Mesh's R&D 960 power desktop PC stands out from the group not by its performance, but by its choice of components and peripherals.

Also based on the 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950 processor, Mesh's R&D 960 power desktop PC stands out from the group not by its performance, but by its choice of components and peripherals.

Its Thermaltake V6 system case is well ventilated, with both a large 200mm top-mounted fan and a huge Akasa processor cooler visible through the side panel. At the top of the Mesh R&D 960 power desktop PC's case is a SATA dock, which lets you slot in a bare internal 2.5/3.5in drive mechanism as you would a USB drive.

Inside the Mesh R&D 960 power desktop PC, we find the same motherboard used by Chillblast and Eclipse. It supports up to three graphics cards, 6Gbps SATA and USB 3.0. You also get 6GB of DDR3 RAM, a 700W power supply and one terabyte (TB) of storage, which will be ample for most users. Should you need more, both Eclipse and DinoPC offer 2TB drives as standard.

Like DinoPC, Mesh has selected an nVidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics card in place of the chart-favourite Radeon HD 6870. nVidia’s card delivered a similar level of performance in our tests with the Mesh R&D 960 power desktop PC, but it couldn’t quite keep up with the fastest ATI machine. This card offers useful features, however, such as the ability to play games in 3D when paired with a special monitor and glasses.

The 24in Iiyama monitor isn’t compatible with nVidia’s 3D Vision technology, but it does offer three inputs, including HDMI, and it can display full-HD video from the Mesh R&D 960 power desktop PC's Blu-ray combo drive. Unfortunately, you’ll have to supply your own speakers.

Power desktop PCs chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Raven
  2. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU
  3. Mesh R&D 960
  4. DinoPC Fermisaur 870
  5. Eclipse Supernova Crossfire i795r687

NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Mesh’s R&D 960 power desktop PC stands out from the group not by its performance, but by its choice of components and peripherals.

Power desktop PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s Core i7-900-series chips are taking this price bracket by storm. They’re a match for the best dual-core systems and will outpace any previous-generation quad-core machine.

Alternatively, the latest i7-800-series processors use lower-cost motherboards but can still compete with the lower end of the Core i7-900-series on performance.

Intel’s dual-core Core i5 CPUs are also worth considering, offering higher clock speeds for your money.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum. If you’re buying a Core i7-900-based PC, expect 3GB or 6GB of RAM (such PCs install memory chips in threes). The Core i7-800-series and Core i5 chips install memory sticks in twos, however, making them excellent value for money.

A 64bit OS will take full advantage of your RAM, but check that your software and drivers will be supported. If you opt for more than 4GB, a 64bit OS is essential.

Storage: With storage prices falling, expect 1TB. We’re even seeing systems with 2TB that cost less than £1,000.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB on a single disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW. You may also find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs, although it’s unlikely to offer BD-R writing, and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Keep an eye out for new motherboards with USB 3.0 and 6Gbps SATA support, enabling high-speed drives outside and in.

Display: 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens to leave more cash for other components, but it’s worth spending a little more on a display if you primarily intend to work with digital photos or video.

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 only provide analogue inputs.

Graphics card: At this price, the ATI Radeon HD 6870 is an almost unbeatable choice for gamers. It offers multiscreen and DirectX 11.0 support.

nVidia’s GeForce GTX 470 is also DirectX 11.0-compatible and delivers excellent performance, as well as support for the company’s 3D Vision glasses.
The GTX 460 is a good-value card, but it performs a little slower. It’s a superb choice if you intend to add a second card.

Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory.

Many nVidia and ATI graphics cards can be upgraded to dual-card setups later. To take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

X58-based motherboards supporting Intel’s Core i7-900-series processors are better equipped to deal with multi-card graphics solutions because of their improved PCI Express bandwidth.

Ready-made dual-card setups are available but can be more expensive.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend on the graphics card you want to use. Look for at least a 500W unit or 750W-plus if you plan to add another card or overclock the CPU.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is no match for a sound card. Consider Creative’s Audigy 4 or X-Fi range. If you want a multimedia PC then don’t forget a set of speakers. You should be able to get a full 5.1 surround set at this price.

NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Mesh R&D 960: Specs

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P6X58D-E motherboard
  • 700W PSU
  • 24in Iiyama ProLite E2410HDS (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 82/30fps
  • Stalker: Call Of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 138/86fps)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 12x BD-ROM
  • 16x DVD-ROM
  • three-year 'Gold' warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 144
  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P6X58D-E motherboard
  • 700W PSU
  • 24in Iiyama ProLite E2410HDS (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 82/30fps
  • Stalker: Call Of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 138/86fps)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 12x BD-ROM
  • 16x DVD-ROM
  • three-year 'Gold' warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 144

OUR VERDICT

Mesh’s R&D 960 power desktop PC offers strong performance and a unique design.

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