The Palicomp Carbon TFT-22 is a desktop PC, with peripherals, that retails for less the £400.

Finding a Windows PC for under £500 isn't too difficult if you shop around - even if you want to include a monitor and keyboard in the budget. But look below £400 and the competition thins out considerably. For Crewe-based PC vendor Palicomp, one of its most popular systems is the Carbon, starting at less than £350 as a complete system. The Palicomp Carbon TFT-22 reviewed here is just £399.

For the money you get a very basic case featuring a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Windows Vista Basic, 500GB hard drive, 4GB of RAM, a 22in LCD monitor, and even a wireless keyboard and mouse.

The Palicomp Carbon TFT-22's build quality is humble, and the flimsy metal case had suffered a wrinkle in its thin side panel before it reached us.

Inside is a Micro-ATX motherboard from Biostar with Intel CPU cooling fan, supplemented by one fan in the 450W power supply and two rather cheesy cooling fans sporting red and blue illuminating LEDs within. The combined effect is a PC that will make its presence known audibly.

Unusually for the price, the Palicomp Carbon TFT-22 system features wireless connectivity in the form of an 802.11 PCI card, so that the computer can be easily sited away from your wireless broadband router.

And the Palicomp Carbon TFT-22's keyboard and mouse are also wireless, requiring a receiver unit to be plugged into one of the unit's seven USB ports to give you a wire-free desktop.

The Palicomp Carbon TFT-22's graphics performance is not sufficient for modern 3D games - we measured 2 frames per second from the integrated nVidia 7050 graphics chip with FEAR, Max settings, rising to a playable 50fps only after all quality settings were reset to Low.

The included Yuraku YU216WB2 screen is a 22.6in LCD, with 1,680x1,050 resolution. Image quality was below average, looking a little dark even with the brightness and contrast set to full as supplied. Picture quality was not helped by the analogue VGA-only option on both display and PC, lending a soft-focus appearance to the screen.

In performance terms, the Carbon TFT-22 is fast enough for most day-to-day needs, recording 93 points in WorldBench 6. This makes it comparable to the fastest laptops around, which should be ample quick enough for most people.

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Palicomp Carbon TFT-22: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4600
  • Windows Vista Basic
  • 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA2 HDD
  • nVidia GeForce 7050 graphics
  • 20x DVD±RW drive
  • 7 x USB 2.0
  • VGA video out
  • ethernet
  • 802.11b/g wireless
  • multi-card reader
  • wireless keyboard and mouse
  • Yuraku YU216WB2 22in (1680x1050) LCD monitor
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4600
  • Windows Vista Basic
  • 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA2 HDD
  • nVidia GeForce 7050 graphics
  • 20x DVD±RW drive
  • 7 x USB 2.0
  • VGA video out
  • ethernet
  • 802.11b/g wireless
  • multi-card reader
  • wireless keyboard and mouse
  • Yuraku YU216WB2 22in (1680x1050) LCD monitor

OUR VERDICT

To meet such an aggressive price point, compromises have been made that result in a noisy PC with below-average screen picture quality. But if you're looking for a home or office PC that's quick enough to get work done, and you're on a strict budget, the Palicomp Carbon TFT-22 will suit less discriminating users.

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