- Review Price: £799.00
While it’s no secret computing power has moved on so much in recent years that most people can get away with using a notebook for their everyday tasks like web browsing, checking email and watching video, there’s still a damn good reason to think about going the desktop route, and that’s money, or more specifically, the small amount of it that you have to spend.
As we’ve proved recently, gaming notebooks are genuinely capable of keeping up with most of today’s latest games – Crysis notwithstanding – and, with quad-core and super fast dual-core processors soon to arrive on notebooks, even highly intensive workstation applications are able to run satisfactorily. However, while all this power is available, it comes at some pretty extreme costs – £2,000 anybody? So, if you fancy sampling some of the latest and greatest PC games without breaking the bank, still the best place to look is the humble desktop. Of which, the Mesh G92 Pulse Pro, is a prime example.
Mesh has a long history of producing well specified, cheap and cheerful desktops and notebooks and the G92 is no exception. On paper, it packs in a perfect balance of components that means you should never be left wanting in any one area, whether it be gaming, video editing, or simply having enough hard drive space to store all your music and photos. And, with our review sample coming in at a whisker short of £800, it offers incredible value to boot.
As we’ve come to expect from smaller system builders, the case, and in particular the design thereof, is a generic re-branded off-the-shelf job. Made from thin sheet steel painted in a dull, speckled, eggshell black and with a decidedly underwhelming plastic fascia, it isn’t going to set any hearts alight and certainly won’t be attracting fans of high design. All that thin metal doesn’t help acoustics either, and the clicking of the hard drive and whirring of fans was quite audible when sat close by.
Compare this to something like the new HP range, which at least seem to have had a cursory once over by a designer with some talent, and you can’t help but feel a little disappointed. However, considering the price of the Mesh system, almost all must be forgiven. Also, special mention must be made for the power switch, which is incorporated into the Mesh logo on the front. It’s a nice hefty affair that lets you know for sure when its been pressed. As the saying goes, “there’s nothing worse than a wobbly button”, or something to that effect.
The front fascia houses the now standard feature set of a multi-format card reader, two USB ports, a Firewire port, and a pair of 3.5mm jack sockets for a microphone and headphones. A lightscribe CD/DVD-drive sits in the top drive bay and there are three spare bays below it so there’s plenty of upgrade options. The lightscribe capability enables you to flip the disc over, when it has finished burning the data, and burn a custom image onto the top of the disc. It’s only monochrome and you need to buy special discs for it to work but it does take a large amount of hassle out of giving a professional looking finish to your home movies and the like.
All the latest connectivity options are covered and a nice smattering of older connections makes it to the party as well. To start off, four more USB ports and another Firewire port should provide plenty enough options for even the most peripheral heavy user. A couple of legacy PS2 ports cater for those with older keyboards and mice and likewise a parallel port will please those with, in particular, old printers. An eSATA port is the latest favourite amongst those in the know, as it provides a lighting-fast connection for external hard drives, so it’s good to see one on show here as well.
There’s no onboard Wi-Fi but a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port adds support for the fastest wired networks. Also, a trio of microphone, line-in, and line-out sockets is enough to give you basic stereo audio capabilities but you’ll have to rely on the coaxial S/PDIF digital audio output to get surround sound.
Opening the case up, we find out what really sets apart companies like Mesh from the bigger brands. By using quality branded components and an open spacious case, the Pulse Pro gives the adventurous user a great starting block for upgrading and tinkering with their computer. Of course, it would be unwise to do this while the computer is still under warranty but once it runs out, you won’t be held back by proprietary case designs or non-standard components.
An Intel Core 2 duo E6850 sits at the heart of the machine, ably supported by an ASUS P5N-E SLI motherboard and 2GB of 667MHz Samsung RAM. The latter component is the one thing that slightly lets the side down as we would have liked to see some faster 800MHz RAM in there but that’s really just nit-picking. The nVidia 650i chipset that powers the motherboard is getting a little long in the tooth and an Intel P35 based board would have been preferable but, until you start pushing your system to its limits by overclocking or upgrading, it will serve you fine.
