Big, but also clever, Braebo’s Perseus combines provides the maximum compatibility with standard hardware, yet with living-room friendly looks and unique special features which turn this PC into a powerful media-centre. See also Group test: What's the mid-range desktop PC?
At 450mm by 170mm by 455mm, Zalman’s luxurious HD503 system case may be large, but its dark brushed-metal finish and smoothed edges give it a distinct air of quality. To the right, hinged doors hide the included Blu-ray player, mutli-format memory card reader and I/O ports when not in use. While on the left there’s a large, rotary volume control flanked by two rows of small control buttons which can be used to operate the PC via a large illuminated display which sits above them. This works in conjunction with supplied software to enable to you listen to your music collection without having to turn on your TV or monitor to use the standard Windows interface. You can also use it to display various other types of information, selectable from the software.
Inside, the Perseus looks much like any other PC, fans and wires abound, although special quiet ones have been installed. There are also three vibration-damped 3.5 hard drive bays available, one of which comes pre-installed with a 2TB SATA drive. No SSD is supplied as standard, but there’s plenty of room to install one if you wish.
Live TV is available thanks to an Avertv capture HD H727 card which also offers the ability to capture HD video input from other devices such as games consoles. Those of you who like to multitask will then be able to watch TV and play games at the same time, using the Picture in Picture mode. It is, unfortunately, only a single-tuner card so these added video capture features come at the expense of being able to watch one channel while recording another. It also lacks Freeview HD support.
Two remote controls are included, one standard MCE model and one from Zalman which is also designed to operate the supplied iMon software via the LCD display. You also get a Logitech K400 wireless keyboard which a built-in touchpad.
The only AMD-powered PC of the group, the Perseus uses a Triple core 2.1GHz A6-3500 processor coupled with a Radeon HD 6450 1GB graphics card. While application performance isn’t up to the standard of the Intel-based PCs, graphics performance is rather good, beating all but Arbico’s 5300-HD Media Centre. Power consumption is unfortunately rather high.
With an asking price of £799, the Perseus is an attractive option for those on a budget and you could shave off a little more money by reducing the somewhat over-generous RAM component from 16GB to 8GB.