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Xi MTower PCIe Centurion Power Desktop PC

This excellent WorldBench performer (it scored 132) turned me blue--literally. There was so much reflected blue LED light inside the roomy midtower case that I felt Smurf-like as I perused the Centurion's top-notch set of components. These include a 3.16-GHz Core 2 Duo E8500 CPU and a pair of 2.5-inch striped RAID 0 Western Digital VelociRaptor drives, which are embedded in 3.5-inch heat sinks.

The case offers a whopping nine 5.25-inch bays, although two were used by the Liteon DH16D2P and DH20A4P optical drives and four by a 3.5-inch drive subchassis with the VelociRaptors inside. Unusually, all nine are externally accessible. The interior's look is enhanced by an elegantly rendered XFX nForce 790i Ultra SLI motherboard (which reflects the blue light nicely) and the 80-Plus-certified, 850-watt Cooler Master power supply is bottom-mounted, giving the whole deal more lateral stability. All in all, it's a very nice case and setup.

I loved the included Logitech Laser mouse, but not the Logitech MX3200 keyboard. The nonstandard size and arrangement of the Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys drove me nuts when I typed my notes. Some may not mind this setup, but touch typists are likely to have issues with the layout.

I found no faults with the 24-inch Samsung 245bw display. With its 5-millisecond response time, pictures just don't get much crisper or faster. That fast pixel response is a good thing, because the EVGA e-GeForce 9800 GTX graphics card racked up some of the fastest gaming frame rates we've seen in recent tests of power desktops: 200 to 250 frames per second.

The MTower PCIe offers a combination of outstanding workstation performance and high gaming frame rates that comes close to matching the Poly X4800-Extreme--for roughly $1400 less. For that kind of discount, I don't mind looking like a member of the Blue Man Group when I pop the lid.