The Mesh MatriX6 Xi PC system runs AMD's latest six-core AMD Phenom II X6 1055T processor

In computing circles, two heads are definitely better than one. Or rather, two brains, in the shape of those busy central processors. Dual-core processing certainly seems to be the best fit for getting most of your work done quickly on modern personal computers.

When it comes to quad-core computing, though, the upgrade may not always be so obvious in daily use. While high-end design applications such as CGI-rendering video production software may happily make use of many cores, the majority of even today's day-to-day apps won't.

AMD's latest chip, officially released just today, includes not four cores, but six. The AMD Phenom II X6 1055T is a six-core CPU, clocked at 2.8GHz. Rather like the competing Intel Core 'i' chips such as the Core i7, with their on-the-fly-overclocking Turbo mode, this AMD processor is said to include Turbo CORE technology that 'transfers performance to three dedicated cores operating at higher frequency'.

Beyond even that built-in supercharging of the AMD Phenom II X6 1055T, the Mesh MatriX6 Xi system here has had its CPU overclocked by Mesh, from 2.8GHz to 3.3GHz. Overclocking like this can be a cheap-fix to get more raw speed from slower processors. Just remember that AMD does make it clear that its product warranty does not cover damages caused by overclocking; even when this is enabled by AMD software.

And neither does Mesh include any guarantee of this system, beyond the statutory minimum of 12 months. Particularly for PCs stressed beyond the chip maker's designation, we'd prefer to see PC vendors express their faith in their hot-rodded products by extending the guarantee to at least 24 months.

If something does go wrong inside one year, a return-to-base warranty means it's up to you pay for returning the PC to get it serviced.

The sped-up AMD Phenom II X6 1055T hex-core processor is combined here with an ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card with 1GB of video RAM, along with 4GB of DDR3 system memory: we ought to have a quick machine here, and one well suited to gaming. And the benchmark figures do point to a suitably swift computer.

Where many Windows PC systems that pass through the test centre have the build integrity of a biscuit tin, the MatriX6 Xi takes a more solid approach, built as it is around an NZXT Hush case.

As well as having USB sockets that don't wobble so much when you plug in your peripherals, the side panels include foam padding to help cut down on noise from the fans required to keep such power-hungry systems cool.

A single 500GB hard drive fitted here also helps keep noise in check, where some similarly priced systems try to ramp up performance by combining two drives in a risky RAID 0 array.

Using the latest generation of ATI graphics cards also goes some way to reduce heat and power consumption. But this PC will still keep the electric meters revolving – we measured 150W power consumption with the machine sat idle, rising up to 357W when playing games.

Supporting the main AMD chip is an Asus M4A77TD motherboard, which has two spare slots for RAM upgrades, besides the two installed Crucial 2GB DDR3 RAM cards, these specified to 1333MHz operation.

The motherboard includes support for standard 3Gb/s SATA and USB 2.0; you will need to pay a little more for a motherboard that can handle the up-and-coming 6Gb/s SATA bus and latest USB 3.0 ports. But you do get four USB 2.0 and three eSATA ports on the board, along with another two USB 2.0 and a FireWire 400 port on the case side. An HEC 550W PSU delivers the chassis' power.

In the system price of £799 you also get a 23in full-HD LCD display, a Hannspree HF237, and wired keyboard and mouse. The Hannspree is a modest monitor that nonetheless can boast a useful 1920 x 1080 native resolution and an HDMI input. It's matt anti-glare finish means you won't be troubled by reflections, although a sparkly grain, especially evident on white images, reminds you that this is a budget twisted-nematic (TN) panel.

NEXT PAGE: Measured performance >>

The Mesh MatriX6 Xi PC system runs AMD's latest six-core AMD Phenom II X6 1055T processor

AMD processors tend to perform less well in benchmark tests, gigahertz for gigahertz, than similarly clocked Intel chips. And PC Advisor's standard metric for Windows PC performance, WorldBench 6, doesn't always show the benefit of quad-core processors.

Combine those two factors and you may expect a middling result in our WorldBench test – but as it happens, we saw figures that show this system can happily keep up with the fast Intel Core i5 systems that tend to dominate our £501-750 PC chart.

More precisely, those latter systems feature quad-core Intel Core i5 750 chips running at 2.66GHz, and our WorldBench 6 results from them tend to scatter between 130 and 135 points.

The Mesh MatriX6 Xi finished the test with an overall score of 131 points. So it's in the running with machines costing around £50 less, when performing typical tasks with Microsoft Word and Excel, Firefox, WinZip and Adobe Photoshop.

Gaming results were within expectation for a ATI 5770 graphics card coupled to a fast processor. In our 'High' Crysis test (DX10, 1024x768, high-quality rendering, no AA), the Mesh averaged 65 frames per second, falling to 32fps at 'Very High' (1400x960, very high quality rendering, no AA).

For DirectX 11 performance, we returned to the desolate Ukrainian town of Pripyat, in STALKER: Zov Pripyati. Even running at full-HD 1920x1080, this benchmark using Microsoft's new graphics API showed framerates exceeding 70fps for all rendering, excepting the trickier SunShafts scene, which dropped to a still playable 46fps.

In Cinebench trials, which do show more of what you can do with more than two brains on the case, we saw a single-versus-multi result of 4.93x. That is, by comparing the processor rendering speed of one core to all cores, the benchmark's duties were completed almost five times quicker – a fine result.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Mesh MatriX6 Xi: Specs

  • 3.3GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1055T (overclocked from 2.8GHz)
  • 3MB L2 cache
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1333 RAM
  • Samsung 500GB SATA 2 HDD
  • Asus M4A77TD Pro motherboard
  • 22x Toshiba-Samsung DVD±RW DL drive
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x eSATA
  • 1 x FireWire 400
  • Toslink digital out
  • multi-channel analogue audio out
  • ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics with 1GB RAM
  • NZXT Hush case
  • HEC 550W PSU
  • Hannspree HF237 23in (1920 x 1080) 16:9 LCD monitor
  • Logitech wired keyboard & mouse
  • Cyberlink video/photo editing software
  • 1-year return-to-base guarantee
  • 3.3GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1055T (overclocked from 2.8GHz)
  • 3MB L2 cache
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1333 RAM
  • Samsung 500GB SATA 2 HDD
  • Asus M4A77TD Pro motherboard
  • 22x Toshiba-Samsung DVD±RW DL drive
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x eSATA
  • 1 x FireWire 400
  • Toslink digital out
  • multi-channel analogue audio out
  • ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics with 1GB RAM
  • NZXT Hush case
  • HEC 550W PSU
  • Hannspree HF237 23in (1920 x 1080) 16:9 LCD monitor
  • Logitech wired keyboard & mouse
  • Cyberlink video/photo editing software
  • 1-year return-to-base guarantee

OUR VERDICT

It’s difficult to see where the benefits of all those processor cores in the AMD Phenom II X6 1055T will benefit everyday use. Unless you’re running high-end Autodesk 3ds Max or Adobe After Effects you won’t necessarily benefit from hexa-core computing. And if gaming and general performance alone is your master, there are machines in out £750 chart with better turns of speed, extra peripherals like speaker packages and more storage. But if you want hex-core bragging rights and think you can use the power of six, the Mesh MatriX6 Xi is a well-made PC that's worth a look.

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