Commodore returns with the Gaming GX Desktop Computer. But it will take more than a gimmicky desktop computer case to win over power PC users.

For those who grew up in the 1980s, the name Commodore is synonymous with computer gaming. The latest rebirth of the legendary name comes via Commodore Gaming, which is now taking orders - the Commodore Gaming GX will hit the UK on November 30 2007, and you can order this system now from Commodore.

The Commodore Gaming line is launching with four different models, from an entry-level power PC (the Commodore G) to an extreme gaming rig (the Commodore XX).

We got an exclusive opportunity to test the Commodore Gaming GX, a desktop computer that boasts many of the features any power user might want, including a fast processor, plenty room for expansion, one of the most customisable case designs we've seen, and dual-graphics-board capability.

We chose to test a configuration using a single 768MB Point of View GeForce 8800 GTX graphics board, so as to compare it against other models in our Power PCs category, which is oriented toward mainstream users.

One of the Commodore Gaming GX's most distinctive features is its jazzy painted chassis. When ordering a GX, you can choose from over 100 different case paint jobs (called C-kins, pronounced "skins"), ranging from colorful gaming and digital artwork to landscapes, photo images, and retro art concepts.

The design is baked on to four panels (sides, top, and front) and then covered with an antiscratch layer. Each set of panels is also interchangeable. At any time, you can order an entirely different set and replace the old panels using just a screwdriver.

Our review Commodore Gaming GX's fantasy design (with goblins, castles, and floating orbs) definitely stood out among the other PCs in the Test Centre. Although Commodore Gaming's systems are configurable, it's worth noting that the company currently offers only your choice of Intel Core 2 Quad processors and nVidia-based graphics boards.

The Commodore Gaming GX model we tested comes with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor, two 1GB DDR2 Corsair RAM sticks, a multiformat DVD writer, a multiformat card-reader drive, and one 500GB, 7200rpm Samsung hard drive. Also included in our test system's price is a nice 22in widescreen Samsung LCD monitor. For £1,799 inc VAT from Play.com in the UK, however, you can upgrade the processor to an Intel QuadCore Q6700 2.66GHz, and double the RAM.

Commodore Gaming GX performance

In our WorldBench 6 Beta 2 tests running 32-bit Windows Vista Ultimate, the GX earned a mark of 97, a solid result, but slower than other PCs at this price point.

The Commodore Gaming GX struggled most with the Photoshop CS2 and Winzip portions of its tests, its plodding marks representing the lowest scores for all power systems we've tested recently.

In these disk-intensive portions of our tests, the Commodore Gaming GX probably fell behind because its 7200rpm hard drive couldn't match the 10,000rpm hard drives used by several other systems. The GX also lacks the performance benefit of a RAID array.

In our graphics tests, the Commodore Gaming GX's smooth frames-per-second rates earned it a very good score, but, again, it wasn't the fastest system we've tested. Using a single, 768MB GeForce 8800 GTX graphics board, the GX registered a respectable 141fps running Doom 3 at 1024 by 768 resolution.

That result is again okay without being outstanding. However, serious gamers can boost the Commodore Gaming GX's gaming chops by using dual graphics boards in an SLI configuration, since the system uses an Asus P5N32-E SLI-ready motherboard.

The end result: this particular Commodore GX configuration's performance wasn't strong enough to help it earn our recommendation. But stay tuned: We wouldn't be surprised to see a more fully loaded GX find its way into our Top 5 Power PCs chart in the near future.

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