Polywell Poly 815TS-1133H

Blazingly fast Polywell system redefines Pentium III processor performance, but offers little else

WHAT'S HOT: Judging from its performance, the Polywell Poly 815TS we reviewed is a hard system to classify. As a basic Pentium III-based system, it fits into our value home PC category, yet its stunning PC WorldBench 2000 score of 187 beats all but the fastest Athlon-1400 systems on our power home PC chart. The explanation: The Poly 815TS isn't running just any PIII, but instead boasts Intel's new 1.13-GHz processor that was originally intended for high-performance notebooks. The processor is the result of the new .13-micron production process that allows for smaller, cooler, and faster chips. It also makes enough room for a doubling of the Level 2 cache size, from 256KB to 512KB. Those chip innovations (plus 256MB of SDRAM) enabled Polywell to build a PIII desktop that beats all the P4 systems we've tested running Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition.

WHAT'S NOT: Aside from speed, most other aspects of the Poly 815TS are disappointing. Smaller text appeared out of focus on the bundled 17-inch Optiquest Q71 monitor, while colors were washed out and details were lacking in our colorful photograph test. Audio CDs sound muffled on the minimalist Altec Lansing ACS21W speakers, which provide neither a headphone jack nor any controls beyond a volume knob.

The system's basic beige metal case will likely frustrate upgraders. After removing two screws, you can easily slide off the side panel to access an interior that is spacious but disorderly. A bunch of haphazardly tied power cables hangs over the motherboard, partially blocking access to the RAM sockets. We had to yank the plastic covers off the front of the case to access the free drive bays.

WHAT ELSE: In all of our game tests, frame rates were in the middle or upper-middle of the pack compared with systems of a roughly similar configuration. The graphics card provides an S-Video out port and an S-Video-to-composite converter for sending images to a television.

Our test system came with a basic keyboard that felt solid and responsive, although the keys rattled a bit from side to side, and the small backspace key might lead someone to press the adjacent backslash key by mistake.

Expansion room abounds, with four free PCI slots, two free RAM sockets, and three free externally accessible drive bays. The minimal software package bundled with our system included Norton AntiVirus 2000, Norton Ghost, and Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia 2001.

UPSHOT: The Polywell Poly 815TS offers tremendous raw speed for a low price, but don't expect many extras.


Polywell Poly 815TS-1133H

PC WorldBench 2000 score of 187, Pentium III-1133 CPU, 256MB of PC133 SDRAM, 512KB L2 cache, Windows Me, 40GB hard drive, 12X/8X/32X CD-RW drive, Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 MX400 graphics card with 32MB of SDRAM, 17-inch Optiquest Q71 monitor, integrated sound, Altec Lansing ACS21W speakers, V.90 modem, network adapter, midtower case; Norton AntiVirus 2000. Three-year parts warranty, five-year labor warranty; free unlimited 24-hour tech support.

Street price: $1399



By Sean Captain