capsule review

Polywell Poly ITX-H6700: A Bite-Size Powerhouse

At a Glance
  • Polywell Poly ITX-H6700

    PCWorld Rating

    If you're looking for a compact, reasonably priced office desktop with top-notch performance, Polywell's Poly ITX H6700 may be a good match.

If you're looking for a powerful, petite desktop, Polywell's Poly ITX-H6700 won't disappoint. Unless, that is, you're looking for a powerful, compact machine that can also play graphics-intensive games and stream HD movies. The new Sandy Bridge processor's integrated graphics are good...but not that good.

Our $1199 (as of February 11, 2011) review model came equipped with Intel's new Sandy Bridge processor--specifically, the 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K. Our model also packed 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a Blu-ray drive, Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit), a 500GB hard-disk drive, and a 100GB solid-state boot drive.

The Poly ITX-H6700 is encased in a small, smooth black chassis that measures about 8 inches wide by 9 inches deep by 3.5 inches high. The brushed black aluminum front accommodates a silver power button, an optical drive, and a USB port (awkwardly located beneath the power button). The case isn't sexy, but it's simple and unassuming, and its boxy structure will fit easily on a desk or a shelf.

The back holds an array of connectivity options, including two USB 3.0 ports, four regular USB ports, an eSATA port, an HDMI port, a DisplayPort connector, a gigabit ethernet jack, and a DVI connector. You also get the full audio hookup, including c/sub, rear, line-in, line-out, and microphone jacks, and a optical audio out. The absence of microphone/headphone jacks on the front is regrettable, but understandable in view of how tiny the case is.

Naturally, there isn't much room inside the box for expansion. Four screws hold the lid in place, revealing a neat-but-cramped interior. The interior offers one open PCI Express x16 slot, plus support for up to 8GB of RAM.

The ITX-H6700 is a lesson in contrasts. At first blush it looks like a compact PC, barely larger than the Giada DN2301 we tackled recently. And though it sports the Core i7-2600K processor that's popular in the performance desktop realm, its performance and configuration plant it firmly in the mainstream category.

The ITX-H6700 received a WorldBench 6 score of 161. This would have been an excellent score in the not-so-distant pre-Sandy Bridge era--a time when the chart-topping Maingear F131 earned a mark of 152. More recently, though, we've seenMicro Express's $850 MicroFlex 25B achieve a score of 188 with an overclocked Core i5-2500K processor.

The ITX-H6700's overall performance score would have been a bit higher if Polywell had overclocked the unlocked processor, but doing so might have been impossible, given the space constraints. Another hobbling factor was the system's graphics performance.

The good news is that the new Sandy Bridge processors handle general performance extremely well. The bad news? Though Sandy Bridge's souped-up integrated graphics may be fine for HD video, they aren't strong enough to let you get interactive with your entertainment on this machine. In our Unreal Tournament 3 tests, the ITX-H6700 eked out just 12.5 frames per second at a screen resolution of 2560 by 1600 pixels at high quality. Only when you dial the screen resolution down to 1024 by 768 pixels (at high quality settings) do you obtain a playable frame rate of 34.1 fps. And even that number is no match for what you'd get from a decent discrete graphics board; the MicroFlex 25B's AMD Radeon HD 6870 graphics board enabled it to deliver a frame rate of 112 fps on the same test.

As a compact, reasonably priced desktop that provides top-notch (nongaming) performance, Polywell's Poly ITX H6700 would make a respectable addition to anyone's home or office. Media and Blu-ray playback are fine, too. But if you're looking to do any graphics-intensive gaming, more-suitable (albeit larger) offerings abound.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    If you're looking for a compact, reasonably priced office desktop with top-notch performance, Polywell's Poly ITX H6700 may be a good match.

    Pros

    • Small, unassuming chassis
    • Excellent performance

    Cons

    • Weak graphics performance
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