Evesham Teramedia review
There’s something magical about big numbers – we still remember cooing when Intel first crossed the 1GHz barrier. Now that even budget processors are so fast, people are more likely to be concerned about storage in two years’ time than they are about a few extra hertz. So forget 1GHz PCs, and start thinking about 1TB PCs.
Or, in this machine’s case, 1.45TB. Evesham splits this up into a 250GB Maxtor DiamondMax 10 as the system drive, with three 400GB Seagate hard disks connected via RAID, configured as JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) in our review system. Hover over the F drive in My Computer and you’ll see a rather satisfying 1.09TB of storage.
Evesham has thought about what people might actually use all that storage for too, preloading Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005. Even if you don’t want to watch TV, remember that the fundamental OS is Windows XP Professional; you can turn the Media Center interface on or off when you want.
Then again, Evesham does its utmost to convince you that it’s worthwhile using this PC as a secondary TV. It includes two tuners, so you can watch a programme and record another simultaneously. And not content with analog TV, it opts for digital. You need a decent signal to enjoy this, but when we tried it with our office’s aerial the results were respectable – there were occasional stutters, but no more than is normal with digital TV, and not to an annoying extent.
But the true power of this system becomes clear when you start recording. With over 1TB of available storage, there’s a jaw-dropping 900 hours worth of space. And even the largest of music collections will struggle to fill 500GB.
To pigeon-hole this PC as being purely about storage would be wrong, though. Evesham opts for top-end components to power the Teramedia, with Intel’s 64-bit Pentium 4 660 processor (see issue 127, p80) taking pride of place. Combined with 1GB of RAM and Intel’s top-of-the-range 925X chipset, it managed 2.45 in our benchmarks. It’s an exceptional score, one of the fastest we’ve seen from a non-Athlon 64 system, showing this PC is incredibly swift when crunching through everyday tasks.
We doubt many games players will complain either. The ATi Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition is the fastest single graphics card around, and it steamed through our 3D benchmarks at 1,280 x 1,024 with 4x anti-aliasing and 8x anisotropic filtering: 74fps in Half-Life 2, 60fps in Far Cry and 51fps in Doom 3. Even at 1,600 x 1,200, it scored over 35fps in Doom 3 with 4x AA, 8x AF and quality set to ultra-high.
Only the most ardent gamers will object to the wireless keyboard and mouse, which worked perfectly when put to the test in Doom 3. However, they’re not the most luxurious around; for instance, the mouse isn’t rechargeable. Likewise, the 7.1 speakers are good rather than excellent. They’ll fill a small room with sound, but they lack subtlety, so you won’t relish Mozart’s piano concertos.
These are minor quibbles, but we have more serious doubts about Evesham’s choice of monitor. Although the ViewSonic VX912 is a fine example of a 19in TFT screen, with natural-looking colours and a fast 12ms response time, this is a system crying out for a widescreen TFT. Most digital channels are broadcast in 16:9 widescreen, with Channel 4 being the only noticeable exception, so the image is squeezed into the familiar letterbox view.
Also note that the system case is more suited to tweakers than serious upgraders. The LCD on the front shows temperatures and fan speeds, but is a little garish. The case doesn’t have the finesse of a Cooler Master either: there are some sharp edges and the four case fans mean it isn’t the quietest. Fortunately, the sound produced is a low hum rather than a high-pitched whine.