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Eclipse Matrix i74n96GS review

Alan Lu
18 Mar 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
500
inc VAT

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Specifications

2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7400, 4.000000 RAM, 19in 1,440x900 display, Windows Vista Home Premium

Eclipse's Matrix i74n96GS has a flimsy case with a side panel that was difficult to refit because it flexed so much.

The large vents may help cooling, but they did nothing to block the high-pitched fan whine that started every time we put the system under load. Upgraders won't like the large gobs of glue that have been daubed over every connection in the case. These are to prevent mishaps in transit rather than to stop upgrades, but removing the glue from the delicate components required a considerable amount of force.

The ASRock motherboard is unusual because it's the only Intel board we've seen that can handle either DDR2 or DDR3 RAM. You can install a maximum of 16GB of DDR2 in four slots or 4GB of DDR3 in two slots. It has six SATA ports, three of which are free so you can add additional hard disks to the five empty 3?in bays. Like Mesh's Nero 9850HD, the i74n96GS has both optical and co-axial S/PDIF outputs and a total of eight USB ports. An unusual feature is a WiFi/E header, which you can use to connect an ASRock 802.11n wireless module, which costs around £8.

The 768MB Nvidia GeForce 9600 GSO graphics card is the most powerful in the £500 group. The accompanying monitor, a 19in widescreen Hannspree XM-S New York, has a resolution of 1,400x900. Colours are bright and vivid but the whole screen has a pink tint that's particularly noticeable on pale images.

The PC produced an excellent frame rate of 35.6fps in Call of Duty 4, which is faster than most of the £650 PCs here. It couldn't quite manage a playable frame rate in Crysis at a resolution of 1,680x1,050, but you could improve this by lowering the quality settings. The keyboard and mouse are from Microsoft's Basic range. They're sturdy and comfortable to use, but lack frills such as short cut buttons.

Despite the basic warranty and a relatively small 320GB hard disk, this is a great budget gaming PC. It can't quite match the upgrade potential of Mesh's powerful Nero 9850HD but if you want to play games, this is ideal.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo E7400
Processor external bus266MHz (1,066MHz quad-pumped FSB)
Processor multiplierx10.5
Processor clock speed2.8GHz
Processor socketLGA775
Level 1 cache2x 32KB
Level 2 cache3,072KB
Memory4.000000
Memory typePC2-6400
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardAsrock P43Twins1600
Motherboard chipsetIntel P43
Power consumption standby5W
Power consumption idle98W
Power consumption active177W

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/6
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/1
Wired network ports10/100/1000
Wireless networking supportnone
Other portsnone

Internal Expansion

Casemidi tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)3 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)1 (0)
Free Serial ATA ports3
Free memory slots4
Free 3.5in drive bays5

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Maxtor STM3320613AS
InterfaceSATA/300
Total storage capacity320GB
Spindle speed7200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)768MB Nvidia GeForce 9600 GSO
Graphics/video ports2x DVI, TV-out

Sound

SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Sound outputs7.1 line out, coaxial S/PDIF out, optical S/PDIF out
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy driveno
Supported memory cardsnone
Optical drive modelTSST SH-S223F
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size19 in
Screen modelHannspree XM-S New York
Native resolution1,440x900
Response time5ms
Screen inputsDVI, VGA

Other Hardware

ModemNo
KeyboardMicrosoft Basic Keyboard 1.0A
MouseMicrosoft Basic Optical Mouse 1.0A

Software

Software includednone
Operating systemWindows Vista Home Premium
Operating system restore optionWindows disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£500
Detailswww.eclipsecomputers.com

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