Evesham Solar Storm 731 Review

Windows Vista is finally here and, whichever way you look at it, it’s going to become the standard operating system for the majority of the computer buying public over the next few years, whether they like it or not. Why? Because most people don’t buy computers in dribs and drabs, they get the whole lot all at once with an operating system included and, soon enough, most systems will come with Vista preinstalled. And, right on time, Evesham has provided us with a sample of its first Vista system.

The Solar Storm 731 is a mid-range desktop PC that looks to be a jack of all trades but master of none. Equipped with a 2.3GHz Core 2 Duo, a 320GB hard drive, dual DVB TV tuner card, nVidia GeForce 7900 GS and monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers, this is a perfect system for a student or an all-in-one PC for the family. Coming in at £999 it won’t break the bank either.

It ships with Vista Home Premium which, as you may have guessed from the inclusion of a TV card, includes Media Center as well as the new Aero interface and all the other goodies that Jon talks about in his full Vista review.

Will this modest system choke on Vista’s bloat or will they be a multimedia match made in heaven? Let’s find out…

The PC case itself is nothing outstanding and if anything looks a little dated, but it is quite sturdy and is bland enough to not cause offence. However, compared to the sleek look of the Aero interface it is a little disappointing.

On the front of the case there are two USB ports, a Firewire port, and microphone and headphone sockets all hidden behind a flap at the bottom. As always, whether you have your PC on your desk or under your desk will determine whether these ports are convenient for you. Personally, I keep my computer tucked away under my desk so would prefer to see these ports near the top of the case.

As Vista now natively supports USB memory sticks for installing drivers the sole remaining use of the floppy disk has been eliminated so, accordingly, Evesham has opted not to include a floppy drive. Unfortunately it hasn’t added a multi-card reader to occupy that spare external 3.5in bay, but you can’t have everything.

Both a DVD-/+RW drive and a DVD-ROM drive are included with this setup. I’ve never really seen the point of having two drives since you can get single drives that can read and write all formats – who really does disk to disk copies these days? Even so, with two spare 5.25in drive bays there’s still plenty of room for any additional expansion you may require.

On the left panel there is some ducting that provides a direct path for cold air to reach the CPU. There’s also a meshed section above the expansion cards to provide some additional airflow to this area. It’s also very welcome to see a 120 mm exhaust fan on the rear, this will provide maximum airflow with minimal noise.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.