PC Club hasn’t fared too well in our last two evaluations. We hoped things would be better this time around, but with a poor wiring job and an unnecessary full system RMA, PC Club may still have some work to do.
As many of you might know by now, [H] Consumer doesn’t "review" systems; we evaluate the experiences they facilitate. We order the system the same as you would and evaluate every aspect of the end-user experience. Not only does this give us a better idea of what hardware an end user actually receives, it also allows us to obtain a more accurate picture of just how each company functions and treats its customers. As fast as PC hardware has become over the years, we think giving a personal computer "5 stars" based on a synthetic benchmark is simply irresponsible. We think service, support, and reliability are much more important factors in today's climate than speed. Fast is easily bought, but purchasing and ownership satisfaction can be elusive.
This process allows us to not only evaluate the system, but the OEM that builds it. Our goal is to give you the wide-angle lens view of the computer and the company so that you can make informed and educated decisions as to what you purchase or recommend to clients, friends, and family.
Our experience with PC Club stretches back to autumn of 2005 when we evaluated the Enpower Fuzion 4, a budget PC that sold for $300 after rebates. Soon after, we took a look at the Enpower Nitro Extreme, a SLI-enabled box that came in under $1000. Both of these systems did quite well in our evaluations, earning an 8.8/10 and a 9.2/10 respectively. Despite some relatively minor hiccups, we were impressed with PC Club’s ability to build stable, decently performing machines at rock-bottom prices.
That all changed with the ENP612 Laptop, which was not only plagued by questionable build quality, but (more disturbingly) a complete and utter lack of technical support. After placing several phone calls and emails, we never were able to communicate with anybody from PC Club, let alone someone from tech support. Even our poor experience with the Systemax Hellcat failed to eclipse this nadir of after-sale service. We were hoping things would improve when we evaluated the EN-NE8 Nitro Extreme last summer. And they did, albeit only marginally. Build quality still left much to be desired, and technical support “improved from last time, if only by virtue of the fact that we were able to speak to someone there.” The technician we spoke with was knowledgeable and quickly diagnosed our problem. However, our journey through the RMA process was fraught with unanswered emails and phone calls in addition to all-too-slow shipping times, as evidenced by the fact that we hadn’t received a new video card even as the article went to publication.
The Sabre was part of a quartet of mid-range machines we ordered several months ago, including the Ajump Prive AM2A64, Digital Storm Twister, and Polywell Custom Gaming System. The fact that you’re reading this more than two months since the first evaluation of those machines was published might tip you off to the fact that we had a couple of problems with the Sabre. Nevertheless, we’ll be looking to see how the Sabre compares to the aforementioned systems in all categories. However, since they are decidedly mid-range systems, we’ll be putting more emphasis on value and tech support rather than gaming brawn and raw speed.
We’re also interested to see what improvements, if any, PC Club has made to the overall customer experience since the two previous evaluations.
* ENSE08 currently comes standard with LiteOn 18x18 Dual Layer DVD+/-RW
** ENSE08 currently comes standard with either Windows Vista Home Premium or XP MCE 2005.
*** Price is for similarly configured ENSE08.