Getting back to specifications, the 1.8GHz Phenom X4 9150e is one of AMD’s low-power quad-core CPUs, with the ‘e’ denoting a maximum thermal envelope of 65W. This TDP is matched on Intel’s side by its ‘S’ series of Core 2 Quads, though its lowest-clocked Q8200S runs at 2.33GHz and thus performs significantly better (depending on the application) despite costing only slightly more at retail. This is not to say the 9150e is a slouch, mind you, and it will certainly handle everything the average consumer would care to throw at it.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the passively-cooled ATI Radeon 4350. While it will do a great job of decoding and enhancing high definition video and should be able to handle old games, relatively modern titles leave it struggling severely. In Call of Duty 4 – hardly the most demanding of games even at maximum detail – it produced a measly 13 frames per second (fps) at 1,920 x 1,080, and we had to bump things down to 1,024 x 768 to get a remotely playable 26fps.
Of course, 4GB of DDR2 RAM is perfectly sufficient, especially since the included version of Windows Vista Home Premium is 32-bit and thus can’t even use that much. The 640GB WD Caviar Blue hard drive with 32MB of cache is also reasonable, for though it’s not too difficult to find budget systems sporting 1TB (1,000GB) drives, 500GB is more common. Certainly for this PC’s intended market it’s more than adequate. Things are rounded out by a Samsung SpeedPlus DVD-Rewriter on the hardware front.
Advent’s choice of installed software is fairly common. We have the usual suspects like Adobe Reader and Google Toolbar, a 60-day trial of Microsoft’s Office and Works SE 9.0. As some of you might already know, the ‘SE’ designation means you’ll get ads while performing any task within Works, but as long as you have a screen with a resolution that’s higher than 1,024 x 768 they’re fairly unobtrusive. Also worth a mention is the detailed and well-illustrated manual, which should make setting the PC up manageable for anyone.
Overall then, how does the £520 Advent PQG9002 hold up in the value stakes? Well, quite frankly, I wouldn’t even bother caring, as only those who are hard of hearing will get a moment’s peace with this turned on. To top things off, it’s not even cheaper than the competition.
Dell, for example, offers largely the same specification on its Inspiron 546 (including 4GB of RAM, a 640GB HDD, Radeon 4350, a card reader and USB peripherals) plus a superior 2.4GHz Phenom X4 9750 for only £484 including delivery, and if you can still find it or a similar model, Medion’s Akoya-P36888 will not only get you a Core 2 Quad, but a 1TB hard drive, TV Tuner with remote and Blu-ray drive into the bargain for under £500.
Advent’s PQG9002 should be a really silent PC, but due to some unfortunate choices it’s one of the noisiest machines around. Considering it’s also not exactly well-built and the competition offers more for less, there’s very little to like here.
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