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Eclipse Matrix i74n96GS review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 500
inc VAT

Specifications

2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7400, 4.000000 RAM, 19in 1,440×900 display, Windows Vista Home Premium

Eclipse Computers

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 1,400×900. 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 1,680×1,050, 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 ****
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E7400
Processor external bus 266MHz (1,066MHz quad-pumped FSB)
Processor multiplier x10.5
Processor clock speed 2.8GHz
Processor socket LGA775
Level 1 cache 2x 32KB
Level 2 cache 3,072KB
Memory 4.000000
Memory type PC2-6400
Maximum memory 16GB
Motherboard Asrock P43Twins1600
Motherboard chipset Intel P43
Power consumption standby 5W
Power consumption idle 98W
Power consumption active 177W

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear) 2/6
Firewire ports (front/rear) 0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear) 0/1
Wired network ports 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support none
Other ports none

Internal Expansion

Case midi tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free) 3 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free) 1 (0)
Free Serial ATA ports 3
Free memory slots 4
Free 3.5in drive bays 5

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s) Maxtor STM3320613AS
Interface SATA/300
Total storage capacity 320GB
Spindle speed 7200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s) 768MB Nvidia GeForce 9600 GSO
Graphics/video ports 2x DVI, TV-out

Sound

Sound Realtek High Definition Audio
Sound outputs 7.1 line out, coaxial S/PDIF out, optical S/PDIF out
Speakers none

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy drive no
Supported memory cards none
Optical drive model TSST SH-S223F
Optical drive type(s) DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size 19 in
Screen model Hannspree XM-S New York
Native resolution 1,440×900
Response time 5ms
Screen inputs DVI, VGA

Other Hardware

Modem No
Keyboard Microsoft Basic Keyboard 1.0A
Mouse Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse 1.0A

Software

Software included none
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium
Operating system restore option Windows disc

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £500
Details www.eclipsecomputers.com

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