It has a fast graphics card, but its other components are out of date and reduce its performance
3.7GHz AMD FX-4100, 8GB RAM, N/A display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
CCL’s Elite Hawk’s price includes a Microsoft Sidewinder X4 gaming keyboard and a CMStorm Xornet gaming mouse, but the PC base unit alone costs just £484 with Windows 7 installed. We were therefore surprised to find that it included an Asus-branded AMD Radeon HD 6770 graphics card that earned it a Dirt 3 benchmark score of 34fps.
This is a playable frame rate and a reasonably good score, although it’s worth pointing out that Dirt 3 is quite a forgiving game. In the more intensive Crysis 2 benchmark, which is more representative of the latest first-person shooters, the Elite Hawk scored a measly 12fps, which led us to believe that other components in the PC were letting it down.
Even with the settings reduced to High and the resolution to 1,280×720, we couldn’t get the Elite Hawk above 25fps in Crysis 2. We suspect that its processor simply isn’t able to cope with the game. It’s an AMD FX-4100, a quad-core processor that’s basically an eight-core processor that has had some cores disabled because they didn’t make the grade.
Its Overall score of only 65 in our Windows benchmarks shows that the Elite Hawk is about as powerful as a large notebook PC. It’s fine for office productivity applications, web browsing and other daily tasks, but it’ll struggle with heavy photo or video editing and some games.
With most desktop PCs, you usually have the option to upgrade components if they can’t cope with the software you throw at them. The problem with the Elite Hawk is that there’s almost no room inside for upgrades. The 8GB of memory is the maximum that the motherboard can support, while there’s only room for one more hard disk and one more optical drive.
What’s more, the hard disks are fitted vertically on a removable plate, and CCL has chosen to install its disk at the bottom where it’s in line with the graphics card’s PCI-E x16 slot. If you wanted to install a longer, more powerful graphics card, you’d have to move the disk to the top position to give it clearance. You’d also probably have to upgrade the XFX 450W power supply.
Another problem is heat. There’s a powerful fan mounted at the front of the case that sucks air in through a filter, but there’s no rear-mounted fan and the graphics card’s fan blows down rather than out. The CPU, meanwhile, only has a stock heatsink and fan mounted. While running our benchmarks over a few minutes, we noticed heat building up inside the case. Only the power supply’s fan acts as an exhaust, and for long-term peace of mind we’d prefer least an 80mm fan mounted at the rear of the case at the very least.
There are more problems, too. The 500GB disk is forgivable in today’s harsh disk market, but the system’s motherboard is outdated. Instead of the faster USB3 ports we’d expect on a modern PC, it has obsolete parallel and serial ports, and only six USB2 ports in total. Audio is also limited to three 3.5mm ports. Strangely, CCL has fitted a Wi-Fi card into the only accessible PCI-E x1 slot, which is odd because most gamers prefer a wired LAN connection for lower latency.
The Elite Hawk’s small case is its only real advantage, but we felt that the Elite Hawk made too many sacrifices to fit into it. Although it costs less than other PCs we’ve seen recently, you simply can’t get a decent gaming PC at this price. A better option is the PC Specialist Enigma HD.
|Processor external bus||200MHz (HyperTransport)|
|Processor clock speed||3.7GHz|
|Motherboard||Asustek M5A78L-M LX V2|
|Motherboard chipset||AMD 760G|
|USB2 ports (front/rear)||2/4|
|Firewire ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|eSATA ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11n|
|PCI-E x1 slots (free)||2 (0)|
|PCI-E x16 slots (free)||1 (0)|
|Free Serial ATA ports||4|
|Free memory slots||0|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||1|
|Hard disk model(s)||Seagate Barracuda (ST500DM002)|
|Total storage capacity||500GB|
|Graphics card(s)||1GB Asus EAH6770|
|Graphics/video ports||VGA, DVI, HDMI|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio|
|Sound outputs||5.1 line out|
|Supported memory cards||none|
|Optical drive type(s)||DVD+/-RW +/-DL|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|Operating system restore option||Windows disc|
|Warranty||one year RTB|