Holly KA635W review

Price when reviewed

You either love or hate the styling of Holly’s Antec case, but everyone warms to the purple-lit reservoir at the front. Inside, a watercooling system takes up most of the space and provides cooling for the CPU, chipset and the GPUs of the two nVidia 6800 GTs from Leadtek.

Holly KA635W review

Two 120mm fans cool the radiator, but Holly’s engineers have had to work hard to fit everything into such a small space. It all conspires to make the KA635W a very quiet machine: a best-on-show 26.5dBA at idle. But this rose to a distracting 41.6dBA when under heavy use. Plus, the temperature-controlled fans change speeds regularly, which is annoying after a short period.

With so many heat-generating devices, we were concerned that the small radiator wasn’t up to the job. This was proved when running Far Cry continuously: the PC froze and refused to boot up again until it had cooled down. Holly is aware of the heat problem and says that raising the fan speeds will prevent this. Naturally, this will increase the noise levels somewhat.

Despite our requirement of Windows XP Professional, Holly chose Media Center Edition 2005 as the OS. Thankfully, it only lacks advanced Domain features of XP Professional, which few will miss. A remote control and a Hauppauge digital TV tuner ensure you can use all of MCE’s features: watch and record TV, browse digital photo albums or listen to music. For the latter, Holly installs an Audigy 2 ZS sound card and a set of decent 5.1 speakers from Logitech.

In our 2D application benchmarks, the KA635W scored 2.60 – fairly healthy considering the Athlon 64 3500+ isn’t a top-end CPU. There’s also 1GB of PC4000 RAM, and all on the nForce4 SLI chipset. With the dual 6800 GTs, the Holly also returned great 3D results of 73fps in Half-Life 2, 58fps in Doom 3 and 52fps in Far Cry.

Two striped Western Digital hard disks give 400GB of storage, while a dual-layer DVD writer and DVD-ROM cater for removable storage along with the floppy drive and integrated card reader.

Holly provides the only NEC TFT on test, and the LCD2070NX is stunning. The 20.1in display has great viewing angles, excellent image quality and offers fast response times.

We’re also impressed by the three-year on-site warranty. However, the Holly just misses out on an award. With the cooling concerns, it needs more work before we can recommend it.

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