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Mesh Matrix II 955BE Hush - Mesh Matrix II 955BE Hush
The Mesh Matrix II 955BE Hush's Gigabyte GA-MA770T-UD3P is a budget AM3 motherboard, using the 770 chipset rather than the higher-end 790 ones, but you can't really tell from its looks. It has a nice blue PCB that goes well with that of the video card and sports a fancy blue heatsink. Features are where it has been curtailed a little, with the main caveat being the lack of CrossFireX - so you're stuck with a single graphics card.
In terms of expansion there are two free PCI slots, three PCI Express x1 ones, four SATA ports and two free memory slots supporting DDR3 of speeds up to 1666Mhz.
The rest of the insides are dominated by an Akasa CPU cooler, whose fan presses down on the installed memory modules - so if you want to replace these generic sticks with DDR3 modules fitted with heat-spreaders you'll have to remove the cooler first. Still, at least the cooler does a good job of keeping the 3.2GHz quad-core processor humming along at just below 50 degrees even under load, and it does so very quietly.
Things get even more interesting when overclocking. As you might know, AMD's Black Edition (BE) CPUs are very overclock-friendly thanks to their unlocked multipliers. Popping into Gigabyte's excellent BIOS, under its MIT (which stands for Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker) you can easily adjust all the overclocking parameters, and raising the multiplier to 18x gave a quick and easy overclock to 3.6GHz with CPU temperature never exceeding 55 degrees and case temperature marginally up from 45 to 47 degrees. We didn't go to town on the overclocking front but these chips are easily capable of running at 3.8GHz and at a push 4GHz with a cooler like the one in this PC.
This excellent-value AMD processor is paired with an AMD ATI Radeon HD 4870 for handling the graphics (i.e. gaming) side of things and as an added bonus, the model Mesh has used here is an HIS - which, as the HIS 4670 IceQ Turbo we reviewed demonstrated, has a reputation for producing quieter cards than the stock-cooled equivalents.
It was quite shocking then to discover that the HIS HD4870 Fan (H487FN512) was actually the noisiest part of the PC by a long stretch! Without it active, the Matrix II 955BE Hush lives up to its name by producing a low, unobtrusive hum. With the card's fan active though, it becomes quite a loud PC. We tried for quite a while to see if we could adjust the fan speed in some way but to no avail.