What do you do when your brand is universally recognized as being so crazy-low-priced that consumers ignore you when searching for something more upscale? You add a “luxury” sub-brand. If it worked for Toyota with Lexus maybe it’ll work for iBuypower with its AeonCraft brand.
In execution, AeonCraft makes an admirable attempt to set itself apart from its parent company by doing something iBuypower wouldn’t normally do. To keep the CPU cool, AeonCraft utilizes an exclusive new water-cooling system. Very similar to Cooler Master’s Aquagate Mini, AeonCraft’s solution is also a two-piece, maintenance-free unit.
The Lexa rig also sports the new and fast Athlon 64 FX-60 dual-core processor, and an Asus A8N32-SLI motherboard complete with two x16 PCI Express slots for graphics cards. AeonCraft even throws in a pair of eVGA 256MB GeForce 7800 GTX KO videocards and an X-Fi soundcard. Three of those components top our monthly “Best of the Best” list, and the FX-60 pretty much steamrolled Intel’s newest dual-core in last month’s CPU feature story. The icing on a pretty tasty-looking cake is the BenQ DVD burner, which supports LightScribe.
Alas, it’s not just the parts that make a PC. Like we said, AeonCraft’s Lexa is an admirable attempt, but it doesn’t automatically punt the company into the boutique-chic neighborhood. The pair of Raptor hard drives would be more compelling had AeonCraft gotten its hands on Western Digital’s new super-fast 150GB Raptors. That would have given the Lexa deadly HD speeds and 300GB of storage. As it stands, the two 74GB Raptors in the AeonCraft leave you with less than 150GB. Senator, we know people whose laptops have more storage than that.
On the performance tip, the FX-60/SLI combo pulls no punches. With updated GeForce drivers that don’t retard SYSmark 2005 scores (see our CPU showdown in the February issue for details), we saw the AeonCraft pull down a shockingly fast score of 273. That doesn’t eclipse the record set by Falcon Northwest’s Mach V (reviewed in February), but it’s the fastest we’ve seen from a non-overclocked production machine. Is it any wonder that the other (Intel-based) machine we had lined up for review bowed out this month?
The Lexa’s gaming scores were neck-and-neck with the FX-57-powered HyperSonic machine we pawed in October. That’s to be expected—the single-core 2.8GHz FX-57 is simply faster in single-threaded gaming apps than the dual-core 2.6GHz FX-60. Photoshop and Premiere Pro performance was right at the front of the pack.
Our biggest problem with the Lexa is in presentation. A machine that costs four large should sport an internal wiring job that’s tighter than a gunnery sergeant’s rack. The Lexa’s wiring is anything but. In fact, it’s so messy, you’d almost have to plan it that way. The odd thing is that AeonCraft includes a window on the case so you can clearly see the unkempt innards. Perhaps messy is the new tidy?
Inattention to details puts a serious dent in AeonCraft’s attempt to move beyond the white-box crowd. It’s not a fatal mistake, but we expect more from a company that’s catering to the power-user crowd, and asking power-user prices.
Month Reviewed: March 2006
+ LEAF BLOWER: Who can be down on dual-core FX-60 and two 7800 GTXs in SLI?