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Mesh hasn’t skimped on the screen – supplying a ViewSonic VG910s 19in TFT display. This isn’t quite as nice as the ViewSonic VP range of monitors, but it’s a lovely screen nonetheless. The silver bezel is reasonably narrow and the front fascia hides a set of small stereo speakers. The sound from the speakers is a little tinny, which is to be expected, but you probably won’t be using them. Both D-SUB and DVI inputs are present and Mesh supplies both cables with the Cubex64. Connecting the screen up to the Radeon 9800XT via DVI produces a sharp and clear image, and negates the need for any image adjustment. The native resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 is the same as you’ll find on a 17in TFT, but many people will prefer the slightly larger physical area of a 19in display.
Sound is handled by the onboard AC97 5.1-channel audio chipset. The signal is pumped out to a set of Creative I-Trigue 3300 speakers. Now this isn’t the best set of 2-channel speakers out there from an audio point of view, but they do look very good, especially next to a system like this. That’s not to say that the sound is terrible, it’s just not as good as say, a set of Logitech Z3s.
Input devices are also impressive, with a wireles keyboard and mouse from Logitech. Logitech’s new “low profile” keyboards take a bit of getting used to, but I found the mouse to be just the right shape for my hand.
Hammering home the gaming aspect of this system is a pretty good bundle. In the box you’ll find Championship Manager Season 03/04 a game to which many of my friends are sadly addicted, Lock On: Air Combat Simulation, and more to my own taste, a full retail copy of XIII. To help you make the most of the bundled games Mesh also supplies a Logic3 StarFighter joystick, which is basic, but usable all the same. However, I did like the Nostromo Speedpad game controller. This is a strange cross section of keyboard combined with various controls and buttons that fall under your thumb and fingers perfectly. This is an ideal companion for first person shooter inthusiasts since the integrated wrist rest saves you from RSI, while allowing you to control your game as if you were using the keyboard, but with a few more handy controls at your fingertips.
Microsoft Windows XP Home comes preinstalled on the Cubex64+, as does Microsoft Works Suite 2004. The latter is a good compromise for the home user, since it includes Microsoft Word, which is pretty much the most used application in MS Office in the home.
As far as performance goes, the Cubex64+ turned in some impressive numbers despite its size. The SYSmark and PCMark scores are respectable enough, but when you look at the 3D scores, you can see that this is a great little games box. But then, with a Radeon 9800XT inside it I would have hoped it would be.
There’s no denying that there is a lot of kit squeezed into this little cube shaped bundle, and at £1,457 it’s not exactly cheap, but still feels like a bit of a bargain. Considering the high-quality components and sleek design, the Cubex64+ is definitely worth every penny. And as if the specification wasn’t high enough already, Mesh has wrapped the whole thing up in a three year parts and labour warranty, with the first two years on-site.
Mesh has taken a great little small form factor box and built a high-quality and well specified PC around it. The price may seem high, but when you consider how much kit you’re getting and how good it looks, the cost of the Cubex64+ is well and truly justified.