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Mesh Matrix 3000+ PCX

Mesh is another well known UK system integrator that has been around for quite some time now. As with most larger companies you can tell that Mesh spends a lot of time and research in order to produce something special.

The Matrix 3000+ PCX comes in a stylish but very heavy black case that would probably survive a nuclear blast. Due to the excessively sturdy build quality of this case it actually manages to reduce the noise from the fans inside. Another advantages feature is the inclusion of a 120mm fan in the rear which runs slower and produces less noise than the more common high-speed 80mm fans, while providing similar airflow.

We were impressed to see an Asus A7N8X Deluxe motherboard fitted. This is an expensive but excellent motherboard with a wide range of features.
It’s a shame that Mesh hasn’t utilized more of the features on offer though.
The processor is an AMD Athlon 3000+ and 512MB of PC3200 memory finishes off the core specifications.

A 160GB Maxtor IDE hard drive is the main storage device, but we would have expected an S-ATA drive from Mesh in a system like this. The Mesh did nonetheless produce the highest score in PCMark 2002’s hard drive test which is very impressive. For backup Mesh supplies a Sony DVD writer that supports DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW as well as CD-R/RW. A Sony 16-speed DVD-ROM drive is also included.

One interesting feature of the Asus board is the dual 10/100Mbit LAN courtesy of the nVidia nForce2 chipset, which has one nVidia and one 3Com controller built in to the southbridge. Asus is, as far as we know one of very few motherboard manufacturers that has taken advantage of this feature and it can be handy if you intend to share a broadband connection.

We’re not sure if the Creative Labs Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS soundcard is a blessing or a curse, as it is very expensive. It adds 7.1-channel sound to the PC, but the motherboard already features 5.1-channel sound.
The onboard sound is disabled in preference for a very expensive sound card and we feel that the money could have been spent better elsewhere.
A set of Creative Labs latest 7.1-channel speakers is also included which makes this the ideal computer if you must have the latest in surround sound. As with all past Audigy sound cards, the ZS features FireWire and a further two FireWire ports are featured on the motherboard.

The graphics solution is an unusual one that adds both good and bad features. The new MSI Geforce FX 5600 Personal Cinema card is the high-end version of nVidia’s graphics card with built in TV tuner and video capture capability. It also offers TV-out and a wireless remote control that looks very similar to that of the ATi All-in-Wonder cards. Sadly the quality of the TV-tuner seems a bit lacking and the software is not as easy to use as that of the All-in-Wonder cards.

The one down side with this graphics card is that it only has a D-SUB connector, and as the Matrix 3000+ PCX comes with an 18in NEC TFT display that offers both DVI and D-SUB you’re not getting the best possible image. We would always favour a DVI connection since it offers a crisp image that never needs adjusting.

Even though you would think the 18in NEC display would offer something extra over the 17in TFTs supplied by much of the competition, you’d be mistaken. The resolution is still limited to 1,280 x 1,024 and this particular NEC unit looks big and chunky. It does however offer a flexible stand but sadly no pivot functionality.

The Logitech keyboard and optical mouse are good additions, but not quite up to the wireless Microsoft sets seen elsewhere. On the software side Mesh has managed to squeeze in a copy of Microsoft Works 7 and Pinnacle Studio 8SE, which are good additions.

Mesh did well in most of the benchmarks, except for either version of 3DMark. That said, the Matrix 3000+ PCX should be a great PC as long as you don’t intend to play the latest 3D games. This does however defeat the purpose of the 7.1-channel sound and speakers somewhat and we still think that this money could have been spent better elsewhere.

Verdict

Mesh has tried hard to create a well rounded machine, but the lack of DVI connection and relatively slow graphics card let the package down a bit.

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