The selling point of the X-treme Essential PCA from Mesh is the beautiful 732 case designed for the firm by Coolermaster. Add a quality 20.1in flat-panel, the best consumer sound card money can buy and a good warranty and you have a great buy - if you've got £1,699 to spare.

The case isn't going to appeal to all, but the glow lights and ripple-front aluminium fascia are tastefully done. The 550W power supply is just the thing for those top-notch internal components and the aluminium conducts heat well, reducing the internal temperature - there are also several cunningly positioned fans to maintain internal airflow and a break-out box called the Musketeer that sits underneath the DVD drives and displays the temperature.

Gamers dream of a sensational audio and graphics experience and the X-treme doesn't disappoint. Leadtek's dual SLI (scalable link interface) 256MB 6800GT graphics cards managed more than 100fps (frames per second) at 1,600x1,200 on the ViewSonic VP201b flat-panel. We felt image quality on this screen wasn't as good as that afforded by ViewSonic's own smaller VX range, but you're paying for size - and we all know it matters.

To keep costs down, Mesh has supplied an older dual-core Athlon chip, but make no mistake, it's still up to the job when twinned with 1GB of RAM - a WorldBench score of 117 is blistering.

Mesh X-treme Essential PCA: Specs

  • 2.2GHz dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 300GB SATA hard drive
  • 16x/16x/16x/4x/4x/6x/8x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 48x/48x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) dual-layer DVD-RW drive
  • 20.1in ViewSonic VP201b flat-panel
  • 2x 256MB Leadtek nVidia 6800GT PCI-E graphic cards
  • Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme
  • Creative Inspire T 7900 7.1-channel speakers
  • Windows XP Home
  • 3-year onsite parts-and-labour warranty
  • 2.2GHz dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 300GB SATA hard drive
  • 16x/16x/16x/4x/4x/6x/8x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW) 48x/48x/24x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) dual-layer DVD-RW drive
  • 20.1in ViewSonic VP201b flat-panel
  • 2x 256MB Leadtek nVidia 6800GT PCI-E graphic cards
  • Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme
  • Creative Inspire T 7900 7.1-channel speakers
  • Windows XP Home
  • 3-year onsite parts-and-labour warranty

OUR VERDICT

This might not be the fastest PC, the biggest processor or the most capacious hard drive, but the combination of price, features and specifications is perfectly well-rounded. It should also appeal to potential buyers outside of the gamers' market.

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