PC or not PC? Ten desktops on test
Which system is right for you?
Group Test The desktop PC is a truly versatile animal, capable of running both our business and personal lives as well as entertaining us like nothing else since the television entered our world. Whether you want an all-encompassing budget marvel or a high-end gaming beast, there's a system out there to suit you. It's just a question of finding it...
Apple Mac Pro
Apple continues its design for life ethos with the Mac Pro powerhouse. Long known as the preferred tool of the so-called 'creative', the Mac has always dominated the market where designers and design lovers have been concerned. And Apple's Mac Pro, replacing the Power Mac brand, only extends this domination thanks to its superlative design aesthetic, the inclusion of the latest Intel processors and a reasonable price point.
The Pro is all about choice, though. Whether you're a professional designer or a media-loving home user, Apple believes there is an option for you. Opt for the eight-core Pro and you get two quad-core Intel Xeon 'Clovertown' processors running at 3GHz, whereas the quad-core houses two dual-core Intel Xeon 'Woodcrest' processors running at anything from 2GHz to 3GHz - that's twice as fast as Apple's previous Power Mac G5 Quad. In its default configuration - at the £1699 price - there's a 250GB hard drive, 1GB of 667MHz DDR 2 ECC (Error Correcting Code) fully-buffered DIMM memory, 16x SuperDrive - DVD burner to you and me - and a pretty basic 256MB GeForce 7300 GT graphics card.
Even at this 'basic' spec, the Mac Pro is more than capable of delivering among the highest performance levels and speeds for everything from film and video editing in Final Cut Pro to 3D image rendering in Cinema 4D and page layout in QuarkXpress7. But as mentioned, the Pro is all about the upgrade. Internally, spare hard drive slots offer room for up to four Serial ATA hard drives and a huge 3TB of storage. Just below sit three open full-length PCI Express slots with configurable bandwidth and an optical drive bay for a second SuperDrive or Blu-ray Disc burner.
Connectivity abounds too with support for up to eight displays - great for heavy design applications where one screen just won't cut the mustard - five USB connectors, four Firewire ports, Ethernet and optional upgrades to Bluetooth 2.0 and Airport wireless networking. The Mac Pro is as dependable and exciting a PC as we've yet seen and typically ticks all the boxes from a style point of view.
Alienware Area 51 7500 SLI
When confronted with a machine like Alienware's Area 51 7500 SLI, it's tough to know where to begin. Do you first comment on the now iconic alien-influenced design of its housing that stands it well apart from any rival manufacturer - and looks damn cool to boot, especially in 'Space Black'? Or do you launch straight into the fact that it packs quad-core processing with Intel's shiny new Core 2 Extreme chip and no less than two Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards for unrivalled 3D gaming?
Well, now we've mentioned these, we get down to the nitty gritty. The 8800 GTX SLI setup is the fastest graphics sub-system you can currently buy and is compatible with DirectX 10, the new API that works alongside Windows Vista to ramp up gaming performance immeasurably. Sweet.
The motherboard is an EVGA Nvidia nForce 680i SLI, with 2GB of Low Latency 800MHz DDR 2 memory and a 1TB, 7200rpm SATA hard drive. Also included is an 18x dual=layer DVD±R/RW Drive, the excellent Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Gamer sound card, and Logitech's MX518 gaming-grade optical mouse and supreme G15 gaming keyboard - complete with flip-up LCD panel displaying info like the time, memory utilisation and which song iTunes is currently playing.
In fact, the only thing you'll need is a serious high-resolution monitor and, if you're going all the way - which you might as well when you've invested in a system like this - some decent surround-sound speakers. The 7500 also benefits from full Blu-ray compatibility for playing back the latest HD films as well as offering superior media storage capacity.
As you’d expect with these kinds of stats, in operation the 7500 is as fast as it gets and kicks out the kind of graphics performance you have to see to truly appreciate. It will ably handle any game you want to play and, as long as you’ve married it to a winning display, will suck you in and never let go.
The only downside - apart from that hefty price tag - comes with the fan noise, which is undeniably loud. Sorry, LOUD. But with this kind of performance running from the graphics cards and CPU, if the fans weren’t effective, you’d be left with little more than a pool of melted PC to play with.
