Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription


On the back of the machine, you can really see how basic this machine is. Despite its simple nature, its specifications are that of a machine you would previously have paid a lot of money for - Gigabit Ethernet, 5.1 audio, four USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 ports and a parallel and serial port. Should you need anything more, there are two PCI slots and an x1 PCI-E slot.

On the front of the case, there are two USB 2.0 ports, headphone output and microphone input. One notable exception is that of FireWire. With an increasing number of people video editing, this will go noticed in many households. An add-on card is only a few pounds, but not everyone is confident enough to fit these and it wouldn't have been hard to have one installed already.

The hard drive is 160GB, which is a fair old size that should be enough for a sizable MP3 collection or a lot of documents.

Supplied is a keyboard and mouse. Usually, these are whatever can be found cheapest on the Taiwanese stalls. However, the keyboard supplied with this machine is quite frankly one of the best I've ever used. Our photographer, Martin, liked it so much, that after doing the photos he went ahead and ordered one.

The mouse wasn't as much of a hit, as it was only a ball mouse. These are prone to breaking down very quickly.

I tested this machine using our SpodeMark 2D testing suite, as well as SYSMark 2004SE. I decided to compare to the eMachines E4056 that I reviewed earlier in the week. This is a cheaper unit, with only a single core processor.

The difference between the two computers, was astonishing. Having the second core, and the superior Athlon 64 architecture (over NetBurst at any rate), performance was superb. In single tasks, such as Photoshop Elements, it knocked off some 100 seconds in the time taken, and over 50 per cent improvement in time taken to perform file compression tasks.

The real performance benefits where shown when running multiple applications – which is where you are more likely to want dual processors. In these situations, times were literally cut in half. SYSMark showed a similar trend.

Verdict

This is a great looking machine with good specifications. At a shade over £400, it's amazing value for money and the benefits are clear over the cheaper single core alternatives.

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