on March 16, 2011
This is the first non-INTEL computer I purchased, but I am loving it. Its Windows performance score is near the top in every category, except for its 5400 rpm hard disk. Installing additional SATA drives requires some patience, as there is verylittle room inside the computer to manourve. If you want to connect the digital audio out of the computer to your home entertainment system, make sure your receiver has an un-used optical-in port. I have no-luck setting up the machine to watch/record TV programs from my Shaw Set-Top box. It would be good if the manual provides more elaborate explanation of the procedure involved.
The delivery of the machine from Amazon was prompt - it took only 4 days to arrive. One ting though, Amazon really should not show the machine side-by-side with a monitor. It can be misleading for some purchasers.
In summary, I am happy with the purchase.
on October 21, 2011
I purchased this computer 7 months ago, so I have had time to put it through its paces.
As a matter of curiosity, the first thing I did was to write and run benchmarks to compare this to my older computers and to the Dell Optiplex 980 i7-based workhorse that I have at the office. I expected the AMD chip to come in a bit behind the 8-thread (4 cores with hyperthreading) Intel i7, but it was actually 17% faster without the Overdrive overclocking and 30% faster with the overclocking. In fact, it's so fast, that I never need to keep it overclocked. Even when running the most CPU-intensive game, the processor usage rarely goes above 50%. Of course, this has a lot to do with the fact that most games won't even try to use more than 4 or even 2 cores. Many still use only one. As a result, I end up with a lot of processing power left over for various background tasks. I can even leave a vmware virtual machine running Linux on two cores in the background and I don't feel a pinch either in memory or in CPU speed while I play games. Running parallel compilations on this box is a charm.
The graphics card contributes enormously to its performance as a game machine. Anyone who is interested can compare the official specs, but my measure is simple: can I get a decent frame rate with the maximum resolution (I use 1980x1080) and all graphical options on, and the answer is mostly yes. On almost every modern game, I can set the graphical details and effects on maximum and get perfectly smooth performance at nearly 60 frames per second. On some games, this drops considerably as you extend the field of vision to very far distances in crowded environments. So it's a very satisfactory graphics card under reasonably intensive use, but hard-core gamers will hit its ceiling with some games. I don't feel a need to upgrade it any time soon.
The disk is the weak point of this system. The capacity is fairly massive, but the speed is mediocre. The first thing I did was to install a 128 GB SSD drive as the system/swap disk and the computer became a hot rod. Most applications and games can still be installed and run off of the huge and slower disk without degrading performance. Only things that do significant disk I/O and need to respond in real time need to be on the SSD, and those are actually pretty rare, especially with a whopping 8 GB of RAM to keep things nicely cached.
All-in-all, this is a very satisfying system that straddles the upper end of mid-range PCs and the lower end of high-power PCs, but priced as a mid-range machine. I won't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who needs a serious workhorse or a reasonably capable gaming computer.