If you’re looking for stunning performance from your desktop PC, but at a sensible price, then you have to be considering Athlon systems with DDR (Double Data Rate) memory. Most of these systems are faster than Pentium 4-based PCs, as well as being considerably cheaper. One such example is this Atlas Meridian 1.33, which in our tests was as fast as a 1.7GHz Pentium 4.
At the heart of the Meridian lies an AMD 1.33GHz Athlon fitted into an Asus A7M-266 motherboard. The motherboard has two DIMM slots, for up to 2GB of either PC2100 or PC1600 DDR SDRAM memory. As reviewed, the Meridian comes with 256MB of PC2100 DDR memory fitted. This, combined with the FSB (Front Side Bus) speed of 266MHz, gives the Meridian stunning performance.
The Meridian also has another trick up its sleeve. It includes an Nvidia GeForce 3 graphics card as part of the package. The card, a Hercules 3D Prophet III, gives unrivalled 3D performance and, combined with the Meridian’s Creative Sound Blaster Live 5.1 audio card, results in a PC that hard-core gamers will love.
On opening the tool-free case, the internals are neat and tidy with all access cabling neatly tucked away behind the motherboard backing plate; you only see the length of cable needed to power the drives – a neat touch. There’s not much in the way of expansion possibilities on the motherboard, with three of the four PCI cards already taken up, but then with the sound card, a TV tuner card and a 56Kbps V.90 modem, who needs much else?
For storage the Meridian uses a big, fast, 60GB Quantum Fireball Plus ATA/100 hard drive, but unfortunately because of the lack of native ATA/100 support in Windows 2000, this only runs at the Windows default speed of ATA/66; not that you’re likely to notice much difference with a single drive setup such as this. You also get a 16-speed DVD-ROM drive and an 8x8x32-speed CD-RW drive.
To complete the hardware package there’s a Logitech Web-cam and a decent CTX PR705F 17-inch monitor. As mentioned above, Windows 2000 is the pre-installed operating system while Microsoft Worksuite 2001 is included as the software bundle. You also get a copy of Nero Burning ROM for creating CD-R and CD-RW discs.
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