Price and performance are right
First, the good news: The $999 Xercom 2920 is one of the fastest systems that we've seen in its price class. Powered by a 2.26GHz Pentium 4 based on Intel's 845E chipset; 256MB of PC2700 DDR memory; and a 7,200rpm, 60GB hard drive, the Xercom delivers performance right in line with that of its more expensive competition, such as the 2.26GHz-based Compaq Presario 6000T and the 2.2GHz-based Gateway 500X. Although the Xercom's 3D scores trailed those of our favorite budget performer, the Atlas Micro CS 8000, they nevertheless impressed us. Return to Castle Wolfenstein ran smoothly, though we experienced a noticeable degradation in gameplay with antialiasing enabled.
Cybertron also bundles some nice peripherals with the machine. Particularly noteworthy is Lite-On's 40X/12X/48X CD-RW drive, a speedy burner for a budget PC. Cybertron also includes a 16X DVD-ROM drive, which plays movies without a hitch, even while multitasking. Logitech's Internet Navigator keyboard and optical mouse are also nice additions. The 17-inch Futura monitor is no worse than other models that you'll get in this price range, though we did find the onscreen controls particularly frustrating.
There's little room for upgrades within the system. Its plain, beige case is easy to open--just remove two screws--and contains two front-accessible 5.25-inch bays and one front-accessible 3.25-inch bay. Inside, however, cables and wires fill the smaller bay, making it difficult to add a floppy drive. Only one of the system's six PCI slots is occupied, but another is blocked by an expansion bracket that holds two of the six USB ports (two are also side-mounted for easy access). The 2920 lacks an Ethernet card, so plan on using one of those empty slots for the $15 upgrade if you're into high-speed Web surfing.
The bad news is that the Xercom 2920 has some configuration issues. Cybertron shipped the system with Altec Lansing's 4.1-piece AVS-500 speaker system. But the 2920 uses an integrated audio chip that doesn't support surround sound; therefore, you have to set it up to ignore two of the speakers or suffer the hideous result. (A wide range of alternate sound cards and speakers can be found on Cybertron's Web site.) In addition, the CD-RW software arrived with SmartBurn enabled for the drive, so it wouldn't write to our generic CD media. That's not an issue--once we disabled SmartBurn, the drive worked like a charm--but Cybertron's support team didn't catch the problem when we called and instead suggested that we reinstall the Nero CD-burning software.
Service and support rank slightly below average for this PC's price class. Although the standard warranty covers parts and labor for two years--with no extensions or onsite service options--you can get phone support only Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. The system also ships with a dearth of documentation; you'll get user guides for the motherboard and the graphics card, as well as a CD of drivers and utilities, including CyberLink's PowerDVD and Ahead's Nero Burning ROM 5.5. Productivity software will cost you extra, though the company offers all the essential suites.
The Xercom 2920's low cost, speed, and nice array of peripherals indicate that systems from Cybertron have potential. But for now, we wouldn't recommend one unless you know how to configure and support it yourself.
| Performance test |
100=performance of a test machine with a PIII-800 processor, an Intel 815EEA motherboard chipset, 128MB of 133MHz SDRAM, a GeForce2 with 32MB DDR, ATA/100 hard drive, Windows 2000 with Service Pack 1, and Windows' display properties set to 1,024x768 and 16-bit color at 75Hz
Longer bars indicate better performance
| Quake III Arena test |
Longer bars indicate better performance
| MadOnion's 3DMark2001 Pro test |
Measured in frames per second (longer bars indicate better performance)
Atlas Micro CS 8000 |
Windows XP Home; Pentium 4-2GHz; 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; 64MB GeForce4 MX 460; Maxtor 6L040L2 40GB 7,200rpm
Compaq Presario 6000T
Windows XP Home; Pentium 4-2.266GHz; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB; WDC WD1200BB-60CJA0 120GB 7,200rpm
CybertronPC Xercom 2920
Windows XP Home; Pentium 4-2.266GHz; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; 64MB Nvidia GeForce 4 MX440; IBM IC35L060AVVA07 60GB 7,200rpm
Windows XP Home; Pentium 4-2.2GHz; 768MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; 64MB Nvidia GeForce2 MX 400; WDC WD800BB-53CAA0 80GB 7,200rpm
Windows XP Home; Pentium 4-2.266GHz; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600; WDC WD800JB 120GB 7,200rpm
The Xercom 2920 is one of the fastest systems that we've seen so far in its price class. Powered by a 2.26GHz Pentium 4 based on Intel's 845E chipset, 256MB of PC2700 DDR memory, and a 7,200rpm, 60GB hard drive, the Xercom delivers performance right in line with its more expensive competition. Although the Xercom's 3D scores trailed those of the Atlas Micro CS 8000, they nevertheless impressed us.