Polywell 890E Dual Athlon MP 1800+ Workstation
By Charlie White

Dual Athlon MP 1800+ Chips Raise the Bar on PC Workstation Performance

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Review by Charlie WhiteWhen I first took the Poly 890E out of its box, I recognized its beautiful case, made of shiny aluminum by a company named Lian Li. But I wouldn't be distracted by just the outward appearance of this box that looks like a highly machined aircraft part. As we've all been taught, it's what's inside that counts, right? In the case of this Polywell dual-Athlon powerhouse, whether you're superficially admiring its gleaming enclosure or peering underneath that shiny skin at its stellar components, the Poly 890E is a sheer delight to use. And hey, even though this is one fine looking unit, who cares what it looks like -- this baby is fast.

A look inside revealed a well-stocked array of components. Heading up the impressive list of industrial-strength apparatus are a Tyan Tiger MP motherboard sporting two of the newest Athlon chips, Athlon MP 1800+ processors. Also on that mobo is the AMD 760 Chipset, a 266 MHz front side bus and a gigabyte of DDR RAM. These new Athlon chips run at 1.533GHz, but according to AMD's press flacks, they run at about the same speed as a 1.8GHz Intel P4, hence the 1800+ number tacked onto the end. But what does the MP stand for? Well I think it means "MPressive," and not expensive, either, because these chips cost only about $250 apiece. That explains why such a high end dual-proc monster with a gig of RAM and a high end 3D graphics card sells for just $3321, not including monitor. [an error occurred while processing this directive] Inside view: Poly 890E Dual Athlon MP 1800+ WorkstationLet's crack open the case and take a look inside. This baby is stoked with stuff! The components and the cables connecting them all are neatly and expertly arranged, leaving plenty of breathing room for the two chips and all their accoutrements. I must admit that I've never seen so many cooling fans in a PC. In addition to the two fans on the 350 watt power supply, there's a fan on each of the processors, two fans on the front of the case, a fan in the rear of the case and one fan mounted on the chip of the ELSA Gloria DCC graphics card. Count ‘em up, folks -- that equals eight fans! As a result, it's cool inside this computer, but outside, it's just downright noisy. We don't have a decibel meter here at the Midwest Test Facility, but I'll tell you that it's been a long time since we've heard a noisier PC than this. But if it matters a lot to you, it's easy enough to replace all these noisemaking fans inside with much quieter units, and I think some of these fans could be eliminated altogether. Hey, I thought these newest Athlon MP chips were supposed to run cooler, anyway.

But all that racket didn't ruin the experience for us. I was delighted with the $700 Gloria DCC graphics card, which scored a remarkable 6492 on 3D Mark 2001. Using the same graphics engine as NVidia's amazing GeForce3 gaming card, it has drivers created specifically for Discreet's 3D Studio Max. So if you're an animator using that software, this card is for you. For more on the ELSA Gloria DCC, take a look at this. It won't do much good for the digital video editors, though, so if that's what you're into, might as well save a few hundred bucks and choose from cards like a GeForce2, a dual-head Matrox Millennium or ATI Radeon.

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