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If you read our recent review on Intel's new Core 2 Duo processors, or Conroe to those in the know, you're probably pretty excited at the idea of popping one in to your current machine. Unless are one of the lucky few to already have a Conroe supporting motherboard, this upgrade isn't as simple as one might think. If you're on an AGP/DDR platform too, then your "upgrade" comes close to just building an entirely new machine.
In reality, if you want Conroe, for most people the sensible thing to do is pass down that machine of yours to a younger sibling or sell on and buy/build yourself a new rig. With this in mind, we take a look at the Evesham Solar Extreme (as if we aren't having enough Sun right now).
From the outside, this machine looks incredibly similar to the Evenham Axis Asteroid FX62 that Benny covered recently. In fact, you'd struggle to tell the two apart, because it's an identical chassis. We have already concluded that this is not a great chassis, and we're a bit disappointed to see that Evesham hadn't managed to sort out a new one yet.
It's not the worst chassis I've used, but it screams cheap, which you don't expect when you're shelling out £2,599. It's an aluminium construction, with a big ol' grill on the side door to let some cool air in. There are no less than five fans, but one of these is positioned where there is no grill. Fans are noisiest when there is resistance, so not only would this one be a little useless, but possibly noisier. The LCD panel on the front tells you the fan speeds and there are several thermal probes that can be placed around the case too for monitoring temperatures. Nifty.
The LCD panel is incredibly hard to read unless at an angle. It almost feels as if it has been designed for the best viewing when underneath a desk. The controls were quite weird and for the life of me I couldn't work out if you could actually change the fan speeds or just view them, so don't expect to have much better luck. It will beep at you if a fan stops spinning, but the only fan that is not plugged in to this LCD is the CPU fan, which is probably the only fan you'd want to know if it wasn't running. Luckily, the motherboard has such alarms built in as well.
Keeping an eye on temperatures is obviously useful, but useful is not the same as attractive – something I'm often forced to remind our news editor Gordon Kelly. Personally, I don't particularly care how my PC looks as long as it works, but then I wouldn't be spending this sort of money on a PC.
On top of the case there are two USB ports, FireWire, headphone out and microphone in. The position of these once again reminds us that this would be best kept under a desk. But who wants to spend £2,599 on a machine that they aren't going to show off?
Another pet peeve of mine is doors on cases, which this unfortunately has. However, finding a case that doesn't have a door often feels as hard as England winning the world cup. My solution to this has been to opt for a USB DVD burner, but Evesham has included a Sony dual-layer 16x DVD burner as well as a Sony DVD-ROM drive.