- Review Price: £1879.00
With ATI announcing its latest range of graphics cards just before the Christmas holidays it’s impressive to find cards in pre-built PCs this early on in the New Year. What is even more impressive is that Mesh actually sent us this PC just before the holidays and still managed to fit it with a Radeon X850XT PE PCI Express card.
The graphics card is a reference board in terms of design and as you’d expect it sports 256MB of GDDR3 memory, while the reference design dual slot cooler is also in evidence. To go with the graphics card Mesh has put together a very impressive PC in terms of specifications and there have been no corners cut, as far as I can tell.
The core of the Elite 560 DVI-Xtreme is quite easy to guess, as the model name refers to the CPU, a Pentium 4 560 3.6GHz processor. To accompany the processor, Mesh has included a generous complement of RAM – 2GB of Samsung PC4200 533MHz DDR2 memory in a four by 512MB module configuration. The only downside to this is that there are no free memory slots, but 2GB of memory should be good enough for a fair while.
It’s not often that you find top of the range motherboards in pre-built PCs but Mesh is using an Asus P5AD2 Premium Edition board which offers an amazing range of onboard features. At least it shows that when Mesh builds a high-end PC it uses high-end components. On the motherboard you’ll find the usual stuff such as 7.1-channel HD audio, two SATA RAID controllers and IDE RAID. But the P5AD2 also offers dual PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controllers and two FireWire b ports which support speeds of up to 800Mbit/sec not to mention onboard 802.11b/g wireless networking.
To make the most out of the SATA RAID Mesh has fitted no less than three hard drives. Windows XP Professional is loaded on the main 160GB Maxtor drive, while a further two 200GB Maxtor drives make up a RAID 0 storage partition. This setup is ideal for anyone interested in video editing or even if you just want oodles of space. It says something about the amount of data that we use these days when you can buy a desktop PC with over half a terabyte of storage, and not bat an eyelid.
You won’t be able to add any more hard drives though, unless you upgrade to a bigger case – the Mesh case only accepts three 3.5in hard drives, although you could in reality use the spare 5.25in drive bay to fit a fourth hard drive. The other two 5.25in drive bays are taken up by a Sony DVD writer that will burn DVD+R media at 16x, but can only manage 8x for DVD-R. It will also write to dual layer DVD+R media, but only at the basic 2.4x. The second bay is populated by a 16x Sony DVD-ROM drive.
Mesh has also fitted a Black Gold DVB-T TV-tuner card – this is a digital tuner that will allow you to watch Freeview channels on your PC. And just in case you don’t have a broadband connection, there’s a 56k V.90 dial-up modem filling a PCI slot. One aspect that’s important in a high-performance PC like this is the power supply, since with so many high-end components there will be a fairly steep load on the PSU. Mesh has fitted a 450W unit from hec which should be fine as long as it delivers close to the rated output.
The noise level of the Elite 560 DVI-Xtreme is going to annoy anyone looking for a quiet PC, since there are plenty of fans and together they make a fair bit of noise. Considering that the case has a rear 120mm fan, I was expecting it to make less noise than it did, but all the fans are pretty standard rather than “low noise” models.
You do of course get a monitor and a set of speakers as part of the package and Mesh has continued the high-end theme with the display by supplying a Sony SDM-HS94P – a very stylish looking X-black monitor, although the bezel does make it look bigger than it actually is. As this is a 19in TFT display the resolution is limited to 1,280 x 1,024. This might not be ideal if you’re a gamer, since the X850XT PE card has enough power to run this resolution with full FSAA and anisotropic filtering without breaking a sweat in most games. With this kind of graphics horsepower, you might want to push things up to 1,600 x 1,200, but of course a monitor with that resolution would also push up the already significant price.
The speakers are a new set from Creative, the Inspire T7900 which is a full 7.1-channel setup to accompany the onboard 7.1-channel audio. The major improvement over the T7700 set is that you get a desk mounted wired remote which also has a headphone socket and a line in, apart from that the T7900 are very similar to the T7700.
