capsule review

Polywell Poly X5800i Power Desktop

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At a Glance
  • Polywell Poly X5800i

Oof! Polywell's Poly X5800i comes very close to being our top power desktops performer. It's mainly a few internal design issues that hold this system back from superstardom. It almost feels like a waste of the X5800i's powerful Nehalem-based Intel Core i7 965 Extreme processor, the exact same 3.2-GHz used in the fastest (albeit overclocked) PC we've ever tested, Falcon Northwest's Mach V gaming PC.

A whopping 6GB of DDR3-1066 memory fills this machine, and it's used to its fullest capacity thanks to the X5800i's 64-bit Vista Ultimate OS. The system's storage isn't quite as extensive, though, with only 792GB total. Two blazing-fast (15,000-rpm) 146GB Seagate Cheetah SAS drives are paired in RAID configuration, while a single 500GB, 7200-rpm Seagate Barracuda drive rounds things out.

The Achilles' Heel of the Poly X5800i is its single 2GB ATI Radeon HD 4870x2 graphics board. In its own right, the 4870X2 is a powerful card, rendering 161 frames per second in our Doom 3 benchmarks (1280-by-1024 resolution with antialiasing) and 251 frames per second in our Far Cry benchmarks (same). But this only places it in the middle of the pack against competing systems using a more system-taxing game like Doom 3. And because the Poly X5800i has a RAID card setup, you don't have any room for CrossFire (multiple graphics boards) future-proofing. You could always rejigger some internal components, we suppose, but that's a taxing situation in itself, given this system's rat's nest of cables.

There's room for only two additional 5.25-inch devices in the Poly X5800i. That's because one slot is taken up by a proprietary hard drive bay that you can eject and lock from the outside of the chassis. We suppose this is to prevent anyone from stealing your secondary drive, but to us, it feels like a gimmicky, unnecessary addition to the case. What's more, there's no room for this drive elsewhere. Space is tight, but you can cram one more hard drive into the case's rail-based drive bays. That's it.

We do love the X5800i's connectivity options. Eight USB ports on the motherboard sit alongside a single FireWire 400 port and two eSATA ports. You also get the (seemingly standard) 5.1-channel onboard audio, one gigabit ethernet port, and an optical S/PDIF connection. The case's bare-bones front has a scant two USB ports, but the X5800i swaps out the typical front-panel Firewire 400 port for an eSATA port instead. And the included media card reader is enough to quell our distempers.

the X5800i's $3399 price isn't very low (as of December 3, 2008; $400 extra to have a 24-inch Acer AL2416WB wide-screen display included), making us all the more upset that Polywell cut corners on its keyboard-and-mouse combo. The crummy, generic Logitech mouse is as standard as a two-button mouse comes. Boring. The included Logitech Y-SV39 keyboard at least comes with function buttons for launching your e-mail, Web browser, and the like, but it's pretty drab--and ugly.

Polywell's X5800i is a sporting rig, but the internal design issues we've mentioned really do hold it back.

--David Murphy

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At a Glance
  • Though the X5800i comes close to being a top performer, some rival desktops match its speed and beat its cost.


    • Excellent performance


    • Limited expandability
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