Least expensive of all our home PCs this month, Braebo’s Ares makes its presence felt like a Sherman tank crashing through your living room. Its striking looks come from the brutal styling of the fearsome Inwin Dragon Slayer system case. With its military colours and shocking blue illuminate logo, it certainly looks ready to kill something.

When pushed into action in our lab tests, the results were somewhat less deadly. The 2.9GHz AMD Fusion A8-3850 processor can’t keep up with the mighty Intel Core i5 and turns in a considerably slower WorldBench 6 score of 115 points.

That still suggests plenty of performance for the average home user, and what’s lost in application speed is gained in graphical clout. The integrated Radeon HD 6550D processor is capable of much faster graphics than any Intel chip, handy if you want to enjoy a bit of gaming on your home system without the added cost of a card. Unlike Intel’s solution, AMD’s integrated graphics can be teamed up with an external graphics card – boosting performance at a much lower cost.

The ASRock A75M-HVS motherboard comes with 8GB of DDR3 RAM and a 1TB hard disk for storage.

Like Arbico’s budget eXcel i5256 VX, the Braebo Ares comes with a relatively small and cost-effective 21.5in AOC F22+ display. Braebo adds a Blu-ray drive and stereo speakers with a subwoofer. You also get 500GB of free online storage with LiveDrive. Considering the low cost of this system, it’s nice to see Braebo has included a Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 keyboard and mouse combo, a superior option to any others bundled this month.

Braebo Ares: Specs

  • WorkBench 6 score: 115
  • AMD Fusion A8-3850
  • 2.90 GHz processor speed
  • Standard AMD cooler
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA HDD
  • ASROCK A75M-HVS motherboard
  • 4x USB 2.0 ports, 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • 21.5in AOC F22+ monitor. 1920x1080 resolution
  • AMD Radeon HD 6550d graphics chip
  • VIA VT1705 (5.1 CH HD Audio) sound card with Logitech S120 2.1 Speakers
  • Windows 7 Home Premium X64 OS
  • 500GB secure online storage
  • WorkBench 6 score: 115
  • AMD Fusion A8-3850
  • 2.90 GHz processor speed
  • Standard AMD cooler
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA HDD
  • ASROCK A75M-HVS motherboard
  • 4x USB 2.0 ports, 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • 21.5in AOC F22+ monitor. 1920x1080 resolution
  • AMD Radeon HD 6550d graphics chip
  • VIA VT1705 (5.1 CH HD Audio) sound card with Logitech S120 2.1 Speakers
  • Windows 7 Home Premium X64 OS
  • 500GB secure online storage

OUR VERDICT

For a home PC the Braebo Ares looks, quite frankly, mental. It gives the distinct impression that, should you switch it on, something somewhere on the planet will explode. It offers less raw performance than those systems based on Intel Core processors, but makes up for it with better graphics, a great keyboard and mouse, Blu-ray and free online storage for backup.

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