Zoostorm 4-4423 review
Intel’s price cuts across its processor line mean lightning-fast PCs are more affordable than ever. The Zoostorm 4-4423 includes some of the fastest components on the market, and does it for under £1,000.
The Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 processor, for instance, runs at 3GHz and is the fastest non-Extreme Core Duo. It’s a stunning performer, charging to a final benchmark score of 1.41. The 2GB of DDR2 memory helps, giving Vista plenty to work with, and leaves enough for high-end apps.
It isn’t just applications that benefit from the huge dose of computing power. If you’re after a PC for stunning games performance, the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card will keep even the latest games running smoothly. It’s the fastest single graphics card you can currently buy. Call of Duty 2, at its highest settings, ran to a stunning final score of 57fps, and even Call of Juarez produced a smooth average frame rate of 26fps at medium settings.
Such a powerful graphics card demands a monitor to match, and the 22in AOC 210S widescreen panel initially seems a good choice. It’s large, imposing and looks good. And its 1,680 x 1,050 resolution is plenty for high-end apps and Vista’s Sidebar. But closer inspection revealed some heavy compromises. For a start, there’s only a single D-SUB input, while the graphics card has dual DVI outputs. It’s a strange marriage, particularly when we’ve come to expect digital inputs on monitors. Viewing angles aren’t brilliant, either: anyone not sat central to the panel complained about dim edges. But, auto-setup works well, colours are vibrant and accurate, and we were generally pleased with image quality.
If there’s a problem with the Zoostorm 4-4423, it’s that while the core components are excellent, the peripherals seem cheap in comparison. The monitor is a good example, as are the wireless Microsoft keyboard and mouse. They’re not bottom of the range, but for £1,000 it’s fair to expect more. It’s a better story with the speakers: the Philips MMS460 5.1 set looks stylish and sound quality is good.
The case isn’t as good as we’d hoped for. At first glance, the brushed metal at the bottom is stylish, and the optical drive and memory card reader are neatly hidden. But the plastic feels cheap, and the flaps hiding the optical drives feel fragile.
Inside, the Zoostorm 4-4423 has been neatly built, and there’s room for expansion. The graphics card dominates the motherboard and covers the only PCI-E 1x slot. There’s a spare PCI-E 16x slot, but the Foxconn P35A motherboard supports only ATi CrossFire, not SLI, so a dual-card setup would mean ditching the current graphics card. There are two free DIMM sockets and room for a further three hard disks. However, adding much more hardware could necessitate a power supply upgrade. The power supply is a 400W unit, and Nvidia recommends a 450W supply for a single 8800 GTX as it is, although we noticed no stability issues during our intensive testing.
Rather than use the stock Intel cooler, PC Nextday has opted for a GlacialTech Igloo 5072, complete with the word “silent” stamped on the front. It isn’t entirely true: the Igloo is quieter than Intel’s cooler, but it produces a noticeable whine.
The Zoostorm 4-4423 is basically an excellent system. You get the fastest Core 2 Duo CPU and the swiftest graphics card currently available, plus 2GB of RAM. But the monitor is disappointing and we’d prefer a more robust case. The power supply is also a worry for anyone looking for a system that can be steadily upgraded. The Mesh Tempest might be more expensive, but it’s much faster and a more rounded PC for the money. Or, for the same cash, you could have the PC Specialist Apollo Q660GTS, albeit with a slightly poorer monitor.