You know what....
If you have so much of a problem with the Macintosh then don't f-ing buy one. I am so sick and tired of you Microsoft fanboys bashing something simply because you are too lazy to dedicate the time it takes to really learn a new platform.
Here's a hint people... all of the old stigmas regarding price are gone. Spec a comparable Dell against any Mac and you will see that the prices are close, and that (shocker!) the Mac even comes out cheaper sometimes!
Just because Apple chooses not to compete in the ultra low end does not mean that they are ridiculously expensive. The base Mac comes with a Core Duo.... How come I'm still seeing PC manufacturers selling Pentium Ds or even Celerons even though the last time I checked Intel stopped manufacturing the Pentium.
I may not like Windows but I don't go around to all sorts of online forums bashing Microsoft like you cowards do.
Also, as for the productivity comment, since switching my organization over to the Macintosh we have seen overall productivity increase upwards of 35%. And the comment about OS X for a server... all I can say is it's awfully nice not having to connect remotely on the weekends as to restart the servers with the hope that it will run smoothly for the week to come. Oh and how I miss messing with conflicting services because three different programs like to use the SQL server.
Give me a break already.
The only way one can deliver an educated opinion on an operating system is to learn it, and to learn it you must immerse yourself in it. You can't just use something for a weekend and think you're enough of an expert to say it's horrible. And you can't download an illegal copy of it and run it on an unsupported machine and then blast it's author for having sub par performance.
Bottom line - most of you are pathetic.
Register schizophrenia issues...
Ok, I have to admit I have high hopes from this publication (El Reg) but when it comes to reviews I am left feeling that the editor of Reg Hardware suffers from a serious case of schizophrenia.
How is it that in the same publication there can be ten page in depth reviews of graphics cards that delve to the level of comparing shader operations performance and are so involved that the reader can come away with a feeling that they have an intimate knowlegde of the product and its comparative performance AND THEN THERE ARE ARTICLES LIKE THIS???
This is not a review. This is not an article. This is not even an opinon column. It is a montage of opinion column pretending to be a review and that is deceitful.
There is no structure to the 'review' criteria, or reason/motivation for ratings, or anything of substance. What happened? Did DELL, ACER, ALIENWARE, MESH and APPLE chip in together to get an 'Advertainment' spot on El Reg? Thats certainly what it looks like. I will tell you what this ISN'T: Journalism.
Ed. Be ashamed, be very ashamed.
"You don't buy a Mac just because the hardware looks good or the software is pretty much immune to viruses; you buy it to get OSX. I think it is worth the extra bucks."
This is the typical closed platform thinking. You have to buy the hardware to get the software. This is why the pcs survived so long, even though they are the worst from a design point.... And now the only difference between a mac and a pc is the small tpm chip that checks the osx licence and this is what keeps apple's computer department alive. Dumping an osx image to a pc and replacing the kernel with its free open source version will result in a totally illegal but working mac clone. The problem is with all those good software and games running under windows xp, who really needs the macos?
Personally for work I run a mix of windows and linux software under windows xp on a company standard asus box, because unfortunately currently xp is the only os that is compatible with almost everything and you can get the most performance for the lowest price mostly from the asian manufacturers who make the western brands too.
For me, I would choose the Mac Pro. I like it because it looks good, the bundled software is great, and I have no great urge to play the newest and greatest FPS. In my book an intuitive user interface comes first; when running OSX, I know I will get that.
You don't buy a Mac just because the hardware looks good or the software is pretty much immune to viruses; you buy it to get OSX. I think it is worth the extra bucks.
If the Dell XPS were a Mac...
I'm surprised that the Dell XPS M2010 gets only 80% in this review. I daresay that if Apple had released this genre-bending machine with those specs at that price then it'd get a few more percent.
What's not been mentioned is the Wii-like motion sensitive remote control that can steer the mouse around the screen with just a flick of your wrist.
Come on, Reg! It's better than 80%. It's not just a pretty case. Don't let the Dell badge get in the way of such an awesome bit of kit!!!