capsule review

Polywell MiniBox 939NP-4200

At a Glance
  • Polywell MiniBox 939NP-4200

Polywell MiniBox 939NP-4200
Photograph: Chris Manners

Polywell's MiniBox 939NP-4200, a compact system that measures just 11 inches wide by 14 inches deep by 9 inches tall, turned out to be our top WorldBench 5 performer among six dual-core value PCs we tested for our August issue roundup. A 2.2-GHz Athlon 64 X2 4200+ and 1GB of RAM helped the Polywell earn a WorldBench 5 score of 110, a great score for a value model. The system was also quick in gaming tests, achieving 99 frames per second at 1280 by 1024 resolution and 32-bit color in our Return to Castle Wolfenstein test.

The $1499 (as of 6/2/06) 939NP-4200 is one of two machines in our roundup to offer two 160GB hard drives configured in a striped RAID array. The front of the case has one double-layer DVD burner, a media-card reader that accepts six formats, two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, and even a floppy drive. Two blue-colored gauges that record the CPU and hard-drive temperature also reside on the front. In back are other typical connectors, including VGA analog, DVI, and S-Video display ports.

Though the system has a carrying handle, which would be convenient for toting it, say, to a LAN party, it's rather heavy. The window in the left side of the PC affords a view into the cramped but neat interior; and if you need to get inside, the top of the case comes off easily after you remove a couple of thumbscrews. Once the case is open, however, your work gets harder: One otherwise-available PCI slot is blocked, and the RAM sockets and the open externally accessible bay are hard to reach.

If you're in the market for a compact value computer with strong performance, the 939NP-4200 is a worthy machine--just don't expect much expansion room.

Dan Sommer

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At a Glance
  • Compact box-shaped model turned in great performance but offers little expansion room in its cramped interior.

    Pros

    • Great performance and small footprint

    Cons

    • Cramped internally; lacks upgradability
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