Mesh’s Evolution 2600K PCA has the best specification of all the PCs on test, with an Intel Core i7-2600K processor and nVidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics card. There’s 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a 2TB hard disk and a 64GB Crucial SSD. Its very fast 184-point WorldBench 6 score came as no surprise.

Mesh’s Evolution 2600K PCA has the best specification of all the PCs on test, with an Intel Core i7-2600K processor and nVidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics card. There’s 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a 2TB hard disk and a 64GB Crucial SSD. Its very fast 184-point WorldBench 6 score came as no surprise.

Nothing can touch the Mesh Evolution 2600K PCA desktop PC for gaming either. Its GTX 580 won a convincing lead over the competition in our tests. Highlights include 55fps in Crysis (‘Very High’ settings), and 128fps in Stalker (‘Ultra’ settings).

The Thermaltake V9 BlacX Edition PC case is another good selection by Mesh for its Evolution 2600K PCA. It’s a relatively big and solidly constructed chassis, packed with large and very quiet cooling fans. Mesh has also installed a huge Akasa Freedom Tower CPU cooler, which is ideal for overclocking.

The case’s most unusual feature is its dual-SATA docking ports, allowing you to slot up to two bare 3.5in or 2.5in drives directly into the top of the Mesh Evolution 2600K PCA's case for quick file backup or copying.

Like Palicomp, Mesh has selected the ‘Pro’ version of Asus’ P8P67 motherboard. It provides the Mesh Evolution 2600K PCA desktop PC with three PCI Express x16 slots with SLI support, two eSATA ports and Bluetooth.

A 24in Iiyama monitor is a good pairing for the Mesh Evolution 2600K PCA's Blu-ray/DVD combo drive. You also get a set of Creative stereo speakers, complete with a subwoofer.

Power desktop PCs: chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Solar
  2. Palicomp Phoenix i7 Stealth
  3. Mesh Evolution 2600K PCA
  4. Arbico i7-2656 Stealth Gamer
  5. Dino PC Maxosaur 2600

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NEXT PAGE: Budget PCs buying advice

Mesh’s Evolution 2600K PCA has the best specification of all the PCs on test, with an Intel Core i7-2600K processor and nVidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics card. There’s 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a 2TB hard disk and a 64GB Crucial SSD. Its very fast 184-point WorldBench 6 score came as no surprise.

Power desktop PCs: buying advice

Processor: Intel’s ‘Sandy Bridge’ 3.4GHz quad-core Core i7-2600K offers fantastic performance, hyperthreading, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz and easy overclocking.

You can make a small saving by opting for the non-’K’ version, which does without the overclocking feature. Alternatively, the Core i5-2500 offers a reduced cache, no hyperthreading and a 3.3GHz clock speed, but will still outpace many Core i7 chips. It’s also available in a ‘K’ version.

If you intend to overclock the CPU, upgrade the standard Intel cooler first.

Core i7-950 and -870 CPUs cost less, but use a different type of motherboard.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Sandy Bridge Core i7 PC should come with at least 8GB of RAM. The triple-channel architecture of Core i7-900-based PCs requires you to install chips in threes. Core i7-800- and -2000-series CPUs use a two-channel system. A 64bit OS is essential to take full advantage of this memory, particularly if you’re running a dual-graphics setup.

Storage: Expect 1TB. Look for a pair or trio of drives to reduce the risk of total data loss, although noise levels will increase. Raid 0 setups boost speed at the expense of reliability. 2TB drives are also available, but remember to back up regularly. Consider mirroring for added security.

SSDs provide a significant and very noticeable speed boost, from reduced startup times to improved system responsiveness. They’re now priced at a level where you should expect to see one in any PC costing more than £1,000. Go for an SSD with a capacity of at least 60GB if you’re running Windows 7.

Dual-layer DVD+/-R capabilities are useful, preferably at eight-speed or above. Also look for eight-speed DVD+RW. If you want Blu-ray playback, be prepared to compromise on DVD speeds.

Display: PCs at this price are nearly always offered with a 24 or 25in display. This used to be the magic size at which 1080p (full-HD) playback became available, making these ideal partners for Blu-ray drives. However, some of the newest 22in (16:9) monitors can also display full-HD – for less money.

Model’s with LED backlighting aren’t necessarily better, but can offer improved contrast, lower power consumption and a thinner, more desirable design.

Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality, while HDMI is great for hooking up additional devices.

Graphics card: For a top-level gaming experience, go for nVidia’s GeForce GTX 580. If you don’t need ultimate performance, the cheaper GTX 570 and AMD Radeon HD 6970 are a great match for a 24in monitor.

Both brands support stereoscopic 3D when used with the correct display hardware and glasses. Recent ATI cards can also be connected to multiple displays.

Look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards, as well as those that come with custom cooling solutions.

A single-card setup leaves more space for sound cards or TV tuners.

Motherboard: If you’re considering a RAM upgrade, check there are free slots.
 
SLI or CrossFireX support lets you add extra graphics cards. Sandy Bridge motherboards support this mode of operation, but those currently available aren’t able to deliver the full bandwidth required for peak performance.

Power supply: The level of power you require will largely depend on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for a known brand, and consider from 750W upwards if you plan to add a second graphics card. Any form of overclocking will also demand a powerful PSU.


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NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

Mesh Evolution 2600K PCA: Specs

  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2TB SATA
  • 64GB SSD
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P8P67 Pro motherboard
  • 950W PSU
  • 24in Iiyama ProLite 2410HDS (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1.5GB Inno3D nVidia GeForce GTX 580 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very high] = 111/55fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 222/128fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Creative A220 speakers and subwoofer
  • 12x/16x (BD-R/-ROM)
  • 16x/16x/12x/16x/6x/8x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • CyberLink suite
  • three-year Gold warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 184
  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2TB SATA
  • 64GB SSD
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P8P67 Pro motherboard
  • 950W PSU
  • 24in Iiyama ProLite 2410HDS (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1.5GB Inno3D nVidia GeForce GTX 580 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very high] = 111/55fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 222/128fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Creative A220 speakers and subwoofer
  • 12x/16x (BD-R/-ROM)
  • 16x/16x/12x/16x/6x/8x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • CyberLink suite
  • three-year Gold warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 184

OUR VERDICT

Mesh’s very well-specified Evolution 2600K PCA desktop PC delivers excellent performance and some unique features in this group test. But with a price tag of £1,499, we wouldn’t expect anything less – in fact, we might expect a little more.

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