A decent PC with one of AMD's latest processors, but it doesn’t quite have the performance of the similarly-equipped competition
3.4GHz AMD A10-7700K, 8GB RAM, 21.5in 1,920×1,080 display, Windows 8.1
The Braebo Bolt is a compact, skinny PC that uses the new AMD Kaveri A10-7700K processor. Its Zalman ZM-T4 case is distinctive. As well as being quite attractive, compact and well finished inside, it’s also taller than it is long. This, in combination with the case’s centrally-positioned drive cage and the location of the PCI-E x16 slot on the motherboard, means you’ll be limited to a graphics card around 250mm long. This means you won’t be able to fit monsters such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti, but mid-range cards like the AMD Radeon R9 270 will be fine. Despite having a slightly whiny CPU fan, the system is very quiet and equipped with fine mesh grilles to keep dust out.
In general, Kaveri processors have the best on-board graphics capabilities we’ve seen, but performance varies slightly from system to system depending on factors such as memory speed. Kaveri chips are particularly sensitive to whether you have single- or dual-channel memory installed. The Braebo PC has two 4GB modules, and managed 48.7fps in our Dirt Showdown benchmark at 1,280×720 with High detail and 4x anti-aliasing. This isn’t the fastest score we’ve seen from this chip, but still shows the processor can handle modern games at reasonable detail levels. The Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM-DS2 motherboard only gives you DVI and VGA graphics outputs; we’d have liked to see an HDMI port.
In our 2D application benchmarks the Bolt managed an overall score of 65 which, while a couple of points below the fastest scores we’ve seen from this processor running at its standard speed, is well within our expectations. It also shows this computer has enough power to manage any task a home PC is typically called upon to do, from a spot of image editing to encoding and editing video.
For storage, the Braebo Bolt has a small 60GB SSD paired with a 1TB hard disk. Recently published statistics have shown that Western Digital drives such as the Caviar Green model used here tend to have lower failure rates than the Seagate drives used in many consumer PCs. However, note that Caviar Green disks tend to be among the slowest drives available. This wouldn’t be a problem if you only plan to use the disk for data rather than programs, but, thanks to the 60GB SSD’s limited capacity, you’ll soon find you need to move some applications and games to the larger hard disk.
If you want to add more storage later, you’re not overwhelmed with options, but there’s a single unused SATA3 port and a vacant 3 1/2in bay. The other 3 1/2in bay, the 2 1/2in bay and the 5 1/4in bay are all occupied, with a DVD-RW drive filling the latter. At the bottom of the case is a decent 430W Corsair PSU, so you’re unlikely to have trouble powering any additional components you can fit in the compact case.
|Processor external bus||100MHz (HyperTransport)|
|Processor clock speed||3.4GHz|
|Motherboard chipset||AMD A88X|
|USB2 ports (front/rear)||2/6|
|eSATA ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||none|
|PCI-E x1 slots (free)||1 (1)|
|PCI-E x16 slots (free)||1 (1)|
|Free Serial ATA ports||3|
|Free memory slots||0|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||1|
|Hard disk model(s)||Corsair Force LS 60GB SSD + Western Digital WD10EZRX-00A8LB0|
|Graphics card(s)||integrated AMD Radeon R7|
|Graphics/video ports||DVI, VGA|
|Sound outputs||5.1 line out, headphone, microphone|
|Supported memory cards||none|
|Optical drive type(s)||DVD+/-RW +/-DL|
|Viewable size||21.5 in|
|Screen model||Hanns.G HE225DPB|
|Screen inputs||DVI, VGA|
|Mouse||Genius NetScroll 120|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1|
|Operating system restore option||Windows disc|
|Warranty||five years RTB (one year parts, five years labour)|