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Evesham Axis 2800+

After the popular sauce, Evesham Technology is probably the most famous export of the Worcestershire, in the UK’s West Midlands. Unfortunately its Axis 2800+ wasn’t a spicy enough concoction to win any awards in this group test.

As with the award winning Jal, Evesham has based its PC around a Barton Athlon XP 2800+ with 512KB of Level 2 cache. This processor offers an excellent price to performance ratio and significantly outpaces the Scan and Mesh in SYSmark 2002. The nForce2 based motherboard is from MSi and supports 400MHz memory. The 512MB of RAM supplied on two 256MB sticks is only 333MHz PC2700 rated but this means that the dual channel memory controller is running is sync with the memory and front-side bus, which enhances performance.

There’s a fan on the northbridge chipset as well as on top of the CPU heatsink which increases the noise level somewhat. There’s still a single memory slot free for use so you could have up to 1.5GB of memory without having to replace any sticks. The motherboard also features extras such as six and four-pin FireWire ports. There are also audio outputs for centre/sub and rear connections to give a full 5.1-channel surround sound output to the supplied Creative Inspire P580 speakers.

To handle the visual side of things, Evesham has chosen an ATi All-in-Wonder 9800SE. The AIW line offers an integrated TV Tuner with remote control so you can use your PC as a TV. You can record directly to the hard disk, and as the files are DVD-Video compliant MPEG2 you can archive recordings to disc using the Pinnacle Studio 8SE software included with the system.

Performance wise, the Radeon 9800 SE chipset may only have four pipelines compared to the 8 of the 9800 Pro but 3D performance is sufficient for today’s games with a playable 28.6 frames per second in AquaMark3.

However, the All-in-Wonder only has a single DVI output rather than the dual outputs of most graphics cards. A DVI to D-SUB adaptor is included so you can hook up an analogue monitor such as the 15in Philips flat panel. However, we found that the weight of the D-SUB plugged into the DVI adaptor caused the monitor cable to keep coming out, causing us to lose the picture. The display provides a very bright and solid image at the native resolution of 1,024 x 768 and features good viewing angles. The whole panel can also be angled so it either leans forward or all the way back, making it ideal if you need to place the display somewhere unusual such as behind a counter.

The appearance of the case drummed up some controversy in the TrustedReviews Labs. Whatever your view, the fascia’s spider effect is more interesting than the Scan and Jal efforts. A flap at the bottom hides two USB ports and microphone and audio sockets making them easy to reach. There are four external 5.25in bays and unusually Evesham has only chosen to fill one of these bays with an optical drive, ruling out any disc-to-disc copying. At least the bay is filled by a Sony DVD Writer that also offers CD burning capability. Speeds are decent enough with four-speed burning for DVD+R and DVD-R and four-speed for DVD+RW. However, the 24 and 10-speed ratings for CD-R and CD-RW respectively are slower than any recent stand alone CD-RW drive. If you want to add a second drive Evesham has included rails attached to the bottom of the case.

Evesham has used one of the internal 3.5in bays to hide the EIDE cables that are neatly wrapped up. Below this are two more 3.25in internal bays, one of which is occupied by a EIDE 120GB Western Digital hard disk, featuring 8MB of cache. If you want to add a second hard disk you’ll benefit from the extra cooling provided by the internal case fan sitting right in front of the hard disk cage. The fan is illuminated by blue LED lights, which can be seen through the grille in the fascia. Blue lights are always a winner giving a cool ambiance for those that like to work in the dark.

This PC as a whole is let down by the rather basic Microsoft keyboard and mouse. The latter in particular feels flimsy and is too small to hold comfortably. When you spend £1,000 on a PC you expect better quality.

The Axis 2800+ is protected by a two-year, on-site warranty with a return-to-base service in the third year. This wraps up a system that is somewhat tame compared to the front runners in this test.

Verdict

Only having the one optical drive wouldn’t matter if there was more on offer, but Jal offers superior extras while the Multivision gives a bigger display and greater performance.

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