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Braebo Pontus review

Richard Easton
27 Jun 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
499
inc VAT

Scintillating application performance and a decent monitor, but there are better all-rounders

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 3.2GHz Intel Core i5-4460, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB2, Rear USB ports: 2x USB3, 2x USB2, Total storage: 1TB Seagate Barracude SSHD (8GB SSD cache), Display: 22in Iiyama ProLite E2282HS, Operating system: Windows 8.1

The Braebo Pontus is a budget PC with one thing on its mind: super-fast application performance. Thanks to the 3.2GHz Intel Core i5-4460 CPU, which can Turbo Boost to 3.4GHz, this PC stormed through our application tests, with an overall score of 94. This means that it's pretty much as quick as our reference computer and will handle anything you throw at it.

Braebo Pontus front

While the application performance was stellar, the gaming performance of the integrated graphics left a lot to be desired. In our Dirt Showdown test running at 1,280x720 resolution, 4xAA and High quality, the integrated graphics only managed a paltry 24.1fps. This isn’t smooth enough for an enjoyable experience.

Running the benchmark at the monitor’s native 1,920x1,080 resolution with 4xAA and High graphics was akin to watching a slideshow, so we had to drop down to 2xAA and Low quality to get a playable 35.6fps. Without installing a dedicated graphics card, this is simply not a system you can really use for much gaming unless you’re happy to drastically reduce the graphics quality.

The system comes in an Octigen Vortex V2 case, which looks as though it might be more comfortable in an enterprise environment than the home thanks to its utilitarian design. It has space for two 5¼in external bays, with one used for the DVD-RW drive. There are also two internal 3½in bays, with one used for the hard disk and a vacant external 3½in bay. There are no fans installed but there’s a mounting point on the back for a 90mm fan and a 120mm fan on the front.

The Pontus uses a Gigabyte GA-H81M-H motherboard, which has space for two memory modules only. Fortunately, upgrading shouldn't be a problem, as only one slot is filled with an 8GB DDR3 1,600MHz module. The motherboard supports up to 16GB so it’s easy to throw in another memory module if you need it. There are two SATA2 and two SATA3 ports, with the latter two used to connect the 1TB SSHD and DVD-RW drive.

Braebo Pontus interior

We’re always glad to see SSHD hybrid drives included with budget systems, as they boost performance without increasing price. The Seagate Barracuda drive is a 1TB hard disk with an 8GB SSD cache. This doesn't sound like a lot of cache, but it's enough to increase Windows 8.1 boot times and makes the OS feel more responsive.

If you want to add in another drive, consider moving the DVD-RW drive to a SATA2 port so you can take advantage of the higher speeds of SATA3. There’s also a PCI-E x16 for a dedicated graphics card and two PCI-E x1 slots. The case provides plenty of room to install a graphics card as well, so you’ll have no problems installing a card of 350mm in length. With a 500W PSU installed, you'll be able to install any model if your choice. If you do decide to install a graphics card, this will obstruct one of the PCI-E x1 slots, however.

There are PS/2 connections for an older keyboard and mouse, two USB3 and two USB2 and gigabit Ethernet connections on the back. There are also three 3.5mm audio jacks for line in, line out and a microphone and these can be used in conjunction with the front panel audio module to configure up to 7.1 audio. There’s an additional two USB2 connections on the front as well.

Braebo Pontus rear

To connect to a display there are only VGA and HDMI outputs and no DVI, which is a little unusual. The Pontus is supplied with an Iiyama ProLite E2282HS display, which has VGA, DVI and HDMI inputs, and Braebo supplies an HDMI cable as standard.

We measured a contrast ratio of 707:1 and black levels of 0.36cd/m2 with our colour calibrator. This is about average for a budget monitor. More pleasing was the colour gamut, which we measured at 92.4 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. This is very good for a display at this price. This makes it a practical enough display for most home users and it performed well in our subjective tests of movie watching and Dirt Showdown.

You also get a Microsoft Wired Optical Desktop 400 keyboard and mouse set with the system. The keyboard is quite springy with very little travel to the keys but is quiet to type on and the mouse was comfortable to use.

The Braebo Pontus is a great choice if you're after a fast PC in Windows and standard applications. Its SSHD helps make everything feel snappier, and the monitor is a great budget model. Gaming performance is a little disappointing, with the Palicomp AMD Kaveri Evolution a better all-round performer.

Core specs
ProcessorQuad-core 3.2GHz Intel Core i5-4460
Processor socketLGA1150
RAM8GB
Memory typePC3-12800
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardGigabyte GA-H81M-H
Motherboard chipsetIntel H81 Express
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports2x USB2
Rear USB ports2x USB3, 2x USB2
Other portsPS/2
Networking1x 10/100/1000 Ethernet
Case typeMidi tower
Case size HxWxD175x352x350mm
PCI (free)0
PCIe x1 (free)2 (2)
PCIe x16 (free)1 (1)
Serial ATA (free)2x SATA3 (0), 2x SATA2 (2)
Memory slots (free)4 (2)
Drive bays 2 1/2" (free)2 (1)
Drive bays 3 1/2" (free)3 (2)
Drive bays 5 1/4" (free)2 (1)
Storage
Total storage1TB Seagate Barracude SSHD (8GB SSD cache)
Memory card readerNone
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL
Graphics
Graphics cardIntel HD Graphics 4600
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
SOUND
Sound cardRealtek ALC887
Sound card outputs7.1 line out, stereo line out, mic in
SpeakersNone
Display
Display22in Iiyama ProLite E2282HS
Native resolution1,920x1,080
InputsDVI, VGA, HDMI
Other hardware
KeyboardMicrosoft Wired Keyboard 400
MouseMicrosoft Basic Optical Mouse
ExtrasOne-year 500GB LiveDrive subscription
Software
Operating systemWindows 8.1
Operating system restore optionWindows disc
Buying information
WarrantyThree-year RTB
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£499
Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)£399
SupplierBraebo 01933 698 777
Detailswww.braebo.com
Part CodeBraebo Pontus

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