The Novatech Solo is an all-in-one desktop PC with an Intel Centrino 2 chip.

The all-in-one computer is making something of a comeback. Ten years after Apple showed the appeal with its coloured iMac, we're seeing more and more of these one-stop computers – except now it's harder to even tell the difference between a them and a regular flat-panel display as they get slimmer in form.

Novatech's Solo also marks the first example of a new processor just launched by Intel. Dubbed the Centrino 2, it's a variation on the Core 2 Duo theme, only with even lower energy requirements, making it ideal for use in laptops. Or in compact screen-based computers such as the Solo.

Two versions of the Novatech Solo are available, based on either a 2.26GHz P8400 processor or 2.4GHz P8600. The starting price for the model tested is £797, but this is without an operating system. Pre-installed with Microsoft Vista Home Premium, the cost is £868.

You'll rarely be short of a port with the Novatech Solo on your desk, as it has dozens of useful connections. First there are the USB ports: two on the base, two under the screen and another on the left side. Also here is HDMI video out, FireWire and four 3.5mm mini-jacks to cover audio line-in, mic-in, headphone and digital out. Then there's an ExpressCard 54/34 and multicard reader slot.

On the righthand side of the Novatech Solo is a tray-loading DVD drive with dual-layer writing credentials. One 2.5in hard drive is fitted, with the space to add another, in RAID configuration if required.

The Novatech Solo's 19in glossy widescreen – with all electronics packed inside – sits on a strong metal stand, which allows screen tilt but not rise, just as with the iMac. Under the display's front are buttons for volume and brightness, along with the main power switch. The overall impression is of good build quality, if not quite the seamless fit-and-finish we'd expect from an Apple iMac. But with the help of the cool-running processor, Novatech has kept the fan count down to one, which is barely audible in use.

Running WorldBench 6, our top-spec Novatech Solo turned in a result of 90 – not a bad score, and certainly quick enough to get you through most everyday tasks with ease.

The Novatech Solo's 3D graphics capability is let down by the integrated chipset, and we got only 7 frames per second (fps) on Fear at maximum quality, rising to an average of 59fps with everything on 'minimum'.

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Novatech Solo : Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel P8600 Core 2 Duo
  • 19in (1440x900) LCD display
  • 2GB RAM
  • 250GB SATA II hard drive
  • DVD±R dual-layer writer
  • Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics
  • 5 x USB
  • 1 x FireWire
  • gigabit ethernet
  • eSATA
  • 56k modem
  • 802.11b/g/draft-n wireless
  • power consumption 36W
  • 450x312x67mm
  • 2.4GHz Intel P8600 Core 2 Duo
  • 19in (1440x900) LCD display
  • 2GB RAM
  • 250GB SATA II hard drive
  • DVD±R dual-layer writer
  • Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics
  • 5 x USB
  • 1 x FireWire
  • gigabit ethernet
  • eSATA
  • 56k modem
  • 802.11b/g/draft-n wireless
  • power consumption 36W
  • 450x312x67mm

OUR VERDICT

Intel's new Centrino 2 chipset sits well in this all-in-one package, a great way to save space and trailing wires on the desktop. The Novatech Solo's overall value only comes into question when you figure that its actually more costly than an Apple iMac, where the entry-level 2.4GHz model can run Mac OS X or Windows, has a larger higher-resolution screen, and dedicated graphics card – and is still £70 cheaper.

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