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OP3 Mars review

OP3 Mars
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 350
inc VAT

A fast Core i3 processor, support for the latest technologies and room for expansion make this a great PC; the three-year warranty makes it a Best Buy

Specifications

3.6GHz Intel Core i3-540, 2GB RAM, 22in 1,920×1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

The OP3 Mars has a smart, compact tower case but still has room inside for expansion. An Intel Core i3-540 is fitted and overclocked to 3.6GHz, which made it one of the fastest PCs you can buy for £350. Despite having only 2GB of RAM, it managed an overall score of 122 in our benchmarks.

A PC’s motherboard is crucial to its success as a package, and the Mars’ motherboard has everything. There are four RAM slots, two PCI-E x16 slots, and support for FireWire, eSATA and USB3. A full set of 7.1 surround sound audio outputs is backed up by an optical S/PDIF (only really useful if your AV amplifier doesn’t have an HDMI input), and there’s even a wide choice of video outputs, with VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort ports.

OP3 Mars

OP3 has fitted a memory card reader that supports SDHC (and microSDHC via an adaptor) and has an extra USB port, making three on the front of the case. There are a further four USB ports on the rear, plus two USB3 ports, and one FireWire one eSATA port.

The single PS/2 port, is unused as the bundled Logitech set is wireless and relies on a single USB dongle. It’s a surprisingly good inclusion at this price: the keyboard’s shortcut buttons and numberpad are useful, but it was a little spongy to type on. The mouse was good – the batteries give it some weight and the rubberised sides made it easy to grip.

Although it’ll take some time to fill up the 500GB hard disk, there are five spare SATA headers on the motherboard for attaching more drives. However there are only two drive bays left – one for an optical drive and one for a hard disk. The two free PCI-E x16 slots mean you could theoretically fit two dedicated graphics cards, but you’d need to upgrade the 500W power supply to handle the extra load. The 2GB of RAM is provided on a single module, leaving three slots free, making upgrades easy.

OP3 can supply the excellent 22in BenQ G2222HDL monitor with the Mars for just £110 extra. Its LED backlight produces a colder image than the older, CCFL-backlit G2220HD, but it’s brighter and has excellent contrast. OP3 supplies a DVI cable in the box so you get the best image quality.

Crucially, the Mars comes with a three year warranty – the first year is collect-and-return, so you won’t even have to pay to ship the PC back for repairs. Considering the fast Core i3 processor, USB3 ports and memory card reader, it’s a fantastic deal and easily deserves our Best Buy award.

Basic Specifications

Rating *****
Processor Intel Core i3-540
Processor external bus 155MHz (3.4Ghz QPI)
Processor multiplier x23
Processor clock speed 3.6GHz
Processor socket LGA1156
Memory 2
Memory type DDR3
Maximum memory 16GB
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 rev.2
Motherboard chipset Intel H55

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear) 3/6
Firewire ports (front/rear) 0/1
eSATA ports (front/rear) 0/1
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support N/A

Internal Expansion

Case tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free) 0 (0)
PCI-E x16 slots (free) 2 (2)
Free Serial ATA ports 5
Free memory slots 3
Free 3.5in drive bays 1

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s) Samsung SpinPoint F3 (HD502HJ)
Interface SATA II
Total storage capacity 500GB

Graphics

Graphics card(s) Intel GMA HD
Graphics/video ports VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort

Sound

Sound Realtek HD Audio
Sound outputs 7.1 line out, optical S/PDIF out
Speakers none

Removable Drives

Supported memory cards SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo, xD, M2, microSD
Optical drive type(s) DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size 22 in
Screen model BenQ G2222HDL
Native resolution 1,920×1,080
Screen inputs VGA, DVI

Other Hardware

Keyboard Logitech K520
Mouse Logitech M310

Software

Software included none
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore option Windows disc

Buying Information

Warranty three years RTB (first year collect and return)
Price £350
Details www.op3.co.uk

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