capsule review

Polywell Poly 790FX Desktop Computer

At a Glance
  • Polywell Poly 790FX

    PCWorld Rating

Polywell's Poly 790FX desktop computer is built around AMD's brand new 2.2-GHz Phenom 9500 processor, 790FX chip set and a 512MB ATI HD 3850 graphics board. In general, the system's main components are affordable mainstream parts; but there are some budget-busting highlights, including 4GB of DDR2-1066 system memory and three hard drives: two 10,000-rpm, 74GB Western Digital Raptors paired in a striped array for performance and a 500GB Seagate ST3500630AS for additional capacity.

Helping to explain the rather steep $3000 price tag are the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Ultimate, Samsung's good-looking 226BW 22-inch flat-panel display, and two DVD writers: a Liteon LH20A with LightScribe, and a Liteon DH20A without.

The result is a system that (as of January 3, 2008) costs $270 more than the Q9550-based version of Dell's XPS 420 that crushed the Poly 790FX in our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 tests--124 to 95. Still, clock cycle for clock cycle the Poly held its own against older Intel competition: Two 2.13-GHz Core 2 Duo E6400 systems turned in an average score of 88, and four 2.4-GHz Core 2 Duo e6600 systems averaged a 96. Meanwhile, desktops equipped with chips of comparable clock speed from AMD's previous generation, such as the 2-GHz Athlon 64 3800+ and the 2.2-GHz Athlon 64 X2 systems averaged 67 and 69, respectively, so Phenom is a big step up from the company's previous CPUs.

The Poly 790FX's case is attractive. Unfortunately, though the system leaves four external drive bays free, wires from the massive Enermax 1000-watt Galaxy power supply block internal access to most of them. Since the bays are externally accessible, you can easily slip drives into place, but attaching the power and bus leads can be a chore. The Poly 790FX has a single graphics board (a 512MB ATI 3850) installed in one of its four PCIe x16 slots; if you have the 1000-watt power supply, you're ready to upgrade to four graphic boards as your needs dictate.

Polywell includes Nero software for CD/DVD creation and playback, as well as AMD's nifty overclocking utility. The mouse Polywell bundles is a wireless Logitech M-RR67A, though the Y-SV30 keyboard is USB. Both are serviceable, but nothing special.

In the end, the Poly 790FX is a nice machine that's a bit overconfigured for the performance of the CPU. Take it down a notch or two before you hit the 'Confirm transaction' button.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The Phenom-based Poly 790FX has the latest AMD CPU and ATI graphics, but is too expensive for the performance it delivers.


    • Solid performance and design
    • Plenty of free bays


    • Expensive for the performance
    • Massive power supply blocks bays
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