While black is certainly the predominant colour in this group test, itâ€™s Multivision that carries the looks off with the most panache. This is down to the completely flat case fascia, fetchingly adorned with a strip of blue lighting.
However, while the case looks good weâ€™re not convinced by the practicality of some of the design features. The top two optical drives, a 16-speed DVD-ROM drive and a 52-speed CD-RW, are hidden behind coverings which are simply stuck on and might eventually come off, potentially spoiling the look of the system. The two external 5.25in bays below these are covered with flaps. These have catches on both sides and both need to be clicked to open the bay, which is irritating. If you want to place something in one of the bays such as a fan controller or sound card external breakout box, youâ€™ll have to keep the flap down or remove it, which would look unsightly. Additionally some might miss the flap down the side that hides two USB and a FireWire connection. Care has to be taken not to catch this when open, as it could break off.
The case benefits from side panels that easily come away using handles, once a single retention screw is removed at the rear. Internally Multivision has taken care to route all cables neatly to keep air flowing freely round the system. There is a single case fan pulling air out of the rear along with the rather noisy stock cooler on the CPU heatsink. The processor is an Athlon 2700+, based on the Thoroughbred core. This is running at 2.17GHz and has 256KB of Level 2 cache. This is a little disappointing as we would have preferred to see an Athlon XP featuring a Barton core with 512KB of Level 2 cache, as with the Jal and Evesham. This means that the system is beaten in SYSmark 2002 by those systems. Multivison instead has chosen to concentrate on the 3D graphics performance and display capabilities.
The Leadtek WinFast A350 TDH LX is based on the nVidia GeForceFX 5900 chipset. The whole board in enclosed in a heatsink with twin fans cooling the GPU and memory. The LX in the name denotes that the card uses slower memory than the standard GeForceFX 5900 cards, using 2.8ns 700MHz memory rather than 2.2ns 850MHz memory. The cardâ€™s core clock speed runs at 300MHz in 2D applications but jumps up to 400MHz when a 3D application kicks in. This is still enough to push the Multivision to the top of the pile for 3D performance in this group test and it was the only one to break 5000 in 3DMark03, scoring 5090. Thatâ€™s over 1,200 points more that the second place Evesham. Additionally, AcquaMark3 produced a very playable 37.4 fps. The card also features a TV-out connection so you can hook up to a TV or projector for large screen entertainment.
The monitor is the best unit in the group test. Itâ€™s a 17in Sharp flat panel with a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024. Though itâ€™s visually identical to the one supplied by Mesh it has a DVI connection as well as a standard analogue D-SUB, though Multivision has cut corners by not supplying a digital cable. Itâ€™s a good feature to have though, and connecting up digitally will sharpen up the already decent image quality.
Where the Ionix 59 Delta really stands out is with its hard disk capacity. At 160GB itâ€™s double that of the Mesh, and 40GB more than all the other machines. With a spindle speed of 7,200rpm and 8MB of cache is also a good performer.
Instead of going for an integrated video capture card Muiltivison has supplied a MSi TV Tuner. This has a external aerial for terrestrial broadcasts and has S-Video and composite inputs. Interestingly it can capture direct to MPEG4, which saves space over the MPEG2 used by the ATi All-in-Wonder cards. That said we prefer the tried and tested software included with ATiâ€™s All-in-Wonder.
Thereâ€™s no sound card in the system with the integrated nForce2 motherboard sound chip taking care of the audio side of things. The MSi motherboard offers 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound while the Creative Inspire 6700 speakers are a 7-channel set, with a sixth speaker to handle rear effects. These however have a setting to up mix 5.1 sources into 6.1 which subtly but effectively improves the surround effect.
The keyboard is a quality Logitech peripheral, impressively branded with Multivisionâ€™s logo but the Microsoft keyboards supplied by Scan and Jal are even better. The Logitech three-button optical mouse is also a solid device.
Multiviosn hasnâ€™t neglected the software side, and Microsoft Works Suite 2004, featuring a full copy of Word 2002 means that you can get working right away.
The Multivision may have its faults but overall these are outweighed by the superb value-for-money on offer. The Jal is a better all-rounder but the Multivisionâ€™s display, graphics and hard disk capacity make it a better option for gamers.
Despite some niggles with the case, we like the way the system looks and the way it plays. The 17in TFT display and 160GB hard disk are generous as is the 3D performance.