Mesh is one of the more established names in this group test and like Multivision has gone for an all black look. However, Mesh hasnâ€™t been as generous with its specification compared to the winners.
The most impressive feature is the flat panel monitor, which offers a healthy 17in of viewable area. At first glance it looks like the same panel that Multivision has supplied but this one only features an analogue D-SUB connector instead of the DVI connection on the Multivision. The screen has a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 and offers fine image quality. It benefits from three brightness settings suitable for different tasks, such as office work or watching DVDs. It also has built-in speakers and although the quality isnâ€™t fantastic, the sound is reasonably loud and they are a useful inclusion if you want to save desk space.
The monitor images are supplied by an nVidia Personal Cinema card. With one of these you can entirely replace your VCR and record straight to your hard disk in high-quality MPEG2. Thereâ€™s even a remote control so you can sit at distance from the PC. 3D performance from the GeForceFX5600 chip is average though and the 17.8 frames per second in AquaMark3 would be barely playable.
Hard disk storage capacity is increasing at an remarkable rate. This is why the 80GB hard disk offered by the Mesh seems decidedly on the low side, especially when Multivision supplies twice the capacity in its system. The drive attaches to one of the two S-ATA connectors on the motherboard. There are four free PCI slots but a gameport, occupies one of the backing plates so only three of these are useable. There are also two FireWire ports that are useful for attaching devices such as DV camcorders or an iPod.
The case is well designed and very well constructed. The side comes off without screws, while the top half of the front fascia easily comes away to give access to the two optical drives â€“ a four-speed multi-format DVD Writer and a 16-speed DVD-ROM drive. Internally the hard disk bays are side mounted on rails so you can easily slide the disks in and out, and thereâ€™s space for two more. Internal cooling is provided by a large fan at the rear of the case. Meanwhile the CPU heatsink and fan is regulation issue and quite noisy. However a BIOS setting can alter the speed depending on the ambient temperature. Where Mesh has fallen down is by supplying the slowest of the AMD processors in the group test - an Athlon XP 2600+. This accounts for its relatively poor showing in SYSmark 2002. The 512MB of PC3200 memory is supplied on two sticks to take advantage of the nForce2 chipsetâ€™s dual-channel configuration where two memory controllers work concurrently to reduce latency between the chipset and the memory.
Mesh has kept up the quality with the input peripherals, both of which are from Logitech. The typing action is reassuringly solid but with fewer shortcut buttons itâ€™s not quite as impressive as the Microsoft branded peripherals.
The only extras Mesh has included are a basic joystick and gamepad from Logic3 â€“ useful but unimpressive compared to the multi-function printer that Jal bundled.
We like the Meshâ€™s construction and build but the only advantage it offers over the Jal and Multivision is its DVD Writer. This means that as an overall package it isnâ€™t quite as tempting a prospect.
The Mesh tries to cover all the basis but with no DVI connection, a small hard disk, and few extras it fails to impress.