- Excellent general and gaming performance
- Plenty of room for screwless upgrades
- Low storage capacity
This system is packed to brim with power and features. Only its low hard-disk capacity (an easily fixable flaw) threatens its spot near the top of our must-buy list.
The 75B’s price of $700 (as of February 1, 2010) represents a considerable discount for the killer performance you get from this Intel Core i5-750-based system. While it’s not without flaws, the 75B’s superb mix of general and gaming performance, and its category-defying connectivity, does much to make it a top contender for users of all kinds.
The raw combination of the 75B’s brand-new 2.88GHz Intel processor, 4GB of DDR3-1600 memory, and Velociraptor hard drive helps accelerate this system to the top of the Value PC chart. However, one component of this trifecta–the hard drive–becomes the 75B’s Achilles’ heel. The paltry 150GB of storage might be acceptable were we talking about solid-state drives. Even then, the question still remains: What good is a super-fast system that you can barely install anything on? This dearth of storage capacity is a critical and surprising fault by Micro Express.
You might balk at having to factor in an extra $100 or so for a larger hard drive, but your frown will melt away once you unleash this system to its fullest potential. The 75B was able to reach a total score of 132 on our WorldBench 6 benchmark suite. Just to put that into perspective, this score is one of the category’s highest, period. And once you consider the price of the systems that have bested the 75B–the $1099 CyberPower Gamer Xtreme 2000 and the $1500 Micro Express MicroFlex 95B–you’ll note that the percentage increase in score, 142 and 148 to the 75B’s 132, doesn’t line up with the systems’ price difference. Simply put, the 75B delivers the best price-to-performance ratio of its peers.
It’s not uncommon to have a PC vendor stack the deck for performance and forget about the other parts of a system that enhance (or ruin) one’s computing experience. That’s not the case with the 75B at all. This system offers a wider variety and larger number of connection options than most, if not all value PCs…not to mention power PCs. The rear of the system has no less than ten total USB slots. Joining this array is a regular FireWire 400 port, a mini-FireWire 400 port, two eSATA connections, two gigabit ethernet ports, integrated 7.1 surround sound, and optical and coaxial S/PDIF inputs. The front of the system is a bit more reasonable–and I say that jokingly–with three USB ports, one FireWire 400 port, and a multiformat card reader. Great stuff.
The system’s screwless interior offers an excellent mix of options for the aspiring upgrader. Four 5.25-inch bays join a single 3.5-inch bay and two free hard drive bays on the front half of the 75B. The motherboard offers one free PCI Express x1 slot, one x16 slot, and two free PCI slots for additional cards–but that’s not to say that the 75B isn’t making the most of what comes preinstalled.
The system’s included ATI Sapphire 4890 video card does much to help it hit an average of 82 frames per second on our Unreal Tournament 3 gaming benchmark (2560-by-1200 resolution, high quality). As with the 75B’s general performance, a few value PCs beat out the 75B for gaming prowess. However, at the price of the 75B, you could buy a brand-new graphics card, achieve better frame rates, and still undercut the price of the next-fastest system–the Gamer Xtreme 2000, again.
Micro Express ships a fairly nondescript mouse with the 75B. It’s corded, has two buttons, and is a dull affair compared with its brother-in-arms, the multifunction keyboard. Plenty of buttons for loading apps of all kinds sit alongside media control keys that allow you to skip tracks, change volumes, and pause or play whatever it is you’re watching. The Microsoft-branded keyboard isn’t much to look at from a design perspective, but it sure gets the job done.
You can certainly pay out the nose to find a system that beats the 75B’s load-out, but the speed increases won’t be the most efficient use of your money. The 75B delivers a superb value for its cost, with just one major flaw–hard drive space–keeping us from delivering a glowing recommendation. But, you know, hard drive prices always seem to be dropping by the day…