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Dino PC Volcanic 4100 review

Barry de la Rosa
30 Dec 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
500
inc VAT

Gaming is the focus here, but the 6670 won’t really satisfy demanding gamers. Too many compromises have been made to include it, too

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Specifications

4.4GHz AMD FX-4100, 4GB RAM, 21.5in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Normally, we don't expect budget PCs to come with a dedicated graphics card capable of playing games at decent frame rates, but Dino PC's Volcanic 4100 includes an AMD Radeon HD 6670 which scored 56fps in our DiRT 3 benchmark. It even comes with a 22in Full HD monitor to show off the card's performance.

Dino PC Volcanic 4100

Of course, like most PC makers, Dino PC has been hit by high hard disk prices, so it comes as no surprised to find a 500GB model fitted. This is still plenty of space for most people's photos, videos and other files, and there's a healthy number of ports for attaching external storage, including two USB3 ports, an eSATA port and a FireWire port. Internally, there are plenty of free hard disk bays and three free SATA headers, should you wish to upgrade once prices come back down.

Dino PC Volcanic 4100

Multimedia fans are also well catered for. The Radeon HD 6670 has VGA, DVI and HDMI outputs, and Dino PC has included a DVI cable in the box so you can connect the Asus VE228T monitor digitally, for the best picture. Audio is well taken care of, too: you get a full set of 7.1 surround-sound outputs, as well as an optical S/PDIF output.

Dino PC Volcanic 4100

The Asus VE228T has an LED backlight. This proved uneven and not as bright as others we’ve seen. It has a selection of preset modes, and a choice of colour temperatures including sRGB, but we found them either dull or too saturated - we chose the User colour temperature and set all values to 100, and stayed with the Standard preset, which resulted in bold colours and decent contrast.

AMD's FX-4100 processor is the entry-level model in AMD's new Bulldozer line and, unlike Intel's Core chips or AMD's Llano line, doesn't include an onboard graphics chip. Its score of 70 overall is more than enough for most people's needs and, unless you're working with large photos or videos you should find Windows runs smoothly. The 4GB of RAM is also sufficient, but if you want to upgrade there are three free RAM slots as only one module is installed.

It's not all sunshine and smiles, however. The pair of small speakers that Dino PC includes with the Volcanic 4100 are tinny and brash, and don’t add to the value of the PC. The same could be said of the keyboard and mouse set, both of which are unbranded - in fact, the mouse sent in with our sample stopped working almost immediately. The keyboard isn’t much better, with soggy keys that provide little feedback and rattle.

Also, while the 6670 is a decent mid-range graphics card, it's not powerful enough to run the latest games with all settings turned up high. A score of 56fps looks impressive next to the integrated chips in other PCs on test this month, but this becomes 35fps at 1,920x1,080 with High settings. In more demanding games, such as Crysis 2, you'll need to turn quality settings right down if you want to play at the monitor's native 1,920x1,080.

Dino PC Volcanic 4100

Another problem is noise: at high loads, the processor's fan spins up to a high-pitched roar that's distractingly loud. Replacing the standard AMD CPU fan would cost between £10 and £20, but that's another sacrifice that Dino PC has made to include a dedicated graphics card.

Add up all the compromises and the graphics card won’t justify them for most people, unless gaming is their top priority. Everyone else should buy a more rounded PC, such as the Palicomp Hyper Flame. You can even upgrade this at a later date if you need more 3D power.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorAMD FX-4100
Processor external bus200MHz (HyperTransport)
Processor multiplierx22
Processor clock speed4.4GHz
Processor socketAM3+
Memory4
Memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardGigabyte GA-880GM-USB3
Motherboard chipsetAMD 880G (SB710)

Ports

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

Internal Expansion

Casetower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)1 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)1 (0)
Free Serial ATA ports3
Free memory slots3
Free 3.5in drive bays4

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C (HDS721050CLA)
InterfaceSATA2
Total storage capacity500GB

Graphics

Graphics card(s)AMD Radeon HD 6670
Graphics/video portsVGA, DVI, HDMI

Sound

SoundRealtek HD Audio
Sound outputs7.1 line out, optical S/PDIF out
SpeakersEZCool SPK-01 2x 3W

Removable Drives

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

Display

Viewable size21.5 in
Screen modelAsus VE228T
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Screen inputsVGA, DVI

Other Hardware

Keyboardgeneric wired keyboard
Mousegeneric wired mouse

Software

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

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB parts, three years RTB labour
Price£500
Detailswww.dinopc.com

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