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Setup & Cooler Notes

Solaris Computer Systems PCs: A New OEM Emerges
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We had only one issue of note when we turned on our Solaris PCs. It's a fairly serious issue, but the folks at Solaris were quite responsive about it and have pledged to take care of the issue in the future.

Shortly after the first boot - but before the machines got to the desktop - both the Nebula XL and Polaris XLX systems we tested would just turn themselves off. Puzzled, our lab manager Shelton Romhanyi made a quick internal check and found that both of the stock Intel CPU coolers had fallen off during shipping!

After letting our contact at Solaris know about the problem, they took the information to their company and they decided to no longer ship with the stock Intel fans, opting for an Asus model with a back panel to hold it more securely. The following is an excerpt from the email sent to us from Max at Solaris PC:

"The model [of CPU Cooler] we will be using as standard on all Intel systems will be the Asus P5A2-8SB4W. It has some pretty good reviews and seems to do a better job at cooling, while at the same time staying quiet, which is very beneficial. We do have other cooling options, however. Customers will be able to pick from a MASSCOOL 8WA741, Scythe SCMNJ-1000, Scythe SCNJ-1100P and a Tuniq Tower. A Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme w/ Fan combo will also be available to those who purchase Worm Hole Series PCs, which are our top-of-the-line, factory overclocked computers."

This is a fairly positive response, and we think it's a satisfactory solution to the cooler woes we experienced.

Aside from this glitch, the Solaris PCs worked like a charm and provided us with all the benchmark numbers we needed to compare them to our system builder marathon PCs. Let's have a final look at the test settings before we disclose the benchmarks!

Test Settings

Let's have a look at the system specs, shall we? First the Photon XLX:

System Hardware: Solaris Photon XLX
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E6750, 2.8 GHz, 1400 FSB, 4 MB Cache
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-G33M-S2, BIOS: Award F2 (06/11/2007)
RAM SuperTalent T800UX2GC4
2x 1024 MB, 5-5-5-16, 840 MHz DDR2
Hard Drive Seagate ST3250620AS
250 GB, 7200.10 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 3.0 GB/s
Networking Realtek RTL8168B/8111B Gigabit Ethernet
Graphics Cards EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 640 MB
GPU: 532 MHz
RAM:640 MB 792 MHz
Power Supply Thermaltake Purepower500 (500 W)
System Software & Drivers
OS Windows XP Pro 5.1.2600
DirectX Version 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Platform Driver Intel INF 8.3.0.1011
Graphics Driver 7.15.11.6369 - Nvidia ForceWare 163.69

For reference, we'll be benchmarking this against the budget PC from our last system builder marathon:

System Hardware: Low-Cost PC
Processor Intel Core Duo e6750, 2.67 GHz, 1333 FSB, 4 MB Cache
Motherboard ASUS P5K, BIOS: 0507
RAM Wintec Ampo PC2-6400, 2x 1024 MB, CAS 5.0-5-5-16
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda ST3320620AS
320 GB, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 300
Networking PCIe Gb LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Graphics Cards EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS, 320 MB RAM
Power Supply Fortron AX-450PN
System Software & Drivers
OS Microsoft Windows XP Pro 5.1.2600
DirectX Version 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Graphics Driver Nvidia ForceWare 162.18

Now, the Nebula XL specifications:

System Hardware: Solaris Nebula XL
Processor Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600, 2.4 GHz, 1066 FSB, 8 MB Cache
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R, BIOS: Phoenix - Award F4 (06/11/07)
RAM SuperTalent T800UX2GC4
2x 1024 MB, 5-5-5-15, 800 MHz DDR2
Hard Drive Seagate ST3250620AS
250 GB, 7200.10 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 3.0 GB/s
Networking Realtek RTL8168B/8111B Gigabit Ethernet
Graphics Cards EVGA GeForce 8800GTX 768 MB
GPU: 576 MHz
RAM: 768 MB 900 MHz
Power Supply Thermaltake W0100RU Purepower 500W
System Software & Drivers
OS Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 6.0.6000
DirectX Version DirectX 10.0
Platform Driver Intel INF 8.3.0.1011
Graphics Driver 7.15.11.6369 - Nvidia ForceWare 163.69
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