The dividends of this computer’s size are top-end power and good looks–the case is a futuristic matte silver with a perforated front-panel design. The Ultimate M6 scored 122 in our WorldBench 5 performance tests, the fastest rate recorded to date; plus, the system averaged 259 frames per second in our graphics tests, among the top five scores we’ve seen for a desktop PC.
The Ultimate M6 supplies plenty of ports–ten USB 2.0 and two FireWire–as well as room for extra hard drives, beyond the 320GB it came configured with. We were also impressed by the Samsung SyncMaster 997DF monitor and the aurally stunning Logitech Z-5500 speakers and Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS sound card. At $3699, this system is expensive, but speed and style have their price.
Dell’s refresh of the Dimension 8400 took sixth place on the power side of the chart–down from the previous incarnation’s number three spot. The slippage was due to increasingly tough competition, in both design and performance, from rival vendors. The main differences between the two generations of 8400s are a faster processor–a 3.6-GHz Pentium 4 660 rather than a 3.6-GHz Pentium 4 560–a dual-format DVD±RW drive, and a slightly lower price ($2799). The new Dimension 8400 performed a tad better in our WorldBench 5 tests: 101 versus 98.
The A820n turned in so-so performance results. It scored 84 in our WorldBench 5 tests, and it averaged 59.6 fps in our high-end graphics tests (in the bottom third). Clearly, this value PC, which lacks dedicated graphics memory, is not meant to blow you away while you’re playing Doom 3.
Portable Music Players: Our audio-player chart rounds out a strong showing by the large-capacity Apple IPod Photo with midcapacity performers such as Creative’s Zen Micro, Dell’s Pocket DJ, and IRiver’s H10.
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PC World uses its industry-standard benchmarking application, WorldBench 5, to evaluate the performance of desktop PCs, notebooks, and tablet PCs. We run a number of real-world applications performing real-world computing tasks. For more information on the WorldBench 5 tool, click here. For more details about PC World‘s Star Ratings, click here.
The Top 100 Team: Freelance writers Sam Jemielity, Andre Kvitka, Cathy Lu, and Scott Plamondon; Contributing Editor Carla Thornton; and PC World editors Laura Blackwell, Tracey Capen, Kalpana Ettenson, Rebecca Freed, Melissa J. Perenson, Narasu Rebbapragada, Dan Sommer, and Alan Stafford contributed to the Top 100 section this month. Ulrike Diehlmann, Julio Giannobile, Elliott Kirschling, Jeff Kuta, Tony K. Leung, Thomas Luong, and William Wang of the PC World Test Center tested the products reviewed in this section, with further logistical support provided by Julian Weatherby.