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Mesh Ice3 530CS review

Barry de la Rosa
6 May 2010
Mesh Ice3 530CS
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
575
inc VAT

An expandable design, with a decent processor and a Full HD monitor, but just enough room to upgrade memory and graphics to create a powerful gaming PC

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Specifications

2.93GHz Intel Core i3-530, 4.000000 RAM, 22in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Mesh's Ice3 530CS comes in a mini-tower case, and as a result some compromises have been made inside - for example, the hard disk is mounted vertically, as it won't fit horizontally. However, this still leaves two hard disk slots free (and accessible), as well as a free optical drive slot. Despite having to use a smaller motherboard, there are two free memory slots, and four free PCI slots including a PCI-E x16 slot for a graphics card, thanks to the integrated graphics chip on the Intel Core i3-530 processor.

Our only worry would be that those wanting to overclock the processor might need to find a CPU fan that will fit, as you'll want to replace the stock Intel fan. The Core i3 is great for overclocking - we've seen Core i3 PCs go from the standard 2.93GHz to 3.4GHz, raising their overall score in our benchmarks by 13 points, but you'll need extra cooling. You'll also void your warranty, but as Mesh's only lasts a year you may want to take that risk.

The Ice3's performance isn't by any means poor as it stands however, with a score of 102 overall. The Core i3 is a dual-core design, which means it does well in single-threaded applications, such as our image editing test, but starts to slow down with multiple applications open or in heavily multi-threaded applications. If you want to do heavy video encoding, you might be better off with a quad-core processor, but for image editing or gaming, the Ice3 will cope well.

As it stands, the Ice3 can't handle games - it failed both our gaming benchmarks - but it can be upgraded. Although it's a tight fit, we managed to add our Best Buy graphics card, ATI's Radeon HD 5770, into the free PCI slot, without having to remove the hard disk. However, you'd be well advised to upgrade the power supply at the same time to handle the increased load. Upgrading from the basic 2GB of RAM is also a good idea, and with two free slots, you have a lot of flexibility.

While the PC you buy should have room for improvement, the monitor you buy with it does not, so you need to make a good investment from the start. The LG W2253WD monitor that comes with the Ice3 has a Full HD (1,920x1,080) resolution, and although it had a slight blue tint to whites that made images seem a bit colder, we found colours accurate and contrast excellent. It has a glossy, curved design and a thin bezel, and our only concern was the fiddly touch-sensitive controls.

A relatively small complement of USB ports might be a concern, especially as two are used up by the Logitech keyboard and mouse. These peripherals are reasonably functional, but we found the keys a bit spongy and the mouse a bit too lightweight. Unless you have an old keyboard and mouse that can use the PS/2 ports, these are wasted, and those with other peripherals that need FireWire or eSATA ports will be disappointed.

These are minor blemishes, and we should also point out the minimal one-year return-to-base warranty. However, overall the Ice3 impressed us with its expandable design, the inclusion of a Full HD monitor and its generally good performance. If you want a workhorse PC, you could do far worse, and if you're willing to open up the case, you could turn this diminutive box into a powerful gaming rig. It wins our Best Buy award.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core i3-530
Processor external bus133MHz (2.9GHz QuickPath Interconnect)
Processor multiplierx22
Processor clock speed2.93GHz
Processor socketLGA1156
Level 1 cache2x 64KB
Level 2 cache2x 256KB
Memory4.000000
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardAsus P7H55-M
Motherboard chipsetIntel H55

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/6
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/0
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking supportnone
Other portsnone

Internal Expansion

Casemini tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)1 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)1 (1)
Free Serial ATA ports4
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays2

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD502HJ
InterfaceSATA 300
Total storage capacity500GB
Spindle speed7,200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)Intel GMA HD
Graphics/video portsHDMI, DVI, VGA

Sound

SoundVIA HD Audio
Sound outputs5.1 line out, stereo line out, mic in
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy driveno
Supported memory cardsnone
Optical drive modelTSSTcorp SH-S223C
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size22 in
Screen modelLG Flatron W2253TQ
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Response time5ms
Screen inputsDVI, VGA

Other Hardware

ModemNo
KeyboardLogitech Deluxe 250 Keyboard
MouseLogitech B110

Software

Software includednone
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionWindows disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB (first 3 months collect and return)
Price£575
Detailswww.meshcomputers.com

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