An ASUS made version of our award winning graphics card, the nVidia GeForce 8800 GT, powers the graphics side of things so you should be able to play all the latest games for the foreseeable future. Wrapping things up, a suitably large 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 hard drive should provide plenty of storage space for all your games and multimedia.
A set of 2.1 speakers made by Logitech complement the system well. The sub woofer gives films and games a gutsy feel and the compact design means they’ll fit on the smallest of desks without too many problems. They come with a wired remote that lets you control volume and power, and also has sockets for a microphone and headphones, which is rather convenient. The satellites and remote are a bit lightweight and would probably need a spot of Blutac to make them stay put and the overall set is fairly cheaply made but they should last you a while. In terms of volume, they’d struggle to fill a room but for close quarters listening they are surprisingly good.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen the same keyboard and mouse set come with our review PCs. This Logitech set is as basic as they come and it will really only serve to get you by. Of particular annoyance about this set is the fact they require batteries but don’t come with a charger or docking facility so you have to keep a supply of spares to hand at all times. As we’ve said many a time before, if you use your computer with any regularity, you’d do very well to invest in a decent keyboard and mouse.
The monitor that shipped with our review PC is made by GNR. If you haven’t heard of them before, join the club. They appear to be a rebrand of one of the large Chinese manufacturers but we were unable to determine which one it was before publication. The actual screen is a 22inch widescreen with a resolution of 1,680 x 1,050 and inputs for DVI and VGA. It has a tilt facility but lacks any other form of ergonomic adjustment.
Picture quality is OK, though colours are rather washed out when in default mode. Adjusting things a bit I was able to get some more life out the picture and I’d say it was satisfactory by the end. Likewise viewing angles were decent with the no colour shift and only a fluctuation in lightness as you move to the extremes of vision. If you value colour accuracy or spend a significant amount of time in front of your PC, I’d consider getting a better option from the likes of NEC, BenQ, or Samsung. Though, in all honesty most 22inch monitors use 6-bit panels and all of them are a bit dodgy, so in fact I’d go for a 20-inch model with the same resolution or take the step up to 24inches.
We started our performance testing with our own in-house built tests. These consist of some automated tasks like encoding mp3s, photo editing, and file compression, which we simply run and time how long they take to complete. Initially each test is run individually, then we run them in pairs to test multi-tasking performance. It may not be as thorough a test as the likes of PCMark but for a short sharp indicator of CPU, RAM, hard drive, and motherboard performance, it does us quite nicely.
As I’ve been alluding to, the G92 Pulse Pro is a very capable machine that for everyday tasks like these competes very well with any similarly priced machine. I’ve compared to a similarly priced system from Dell, a slightly more expensive system from PC Specialist, and I’ve even thrown in results for the super expensive Ultra Violet Genesis XOC gaming PC to give you an idea of what spending five times the amount of money will get you and, as you can see, the Mesh system certainly isn’t put to shame.
Next we fired up the new and very much improved version of PCMark, PCMark Vantage. This is the first time we’ve run this on a PC in our labs, even though Andy’s been using it for notebook testing for a while, so direct comparison isn’t possible. However, the program’s free to download so if you want to see how the Mesh system compares to your current setup, give it a try. If we compare to a very capable gaming notebook, like the Rock Xtreme 770 T7800-8800 that costs over £2,000, it is quite clear that the Elite Inspire Plus is faster on every score.
The final part of our testing brings us to perhaps the most important element of the Mesh G92 Pulse Pro, and that’s its gaming performance. We’ve run four games; a couple of which are older and two more that are bang up to date. As we’ve seen previously, Crysis is an incredibly demanding game so it’s no surprise the PC struggles to remain playable at High detail settings. Apart from that, though, you’ve got yourself a very capable gaming station.
The Mesh G92 Pulse Pro may not be the most glamorous of PCs but, like any good workhorse, it delivers the goods when and where you need it. If you want a PC that’ll do all you need for the entire family and still have the grunt to play the latest games, this has to be one of the best systems we’ve seen. You’d better hurry, though, this special offer review system may not be around for long.
Score in detail
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