Evesham Axis 64 X2 review

£899
Price when reviewed

Evesham has had a good run recently, with its high-end Axis Blaze 1800 XL still sitting proudly on the A List. As such, we expected great things from its latest mid-range offering, the Axis 64 X2. We were pleased to find Windows Media Center Edition 2005 installed, although with a 17in ViewSonic VX724 TFT and no TV tuner you’ll be hard-pushed to take full advantage of its multimedia capabilities. Nevertheless, the monitor is smooth and detailed, if lacking a little in brightness, and the matte screen surface contributes to an impressive depth of contrast. The 2.1 Creative I-Trigue speakers produce surprisingly good sound too.

Evesham Axis 64 X2 review

Speaking of which, games will look clean and crisp at 1,280 x 1,024, and with a new nVidia 6800 GS installed the Axis 64 X2 will handle all but the most advanced games with few problems. Using the NV42 core of the old vanilla 6800 cards, the 6800 GS is clocked higher than the GT at 425MHz but has four fewer pixel pipelines, theoretically resulting in a similar performance at a lower manufacturing cost. It comfortably matched the results of the Mesh’s 6800 GT, with 54fps in Far Cry and 51fps in Half-Life 2 at standard settings. There’s plenty of upgrade potential, with a second PCI Express graphics slot available for SLI.

The system is reasonably quiet thanks to the 120mm fan to the rear and one in the power supply, and there are the customary quick-release clips holding the fans and disk drives in place. Accessing the innards is a simple matter thanks to the ease with which the side panel slides off, and the case is lockable. There are two free optical drive bays and two internal 3.5in bays, although with the fast 250GB Western Digital hard disk in place you won’t be needing them just yet. The Sony DVD writer will burn to both competing dual-layer DVD formats at 4x, and there’s a second DVD-ROM drive to allow on-the-fly disc copying.

The MSI-7185 motherboard has two free PCI Express 1x slots, although you’ll struggle to fit a card in one of them due to the graphics card above it. Three standard PCI slots offer further expandability, perhaps for a wireless adaptor (as one isn’t included) or a TV tuner for use in Media Center. There is Gigabit Ethernet, though, as well as two FireWire and six USB 2 ports divided between the front and rear panels. There are five mini-jack audio connectors, although you’d be better off using the optical or coaxial S/PDIF sockets if your amplifier will support them.

But the core components can make or break a machine, and on the motherboard lies a 2GHz Athlon 64 X2 3800+ to supply the processing muscle. With just 512MB of single-channel PC3200 memory, the Axis 64 X2 achieved solid but unspectacular results in our 2D benchmarks, gaining an overall score of 1.01.

As expected, the two cores of the X2 coped admirably with our Office test, scoring 1.12, but the lack of system memory limited its multitasking performance slightly. It will handle everyday applications with no problems, though, and Microsoft Works 8.5 comes installed to get you started, although you may want to make use of the two empty memory slots if you like to open several applications at once.

The Logitech cordless keyboard and mouse are comfortable to use, with multimedia control buttons on the former. And Evesham includes a two-year, on-site warranty, with a third year of return-to-base cover. Given the company’s impressive customer service record, which is further enhanced by the results of this year’s Reliability & Service Survey, this counts for a lot and eliminates any fears should anything untoward occur after purchase.

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