After its recent woes, Evesham will be looking to build its reputation once again. And while the Evesham Solar Flare is hardly the foundation on which to build a glittering palace, it's the kind of sturdy and reliable system that can guarantee its owner years of hard and rewarding service.

There's little to quicken the heartbeat, but the Evesham Solar Flare is composed of a string of tried and trusted components. And though the Evesham Solar Flare's E6750 chip has been put in its place by the Arbico 880 GTX's E6850, the Evesham Solar Flare's WorldBench score of 111 is competitive. The 2GB of DDR RAM offers very ample performance for those dipping a toe into Vista-infested waters and the 500GB hard drive is gargantuan.

The Evesham Solar Flare's 19in GNR screen isn't a flashy model, yet offers an adequate picture with faithful, if slightly uninspiring, colour reproduction. The Evesham Solar Flare's graphics card, meanwhile, is one of the better examples in the chart. Where most manufacturers offer a 320MB version of the GeForce 8800 GTS, Evesham goes for broke with the 640MB incarnation. The Evesham Solar Flare lacks the awesome framerates of the Arbico 880 GTX's GTX but the other cards are no match for the it.

We also applaud the Evesham Solar Flare's sound system, a finely honed Creative one-two. The Evesham Solar Flare's XtremeGamer and Inspire T6100 speakers are a combo that neither of the Arbico systems come close to. Add an ample software bundle and the zippy Samsung DVD writer and you get a PC that has plenty to offer. Maybe not so much as some of the other machines here, but the Evesham Solar Flare is still an extremely effective system.

Verdict

It might not compare to the other PCs in the chart, but the Evesham Solar Flare is still an extremely effective system.

Power PCs chart ranking as of Nov 07 issue


  1. Arbico 880 GTX
  2. Arbico CD-8870GS - last month 1
  3. Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA
  4. Mesh Elite Quad-Express PCA - last month 2
  5. Evesham Solar Flame

Buying advice: Power PCs as of Nov 07 issue

Processor: We may finally be reaching the tipping point in the delicate balance of power between Intel's Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad chips. If you want a PC that'll fly through next year's software library, the Q6600 is an excellent chip to opt for. You may have to sacrifice a small amount of speed on today's applications and games but, in the long run, the gains should far outweigh the pains.
That said, the dual-core chips continue to rise in performance and, for today's programs, the E6850 and E6750 are the superior processors. Even in the age of the quad-core, you should get plenty of performance from these dual-core chips.

Memory: Make no mistake about it. The age of the 2GB PC as standard is here. If you skimp on memory now, you might find yourself having to administer a critical upgrade later on. Indeed, a growing number of PCs are starting to make a case for stuffing 4GB under the lid. It's too early to be specifying such an amount as standard, but the future of computing may well thrive on this extra complement of memory.

Storage: Anything less than 320GB is now considered a small amount of storage space; most manufacturers opt for 400GB or 500GB. Many users can get along very comfortably with considerably less than this, but those intending to store lots of media files should stock up.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities are a must and you should make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL with a minimum of eight-speed. DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Also, you should look out for good eight-speed or 10-speed DVD+RW facilities. Other optional formats include DVD-RAM.

Display: Flat-panels can vary wildly in quality. The safe bet here is a good 20in screen. However, there's an increasing chance you'll be offered a 22in flat-panel at this price. Bear in mind you'll probably stare at this screen for long periods so, if you're buying a relatively inexpensive 22in model, ensure you like the quality of the picture. Try to get a screen with a response time of 8ms or less so the screen doesn't blur on moving images.

Graphics card: At this price point, you should be able to get something rather startling. The nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS is making great waves in its 640MB incarnation. This card has some excellent graphics features, wonderful visual quality and also packs DirectX 10.0 support. There aren't any real DirectX 10.0 games titles around yet, so it remains to be seen whether this card is powerful enough to handle its demands.

Hunt around and you could do even better - it's possible to get an 8800 GTX for this money. If you're not into games, save money in this area: a 320MB 8800 GTS will be more than enough for you.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard or integrated sound has come on in leaps and bounds, with support for 7.1-channel sound, but it's still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to get
a PC with a card from Creative's Audigy 4 family or the excellent X-Fi range. If you want only 2.1-channel speakers then you should ensure they're high-quality models - but most manufacturers these days are bundling 5.1-channel speakers.

Evesham Solar Flare: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6750
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • MSI P6N SLI V2 motherboard
  • 6 x USB ports
  • 19in GNR TS902W flat-panel (0.285mm pixel pitch, 1,400x900 maximum resolution at 75Hz)
  • 640MB PCI Express XFX nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS
  • Creative X-FI XtremeGamer sound card
  • 5 x Creative Inspire T6100 speakers
  • subwoofer
  • maximum DVD speeds: 16x/18x/18x/8x/8x/8x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 1-year onsite, 2-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 111
  • bundles Microsoft Works 8.5, Roxio Creator 9.0 XE, BullGuard 7.0
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6750
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • MSI P6N SLI V2 motherboard
  • 6 x USB ports
  • 19in GNR TS902W flat-panel (0.285mm pixel pitch, 1,400x900 maximum resolution at 75Hz)
  • 640MB PCI Express XFX nVidia GeForce 8800 GTS
  • Creative X-FI XtremeGamer sound card
  • 5 x Creative Inspire T6100 speakers
  • subwoofer
  • maximum DVD speeds: 16x/18x/18x/8x/8x/8x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 1-year onsite, 2-year RTB warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 111
  • bundles Microsoft Works 8.5, Roxio Creator 9.0 XE, BullGuard 7.0

OUR VERDICT

It might not compare to the other PCs in the chart, but the Evesham Solar Flare is still an extremely effective system.

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