Solaris Computer Systems PCs: A New OEM Emerges

The Nebula XL

For $1450 - a little over $300 more than the Photon XLX - Solaris will sell you a higher-end system, the Nebula XL.

The extra $310 buys you a Quad-core Q6600 processor mated to a fully featured Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R motherboard.

The hard drive and RAM are identical to the components in the cheaper Photon system, comprising two gigabytes of SuperTalent 840 MHz DDR2 running at 5-5-5-16 timings, and a standard 7200 RPM Seagate 250 GB SATA drive.

This system also has the notable upgrade of a GeForce 8800 GTX instead of the GTS 640 MB found on the Photon XLX.

The Nebula has a slightly beefier PSU, a Corsair HX520W model. The case is a more conventional Cooler Master Cavalier 3.

For comparison purposes, we’ll show how the Nebula XL fares vs. our mid-range system from our last system builder marathon (Mid Cost System). Once again, the specs couldn’t be closer, as our mid-range system builder rig is equipped with the exact same Q6600 processor and 8800 GTX graphics card.

A big difference between the Nebula XL and our mid-range system builder marathon machine is, unfortunately, the operating system. While the Nebula XL came equipped with Windows Vista Home Premium, our system builder marathon machines were all benchmarked with Windows XP Professional. The drivers for Windows Vista have come a long way in the last few months, but this is definitely something to take into account when comparing the benchmark results.

The mid-range marathon PC was priced at $1,545 at the beginning of September, and if you add today’s $110 OEM cost of Windows Vista Home Premium to that, the total is $1,655. This is slightly more than $200 over the price of the Nebula XL, which once again comes pre-assembled and with a warranty from Solaris.

Since the system builder marathon machine was put together piecemeal for the lowest cost we could find, the price difference seems absurd. But aside from the identical CPU and video card, there are some marked differences between the Nebula XL and mid-range system builder marathon machine :

  • The Nebula XL uses the stock Q6600 CPU cooler, while our custom rig sported a Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme to help with overclocking ;
  • The Nebula XL sports the same 250 GB SATA hard disk offered in the Photon XLX, while our system builder marathon machine included a 500 GB drive ;
  • The Nebula XL comes with a 520-watt power supply, but our marathon PC included a 650-watt Aerocool power supply.

These extras explain some of the price difference between our marathon PC and the Nebula, but once again, we can’t help but note that Solaris seems to be asking a reasonable price for their systems.