MPC Millennia 910a
WHAT'S HOT: Powered with a 2.25-GHz AMD Athlon XP 2800+, this Creative Studio version of MPC's (formerly MicronPC) Millennia earned a score of 127 on our PC WorldBench 4 tests--the second-highest score we've recorded for this processor class. (The fastest was a $5000-plus gaming system from Falcon Northwest, the Mach V 2800+ DV.)
Like the 910a's better-configured (and pricier) sibling, the 910i, this system also has a DVD-RW/-R drive (allowing you to fit up to 4.7GB worth of files on each disc) and comes with Pinnacle Studio 8, a video-editing and DVD-authoring application.
The unit we reviewed sported an old-style beige box, but MPC has since launched a sleek new gray case. It sports six USB 2.0 ports, two of which are up front. It received a score of Outstanding for graphics, impressive for a midlevel NVidia GeForce4 Ti 4200-based board.
WHAT'S NOT: A niggling complaint: The basic Altec Lansing 221 three-speaker and subwoofer set isn't much to hoot about. In our audio tests, they sent out muddled bass notes. We also didn't like the controls for volume and bass levels, which are inconveniently placed on the side of the subwoofer.
WHAT ELSE: Paired with the NVidia GeForce4 Ti 4200-based graphics card (a higher-end Ti 4600 option is also available), the 19-inch Micron CM900 CRT delivered crisp, dark text on typical business documents and vivid colors on a test photo. Its tilt and swivel base also worked better than those on most 19-inch CRT monitors we've reviewed.
Three open drive bays (one for a hard drive only plus two open external bays), an open RAM socket, and three open PCI slots give this Millennia modest capacity for future upgrades. However, an adapter with FireWire ports blocks one of the PCI slots. The system's spacious interior makes getting at the drive bays easy.
In addition to Pinnacle Studio 8, the company also includes Microsoft Works Suite 2002, which is better suited for small and home offices than for mainstream use. The Microsoft Multimedia keyboard feels solid and offers eight programmable hot keys for opening My Computer, Internet-related applications, and so on, plus a six-button control pad for controlling volume and CD and media player functions.
UPSHOT: The Millennia 910a is nicely priced for a system with this level of speed and video-editing capabilities.
By Mick Lockey