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Slowly but surely PCs are arriving based on AMD’s new Sempron processor and the Mesh Matrix S3100 Plus is the first one to arrive in our offices. It comes as no surprise that the Matrix S3100 Plus is a budget PC, and as such I wasn’t expecting it to come with a lot of extra kit. That said, I have to say that I’m pleased with what Mesh has managed to supply, since this machine doesn’t lack anything in terms of functionality and everything you’d expect to find in the box is present and accounted for.
As mentioned above, the CPU socket is populated with an AMD Sempron processor, and as you’ve probably already guessed from the system name it’s a 3100+ variant. The Sempron 3100+ is derived from the Athlon 64 core, unlike the slower Semprons that are based on the older Athlon XP architecture. However, the Sempron 3100+ lacks the 64bit functionality of its Athlon 64 cousin and also sports less cache memory. The processor is married to an Asus K8V Deluxe motherboard which wasn’t what I expected to find in a budget PC since this is a top of the range Socket-754 board.
The motherboard features the VIA K8T800 chipset and it comes with a range of onboard features such as SATA RAID, onboard Gigabit Ethernet, onboard FireWire and 5.1-channel sound. Mesh has taken advantage of all the integrated features and added the supplied brackets where needed for extra ports, although a further two USB 2.0 connectors can be fitted if needed. Considering the budget price of the Matrix S3100 Plus, Mesh must be commended for integrating such a high-quality backbone and proving that a budget PC doesn’t have to suffer in the quality stakes.
Mesh hasn’t skimped on memory either with 512MB of PC3200 DDR SDRAM fitted. Although 1GB is becoming the norm on faster machines, 512MB should be more than enough as long as you don’t intend to embark on any heavy duty video editing or image manipulation. A 160GB Maxtor SATA hard disk is the main storage drive and this is a decent capacity for a low cost PC, since many mid to low end PCs only ship with 80 to 120GB drives.
Even more impressive is the inclusion of a 16x multi-format Sony DVD writer. As well as writing to DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW, this drive will also write to dual layer DVD+R media, giving you 8.5GB of data on a single sided disc. The price difference is small between the latest and the previous generation of DVD writers, but many system integrators would choose to save even a few pounds when building a low cost machine. Mesh however has definitely broken the trend here and narrowed its margin in order to give better functionality to the customer. On top of this there is also a 16x DVD-ROM drive fitted, which again adds cost and many PCs in the price bracket to which the Matrix S3100 Plus fits ship with a single drive.