Advent T8 review
You usually have to pay a hefty premium to keep up with the latest technology, but Advent's T8 is an exception.
It costs under £1,000, but inside is the very latest Intel Pentium D 820 processor. The D stands for dual core, which means that there are actually two processors on the same chip inside the Pentium D 820. Each runs at 2.8GHz and has its own 1MB of L2 cache. Advent has also included a generous 1GB of DDR2 PC4200 memory.
Although there are two processor cores doing the work, you won't see a twofold increase in performance unless you run applications that have been designed to use both cores. Our video-encoding benchmark takes advantage of dual-core processors, which is one reason why the T8's overall benchmark score is so impressive.
We expected Advent to make sacrifices elsewhere to allow for the cost of this powerful processor, but in the main it hasn't. The T8 comes with two 200GB hard disks, although surprisingly these aren't configured in a performance-boosting RAID array. Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition is used in conjunction with a TV card, so you can view and record analogue terrestrial TV and FM radio from the comfort of your armchair using the slim remote control. A wireless network adaptor is included so you can share files throughout your home. The only slight disappointment is its 256MB ATI Radeon X700Pro graphics card, but even this is capable of running modern games at a fair speed when the detail level is turned down to medium.
It doesn't have the most attractive case, but the T8 is solidly built and has a wealth of inputs. Two USB and two FireWire ports, stereo audio in, composite and S-video inputs are fitted in addition to the standard rear-mounted ports, as is a 7-in-1 card reader. Although there are no separate speakers, the 17" display has a weak stereo set built-in. The screen itself isn't anything special, but it reproduces colours faithfully and produces reasonably smooth greyscales. It uses a captive D-sub cable, but its auto-adjust function works well.
The T8 combines excellent performance with a decent range of additional features and an affordable price. Only the wireless ball mouse and the keyboard are notably poor, so budget an extra few pounds to replace them.