capsule review

Polywell Ignition X7900i-3960: Top-Shelf Hardware at a Top-Shelf Price

At a Glance
  • Polywell Ignition X7900i-3960

    PCWorld Rating

    The Polywell Ignition X7900i-3960 comes packed with every performance PC lover's dream parts, but carries a rather steep price.

The Polywell Ignition X7900i-3960 boasts powerful hardware in an imposing package. But it certainly spares no expense, at $4599 (as of February 1, 2012). Does the cost add up? Let’s find out.

The Ignition is packed to the brim with power, starting with the Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme processor. That’s a $1000 CPU, which alone accounts for almost a quarter of the cost of the machine. The X7900i-3960 pulled off a score of 206 in our WorldBench 6 benchmark suite. Polywell left the CPU running at the CPU’s stock frequency of 3.3GHz, which leaves any overclocking in your hands.

A processor this fast needs a serious complement of RAM. But the 32GB of 1333MHz DDR3 RAM packed in here seems like overkill. The Asus P9X79-WS motherboard has a total of eight DIMM slots (as opposed to four on most boards), all of which are occupied.

Speaking of overkill, the system also includes two Nvidia Geforce GTX 590s in SLI. These are dual-GPU cards, offering 3GB of GDDR5 RAM each--and a single GeForce GTX 590 will future-proof a system for the next couple years, so you’re in no danger of running into performance bottlenecks anytime soon. On our Crysis 2 gaming benchmark, at a resolution of 2560-by-1600 on Ultra settings, the cards scored an average of 84 frames per second. On Dirt 3, it managed an average of 102 fps.

The Ignition X7900i-3960 has storage covered with two 120GB SSDs in RAID 0, supplying ample, speedy space. It can handle your operating system for quick boot times along with plenty of resource-intensive games and programs, satisfying anyone with a lack of patience. As for the rest of your music, movies, pictures, and documents, a 3TB 7200-rpm hard drive is tucked into a hot-swappable bay. For the media aficionado, the Ignition offers an LG Blu-ray burner as well as a DVD burner. It also has a multiformat card reader.

Space is tight inside the case, thanks to the wiring and extra-large graphics cards. If this system is missing anything you may be looking for, it's room for getting in and moving things around, and if that's what you like to do, it won't be an easy task. That said, the drive bays are easy to open and are accessible from the front panel--you’ll likely rarely need to open the case at all.

And if you’re looking for a green machine, look elsewhere. This beast runs on a 1250W power supply: Between the two beefy graphics cards, the full complement of RAM, and a self-contained liquid CPU cooler, you’ll likely notice a hit on your next utility bill.

The Polywell Ignition X7900i-3960 is sure to leave power-hungry users sated for years to come. But competing models on our Performance Desktops chart offer comparable speed (or better), for less cost. Consider, for example, the $2000 Micro Express MicroFlex 79B, which lacks many of the Ignition’s bells and whistles, but halves the price. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to try your hand at overclocking, the Ignition leaves you with plenty of potential to grow.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The Polywell Ignition X7900i-3960 comes packed with every performance PC lover's dream parts, but carries a rather steep price.

    Pros

    • Packed with top-shelf hardware
    • Plenty of speedy storage

    Cons

    • Expensive
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