Mesh Matrix Vision Plus review

Price when reviewed

It’s fair to say we were smitten by the last system we saw from Mesh, the Matrix Xtreme Pro, and it duly landed a Recommended award. But things move quickly in this industry and it has two strong challengers this month: Mesh’s own Vision Pro and the Evesham Axis Blaze 1800 XL.

The Vision Pro is clearly a PC for entertainment as well as work. Its GeForce 7800 GT graphics card has plenty of power for producing great results in your favourite games, and the 3D scores below show considerable headroom for the forthcoming Christmas releases. Far Cry at our tough standard settings proved no problem, and Half-Life 2 even less. Our HDR Far Cry test ran at 35fps at 1,600 x 1,200 with 8x AF; not only playable, but visually stunning.

This headroom is no academic matter in the case of the Vision Pro; the panel provided is Iiyama’s 20in ProLite H511S. The 1,600 x 1,200 native resolution is great for both work and play, and compared to 17in or 19in monitors running at 1,280 x 1,024 it really does improve your computing enjoyment. Sadly, the quality of the screen itself is lacking. No amount of fiddling with the settings could remove the muddy appearance of the Desktop, and our technical tests revealed worrying flaws, mainly in its colour handling. Colour ramps showed banding, while backlighting noticeably weakened toward top and bottom.

The flaws in the panel are apparent when watching DVDs too, with a lack of vibrancy and shadows losing detail. The pleasingly wide viewing angles in both planes do compensate to some extent, though. Mesh includes two DVD optical drives with the Vision Plus, pairing a writer with a ROM drive. The Sony DW-Q28A writer burns dual-layer discs at 4x speed and, while not the fastest drive we’ve seen, it will only frustrate those making regular large backups. With a massive 233GB of usable hard disk space, you won’t have to archive to DVD often, and the Maxtor DiamondMax 10 is an excellent choice with its fast yet quiet operation.

Internally, cabling is all neatly tied away, although not to the extent where augmenting the system is daunting. There’s comfortable room for a second hard disk (three if you want to push your luck and cram them all together). There’s also a second graphics slot on the Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard, although you’re unlikely to need it for a while yet. The 1GB of RAM is also adequate, but there are two free sockets should you disagree.

As it is, the Vision Plus is a good performer. Our gruelling benchmarks are a major challenge, but it battled its way through to record a fast time. The overall score of 1.11 is mainly due to the quick completion of our office tests.

By this point, you may be wondering why we haven’t slapped a Recommended award on this system. It’s certainly a good PC, offering plenty of power – both for work and play – at a decent price, but it’s the Evesham Axis Blaze that spoils the party for Mesh.

Our main gripe with the Vision Pro is the screen, especially when we sat it next to the NEC panel of the Evesham. It just doesn’t compare; the 21.3in 1,600 x 1,200 NEC is simply superb.

Both systems are based around the same basic components: an Athlon 4400+ with 1GB of RAM and plenty of storage. Both offer expandable graphics, although in the case of the Evesham it’s of the slightly more flexible CrossFire variety. We’ve also seen that, with the benefit of launching slightly later than nVidia, the X1800 XL graphics chip is faster than the 7800 GT. The beta drivers don’t yet do it full justice, but the Evesham outscored the Vision Pro in our standard Far Cry test – a good indication of raw rendering power.

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