A rocket machine

November 18, 2004
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Earlier this week I had the chance to play with the Ultra Computer’s latest Pentium 4 3.6GHz machine and was impressed.

Before I go any further, I’d like to offer a message for my husband, who may be reading this if he’s having a quiet day at work: don’t worry, I’m not planning to upgrade my little beastie just yet but if I was in the market for a new computer it’s a pretty safe bet this would be it.

Auckland-based Ultra has a well-earned reputation for building quality machines and from personal experience I can vouch for the high standards of both the products and service — my current Pentium 4 3GHz is my second Ultra PC.

The 3.6GHz has a nice sleek black case (contrasting nicely with my rather white, lumpy self). However, it’s inside the case that the magic happens.

The Pentium 4 560 3.6GHz processor is based on Intel’s Prescott architecture, which allows 1MB of full speed L2 cache (twice that of Northwood) and, as expected, supports Hyper-Threading technology. There is a long, technical explanation of what that means at Intel’s site but the simple explanation is it can do lots of things at once without getting confused or slowing down.

Online reviews indicate this chip’s strength lies in running multimedia applications and, to quote Sam from reality TV show Living the Dream, after having a play around with it I found it smoother than a gravy sandwich.

There’s a fairly comprehensive review of the 3.6GHz at Bjorn 3D.

For hard-core gamers, the PCI Express FX5750 128MB graphics card might not be at the top of your wish list but it’s certainly well beyond adequate for most computer users. For gaming tests it seems to score comfortably in the mid-range when tested against other graphics cards and I was quite happy with its performance. Legion Hardware has an interesting comparison of seven different graphics cards.

Add to this a SATA 160GB 7200 hard disk drive and you’ve got a system that should keep you happy for a long time.

This package comes complete with a Sony dual DVD-RW DVD writer and a 17-inch Philips LCD monitor. If you’re still using a CRT monitor, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Thank you to the nice people at H & J Smith Ltd for lending me the little rocket machine.

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