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Advent CBE1401 Centurion - AMD Watercooled Gaming PC
To say we were unimpressed with Advent's previous PC would be an understatement, as the PQG9002 garnered the lowest score we've ever awarded to a desktop computer. It was noisy, badly built, and offered poor value. However, today we're looking at a machine that might turn those impressions around. The CBE1401 Centurion (quite aside from having a far cooler name) comes with a watercooled, overclocked AMD CPU and Radeon 5000-series DirectX 11-compatible graphics card wrapped up in an attractive custom case, all for a penny under £700.
First impressions are certainly good, as the black mid-tower case is an impressive and solid beast with distinctive styling that's rather fetching, if a bit unusual. This is aided by the AMD and Advent logos on its front being backlit in white, while a narrow strip across the top and the power button are backlit in red. Mind you, it would have looked nicer if the backlighting colour was consistent, but at least it's not jarring.
The bulk of the case is constructed from steel but there's a plastic side window and matt plastic top and front sections. The two protrusions on the top not only add a unique visual impact but serve a practical purpose, as they make the case's various ports and buttons easy to reach.
The front section houses the huge square power button and multi-format memory card reader, while the second, sporting a glossy finish, offers a welcome complement of four USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks and an eSATA port. The latter is an especially welcome inclusion for hooking up external storage until USB3.0 becomes mainstream. Another thoughtful touch is a textured rubber mat integrated between the two humps, perfect for cushioning an external hard-drive or for putting odds and ends on.
Around the back things are less exciting, due to the outdated connectivity of the motherboard Advent has used. A meagre four USB 2.0 ports are joined by a parallel port (yes, really), Gigabit Ethernet socket and three analogue jacks for the motherboard's integrated audio (which offers a sub-par six channels compared to the eight we'd normally expect on a gaming PC, but at least this is alleviated by the video card offering a full 10 channels on all of its digital connections).
VGA and DVI ports from the motherboard's integrated Radeon 3100 graphics chip are hidden by rubber covers so that less knowledgeable users won't try to connect their monitor to them, as the discrete Radeon video card will actually be taking care of video duties, and offers twin dual-link DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.