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Micro Express MicroFlex 95B
The Micro Express MicroFlex 95B achieves astonishingly strong performance numbers despite qualifying (barely) as a value PC, at a price of $1500 (as of February 1, 2010).
The MicroFlex 95B runs an Intel Core i7 950 processor that Micro Express jacked up to 3.2GHz from its stock-clock frequency of 3.06GHz. It's not the most advanced iteration of the processer we've seen in our Top 10 Value PCs or Power PCs chart (that title goes to the Core i7 Extreme 965 CPU inside the $3000+ Xi Mtower PCIe 965 power desktop). But Micro Express raised the i7 950's frequency to match the Xi chip's 3.2GHz CPU, and as a result the two machines deliver virtually identical performance.
In general performance, the MicroFlex 95B easily outruns any value PC we've tested, In fact, its WorldBench 6 score of 148 beats every power PCs except the aforementioned Xi machine. The MicroFlex 95B's results on our gaming benchmarks are less impressive, as it (and its dual-GPU nVidia GeForce GTX 295 card) can't match the output of systems based on ATI's Radeon HD 4870x2 card, among other configurations.
The 95B packs 3GB of DDR3-1600 RAM and a single, smallish 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor drive. One curious and disappointing choice: The system runs Windows Vista 32-bit--ugh.
The case--an antiquated Cooler Master Centurion--isn't bad, but it's practically Stone Age in comparison to the company's newer, more tricked-out offerings. At least it provides locking mechanisms and rails to simplify installation of devices into the case's four free 5.25-inch bays and three free hard-drive bays. To install a card into the single PCI Express x1, the single PCI Express x16, or one of the two PCI slots, you'll have to use a screwdriver.
On the MicroFlex 95B's rear panel, you'll find eight USB connections, one Firewire 400 port, one mini-FireWire 400 port, and two gigabit ethernet connections, plus 7.1 surround sound (optical, coaxial, S/PDIF), and HDMI outputs (the last of these is on the GeForce GTX 295 graphics card). The front of the case hosts three USB ports, one FireWire 400 port, and a multicard reader. The included optical drive is a generic DVD burner.
The wireless Microsoft mouse that came with our test machine is functional and comfortable to use, with two handy extra buttons for thumb-based input. The aesthetically pleasing curved keyboard has 24 extra buttons for application launching and media controlling. It's a great way to open the system's various software elements at a moment's notice.
No other system PC World has tested comes close to matching the price-to-performance ratio of the MicroFlex 95B.
Micro Express MicroFlex 95B
The undisputed performance king among value PCs, and close to the crown among power PCs as well.
- Amazing general performance
- Screwless locks for easy upgrades
- Total storage capacity is modest
- Gaming performance isn't top-notch
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