Here at Maximum PC, we adhere to the cable news statistics rule that two data points is all you need to create a trend. So being presented with the second white system we’ve seen in the last three months, we can now declare that white is the new black (which was the new beige).
And, (Kent Brockman voice-over) it’s a trend we like. Far from gaudy, Polywell’s Ignition X5800 manages to look powerful, stately, and professional. It’s an appropriate aesthetic coming from a company with a long history of making computers for work. For 24 years, Polywell has cranked out workstations, servers, and even Alpha-based rigs.
Last year, we came up with an idea for a living room PC that was so small you could Velcro it to the back of your HDTV. This PC would be capable of streaming all things TV and would allow you to finally tell your cable provider where to shove that RJ6 cable. That machine, unfortunately, never materialized, as the hardware just wasn’t ready for prime time.
Little did we know that Polywell was reading our minds when it designed the Giada Ion-100. About the size of a double-decker DVD case, the Giada Ion-100 is a mostly full-featured PC featuring a dual-core processor, 2GB of DDR2/667, a 250GB hard drive, five USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and even Windows 7. So, what sets this apart from other book-size PCs? The graphics. The Giada is the second PC we’ve tested so far with Nvidia’s impressive Ion chipset (the first being HP’s Mini 311 netbook, last month). Other small systems have featured Intel’s pathetic GMA integrated graphics. Ion is far more powerful than the GMA945 graphics found in most nettops and is capable of accelerating Blu-ray content. The system’s dual-core processor is Intel’s Atom 330, which runs at 1.6GHz and features Hyper-Threading and a 64-bit instruction set.
We’ve seen systems with Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) before, but no vendor has been sassy enough to break from the de rigueur SATA VelociRaptor or SSD drives in favor of the tech—until now.
Of course, this is Polywell’s M.O.—not content to do things like any other system vendor, Polywell usually tucks in a curve ball to brush you off home plate when you don’t expect it. Sometimes Polywell’s pitch doesn’t work (think really nice $5,000 gaming rig with an $8 keyboard and mouse), but time we were intrigued with its 300 gigabytes of RAID 0, 15,000rpm, connected using SAS. The onboard SAS support in the Asus P6T Deluxe mobo achieved sequential read speeds of about 192MB/s with 6.8ms access times—that’s purty durn good considering that our VelociRaptor-equipped systems see roughly 166MB/s reads with about 7+ms access times.
Elsewhere, Polywell plays it safe and sane: an Intel Core i7 clocked up to 3.66GHz on air and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 card along with 6GB of DDR3 at 1,450MHz and an LG Blu-ray drive stuffed into an Antec 900 case make it a well-rounded rig—albeit a bit bland.