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Aria Proteus Inspire review

Tom Morgan
17 Dec 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
512
inc VAT

The budget AMD processor limits performance and it lacks a dedicated graphics card, but this is still one of the cheapest Blu-ray-equipped PCs available

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Specifications

3.1GHz AMD Athlon II X3 445, 4GB RAM, 22in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

While a lot of budget PCs use Intel processors, Aria has opted to use an AMD Athlon II X3 445 in the Proteus Inspire. Its the clock speed might be slower than the equivalent Intel chip, but it has one extra core for a total of three, which should improve performance in multi-threaded applications.

The chip has enough power to run most programs. It returned an overall score of 86 in our benchmarks, so it might be a little slow in processor-intensive applications. AMD processors are well known for running cooler than their Intel alternatives, and the Athlon II X3 is no different. The stock AMD CPU cooler and a single exhaust fan was enough to keep the processor cool. During regular use it was reasonably quiet, but became quite loud when being pushed hard. Cable management wasn’t particularly neat, but thankfully the cooling fans weren’t blocked by any hanging wires.

Aria Proteus Inspire Ports

Instead of including an underpowered graphics card, Aria has kept things simple by using the motherboard’s integrated graphics chip. The VGA, DVI and HDMI outputs are rare for on-board graphics, but these make it easy to connect a range of display options using any two interfaces at once. While this brings the price of the PC down, the Proteus isn’t capable of playing modern games; Call of Duty 4 was more akin to a slideshow than a game.

Gaming performance might be practically non-existent, but the Proteus has been carefully designed to excel in other areas. Considering this is a budget PC, we were surprised to find that the optical drive could read Blu-ray discs. The on-board graphics are capable of playing full HD content, and Aria has sensibly bundled a full HD monitor so you can start watching Blu-ray movies right away. The BenQ G2222HDL is one of our favourite budget monitors, with excellent contrast and vibrant colours. The LED backlight was even across the screen, while quick response times mean it's well suited to watching video.

Expansion options in the Proteus are limited by the small case. Including the Blu-ray reader's, there are only two 5 1/4in drive bays. The third has been converted into an external 3 1/2in bay, but there are still four free internal bays for adding extra hard disks. The power supply has several extra molex connectors for adding components, but as it’s a 450w model you should be wary of adding high-power graphics cards.

Aria Proteus Inspire

Without a graphics card, the Proteus' interior looks rather empty. The PCI-E x16 slot is empty, as is a single PCI-E x1 and one PCI slot. Outside, connectivity includes 7.1 analogue and optical S/PDIF digital audio outputs, six USB ports and an eSATA port. The Proteus is also unusual for a budget machine in that it comes with a 802.11n WiFi PCI card. The Microsoft keyboard and mouse are both wireless, and were comfortable to use.

By using an AMD processor and not installing a dedicated graphics card, Aria has managed to make the Proteus Inspire great for entertainment thanks to a great monitor and Blu-ray drive. While performance is understandably lower than Intel-powered machines, this is an excellent entry-level HD multimedia player. If you decide to order without the monitor, ring Aria on the number above, as this deal isn't available through the website.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorAMD Athlon II X3 445
Processor external bus200MHz (2GHz HyperTransport)
Processor multiplierx15.5
Processor clock speed3.1GHz
Processor socketAM3
Memory4
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardGigabyte GA-MA78LMT-US2H
Motherboard chipsetAMD 780G

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/6
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/1
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n

Internal Expansion

Casemini tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)1 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)1 (1)
Free Serial ATA ports3
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays5

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Samsung HD502HJ
InterfaceSATA II
Total storage capacity500GB

Graphics

Graphics card(s)ATI Radeon HD 3000
Graphics/video portsVGA, DVI, HDMI

Sound

SoundRealtec ALC888
Sound outputs7.1 line out, optical S/PDIF out
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

Supported memory cardsnone
Optical drive type(s)BD-ROM + DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size22 in
Screen modelBenQ G2222HDL
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Screen inputsVGA, DVI

Other Hardware

KeyboardMicrosoft Wireless Keyboard 700 v2.0
MouseMicrosoft Wireless Mouse 700 v2.0

Software

Software includedCyberLink Blu-ray Disc suite
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionburn own restore disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£512
Detailswww.aria.co.uk

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