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PC Specialist Fusion HD 550 review

Barry de la Rosa
2 Oct 2010
PC Specialist Fusion HD 550
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
550
inc VAT

While it offers a lot out of the box, the Fusion HD 550 has extremely limited expansion options and its monitor is dull and cold.

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Specifications

3.11GHz AMD Phenom II X2 550 (unlocked to 4 cores), 4GB RAM, 21.6in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

While most budget PCs use an Intel Core i3 processor, PC Specialist has opted for an AMD Phenom II X2 550 instead. This chip is quite a bit cheaper and, as a result, there's more money to spend on a decent graphics card, the ATI Radeon HD 5670.

The processor is a favourite amongst enthusiasts: it's essentially a quad-core processor that has had two of its cores disabled at the factory. Once unlocked and tested, these chips are functionally identical to their quad-core brethren.

This results in an overall benchmark score of 112, which is faster than the standard Intel Core i3-530 fitted many PCs, but not as fast as the overclocked chips used by many other manufacturers. The results are consistent across the tests, with scores of 111 in the image-editing test and 115 in the multi-tasking test. This is powerful enough to handle any mainstream applications, and won't slow down as much when you have multiple applications open.

PC Specialist Fusion HD 550

The Fusion HD 550's 5670 graphics card isn't quite as fast as our favourite ATI model, the 5770, but scores of 43.2fps in Call of Duty 4 and 22.5fps in Crysis show it to be capable of running most modern games, although for best results you may have to turn down some settings.

The monitor is made by HKC, a new Chinese manufacturer. Its design is pretty basic, but it has both VGA and DVI inputs, and thankfully PC Specialist has included a DVI cable in the box. Image quality isn't great, however. We found that the backlight is dull and uneven, and the image has a blue cast that makes it seem cold. The menu system is ugly and basic, and we were unable to fix image quality by adjusting the crude colour sliders.

Inside the case, there's not a lot of room. PC Specialist has attached the hard disk vertically on a special bracket, and the remaining external 3.5in bay contains the memory card reader. There's only one free 5.25in bay as well, despite there being four free SATA headers. The graphics card blocks one of the two free PCI slots, but there's also an unoccupied PCI-Ex1 slot.

With only two RAM slots, you'll have to replace the existing DIMMs if you want to upgrade, although 4GB of RAM is plenty for most needs. Expansion on the outside is similarly limited: there are only six USB ports, two of which are taken up by the keyboard and mouse, leaving only four usable USB ports. There aren't any FireWire or eSATA ports either, and audio is limited to 5.1 outputs. The 500GB hard disk is decent enough, although some PCs here come with a 1TB disk.

It's difficult to recommend the Fusion HD 550. While the processor is fast and it can play games out of the box on its Full HD monitor, it's not as fast as Core i3-based PCs for the same price, and while it can play games, it won't play the next generation of games without compromises on image quality settings. Extremely limited expansion options and poor image quality will add to your woes.

If you're not interested in upgrading your PC and don't mind the limited number of USB ports, the Fusion HD 550 is also available minus the monitor for £459. If you're not into gaming, or want to save up for a decent graphics card, Palicomp's Core i3 Blast 530OC41-22 will give you incredible performance, a brilliant Full HD monitor and tons of room for expansion.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorAMD Phenom II X2 550 (unlocked to 4 cores)
Processor external bus200MHz (2GHz HyperTransport)
Processor multiplierx15.5
Processor clock speed3.11GHz
Processor socketAM3
Level 1 cache4x 128KB
Level 2 cache4x 512KB
Memory4
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory8GB
MotherboardAsustek M4A78LT-M LE
Motherboard chipsetAMD 780G

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)3/4
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

Casetower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)1 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)1 (0)
Free Serial ATA ports4
Free memory slots0
Free 3.5in drive bays1

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Hitachi DeskStar (HDS721050CLA362)
InterfaceSATA 300
Total storage capacity500GB
Spindle speed7,200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)ATI Radeon HD 5670
Graphics/video portsVGA, DVI, HDMI

Sound

SoundVIA HD Audio
Sound outputs5.1 line out
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy driveno
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick, CF, microSD
Optical drive modelOptiarc AD-7260S
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size21.6 in
Screen modelHKC 2219A
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Response time5ms
Screen inputsVGA, DVI

Other Hardware

ModemNo
KeyboardLogitech Internet 350 Keyboard
MouseLogitech B110

Software

Software includedMicrosoft Office 2010 Starter, Nero 9
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionWindows disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year collect and return
Price£550
Detailswww.pcspecialist.co.uk

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