A weak graphics card and mediocre monitor only slightly detract from this great value PC
3.6GHz Intel Core i5-3470, 8GB RAM, 22.5in 1,920×1,080 display, Windows 8
The Mesh Elite K3470–CSR is a no-frills £500 PC, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in power or build quality. The case is a sturdy Cooler Master K350, with seven 3 1/2in drive bays and three 5 1/4in bays, and one of each is occupied. The system isn’t particularly quiet, and there’s a fair bit of noise coming from the graphics card fan, which emits a hissing whine. However, the case blocks the worst of the noise and also has fine mesh inserts that help keep dust out of some of its air vents, too.
INSIDE AND OUT
The front panel has two USB ports, one of which is USB3, alongside the usual 3.5mm microphone and headphone ports. Below the ports is a DVD-RW drive. Happily, there’s plenty of room inside the case, which means you have lots of room to if you want to install upgrades. There’s even enough space to fit a massive AMD Radeon 6950 graphics card, although you’ll probably want to upgrade the generic 500W power supply if your desire for upgrades is that ambitious. The power supply should be good enough to handle most minor upgrades, though.
The motherboard, an MSI B75MA-E33, is among the most basic we’ve seen recently, but it has both USB3 and SATA3 support. Admittedly, its SATA3 support only goes as far as a single port, which is connected to the PC’s 1TB hard disk. This means that if you want to add more storage you’ll have to think carefully about how you want to connect it. If you want to upgrade to an SSD, for example, the best option would be to switch the supplied hard disk to one of the motherboard’s two spare SATA2 ports and connect the SSD to the SATA3 port. One SATA2 port is currently connected to the DVD Re-writer.
Should you want to add an expansion card, you’ll be happy to find this PC has PCI, PCI-E x1 and PCI-E x16 slots, with one of each being present. A clever bit of positioning means that even large PCI-E x16 graphics cards won’t block the PCI-E slot below, as extra space has been left between the two.
The x16 slot is currently occupied by a 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 620. This is a slim but surprisingly noisy card with HDMI, DVI and VGA outputs on its backplane. Unfortunately, it’s not very powerful, failing both our Dirt Showdown and Crysis 2 benchmarking tests. This means that it’s barely worth having as an alternative to the processor’s on-chip Intel HD Graphics 2500, although you admittedly wouldn’t get a DVI output if you relied on onboard graphics.
There are also only two memory slots, too, each of which contains a 4GB module of DDR3 RAM for a total of 8GB. That’s plenty for almost any task, so we don’t anticipate any need to upgrade to 8GB modules in the imminent future. The motherboard can handle a maximum of 16GB of RAM if you feel the need to upgrade in the future.
The processor is a 3.2GHz Intel Core i5-3470. It’s not unlocked, so overclocking isn’t an option. However, the processor’s certainly powerful enough when it comes our application benchmarks, producing an overall score of 95 – just a little below that of our reference Core i5-3570K.
The monitor is an AOC e2250Swdn, which is one of the poorer budget displays made by AOC. Even so, it’s easily good enough for standard desktop use and a spot of movie viewing. It’s a 21.5in matt widescreen display that looks identical to the much better e2250Swda, but suffers from poor contrasts that makes dark scenes look greyish and murky. Its colour gamut is relatively poor, too, particularly when it comes to red tones. The Logitech keyboard and mouse belongs to a good starter set and are reasonably comfortable to use, although you’ll probably want to upgrade at some point.
This PC is good value, but the noisy and underpowered graphics card and a mediocre monitor let it down when compared to similarly priced PCs, such as the Best Buy-winning Wired2Fire Velocity VX.
|Processor||Intel Core i5-3470|
|Processor external bus||100MHz (DMI)|
|Processor clock speed||3.6GHz|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel B75|
|USB2 ports (front/rear)||2/4|
|eSATA ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||none|
|PCI-E x1 slots (free)||1 (1)|
|PCI-E x16 slots (free)||1 (0)|
|Free Serial ATA ports||2|
|Free memory slots||0|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||6|
|Hard disk model(s)||Seagate Barracuda (ST1000DM003-1CH162)|
|Graphics card(s)||1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 620|
|Graphics/video ports||HDMI, DVI, VGA|
|Sound outputs||5.1 line out, headphone, microphone|
|Supported memory cards||none|
|Optical drive type(s)||DVD+/-RW +/-DL|
|Viewable size||22.5 in|
|Screen model||AOC E2250SWDNK|
|Screen inputs||DVI, VGA|
|Operating system||Windows 8|
|Operating system restore option||Windows disc|
|Warranty||three years RTB (two years parts, three years labour)|