There has been a lot of talk about Intel's 0.18micron Coppermine processors, but this is the first time we've been able to get our hands on one. Now, thanks to Armari, we have the opportunity to review one first-hand. The problems relating to the i820 chipset have meant that the rollout of Coppermine Pentium IIIs has been delayed. Rather than just sit around to wait and see what happens, Armari has taken a more pro-active approach, housing the processor in an ABIT BE6 motherboard, which supports a 133MHz front-side bus (FSB) and a low 1.65 regulated processor voltage.
In addition to this, you can get a full refund for the motherboard and PC133 RAM against the cost of an i820/i840-based motherboard and RDRAM (RAMBUS) memory when these components become available, with free installation.
This means that you can have the latest spec processor now and upgrade to a more future-proof motherboard when it's available, paying only the difference in price - an excellent idea from Armari.
To complement a processor of this speed, 256MB of PC133 SDRAM has been installed, split into two 128MB modules, leaving one vacant DIMM slot.
The system itself is extremely fast and it looks like AMD's Athlon may have a real contender snapping at its heels when the i820 motherboard problems have been sorted out. The SYSmark score of 301 is one of the fastest results we have ever seen, scoring very similar results to a super-cooled 800MHz Athlon.
Thankfully, the graphics performance didn't disappoint either, with the 32MB dual head Matrox Millennium G400 Max scoring 6,287 in the 3DMark test. Not as good as the 800MHz Athlon equipped with a Riva TNT2 Ultra card, which came in at 7,227 3DMarks, but not bad either.
In terms of storage you get a more than adequate 27GB EIDE IBM Deskstar hard drive, coupled with an internal Iomega Zip 250 for backup and transport.
The slot-loading six-speed DVD-ROM is from Pioneer with an Aureal Vortex 2 SuperQuad PCI card - including optical digital out - being chosen for sound. The speaker system is a Creative Labs' FPS2000 setup. There are four stylish black cube satellites and a sub. Unfortunately the digital input is coaxial rather than optical.
A system of this specification demands a decent monitor, and there was no problem on this front either. The 19in Trinitron-tubed Sony Multiscan 400PS monitor could be comfortably pushed up to 1,600x1,200 at 75Hz, with a display that was crisp, clear and flat.
Under the hood, the case was well laid out and assembled. To combat the problem of tidiness versus upgradability, Armari has decided to use long cables, neatly tidied up to allow for the maximum future use. In terms of free bays, there was one 5.25in bay, one external 3.5in bay and one internal 3.5in bay. Strangely, the 3.5in internal Zip drive had been mounted in a 5.25in bay, leaving an external 3.5in bay vacant, we couldn't quite understand the logic behind this decision.
The Abit BE6 motherboard offers four PCI slots, one ISA slot and one shared slot. Two of the PCI slots were occupied - one by the sound card and the other by a Diamond Supra Express V.90 modem.
On the whole, this Armari machine is built for power and performance and the price reflects this. Not everyone has almost £3,000 to spend on a system, but for those who do, the R3-CM733 represents the latest technology you can get today, with the added bonus that when the new motherboard chipsets are released you can upgrade and only pay the cost differential.
An extremely fast and well-built machine, if you can justify the cost, buy one now.
Contact - Armari 0181 993 4111 www.armari.com