Polywell 890E Dual Athlon MP 1800+ Workstation

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Polywell product shot -- check out that gleaming Lian Li case!Disk speed was certainly fast enough for any video editing task, with the two Western Digital 40GB EIDE ATA100 7200 RPM disks hooked up to a High Point Ultra-ATA 100 PCI RAID card, which we configured in a RAID-0 setup. That's perfect for fast throughput for digital video editing, showing us a read speed of 66 MB per second and write speed of 62 MB per second. These are the highest read/write speeds we've ever seen from a IDE RAID controller. For storage, there's a CD-RW (now almost standard issue on most PCs), a DVD-ROM drive, the obligatory floppy drive and then, inexplicably, an IDE Zip drive. I'm not necessarily against Zip drives, but it seems that with CD-RW, Zip drives have become somewhat of an anachronism these days. Let's put it this way: Not everybody has a Zip drive, but who do you know doesn't have a CD-ROM drive on their computer? Think file sharing.

There is more to this Lian Li case than good looks, too. I really like how easy it is to get the cover off the thing. I've been so frustrated at times with the difficulty of opening some PCs, more than once I've been tempted to throw the damn things out the window. In times like these I've wished for the easy opening of a Mac. But the Lian Li case doesn't disappoint. Although it's still harder to open than a Mac G4, it's a cinch to twist the thumbscrews and slide aside the surprisingly light side panel. Another nice touch is the little door on the bottom of the front where there are two USB ports. Are they USB 2.0? Well, no, but that's not too common yet, so we won't count off for that. It is convenient to have the ports out there where they're easily reached, though, but it's also nice to be able to close that little door and forget the ports are there when not in use. [an error occurred while processing this directive] Read 'em and weep!And now for the real meat of our testing: Just how fast is this beast? Well, plenty (see table). To give you an idea of its speed compared to its Athlon brethren, an Athlon 1.2GHz single-processor machine we tested scored a 52 on the Content Creation Winstone, a real-world set of macros that uses Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, Sound Forge and many other compute-intensive content creation applications. Using that same benchmark, a dual processor Athlon 1.2 scored 66.7. But the MP 1800+ chips wrangled a Content Creation Winstone number of 82.6, the highest score ever to grace our testing abode. That's about 30% faster than the multiprocessing Athlon 1.2GHz MP workstation that seemed so special around here just a few weeks ago. To give you some perspective, a score like that is a far cry from the machine on which I write this review, a Dell 1GHz Pentium III box whose Content Creation Winstone reaches only a paltry 31.8. All these test scores, by the way, were obtained under Windows 2000 -- we have been seeing test scores that are 10% higher using Windows XP Professional.

So there you have it -- the next level of performance for the Windows platform. It seems that Polywell set out to include only the best components in this Athlon MP showcase, and in my opinion, has succeeded handsomely. If the company could just figure out how to shush this behemoth, I would call it perfect.

Charlie White, your humble storytellerCharlie White has been writing about new media and digital video since it was the laughingstock of the television industry. A technology journalist and columnist for the past seven years, White is also an Emmy-winning producer, video editor and shot-calling PBS TV director with 26 years broadcast experience. Talk back -- Send Chazz a note at [email protected].

The author would like to thank Midwest Test Facility Information Services Manager Drew Gagliano for his assistance in the preparation of this review.

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