Despite being based on a comparatively slow 2.66GHz processor, the Mesh Delta GT turns in some decent performance scores.

The 3GHz E8400 chips found in the Arbico and Chillblast systems may have the advantage in raw processing power, but the Mesh Delta GT partly makes up for this by supplying 4GB of system RAM.

Mesh has supplied a copy of Microsoft Works 8.5 and CyberLink’s video-editing software with the Delta GT. Digital-photography enthusiasts will also appreciate the inclusion of a multiformat memory card reader and a trio of front-facing USB ports.

All those photos and videos are bound to take up a lot of space, so we’re please to see a 500GB hard drive included with the Mesh Delta GT – that’s twice the size of the next largest in this price category.

The Mesh Delta GT's 19in Hannspree HW191D monitor is a low-cost model, but it delivers more than adequate image quality. Looks-wise it’s more conservative than the XM New York.

Graphics are again handled by a GeForce 8600 GT, but it’s a rather miserly 256MB version. Performance is good enough at low resolutions, but the Mesh Delta GT loses out to the Arbico and Chillblast as this increases.

Mesh has used a compact version of its system case for the Delta GT. It comes with two external 5.25in drive bays, but there’s little room for internal drive expansion, while the 300W power supply won’t cope with many demanding upgrades. No add-in cards are installed, but there are two PCI slots and a PCI-Express slot free in case you want to add a sound card or other expansion option.

Verdict

The Mesh Delta GT may lag behind the systems from Arbico and Chillblast somewhat, but this system bundles 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.

Budget desktop PCs chart ranking (July 08 issue)


  1. Arbico Elite 8400
  2. Chillblast Fusion Rogue
  3. Mesh Delta GT
  4. CyberPower Gamer Ultra 930
  5. CyberPower Gamer Infinity 750

See also: Budget desktop PCs buying advice

Budget desktop PC buying advice (July 08 issue)

Processor: You’re not going to get the fastest processors at this price, but there are some excellent, affordable chips around if you can find them. Intel’s Core 2 Duo E8400 is a stand-out component and dominates the charts quite convincingly.

We’re also now seeing some quad-core processors in this price range, in the form of the Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 and AMD’s latest Phenom X4 9550.

Don’t be tempted to buy older Intel Pentium D chips – their performance is a long way behind today’s Core 2 Duos.

Memory: In this Vista-dominated age, 2GB has almost become a requirement. You may be able to make do with 1GB, but we wouldn’t recommend it.

Check you’re getting the full benefit of the memory – some onboard graphics controllers use system memory, which will slow things down. Also check your motherboard has some free memory slots if you plan to upgrade later.

Storage: You can never have too much storage space. Digital media content such as video and music files will quickly fill a reasonably sized hard drive, so buy the biggest you can. A 250GB drive is a good investment, although hard-drive space is relatively easy to add later. If you’re planning on upgrading hard drives internally, make sure you’ve got enough free drive bays in your system case.

Look for a DVD drive that can write to the -R/+R formats at 16-speed or better. If you want to copy 8.5GB at once, get a drive that can write to DVD-R DL and +R DL at 12- and eight-speed respectively.

Flat-panel: Compromises have to be made to keep the price of a PC down, and the monitor is often where the sacrifices start. Just remember that this is the part of the PC you’re going to be spending most of your time looking at.

All the PCs in our chart come with flat-panels. The most common size is 19in – be careful when considering larger monitors because the quality is unlikely to be good enough at this price. We don’t see many CRTs, but they’re still a pretty good deal – provided you can put up with the bulky casing, colour depth tends to be better than with flat-panels.

Graphics cards: Given that the best graphics cards can retail for £300 or £400, fervent gamers are unlikely to be best served by a sub-£500 PC. Nonetheless, the cream of the crop tend to come with decent cards.

You should still be looking for PCs that can produce 50 frames per second (fps) if you’re going to be playing games – 70fps or 80fps is better still. The fastest chip in this price range is currently the GeForce 8800GS, but including one of these may require compromises elsewhere.

The GeForce 8600s are a good alternative. They can support DirectX 10.0, but they’re unlikely to be powerful enough to make the most of tomorrow’s DirectX 10.0 games. They’ve got plenty of pace to tackle today’s games.

Sound card and speakers: You’re unlikely to get a standalone sound card at this price – it’s an area where most vendors try to cut costs. Most motherboards have decent built-in audio chips that can handle six-channel sound – but to get the best out of them you’ll need a 5.1 system (five speakers and a subwoofer).

Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you won’t get anything better than a 2.1 system in this category – indeed, you won’t necessarily get a subwoofer or speakers at all.

Mesh Delta GT: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8200
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • MSI 945GZM3
  • 7 x USB
  • 19in Hannspree HW191D (0.238mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 native resolution)
  • 256MB PCI Express MSI nVidia GeForce 8600 GT
  • onboard Realtek ALC888
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • 20x/20x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Microsoft Works
  • CyberLink video-editing suite
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 111
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8200
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • MSI 945GZM3
  • 7 x USB
  • 19in Hannspree HW191D (0.238mm pixel pitch, 1,440x900 native resolution)
  • 256MB PCI Express MSI nVidia GeForce 8600 GT
  • onboard Realtek ALC888
  • speakers built into flat-panel
  • 20x/20x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • Microsoft Works
  • CyberLink video-editing suite
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 111

OUR VERDICT

The Mesh Delta GT may lag behind the systems from Arbico and Chillblast somewhat, but this system bundles 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.

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