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Storage is taken care of by a quite humungous 300GB, 7,200rpm, Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 10 hard drive with 16MB of cache – nice! This drive uses a native SATA chipset and can take full advantage of the Native Command Queuing (NCQ) support in nForce4 for ultimate performance.
Removable storage is handled by two Sony drives – the DW-D22A in the top slot is a 16x drive capable of burning to dual-layer discs at 2.4x. Even though the latest drives such as the NEC 3520A can burn dual-layer discs at four-speed, any dual-layer burner is still a decent inclusion. The second drive, a DDU1612, is a dependable DVD-ROM drive reading DVD at 16x and CDs at 40x.
The stars of the show though, are the two GeForce 6600GT cards. These are supplied by Leadtek but fortunately they’re a lot quieter than the two cards supplied in the Evesham Duel SLi, which is one advantage that a 6600GT solution has over a 6800GT one. These are linked together by a connector supplied by Asus. These cards are obviously placed in the two x16 PCI Express slots on the board, with each one run at x8 speed in SLi configuration. There are also two x1 PCI Express slots but Mesh has decided to place the brackets for the rear USB and FireWire ports in between the two graphics cards, so you’d have to move these to get at the slots.
Power is always a concern with an SLi system and Mesh has gone with an HEC-550TD-PTE PSU. It’s rated on the high side at 550W but was fairly quiet in operation. The case that everything is housed in looks like the traditional Mesh case, though there are a few modifications to handle the requirements of SLi. The CPU is covered by an Akasa heatsink and fan, with a decent 120mm Chieftec fan at the rear of the case. The side panel, which lifts off with a simple tug of a handle, has had two grilles cut into it to aid cooling. On the reverse side of the top grille Mesh has fashioned a ducting pipe with a fan attached to the inside of the grille. This is drawing air in, with the duct aimed at blowing air directly onto the CPU fan, with the hot air from the system removed by the rear 120mm fan.
However, the duct doesn’t quite line up with the CPU fan and if you open the case while the machine is on you’ll pull out the fan connector from the motherboard. To call it a bit Heath Robinson is perhaps a little harsh, but it’s not a slick as the ducting solutions from Tier one manufacturers such as Dell and HP. On the other hand things are fairly neat and tidy inside and it’s good that Mesh has gone to the effort of getting things cool and stable.
In that sense it’s a shame that it had to go with standard release drivers for the graphics cards. The 66.93s are, at the time of writing still the current WHQL drivers, so Mesh was probably forced to use them. Unfortunately SLi does better with more recent beta drivers, which offer increased game application support and greater stability. Indeed, we found that Unreal Tournament caused a blue screen in SLi, but it is listed as supported by nVidia. However, anyone who buys an SLi system is likely to be comfortable upgrading a graphics driver. The graphics cards have one DVI and one analogue D-SUB connector each.