Evesham Axis Asteroid FX62 review
Showcasing AMD’s latest AM2 processor designs, the Axis Asteroid goes to town on the components. The headline is, of course, the new Athlon 64 FX-62 sitting in the AM2 socket, but there’s plenty of other treats for the performance junkie.
Not least the motherboard itself, the Foxconn C51XEM2AA – it’s based around the new Nforce 590 chipset and built closely to Nvidia’s own reference design. There’s all manner of handy extras for the overclocker on this board, from dedicated reset and power buttons to a two-digit readout to diagnose boot failures. Plus, there are all the overclocking extras Nvidia has built into its flagship chipset. In conjunction with a pair of Nvidia 7900 GTX graphics cards, LinkBoost proved the most useful, raising HyperTransport and PCI Express bus speeds by up to 25%. We saw a 4% gain in our test game frame rates as a result. And you may as well use it, as the overclock is part of the specification.
LinkBoost will currently only work with the 7900 GTX graphics cards, and only then with the 91.24 version driver, which Evesham supplies. These two cards form a formidable pair, able to churn out high frame rates in all the modern titles at the monitor’s native 1,680 x 1,050 resolution – it even trampled through our gruelling high-end tests. While Windows Vista and DirectX 10 will likely change gaming over the next few years, there’s no card currently on the market that supports it, and this setup should see you playing most games at their best for a good while.
It’s the FX-62 ensconced in its AM2 socket that’s the main cause for the scorchingly fast application benchmark score of 1.45, as the two super-efficient Athlon 64 cores have been pushed to 2.8GHz. Backing up this processing power is a fast 500GB Western Digital Caviar SE16 with its 16MB cache, and 2GB of performance Ballistix RAM from Crucial. This RAM runs at 800MHz – the maximum supported speed for the new memory controller inside the AM2 CPUs: PCs simply don’t come much faster than this.
The monitor is the ViewSonic VX2025wm. The 20.1in widescreen has a native resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 – perfect for viewing side-by-side A4 pages in Word or viewing numerous web browser windows and Desktop widgets at the same time. It soared through our technical tests, with our only quibbles being exceptionally minor – reds are just a touch too vibrant, while our greyscale tests occasionally revealed a slight green tinge. These are minor quibbles, though, and the panel displayed good contrast, thanks in part to its 800:1 contrast ratio, while a grey-to-grey response time of 8ms means that gaming is smear-free.
The other display – the circular one on the front of the case – clearly shows CPU, hard disk and system temperatures inside the case. And while this is handy, temperatures rarely hit even 30C thanks to the nine cooling fans. These make a racket, but it’s a dull thrum that speaks of power rather than the squeal from the Mesh Matrix2 CrossFire X16 Pro.
While all that cooling may seem excessive, Evesham has a plan to drown out the noise with the 7.1 Creative speakers and Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty sound card. Why it needs a remote escapes us, especially as the infrared receiver sits behind the case door most of the time, but the front panel also offers a host of in/out audio ports and connections, which could prove more useful. The quality of the Sound Blaster chip is a little wasted on the Inspire T7900 speakers with their boomy sub and indelicate satellites. For the less discerning listener they’re fine, though, and at least the option is there for a more sophisticated audio setup.