The modest performance of Braebo’s Athena is offset by its excellent price. Costing less as a complete system than Arbico’s monitor-less Value 210 MX, this PC is sure to appeal to those with a minimal budget who nevertheless need a PC powerful enough to keep up with everyday tasks.
AMD’s Athlon X4 640 powers the system. It’s a quad-core chip running at 3.0GHz and although it’s noticeably slower than any other CPU used in this group test it still delivers what we would consider adequate performance. However, those running heavier workloads may be advised to go for something with a bit more poke.
This CPU doesn’t have an integrated graphics processor: instead the graphics capabilities are provided by the ASRock N68C-S UCC motherboard which comes with rather slow nVidia GeForce 7025 graphics built in. Being based on an AM2 chipset, the ASRock motherboard also restricts the performance of the Athlon X4 640 which is an AM3-based chip. This is part of the reason for the slower performance of this system.
Braebo’s sober and business-like budget system case provides ample room to manoeuvre around the internals although the lack of cable management leaves connecting wires dangling messily inside. Most of them have been bundled together with cable ties, but not fixed to the side of the case.
There are plenty of free expansion bays available and two empty RAM sockets for an easy upgrade from the supplied 4GB. A 500GB hard drive is included, amply large and a sensible capacity given the currently inflated prices of these components.
Also included is an 18.5in AOC 931SWL display. This offers only a VGA port and we initially had to fiddle with the controls a little to align the image properly. With a meagre 1366x768 resolution, this display is far from ideal if you want to work on spreadsheets or multiple documents, but it does keep the cost down.