The Hermes 8 is a budget system which omits components such as a graphics card and cuts back on system features, making useful savings for many but which will leave enthusiasts underwhelmed. See Microsoft Windows 8 review.

At only £550 (excluding monitor), the Hermes 8 is significantly less expensive than any other PC in this round-up, yet its overall performance in PCMark 7 is very good, showing that it can more than hold its own at general-purpose tasks. Visit 8 hot features in Windows 8.

If you’re not a gamer, you really don’t need a graphics card, especially when your PC includes a Core i5-3570K processor featuring Intel’s best HD 4000 integrated graphics. This will let you play most games if you keep the quality settings down low. Even Crysis was quite playable at 720p resolution with low detail settings. See also Group test: what's the best budget PC?

Perhaps the most significant cut-back in features is the use of an MSI H61M-P31/W8 motherboard, featuring Intel’s low-cost H61-Express chipset. This motherboard omits enthusiast features such as overclocking the CPU, but more significantly comes without useful USB 3.0 or SATA 6Gbps support. That will slow down your storage, outside and in.

The Hermes also has limited upgrade potential: there’s a PCI-Express 3 slot for an optional graphics card, but this is the only expansion slot available on the motherboard. If you’ll never need better grahics, you could use the slot for a USB 3.0 card instead.

As you might expect at this price, the Hermes system case is less than inspiring. It feels cheaply made and offers no cable management or ease of access features inside, causing a large bundle of cables to hang in the middle of the case.

Unlike most PCs reviewed here, the Hermes 8 comes with a DVD drive rather than a Blu-ray/DVD unit. A standard 8GB of RAM is complemented by a roomy 2TB hard drive and we were particularly pleased to find a 60GB Kingston SSD had been included, which gives a significant boost to overall performance. You’ll need to manage your files carefully as that 60GB will rapidly fill up.

Braebo also includes 500GB of free online storage, valid for the life of the PC, although sadly the system warranty is a basic 1-year RTB policy which falls far short of much of the competition.

Braebo Hermes 8: Specs

  • Processor: 3.4GHz - 3.8GHz Intel Core i5-3570K
  • Monitor: Not included
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3 1333MHz
  • Storage: "2TB SATA HDD, 60GB Kingston SSDNow V+200 SSD"
  • Power supply: 600W Alpine
  • Motherboard, Windows 8 certified?: MSI H61M-P31/W8 (Y)
  • CPU cooler: Standard Intel Cooler
  • USB: 0x USB 3.0, 6x USB 2.0
  • Graphics card, Speeds (Core, Memory): Integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • Sound: onboard
  • Speakers: Not included
  • Optical drive: DVD±RW drive
  • Operating system: Windows 8 Home
  • Bundled software: None
  • Case: Braebo Hermes
  • Keyboard & mouse: Not included
  • Extra features: 500GB on line storage
  • PC Mark 7 OVERALL: 5605
  • PC Mark 7 Creativity: 8710
  • PC Mark 7 Entertainment: 4374
  • PC Mark 7 Storage: 4487
  • Games score (fps)1: 47/29
  • Warranty: 1 year RTB warranty
  • Processor: 3.4GHz - 3.8GHz Intel Core i5-3570K
  • Monitor: Not included
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3 1333MHz
  • Storage: "2TB SATA HDD, 60GB Kingston SSDNow V+200 SSD"
  • Power supply: 600W Alpine
  • Motherboard, Windows 8 certified?: MSI H61M-P31/W8 (Y)
  • CPU cooler: Standard Intel Cooler
  • USB: 0x USB 3.0, 6x USB 2.0
  • Graphics card, Speeds (Core, Memory): Integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • Sound: onboard
  • Speakers: Not included
  • Optical drive: DVD±RW drive
  • Operating system: Windows 8 Home
  • Bundled software: None
  • Case: Braebo Hermes
  • Keyboard & mouse: Not included
  • Extra features: 500GB on line storage
  • PC Mark 7 OVERALL: 5605
  • PC Mark 7 Creativity: 8710
  • PC Mark 7 Entertainment: 4374
  • PC Mark 7 Storage: 4487
  • Games score (fps)1: 47/29
  • Warranty: 1 year RTB warranty

OUR VERDICT

Despite its cut-down features and budget components, the Braebo Hermes 8 delivers good overall performance. Its reliance on integrated graphics makes it unsuitable for all but low-level gaming and the lack of USB 3.0 support is a serious omission. It’s almost impossible to upgrade too, but its fast processor and speedy SSD make it a good value for money purchase if funds are scarce.

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