MPC Millennia 920i Professional

SAN FRANCISCO (10/06/2003) - WHAT'S HOT: The MPC Computers LLC Millennia 920i, powered by a 3.2-GHz Pentium 4 processor and a gigabyte of dual-channel DDR400 SDRAM, earned a score of 127 on PC WorldBench 4, matching the performance of the similarly equipped Dell Inc. Dimension 8300, as well as being just a hair faster than other systems we've seen with a 3.06-GHz Pentium 4 and a similar amount of memory. Compared with systems using one of AMD's top-of-the-line Athlon XP CPUs, such as ABS Computer Technologies Inc.'s Ultimate M5 with a 2.2-GHz Athlon XP 3200+ and a gigabyte of DDR400 memory, the 920i's performance is about 10 percent slower.

The 920i is well-suited to 3D graphics work. Our test system came with an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card (with 128MB of SDRAM), which delivered top frame rates in our tests at 1024 by 768 pixels. With more demanding resolutions of 1280 by 1024 and 1600 by 1200, its frame rates were near the top of the pack. And when playing a DVD movie and the game Return to Castle Wolfenstein, we saw bright, smooth image quality.

The Creative Labs Inc. Inspire 6.1 6600 speaker set matches up well with the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 sound card, which has support for 24-bit processing and surround sound. The speaker set consists of five satellites, a center speaker, and a subwoofer. In tests with a DVD movie and vocal music, we heard clean, hard-driving bass notes and pleasing trebles.

The rewritable DVD drive (which supports DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW), ample 250GB hard drive, and three FireWire ports (one of which is mounted on the system's front for easily connecting camcorders) all bolster this system's appeal as a capable video editing machine. The bundled software includes Pinnacle Studio 8.5, a full-fledged DVD editing and authoring application that can help you create your next masterpiece.

WHAT'S NOT: MPC disabled the front-mounted headphone and microphone audio ports, so you'll have to use the ones on the back. A rudimentary office productivity title or a few games would have been nice additions at the 920i's price of US$2831.

WHAT ELSE: We weren't overly impressed by the image quality from the 19-inch MPC CM910 CRT monitor that shipped with our test model. This monitor has an invar shadow mask tube, the oldest and least expensive CRT tube type. Colors on a test photo looked acceptable but not especially striking. We found its text performance to be likewise fine, but nothing to write home about.

The midsize tower has an average amount of room for upgrades: It has three open drive bays (a 3.5-inch internal bay for a hard drive, and three open 5.25-inch externally accessible bays), an open RAM slot, and two open PCI slots. The midsize tower's roomy interior makes getting at the drive bays and other components easy. In addition to the previously mentioned FireWire ports, the 920i has eight USB 2.0 ports, two of which are up front.

The keyboard isn't wireless, but in our hands-on tests, we found it smooth to type on, and the detachable palm rest was comfortable. Eight hot-keys for launching Web and Internet applications flank a bank of six other buttons that let you adjust volume settings and navigate CD and DVD functions.

UPSHOT: The MPC Millennia 920i will appeal to thrill seekers more than to the cubicle crowd. It's a good--though expensive--choice if you seek a system that can handle high-end gaming and video editing.

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