Evesham Axis Decimator FX review
When you’re spending this much money on a PC, you’d rightly expect a stunning system both in terms of features and performance. Aesthetics are important too, and the Decimator’s case looks suitably imposing.
It offers the expandability of a full tower yet is noticeably shorter than others on test. At 558mm, it’s one of the deeper chassis, which leaves plenty of room for neat build quality – the Alienware is even neater, though. You probably won’t need them, but there are two spare 5.25in drive bays beneath two optical drives and a 3.5in bay beneath the useful floppy/7-in-1 card reader combo drive.
Again, you probably won’t need the latter bay, as Evesham installs three of our A-Listed Maxtor DiamondMax 10 hard disks (but with 16MB of cache and 300GB capacities) to provide a stonking 820GB of storage. RAID0 striping isn’t taken advantage of, but these very fast hard disks don’t leave you wanting when it comes to performance. Instead, the drives are chained in a JBOD (just a bunch of disks) array, which means they appear as a single 820MB drive in My Computer.
An odd choice is the Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard. It’s more expensive than a version with just one PCI-Express 16x slot, yet the Decimator boasts a single ATi Radeon X850 XT PE graphics card. As these cards don’t support SLI, you’ll have to remove it to make use of the feature with two nVidia cards.
Thankfully, performance is no concern: we recorded scores of 67fps and 57fps in our Half-Life 2 and Far Cry benchmarks respectively, which is on a par with machines using dual graphics cards. A score of 34fps in Doom 3 doesn’t sound so impressive, but the game is much better optimised for nVidia cards. A bonus is the VIVO (video-in, video-out) capability, providing S-Video and composite video inputs and outputs – useful for capturing analog sources and outputting to a TV.
There aren’t many CPUs currently available that will top the Athlon 64 FX-55 and, coupled with 1GB of PC3200 memory and speedy hard disks, the Decimator found our 2D applications child’s play; it delivered the fastest 2D benchmark score we’ve seen so far at 3.23.
These components, not surprisingly, generate plenty of heat, and we were surprised to find no exhaust fans – regular absentees in Evesham’s PCs. An intake fan cools the three hard disks at the front of the case.
The case will take a rear 120mm fan, which you could easily fit yourself, but as it is Evesham appears to have been thinking of noise levels; the Decimator registered under 34dBA from the front, both when idling and at full load. While you’ll still hear it in a quiet room, it’s a remarkably low figure for such a powerful machine – 10dBA less than many competitors. Amazingly, the Decimator happily ran the intensive Far Cry benchmark all night long without any stability problems.
For those not convinced, you can take heart from the inclusion of the ‘iQ Eye’ monitor on the front door. This not only monitors system temperature and fan speeds, but provides an informative and colourful display when the PC is in operation. It did beep annoyingly, however, when preset temperatures were reached, but you can easily adjust threshold settings to stop alarms warning you unnecessarily.
If audio is a priority, you’ll be pleased with the eight-channel Creative Audigy 2 ZS Platinum sound card. It includes a front-mounted breakout box offering more connectivity than you’re ever likely to need. There’s also an infrared sensor allowing remote control of media playback, but you need to keep the front door open for this to work, which reduces practicality. The 7.1 Creative speakers aren’t so impressive, but still offer a decent sound stage for movies and games – just don’t install them in a huge room, as the subwoofer will struggle.