The Aries PowerXS is one of those PCs that makes an immediate impression, thanks to its stylish, brushed aluminium case. The heavy metal door at the front gives a feeling of quality, although it does have one or two practical issues. In particular, the reset and power buttons sit on top of the case, at the front, so you need to take care not to hit them by accident.
The system unit is paired up with a Samsung SyncMaster 940BF monitor, which at 19-inch seems a little small for what's intended to be a graphics workstation. Worse still, this limits its resolution to an average 1,280 x 1,024. There's not a great deal of positional adjustments, either, so at first we weren't overly inspired by the display.
In use, though, the 940BF does deliver high-quality images. Tuning it for colour accuracy is easy thanks to a range of adjustment modes and the response time is a very impressive 2ms. This makes it a good choice if you're into PC games (which is probably why there's a free King Kong game thrown in). It's still a little smaller than we'd like, but picture quality of the 940BF finally won us over.
Inside, you'll find a Pentium 950 CPU, coupled with 2GB of RAM. These components aren't the best you can get, but they're still suitable for photo editing. What's more, the two 250GB hard drives are combined in a RAID setup, delivering a blistering transfer rate of 101MB/s in our tests. This compensates for any speed issues elsewhere. Unfortunately we don't know exactly how much because the PowerXS resolutely refused to run PCMark 05.
Factor in other features such as FireWire and the memory card reader, the excellent 5.1 speakers and welcome freebies and there's clearly plenty to like about the PowerXS.