capsule review

Sys Technology Sys SlimLine Si200 Value Desktop PC

At a Glance
  • Sys Technology Sys SlimLine Si200

    PCWorld Rating

    A fine general performer that's hampered by traits common to mini-sized PCs: lackluster graphics and limited expansion.

The $708 (as of 2/7/08) Sys SlimLine Si200 is Sys Technology's most compact desktop to date. Because it bears no logos or stickers, you wouldn't even know it's a PC just from looking at the slender black case, which is barely 4 inches high. But packed inside is just enough power to make this mini model a hardy performer for running standard business applications and other general tasks.

At Sys Technology's Web site, you can choose different components for this PC, including either an Intel or an AMD processor. Our test system uses a 2-GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2180 CPU and two 1GB sticks of PC2-5300 DDR2 memory (2GB total) mounted on a Gigabyte GA-945GCMX-S2 motherboard with integrated Intel GMA 945 graphics. The system's 160GB Western Digital Caviar hard disk isn't very large, but the DVD/CD combo writer features LightScribe labeling capability, and you also get a memory card reader. The package is rounded out by a ViewSonic VA1903wb 19-inch display (1440-by-900 native resolution), which, however, has only a VGA interface.

In our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 performance tests, the Si200 distinguished itself by earning a mark of 77--a tie with the Polywell Poly i7050 and the best score of this sub-$750 desktop PCs test group. But its graphics performance rating was a different story. As with all the other value systems that rely on underpowered integrated graphics, the Si200's graphics displayed poor performance in our gaming tests, and it lacks full-screen antialiasing support for rendering smoother edges in graphics frames.

The SlimLine Si200's compact case (made by In-Win, model IW-BT566T) is easily opened, but has little room for expansion inside. All three drive bays--two external, one internal--are occupied, so you'll need to use the USB connectivity ports (no FireWire ports are provided) if you want to add another hard drive. The system has four open slots (one PCIe x16, one PCIe x8, and two PCI) but they accommodate only low-profile (half-height) expansion cards. Using the plastic "feet" that come in the package, you can also place the Si200 case in a vertical position, if you prefer, though you can't reorient the DVD drive.

The bundled Logitech input devices were both workable, but basic: a ho-hum standard (106-key) keyboard and a two-button optical mouse with a scroller wheel. The Si200's printed and online documentation was helpful and reasonably thorough.

My main disappointment with the SlimLine Si200 is that it comes with Windows Vista Home Basic, instead of Vista Home Premium, the operating system bundled with all the other value systems here. Since Home Basic lacks the Media Center interface, you must rely on third-party applications to keep your multimedia files organized, and you can't use Windows' Aero graphical interface.

--Richard Jantz

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A fine general performer that's hampered by traits common to mini-sized PCs: lackluster graphics and limited expansion.

    Pros

    • Small, compact case
    • Impressive productivity benchmark scores

    Cons

    • Poor integrated graphics performance
    • Limited expansion (no free bays)
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