Review Price free/subscription
The motherboard is an Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe. This is a decent board but doesn't feature the silent cooling as used on the Asus A8N-Premium or the Asus A8N32-SLI Deluxe x16, which we looked at here and here respectively. The main downside to this is the noise from the fan sitting over the Northbridge. As its so small it runs very fast and actually makes more noise than the two GeForce 7800 GT cards. The tonal level makes it quite distracting. The two cards are the next noisiest followed by the CPU cooler. You've also got a rear 120mm fan and there's an 80mm fan at the side of the case too. Obviously, there's also a fan in the PSU. That's a lot of fans and there's no getting away from the fact that this is one noisy system as a result.
The two graphics card supplied are from Leadtek and are running at stock speeds, 400MHz for the core and 1GHz for the memory, so you'd probably want to experiment with overclocking. Below the graphics card is Creative's finest in the form of an X-Fi offering 7.1 channels of sound and CMSS 3D headphone technology for that sense of extra immersion when playing on headphones. Mesh has included a set of 7.1 Creative speakers. These is a smart looking set with a volume control dongle that can be left on the desk. They're not the most powerful speakers in the world though at eight Watts RMS per channel but they're good enough to get you involved in the game.
The hard disks are also doubled up - with both a 300GB and a 200GB drive, both from Maxtor. The former has 16MB of cache and the latter has 8MB. Both spin at 7,200rpm. As you would imagine considering the disparity in size, they're not RAIDed with the 300GB drive set up as the C partition and the 200GB as the D. This makes sense but for a two grand system a super fast Raptor wouldn't have gone amiss.
There are also two optical drives, both from Sony, one a DVD-ROM and one a DVD-Writer, handy for direct disc-to-disc burning. The latter is capable of burning dual-layer DVD+R s at 8-speed and dual layer DVD-R at 4-speed.
As this is a complete system Mesh has supplied at 20in widescreen TFT monitor. This is Viewsonic branded and has a native resolution of 1,680 x 1,050. Widescreen is definitely the way to go, so it's a good choice, though game's developers need to hurry up and provide widescreen resolutions as standard in all titles. Style wise the Viewsonic takes some getting used to with a somewhat dated looked chassis with a row of silver buttons at the base. Speakers are also built in, though you'd be unlikely to use them instead of the supplied Creatives or a set of headphones with the X-Fi. The response time is given as 8ms, which should satisfy most. Image quality was fine. There's no high contrast coating and the image isn't the most vivid I've seen but it's sharp, clear and easy to live with.
Trusted Reviews is part of the Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Technology Network