Powered by a quad-core processor and a pair of GeForce 9600 GT graphics cards, the Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro is one of the quickest and most interesting systems we’ve seen.

The Core 2 Quad Q9450 is an entirely different beast to the dual-core chips in rival PCs. In the past, we’ve urged readers to think carefully before moving to four cores, or to wait for software to catch up. But now, for the first time, a quad-core PC is delivering faster gaming scores than the dual-core competition, despite the Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro having slower clock speeds and graphics cards.

Intel’s latest 45-nanometre quad-core processors are a major improvement on their predecessors and our more demanding games tests highlighted the benefits. The Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro beat Chillblast's Fusion Thunderbolt in all our Crysis tests, even though the latter is fitted with a pair of 512MB GeForce 8800 GTS graphics cards.

Desktop performance is less inspiring, but a WorldBench 6 score of 114 points is perfectly respectable. And on multithreaded applications such as Adobe Photoshop and 3D Studio, the Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro was a clear winner.

Build quality is excellent: the Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro is built into a gently curved and understated metal case, which is robust yet stylish. It even has some tastefully subtle blue interior lighting, while the convenient top-mounted USB ports make it easy to plug in peripherals without having to bend down under the desk.

The Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro's pair of 500GB hard drives give you a full terabyte (1TB) of storage. You also get a 24in digital display, 5.1-channel speakers and a Blu-ray drive, all for £100 less than any other desktop here.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (August issue)


  1. Chillblast Fusion Thunderbolt
  2. Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro
  3. Arbico Elite 9870EX
  4. CyberPower Sli KO GT
  5. Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice and our expert verdict

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (August issue)

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duos are almost always the processors to go for: their performance is excellent for the price. But don’t power a standard desktop with a processor beginning with ‘E6’ – these chips’ time has passed.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, go for one of Intel’s latest quad-core processors, such as the Q9450. These deliver better performance than the previous generation of quad chips.

Memory: If you’re spending more than £1,000 on a PC, it should come with at least 4GB of RAM – only the Dell XPS ONE DSGi E6550 falls short of that here, and that’s an exceptional case.

For a PC that’ll be able to cope easily with programs in 2008 and beyond, get 4GB of RAM in two modules, so you’ll have room for expansion later.
A 64bit operating system will help you take full advantage of your memory, especially if you’re using dual graphics cards – these sap RAM on 32bit systems.

Storage: Expect at least 500GB at this price. Beyond this, go for a pair of such drives rather than a single larger unit. It’ll boost your performance and prevent you losing lots of data if a drive fails. Raid setups are also an option. Hard drives are relatively inexpensive, so consider mirroring for added security.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc) are useful. Make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL at eight-speed or more – some more recent drives offer twice this speed. You should also be able to get eight-speed DVD+RW.
If you want Blu-ray playback, be prepared to compromise on your DVD-burning speeds. Alternatively, buy a second DVD burner for backup duties.

Display: We’re seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays in our high-end PC charts. You may baulk at the idea of such a large PC screen, but 24in is currently the magic size where full 1,080p high-definition (HD) playback becomes available – so these monitors make ideal partners for Blu-ray Disc drives.

If this doesn’t appeal, 22in displays are excellent value. Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality and additional inputs if you want to attach other devices. An HD multimedia interface (HDMI) is useful if you want to share your display with a games console.

Graphics card: It’s possible to spend an eye-watering amount of money on gaming hardware – a top-spec graphics card can easily cost more than the rest of the system put together. For a thrilling gaming experience we recommend at least a pair of GeForce 8800 GTS cards or one GeForce 9800 GX2. ATI’s less costly Radeon HD 3870 X2 can deliver excellent performance – especially when doubled up into a quad-processor setup. The Radeon HD 3870 and GeForce 9800 GX2 also leave slots free for upgrades such as sound cards or TV tuners.

The GeForce 9800 GTX offers better performance than the GeForce 8800 GTS, but will cost you more than a little extra.

Sound card and speakers: There have been big steps forward in onboard sound, with support for 7.1-channel audio (seven speakers and a subwoofer), but it’s still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to find a PC with a Creative Audigy card or, better still, one from the excellent X-Fi range. If you only want stereo 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they’re high-quality models; most firms are bundling 5.1 speakers, which allow full surround sound when watching films or playing games.

Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 2 x 500GB SATA
  • Asus P5N-D
  • 7 x USB
  • 24in Iiyama ProLite E2403WS (0.27mm pixel pitch, 1,920x1,200)
  • 2 x 512MB PCI Express Leadtek nVidia GeForce 9600 GT (framerates: Crysis [HQ] 52fps, Fear 203fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC883
  • 5 x Creative Inspire A500
  • subwoofer
  • 5 x BD-ROM
  • 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x/12x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • CyberLink BD Solution
  • PhotoNow
  • Power2Go 5.0
  • PowerDirector
  • PowerDVD
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 114
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit
  • 4GB DDR RAM
  • 2 x 500GB SATA
  • Asus P5N-D
  • 7 x USB
  • 24in Iiyama ProLite E2403WS (0.27mm pixel pitch, 1,920x1,200)
  • 2 x 512MB PCI Express Leadtek nVidia GeForce 9600 GT (framerates: Crysis [HQ] 52fps, Fear 203fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC883
  • 5 x Creative Inspire A500
  • subwoofer
  • 5 x BD-ROM
  • 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x/12x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • CyberLink BD Solution
  • PhotoNow
  • Power2Go 5.0
  • PowerDirector
  • PowerDVD
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 114

OUR VERDICT

Now is an excellent time to consider a quad-core PC, such as the Mesh Xtreme X9450 GTX Pro.

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