Advent PQG-9002 review

£520
Price when reviewed

PC World-owned Advent has carved out a comfortable niche for itself by churning out a broad range of decent products at affordable prices, and the PQG-9002 aims for exactly that.

It’s powered, for instance, by an energy-efficient iteration of AMD’s popular Phenom X4 line, the 1.8GHz 9150e, which has four cores and a TDP of only 65W – less than half of some of AMD’s high-end chips. Thus, power draw is low, with an idle 85W rising to only 121W when running our benchmarks – lower than most desktops systems manage at rest.

The concentration on energy efficiency understandably means performance suffers – although an overall score of 1.07 in our real-world application benchmarks is still around three times as fast as Atom-based budget systems – the Acer Aspire Revo 3600, for instance, managed just 0.29. It isn’t up there with systems powered by full-fat CPUs – the Mesh Nero 9950 HD, for instance, featured an AMD Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition and romped through our benchmarks to return a score of 1.53 at a similar price.

But there’s plenty of power for most everyday tasks, and the Advent offers basic gaming potential thanks to its ATI Radeon HD 4350 graphics card. While it isn’t a high-end part, it managed 37fps in our low-quality Crysis benchmark, proving that it will be able to handle relatively recent games, even if quality settings need to be toned down. The HDMI port on the GPU’s backplate is indicative of its ability to decode HD video – so you could look on it more as a media system than one for gamers.

Examine the Advent-branded chassis, though, and the PQG-9002’s budget price begins to tell. The glossy frontage is disturbed only by a false brushed metal panel, which slides down to reveal a card reader and the front-mounted USB ports, and the flimsy side panel slides off to uncover a messy interior with little evidence of cable tidying.

There isn’t much potential for upgrade and expansion, either. Three hard-disk bays are empty (you’ll have to provide your own screws and tools, though) alongside a front-facing 3.5in bay and empty 5.25in bay. The meagre two DIMM sockets are already occupied by four gigabytes of DDR2 RAM and the motherboard offers only a single spare PCI socket and one empty PCI Express 1x slot – a further spare PCI socket is inaccessible, hidden behind the GPU’s double-height passive cooler.

While the lack of upgrade room and untidiness grate, neither of these compare to the Advent’s main problem – the wheezing 92mm CPU heatsink fan attached to the low-power AMD processor. It’s one of the loudest we’ve ever heard in a PC and would prove incredibly distracting anywhere but a warehouse or server room – in short, it isn’t exactly a good partner for an atmospheric movie session. We’d even go as far as to say the level of noise approaches that of the CyberPower Liquid Gamer Black Pearl; to put it in perspective, that was the loudest entrant in our recent Ultimate PC group test.

The Advent’s roar is particularly galling since the inclusion of the Cooler Master CM12V fan appears to be nothing more than a cost-cutting measure. Add another five pounds onto the budget for a more competent cooler and, as well as the price still appealing, the finished machine will be pleasant to use.

As it is, though, the decent budget specification is let down by that noise level, and that makes it difficult to recommend for the low-power, media situations it best suits. The Mesh, on the other hand, is cheaper, more powerful, comes with a 22in Iiyama monitor and doesn’t sound like a leafblower – which adds up to a far better budget deal.

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 640
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Screen size N/A

Processor

CPU family AMD Phenom
CPU nominal frequency 1.80GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A
Processor socket AM2
HSF (heatsink-fan) Cooler Master CM12V

Motherboard

Motherboard Foxconn A7VMX-K
Motherboard chipset AMD 780V
Conventional PCI slots free 1
Conventional PCI slots total 2
PCI-E x16 slots free 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 1
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 1
PCI-E x1 slots total 1
Internal SATA connectors 4
Internal floppy connectors 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR2
Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 2

Graphics card

Graphics card ATI Radeon HD 4350
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD 4350
Graphics card RAM 512MB
DVI-I outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
DisplayPort outputs 0
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Western Digital Caviar Blue
Capacity 640GB
Hard disk usable capacity 598GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 16MB
Hard disk 2 make and model N/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 cache size N/A
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Monitor make and model N/A
Resolution screen horizontal N/A
Resolution screen vertical N/A
Resolution N/A x N/A
Pixel response time N/A
Contrast ratio N/A
Screen brightness N/A
DVI inputs N/A
HDMI inputs N/A
VGA inputs N/A
DisplayPort inputs N/A

Additional Peripherals

Speakers N/A
Speaker type N/A
Sound card Realtek HD audio
Peripherals N/A

Case

Case format Full tower
Dimensions 180 x 454 x 360mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply rating 350W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 1

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 3

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader yes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Advent wired keyboard and mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Windows Vista

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 85W
Peak power consumption 121W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.07
Office application benchmark score 0.83
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.28
Encoding application benchmark score 0.89
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.29
3D performance (crysis) low settings 37fps
3D performance setting Low

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