capsule review

Xi MTower AGE-SLI

At a Glance
  • Xi Computer Xi MTower 64 AGE-SLI

    PCWorld Rating

    Though this system is well-built system and offers a range of features, it seems expensive for the performance it provides.

Despite having SLI in its name, the Xi MTower 64AGE-SLI configuration we tested didn't employ dual graphics cards (though you can upgrade to that arrangement). As a result, despite a good overall performance score, the system didn't fair particularly well in our graphics tests, making its price tag of $4146 (as of July 14, 2006) a bit steep.

Equipped with AMD's dual-core 2.8-GHz Athlon 64 FX-62 processor, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, and a single eVGA GeForce 7900 GT graphics card, our test MTower achieved a PC WorldBench 5 score of 147. That number that surpasses every other mark we've recorded to date for an Athlon 64-based system. Systems using Intel's Core 2 Duo processors, however, have achieved even higher scores, (up to 181, thus far).

Despite its strong overall performance, the MTower stumbled in our graphics tests. It achieved a frame rate of 142 frames per second in Return to Castle Wolfenstein at a resolution of 1280 by 1024 pixels--one of the poorest scores we've seen on this test, and dramatically worse than the scores achieved by similarly priced systems equipped with two graphics cards. For example, the ABS Ultimate X9 costs about the same as this system, but came with two ATI Radeon 1X900 graphics cards and managed 299 fps, more than double the frame rate of the Xi.

The MTower has a large, elegant black case. A window replaces one side panel, and a single LED on the fan provides a shadowy view of the components. Xi ties off the system's power cables out of the way, but the SATA cables for the two hard drives hang loose. This looks untidy, but it doesn't impede airflow or navigating inside the system.

The chassis has plenty of expansion room, with four externally accessible drive bays (two are already filled with a 16X dual-layer rewritable DVD drive and a 16X DVD-ROM drive) and five internal drive bays (a pair of 150GB, 10,000-rpm SATA hard drives occupy two of these). The unit has plenty of open slots as well, including a PCI Express 16X slot (for adding a second graphics card), a PCI Express 1X slot, and three PCI slots.

The keyboard and mouse are comfortable, wireless models from Logitech. The keyboard includes a set of media control buttons and a volume dial, plus a somewhat unusual but highly useful scroll control on the left-hand side for scrolling through documents.

The system came with ViewSonic's VG2021m monitor, a 20-inch model that produced good color, smooth movement, and sharp text, despite running at a native resolution of 1400 by 1050 pixels (most 20-inch LCDs run at 1600 by 1200). If you prefer to sit close to your monitor and work on large documents, you may dislike not being able to fit as much on the screen. But if you sit farther away, the lower resolution won't be a problem.

The MTower AGE-SLI is a well-built, highly expandable system that offers strong overall system performance. Unfortunately, our single-graphics-card system lacked the graphics punch we expected from such a high-dollar PC.

Richard Baguley

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Though this system is well-built system and offers a range of features, it seems expensive for the performance it provides.

    Pros

    • Plenty of room to upgrade
    • Toolless case design

    Cons

    • Expensive
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