Instead of going for the latest and greatest processing hardware with its Whisper 4850 HD, Mesh has designed a system that delivers the best HD multimedia experience in the chart.

Some sweeping cut-backs have had to be made in order to achieve this: out go the Core i7 and DDR3 memory. Instead we welcome back our old friend the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500, coupled with 4GB of DDR2 RAM. Some gaming performance is also sacrificed. In a chart full of ATI Radeon HD 4780s, the Mesh Whisper 4850 HD uses the less powerful HD 4850 card.

With the cash saved, Mesh has been able to squeeze in a few luxuries: an excellent 26in Iiyama monitor, complete with VGA, DVI and HDMI inputs; a set of Creative surround-sound speakers; and a DVD drive that can play back Blu-ray films. The Mesh Whisper 4850 HD is the only system in the chart capable of playing back Blu-ray movies at full 1,080p HD resolution.

Of course, you're not going to enjoy watching movies or listening to music if your PC is too noisy. Mesh has therefore selected the NZXT Hush system case, which comes fitted with acoustic damping material to help block out noise generated by the Mesh Whisper 4850 HD's fans. This case also features a pair of empty memory slots and tool-free drive bays. Finally, CyberLink's video-editing and -playback software is bundled as standard.


Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (July issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Fury
  2. Arbico Elite i750 Pro
  3. Mesh Whisper 4850 HD
  4. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Andromeda
  5. Eclipse Titan X58 Crossfire

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (July issue)

Processor: Intel's new Core i7 chip is taking this price bracket by storm. It's 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.

Dual-core CPUs are still popular at this price point, offering good performance and considerably lower overall system costs. Intel's E8600 chip offers the best performance.

Quad-core processors, such as the Q9400, are another option. These chips use the same memory and motherboard as dual-core PCs and can offer huge speed advantages if you run multithreaded applications.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum, particularly if you're running Vista. If you're buying a Core i7-based PC, however, expect 3GB (such PCs install memory chips in threes). A 64bit operating system 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 operating system is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 400GB is now considered a small amount of storage space. Many users will get by with 320GB but, with prices continuing to fall, it isn't impossible to find a terabyte of storage at this price point.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a 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. 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: 22in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply budget screens, but it's worth spending a little more if you intend to work with digital photos or video. Try before you buy 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.

If you're a movie fan, look for one of the new 16:9 format 22in+ displays that offer full-HD playback.

Graphics card: At this price, it's a pitched battle between nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 (or even 280) and the Radeon HD 4870 - most of our Top 5 go for the HD 4870.

The GTX 260 and HD 4870 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and PSU will need to be compatible. Ready-made dual-card solutions are available but can work out more expensive.

The HD 4890 should soon be available at a competitive price, offering a decent speed boost over the HD 4870.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend largely on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for at least a 500W PSU at this price point, but consider 750W upwards if you have any thoughts of moving up to a dual card solution later. Overclocking will also demand a powerful, high-quality PSU.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is no match for a sound card. Consider Creative's Audigy 4 or X-Fi range.

Mesh Whisper 4850 HD: Specs

  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Asus P5QL Pro motherboard
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 550W HEC PSU
  • 26in Iiyama ProLite E2607WS flat-panel monitor (0.29mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,200)
  • 512MB PCI Express Asus ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics cards (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 54/20fps
  • Fear = 174fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC1200 sound card
  • 5 x Creative T6100 speakers and subwoofer
  • 5x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW)
  • Microsoft Works 8.5
  • CyberLink video-editing suite
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 117
  • 3.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB SATA
  • Asus P5QL Pro motherboard
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 550W HEC PSU
  • 26in Iiyama ProLite E2607WS flat-panel monitor (0.29mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,200)
  • 512MB PCI Express Asus ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics cards (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 54/20fps
  • Fear = 174fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC1200 sound card
  • 5 x Creative T6100 speakers and subwoofer
  • 5x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW)
  • Microsoft Works 8.5
  • CyberLink video-editing suite
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 117

OUR VERDICT

The Mesh Whisper 4850 HD has its attractions, but keen gamers may find the step down to the HD 4850 graphics card (and the consequent drop in performance) a cut too far – you won’t be able to take full advantage of the big monitor while gaming. And the WorldBench 6 speed score of 117 is the lowest here by around 10 points.

Find the best price