Can a workstation perform double duty... also providing solid after-hours gaming?
The Altech boffins are pushing the Elite as a high-end desktop workstation but we think it’s actually so much more. While the quad-core Intel i5-2500K CPU is more than powerful enough to run all the Photoshop windows you need, the Elite has a few other tricks up its cool robotic sleeve. For a start, it’s equipped with a Radeon 6850 GPU so it will have no problems running your favourite games. It’s also got a Blu-ray player, plus HDMI and digital audio out for all your entertainment needs.
The aforementioned tasty hardware is seated in a GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-D3 motherboard with 8GB of Corsair 1,600 MHz DDR3 RAM and is powered by a Corsair 500W PSU. The Elite runs a dual-disk set-up, with a 60GB SSD for your operating system and a 1TB HDD for your ongoing storage needs. It features the 64-bit edition of Windows Professional and comes with Service Pack 1 pre-installed.
While we were totally confident the Elite could handle all but the most hardcore office needs, we fired up PCMark 7 and watched it bring home an impressive score of 3,248. Since the Elite is also a capable gaming machine, we ran the usual battery of synthetic benchmarks. In Heaven, the Elite scored 782 at 31.1fps. When running the dated but still useful 3DMark Vantage, it scored P14,343, while the newer 3DMark 11 managed P3,644. In real-world gaming, the Elite averaged 136fps in Left 4 Dead 2 and 77fps in Far Cry 2.
Performance is not the only metric that’s important for a gaming machine or an office PC but the Elite has just about every option covered. It includes dual USB 3.0 ports on the front of the case plus audio I/O and FireWire. You also get a three-position fan speed control switch plus a button to control the funky but understated white LED fan lighting. While it seems inconsequential, we also love the little tray on top of the ginormous Corsair case -- it’s the perfect spot for flash drives or keys. Round the back of the Elite you get the usual 10 USB ports (including two USB 3.0), LAN, audio output plus a legacy PS/2 connection. No eSATA is included but with USB 3.0 that’s not much of an issue. The video card sports dual-DVI and HDMI ports and can happily run four monitors.
Delving inside, the fans are set up intelligently, wires are hidden away and airflow is excellent. Thanks to the extra large side fan, the Elite is actually very quiet in operation -- a big plus when it’s operating all day every day. While not the most efficient PC we've tested, the Elite won’t break the bank, with an average 166W power draw.
The Elite is very new so you'll need to jump online and search Static Ice to find the closest retailer with one in stock. On the plus side, you should be able to save a few bucks off the RRP. Available from Altech, retailing for $1,350
.APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)