Evesham Axis Xcelsior review
Though Ferrari-fast in both 3D games and office applications, the extra cost and inferior looks means that the Axis Xcelsior can't beat the A-Listed Ultimate PC from Mesh.
Review Date: 20 Oct 2004
Reviewed By: Clive Webster
Price when reviewed: (£2,231 inc VAT); Delivery £34 (£40 inc VAT)
It may be another standard Evesham case, complete with gaming-oriented case lights and styling, but the real interest to this system is lurking inside - namely, AMD's new Athlon 64 4000+ processor.
It's a Socket 939 chip, running at 2.4GHz and with 1MB of Level 2 cache. Based on a 130nm manufacturing process, the 4000+ boasts an identical paper specification to AMD's previously top-end FX-53 processor. But, although the FX-53 is being replaced by the FX-55, this isn't simply a re-branding exercise. It's worth bearing in mind that, unlike the FX range, the 4000+ is clock-locked at manufacture, meaning overclockers will be left out in the cold. With the 4000+ set to sell for $729 (about £395) and the FX-53 currently selling in the region of £500, sheer cost is another compelling reason for both upgraders and system integrators to go down the non-FX route.
We've certainly no complaints with the processor's speed, with the Axis Xcelsior churning out a whopping score of 3.17 in our application-based benchmarks - the fastest we've yet seen. This outstrips even the lightning-fast Alienware from our recent Ultimate PC group test (see issue 121, p124). It's not just the processor either, as Evesham has done its best to make sure there are no bottlenecks. That's helped by a Maxtor MaXLine III hard disk, which boasts not only a 300GB capacity, but 16MB cache and NCQ (native command queuing). NCQ rearranges requests in order to carry them out as efficiently as possible, but it needs motherboard chipset support, which the nForce3 Ultra chipset on the Xcelsior is lacking. Even so, it scores a massive 3.29 in our disk-intensive database tests.
There was no stopping this system in 3D either, with ATi's 256MB Radeon X800 XT card on board. The Xcelsior threw out 87 and 85fps (frames per second) in our Unreal Tournament 2004 and Halo tests respectively, at a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 and 32-bit colour. Even upping the resolution to 1,600 x 1,200 in Halo gave it no problems: 64fps in a game notorious for overloading graphics cards is extremely impressive. And, while ATi's offering may not have the full Shader Model 3 support of nVidia's cards, it should see you through the next few years of gaming with few complaints.
Given the Xcelsior's gaming credentials, we're happy to see it partnered with a ViewSonic VP201s TFT, boasting a 20in diagonal and minimal motion lag. The panel also offers excellent horizontal viewing angles, ensuring DVD viewing can be enjoyed by all. On the down side, we found low- and high-end definition a little murky, and there was banding evident on colour and greyscale ramps. This points to a slightly limited colour range, but it's no problem in general use. There's plenty else to recommend the screen too, such as the solid height-adjustable stand and four-port USB hub.
The front of the case conveniently provides two FireWire and two USB ports as well as media card slots. Around the back you'll find a further four USB ports, optical S/PDIF audio, serial and parallel ports, plus two FireWire ports.
Elsewhere inside, you'll find a 56K modem, leaving a total of two PCI slots free. Note that, like all other current Athlon 64-based systems, there aren't any PCI Express slots to be found. Then again there's little that you'll need to upgrade in a hurry. You'll find 1GB of PC3200 RAM spread across the dual channels of the MSI K8N Neo2 motherboard, leaving two free. A single free Serial ATA connector is available should you wish to introduce a RAID array, or add to the capacity. Not many will need to do the latter in a hurry, particularly given the speedy 16x dual-format DVD writer on board. Creative's Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS will also prove flexible, offering features that will appeal to both gamers and musicians. The T7700 7.1 speakers do a more than adequate job for movie soundtracks and gaming, although music playback lacks subtlety, and many will find the sheer amount of wiring cumbersome.
- EE confirms 4G network outage
- EU promises single telecoms market by 2015
- Samsung courts Android developers with $800,000 contest
- iOS 7: release date, features and more
- Yahoo promises not to "screw up" Tumblr
- Nook ebook readers to get browser and email access
- Google "cheated" UK taxpayers, says former exec
- Music and lights could trigger malware
- Apple vs Samsung battle moves to suppliers
- Outgoing Intel CEO: we could have powered the iPhone
- Hands on with the new Google Maps
- Nokia Lumia 925 review: first look
- Why I won't subscribe to Creative Cloud
- GoPro camera strapped to a remote-control helicopter: the ultimate boy's toy
- Acer Iconia A1 review: first look
- Acer Aspire P3 review: first look
- Acer Aspire R7 review: first look
- How we produce the PC Pro podcast
- Google Now draining iPhone battery
- The government website that doesn't work with IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Macs or smartphones
- Best smartphones for 2013
- The best broadband speed tests
- iPhone apps for business travel
- How to get a job as a mobile games developer
- 25 best Windows 8 apps
- Introducing Arduino - a simple Raspberry Pi alternative
- The tweeting spaceman
- Samsung Galaxy S4 vs HTC One
- 30 best web apps
- Getting started with HTML5
- How to boost your mobile reception
- How to fix Facebook: Social Fixer
- Taking the stress out of WordPress updates
- Where to download free web fonts
- Turn your tablet into a Sky+ remote control
- How to measure the success of a new IT system
- Three years on: the state of the tablet market
- Windows 8: what works and what doesn't
- Yes, I write down my passwords
- How to make money from apps
There are dozens of exciting prizes up for grabs on PC Pro Competitions. All our competitions are free to enter. Try your luck.ENTER NOW