Selecting a PC for use in the home as an entertainment centre as well as for enthusiast work in video or photo leaves you a lot of choice. You can buy a machine for around £500 which claims to handle TV, video, music, photos and other family interests, but to be able to truly gather round the PC for a night in you need a big screen and hardware support from the rest of the machine. Mesh’s Elite Quad Express-SP has been designed with little compromise and is one of the first we’ve seen to be built around a quad-core processor.
The components are housed inside one of Mesh’s black midi-tower cases, highlighted by a series of silver louvres in the bottom half of the front panel. There’s a multi-card reader in the top 3.5in slot and an 18-speed DVD rewriter below that. Two USB2.0 sockets also sit on the front panel, but no FireWire or audio. This is a bit surprising in a machine obviously geared for video and audio work in the home.
At the back are four more USB2.0 sockets and single FireWire and external SATA ones, so you can add more high-speed storage. There’s a separate Creative sound card as well as the on-board mic and line-in/line-out audio ports, derived from the Asus system board.
Mesh’s case features tool-less access, so you can get inside very easily. The internal layout is neat, though a fan fitted to the removable side of the case has to be disconnected before you can get at everything. All four memory slots are filled, each with a 1GB DIMM, so with 4GB on board you probably won’t need to upgrade during the PC’s life. If you do, though, you’ll have to replace DIMMs, rather than add them.
For the CPU, Mesh has chosen Intel’s Core 2 Quad Q6600, a four-core processor with 8MB of Level 2 cache split between the cores, and a 1,066MHz front side bus. That’s a powerful chip, fully capable of handling full-screen multimedia content at high frame rates.
It’s supported by the aforementioned 4GB of 667MHz DDR memory and a 256MB nVidia GeForce 8600GT graphics card – the Asus P5N-E system board supports SLI if you want to add more graphics punch. It’s finished off with a 500GB SATA hard drive and an 18-speed DL DVD rewriter. All in all, a very well specified PC.