When it comes to sheer desktop performance, the Mesh Elite GTX260 Power isn't as fast as the Eclipse. Both use 2.66GHz quad-core processors, but Mesh has plumped for the tried-and-tested Core 2 Quad Q9400 rather than the more adventurous and up-to-date Core i7 920 favoured by Eclipse.

This results in a considerably lower WorldBench 6 score of 116 points. We'd normally point out that our WorldBench test suite doesn't allow quad-core systems to shine and that, under certain circumstances, the quad-core systems will leave dual-core PCs standing. But these points apply equally to the Eclipse which, unlike the Mesh Elite GTX260 Power, keeps up with (and often beats) the competition with anything we throw at it.

The Mesh Elite GTX260 Power's inclusion of a GTX 260 graphics card is a good choice. These cards offer excellent performance, combined with good value for money. However, the GTX 260 used here is an inferior version of the card found in the Arbico and Palicomp and comes with only 192 shader processors to their 216.

Unfortunately, this means the Mesh Elite GTX260 Power is a slower system overall than any other in this month's chart. It also comes with a smaller 500GB hard drive, but costs the same.

To its credit, the Mesh Elite GTX260 Power is supplied with a Blu-ray drive and a very good Iiyama 22in monitor with dual VGA and DVI connectors. Its high-quality Cooler Master case features subtle blue LED lighting and convenient top-mounted I/O ports. These include a pair of USB connectors along with FireWire, audio and eSATA. The case also provides plenty of drive bays, with disc caddies included.


Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (March 09 issue)

  1. Eclipse Storm i7920n98GTX
  2. Arbico Elite 8260 XL
  3. Palicomp Phoenix E86-22
  4. Mesh Elite GTX260 Power
  5. RL Supplies Modula i8470

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

Power desktop PCs buying advice (March 09 issue)

Processor: While dual-core processors are the most popular at this price point, quad-core chips are making a big impression. If you want to go down the dual-core route, look for Intel's E8600.

Quad-core processors such as the Q9400 are also available at this price. These chips use the same memory and motherboard as dual-core PCs and can offer huge speed advantages if you run multithreaded applications.

At the top of this price bracket comes Intel's new Core i7 chip. This is a match for the best dual-core systems and will outpace any previous-gen quad-core machine. However, Core i7 chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices elsewhere.

Memory: At this price point, 4GB should be considered a minimum, especially if you're running Vista. If you're buying a Core i7-based system, expect only 3GB. These systems install memory chips in threes, so the next step up would be 6GB.


A 64bit OS will take full advantage of your RAM - but check that your software and drivers will be supported. If you opt for an 8GB PC, a 64bit OS is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 400GB is now considered a small amount of storage space - the manufacturers of the systems in this month's chart have all opted for at least 500GB. Many users will get by comfortably with a 320GB drive but, with hard-drive prices continuing to fall, it shouldn't be hard to find a terabyte of storage at this price point.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL; DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Also try to get eight-speed DVD+RW. At this price you should be able to find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs - note that it won't burn to Blu-ray and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Display: In this category, 22in flat-panels are the standard. Many vendors supply budget screens, but it's worth spending a little more if you intend to work with digital photos or video - you'll probably have to stare at the monitor for long periods. Give the display a try to ensure you can put up with the quality.

A screen with a response time of 8ms or less will minimise blur on fast-moving images. For image editing, contrast ratio and colour fidelity are more important.

A digital input can preserve picture quality, so think twice about displays that provide analogue inputs only.

Graphics card: At this price point, it's a pitched battle between nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 and the ATI Radeon HD 4870. If you can find a GTX 280, that's even better. When buying a GTX 260, make sure it's the newer 216-core type.

The GTX 260 and HD 4870 both offer strong performance and can be used in dual-card solutions later on. In order to take advantage of such a setup, however, your motherboard and PSU will need to be compatible with this mode of operation.

It's also possible to go for a ready-made dual-card solution, such as a pair of Radeon HD 4850s. But this can work out more expensive in the long run.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound processing has come on in leaps and bounds, but it's no match for a decent sound card. Consider Creative's Audigy 4 family or the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want a 2.1-channel setup, make sure they're high-quality models.


>> NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

Mesh Elite GTX260 Power: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Asus P5QL Pro
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 22in Iiyama Pro Lite E2207WS (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 896MB PCI Express Asus nVidia GeForce GTX 260 (games scores: Crysis = 56fps
  • Fear = 199fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC1200
  • 2 x Logitech S220
  • subwoofer
  • 5x BD-ROM
  • 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • Microsoft Works 8.5
  • CyberLink Blu-ray software
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 116
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Asus P5QL Pro
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 22in Iiyama Pro Lite E2207WS (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 896MB PCI Express Asus nVidia GeForce GTX 260 (games scores: Crysis = 56fps
  • Fear = 199fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC1200
  • 2 x Logitech S220
  • subwoofer
  • 5x BD-ROM
  • 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • Microsoft Works 8.5
  • CyberLink Blu-ray software
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 116

OUR VERDICT

The Mesh Elite GTX260 Power is a well built system that’s let down by a slightly inferior graphics card and overshadowed by the newer Core i7 CPU.

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