same CPU.

    Pros

    • Liquid-cooled CPU
    • Large amount of hard-disk space

    Cons

    • Slower performance than rival PCs
    • Bundled LCD failed to impress
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