You also get an external 8-in-1 memory card reader which connects to one of the USB 2.0 ports. It may not be as tidy a solution as an internal reader, but at least you can use it with more than one PC if you need to. A wireless Logitech keyboard and an optical mouse rounds off the hardware package.
Mesh supplies a copy of Microsoft Works 8.0 – it’s always good to see a bundled office suite, but I would have preferred to have seen Works Suite, which ships with MS Word. It would also have been nice to see a couple of games thrown in to make use of the X850XT PE graphics card. For those interested in home video editing there’s a copy of Pinnacle Studio 9 in the box and Mesh supplies the full version rather than the SE version that tends to be supplied with a lot of PCs.
Now to the not so good news, the review unit we got wasn’t configured properly and was running at a mere 2.8GHz instead of 3.6GHz. This was easy enough to fix, but it still shows a lack of attention to detail – something that I wouldn’t have expected from Mesh. Also the side mounted fan was hitting the side of the case when we got the machine – loosening the screws half a turn solved this problem, but again this should have been spotted when the machine was built.
One final issue has to do with the way the Mesh case is designed, although this can be solved very easily. The add-in cards are held in place by a special clip instead of screws, which generally works fine, but the FireWire b bracket that comes with the Asus motherboard also features the second Ethernet port and this makes for an unusually shaped bracket. This in its turn means that it doesn’t fit properly with the clip that holds the cards in place and the engineer who put the machine together bent the clip slightly to make it fit. So, as I tried to attach a network cable to the Ethernet port on the bracket I pushed it loose and inwards in to the machine – had I not noticed this straight away, the bracket could have fallen on top of the graphics card and caused a short circuit. The way to get around this problem is for Mesh to use screws instead of the retention clip for brackets such as this Asus one.
Of course I have to remember that Mesh rushed this machine out to us before Christmas, in order to be the first X850XT PE equipped machine in our labs, so I can forgive one or two build issues. I would hope that none of these problems will appear in production systems. But one area where the Elite 560 DVI-Xtreme does excel is performance.
The SYSMark 2004 score is quite impressive at 214 and the overall PCMark 2004 score of 5922 is equally good, but I doubt anyone would buy this PC and use it only for office and productivity applications, due to its high-end gaming graphics card. 3DMark03 is getting long in the tooth with a card like this and although 13,444 is not the highest score achieved in our labs it’s still very high. 3DMark05 pushed the card further, and this is the first PC at TrustedReviews to break the 6,000 mark with a score of 6,072.
I have to apologies for the lack of Half-Life 2 benchmarks, but as we have just moved offices and not had our Internet connection set up as yet there was no way to get Half-Life 2 up and running. The Elite 560 DVI-Xtreme managed to achieve 91.1fps in Doom 3, which is a pretty good score only outdone by the top of the range cards from nVidia. The Unreal Tournament 2004 timedemo finished with a reasonably impressive frame rate of 117.7 while Far Cry was something of a disappointment with a mere 65.27fps. It goes to show that with the current generation of graphics cards and games, you have to mix and match depending on what games you like to play if you want to get the best performance out of your gaming PC.
The Mesh Elite 560 DVI-Xtreme should appeal to anyone looking for a high-end gaming PC that’s ideal for video editing or even heavy duty image editing. Mesh has also thrown in a three year on-site warranty so you’re covered just in case something goes wrong. However, there is one thing that takes the shine off the Mesh and that’s the steep asking price of £1,878.83 + £45.83 for delivery, making this a very expensive PC. Ultimately though, it’s one of those “you get what you pay for” situations, and if Mesh sorts out the build quality issues, the Elite 560 DVI-Xtreme will be a well specified and very fast PC.
The Mesh Elite 560 DVI-Xtreme is a feature rich performance machine with masses of hard drive space and memory, but it isn’t without its faults. If you’ve got deep pockets, this Mesh will keep you at the cutting edge of PC technology for a while at least.
Score in detail
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.