This media centre mini PC has everything you need at a very reasonable price, but it's louder than we'd like and boxy when compared to many nettops.
2.7GHz AMD Athlon II X2 215, 2.000000 RAM, N/A display, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Cute may be overdoing it as an adjective to describe Mesh’s new media centre PC.
It’s compact, but its cheerily coloured front panel (also available in white and red) can’t disguise the rather boxy and utilitarian design. In fact, compared to many media-centre capable nettops it’s a bit of a porker.
At £399 inc VAT it’s considerably more expensive than a nettop, but you certainly get your money’s worth, as this is a fully equipped media centre. There’s a dual DVB-T tuner fitted, so you can make full use of Windows Media Center’s excellent TV recording capabilities. Most impressively, a Blu-ray combo drive is included, allowing you to play HD movies using the supplied CyberLink PowerDVD software.
HD video playback isn’t a problem thanks to the onboard ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics chipset and dual-core 2.7GHz AMD Athlon II X2 215 processor. The latter provides far more processing power than any nettop, scoring a respectable 65 in our benchmarks. That said it’s not very powerful next to many modern desktop PCs.
Part of the reason for its low multitasking score is that it only has 2GB of RAM. We’re used to seeing systems with 4GB or more these days. Mesh wants an additional £40 to double the amount of memory.
Opening up the Cute, we were surprised to see that it takes laptop-style SODIMM memory modules. Both its memory slots are full, so you won’t save any money by making the memory upgrade yourself – unless you get a good price for the originals on eBay.
There are only two USB ports, plus the usual audio sockets, on the front of the case, which is a pity as a memory card reader would have been handy too. The rear is a different story, as its bristling with ports. Around the back there are an additional six USB ports, eSATA and Gigabit Ethernet – though no WiFi. There’s HDMI to connect to your HD TV, along with DVI and VGA. The 7.1 analogue surround sound output must be used to get the highest quality audio from Blu-ray movies, as copy protection restricts HDMI to just 6.1Mbit/s. There are also the more usual optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs.
Above the ports is the single 80mm fan used to cool the Cute. We found that the whole system was noisy and whiny when put under strain. This isn’t ideal for a media centre PC. It’s not the loudest PC by any means, but there’s a price to pay for putting a relatively powerful dual-core processor in such a small chassis.
The Cute’s specification is impressive given its price, and technically speaking, it’s a very capable media centre PC. However, we weren’t won over by its chassis design or noisiness. Due to these factors, it falls short of top marks.
|Processor||AMD Athlon II X2 215|
|Processor external bus||200MHz (1.8GHz HyperTransport)|
|Processor clock speed||2.7GHz|
|Level 1 cache||2x 128KB|
|Level 2 cache||2x 512KB|
|Power consumption standby||4W|
|Power consumption idle||72W|
|Power consumption active||99W|
|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|
|PCI-E x1 slots (free)||0 (0)|
|PCI-E x16 slots (free)||1 (1)|
|Free Serial ATA ports||2|
|Free memory slots||0|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||0|
|Hard disk model(s)||N/A|
|Total storage capacity||320GB|
|Graphics card(s)||ATI Radeon HD 3200|
|Graphics/video ports||HDMI, DVI, VGA|
|Sound||Realtek High Definition Audio|
|Sound outputs||7.1 line out, coaxial S/PDIF out, optical S/PDIF out|
|3.5in floppy drive||no|
|Supported memory cards||none|
|Optical drive model||N/A|
|Optical drive type(s)||BD-ROM + DVD+/-RW +/-DL|
|Keyboard||Logitech Deluxe 660 Cordless Desktop|
|Mouse||Logitech Cordless Optical Mouse|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit|
|Operating system restore option||Windows disc|
|Warranty||one year RTB|