The fortunes of the quad-core processors continue to wax and wane. For now, the fastest dual-core processors have wrested back the advantage. But there are still plenty of reasons to plump for a quad-core system such as the Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA.

Should the promised flood of multicore applications hit the market, having a processor with four cores could prove a welcome performance advantage. In today’s environment, however, the dual-core E6850-powered Arbico 880 GTX is superior. After all, even with 4GB of DDR RAM, the Q6600 processor of the Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA musters only 111 WorldBench 6 real-world speed points – five below the Best Buy Arbico 880 GTX’s score.

Not that the processor is the Arbico 880 GTX’s only advantage. It also boasts a GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card, which puts the Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA’s 320MB 8800 GTS firmly in the shade. Only the excessively priced Ultra is faster than the GTX, while even the fifth-placed Evesham Solar Flame has a 640MB version of the GTS. If you’re looking for games performance, the Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA isn’t for you.

The Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA's Mirai flat-panel doesn’t offer sparkling image reproduction, but it’s an otherwise decent display with loads of screen space. The Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA's 500GB hard drive is good although, for typical users, the amount of hard drive space won’t be a crucial factor – 320GB or 400GB will generally be enough.

The Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA has some features that make it a good multimedia machine. The Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA's sound system is excellent, producing pounding audio that’ll make its presence felt. You also get a TV card and a flash drive – the former is a particularly nice touch that will allow the Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA to cope with the odd stint as a media centre.

Verdict

A good all-rounder, but the Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA lacks the frontline speed needed to beat one Arbico and the price tag to beat the other.

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.

Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • Asus nForce 650i SLI motherboard
  • 7 x USB ports
  • 22in Mirai DML-522W100 flat-panel (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 maximum resolution at 75Hz)
  • 320MB PCI Express WinFast 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/6x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 1-year onsite warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 111
  • bundles Microsoft Works 8.5, flash memory drive, digital/analogue TV tuner
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 500GB serial ATA
  • Asus nForce 650i SLI motherboard
  • 7 x USB ports
  • 22in Mirai DML-522W100 flat-panel (0.282mm pixel pitch, 1,680x1,050 maximum resolution at 75Hz)
  • 320MB PCI Express WinFast 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/6x/8x/12x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • 1-year onsite warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 111
  • bundles Microsoft Works 8.5, flash memory drive, digital/analogue TV tuner

OUR VERDICT

A good all-rounder, but the Mesh Elite Q-Express TV PCA lacks the frontline speed needed to beat one Arbico and the price tag to beat the other.

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