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The PC fascia features a sliding cover. The hardware activity lights are set in a narrow strip above this and the door curves pleasingly round the power button. In the down position the door reveals the 9-in-1 card reader set in an external 3.5in bay, while the one below it unoccupied. It also provides access to two USB 2.0 ports and headphone and microphone sockets, which is just where you want them. There’s also a four-pin DVI socket to accompany the six-pin DVI port at the rear. There’s also four more USB 2.0 sockets at the back as well as a Gigabit Ethernet port.
The sides of the fascia are rounded with rubber strips for the two external 5.25in bays. Only the top one is occupied with a Teac DVD Writer capable of burning dual-layer DVD+R discs at up to six speed and single layer discs at up to 16-speed. It’s a small niggle but when you eject the drive, the tray cover, partially blocks the button, so you’ll find yourself pushing the tray in itself to close it.
The second 5.25in external bay below this is empty however, so you won’t be able to do any direct disc to disc burning.
Permanent storage is taken care of by a Seagate Barracuda drive. Not only is the 200GB of disc space a good size but it’s a native SATA drive that offers NCQ and 8MB of cache and a spindle speed of 7,200rpm. Not bad.
Powering the PC is a 2.2GHz Athlon 64 3500+, a ‘Venice’ core CPU with 512Mb of level 2 cache. Acer offers a similar system featuring a 2GHz dual-core Athlon X2 3800+ but running Windows Media Center 2005 rather than Windows XP Home, like this system. A dual-core CPU would definitely have been preferable but it would have added to system cost.
The CPU is backed with 1GHz of memory. This is supplied on two sticks of 512MB RAM, ensuring dual-channel operation but as there's no extra memory slots, that’s your limit without swapping out both sticks.
On its web page Acer refers to this box as a ‘gamer’ system but I never like it when machines supplied with mid-range graphics cards are referred to as ‘gamer’ systems. Sure, you’ll be able to play the latest games on this machine, but you won’t be able to apply any serious levels of image enhancements such as FSAA and AF and the newest titles such as Fear, will make it sweat. More suited to the ‘casual’ gamer then.