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The software bundle is limited to Windows XP Home, Panda Titanium Antivirus and Ability Office 2002. We would have liked to have seen a copy of Works Suite instead of Ability Office since it includes Microsoft Word.
CCL has chosen the screen carefully and it matches the brushed aluminum finish of the PowerQube perfectly. It’s also a pretty good 17in TFT display from Iiyama, complete with slim bezel and integrated speakers. The image is quite sharp and bright, while the lighting is even and the colours reasonably vivid. This ProLite E431S is similar to the 17in Iiyama TFT that we looked at in our monitor group test last month except that it has the added advantage of a DVI input. The Sapphire graphics card sports a DVI output so you should be able to enjoy a crystal clear digital connection. Unfortunately CCL only supplied a standard analogue D-SUB cable with the PowerQube so a digital DVI connection was tantalisingly close but just out of reach.
The input devices look pretty cutting edge and again match the metallic theme of the system as a whole. The keyboard and mouse are both high-quality Microsoft models and feature an RF based wireless system. The keyboard has an extensive array of multimedia functionality including a complete set of controls for A/V playback. The mouse is one of the latest Microsoft models with the new scroll wheel that can also tilt left and right. Although the added functionality of the wheel is useful, Microsoft has done away with the “click-feel” when turning the wheel. The wheel now turns smoothly and, it has to be said, that everyone in the TrustedReviews office agreed that the new movement made it feel as if the wheel was broken. This of course is a matter of personal taste and we’re sure that there are many people out there who will love the new scroll wheel characteristics.
Performance is reasonable and the 232 score in SYSmark is in pretty much the same ball park as the Evesham e-Style. Where the CCL pulls ahead is in a 3D environment due to the Radeon 9600 graphics card, but you’re still not really going to be playing the latest games with too many features enabled.
When we first powered on the PowerQube we were amazed at how noisy it was. The TrustedReviews office isn’t the quietest place with the amount of kit we usually have on test, but we could clearly hear the PoweQube above everything. We later found out that there was a BIOS setting to switch the PowerQube into “silent mode”. Once activated the PowerQube was far less intrusive, although it’s still nowhere near as quiet as the Evesham e-Style II.
With a price of £1,173.83 the PowerQube is more expensive than the Evesham we reviewed yesterday, and, although it does have a DVD Writer and 5.1 channel speakers, the Evesham still has a better balance of features and value. Inside the PowerQube is rather messy and more care could have been taken with cable routing.
With a bit more attention to detail the PowerQube could have been a decent small form factor system. Unfortunately there are a few too many issues with this particular machine to recommend it.
Since many of the issues with the PowerQube don’t fall into the realm of features, performance or value, we’ve had to mark down the overall score. The untidy build, randomly ejecting optical drives and non-functioning card reader just shouldn’t be present in a modern PC.
The PowerQube Zero-One has the makings of a great living room PC, but it’s let down by poor attention to detail. Hopefully CCL will read this review and address the issues within. Ultimately though, if you’re looking for a small form factor PC right now, there are better options elsewhere.