Mesh Elite E6600 Pro review
It’s easy, even after such a short period of availability, to take the potential of Core 2 Duo-based systems for granted. After all, once a system like the Vadim Custom Fusion 775G2-SLI produces an other-worldly benchmark score of 1.89, it can be easy to forget that just a few months earlier we were wowed by machines scoring 1.10. But while the Mesh Elite E6600 Pro isn’t a record breaker, a PC capable of producing a benchmark score of 1.42 for a little over £1,000 remains remarkable.
The machine features the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 at its heart, which has two cores running at 2.4GHz to provide raw power, and 4MB of Level 2 cache to keep bottlenecks to a minimum. There’s a further boost from 2GB of 800MHz RAM. Two free DIMM slots facilitate upgrading, but 2GB is more than enough for Windows Vista Premium when it comes.
Internal storage is provided by the Maxtor DiamondMax 10 hard disk. 300GB should be enough unless you’re video editing, and two free 3.5in internal drive bays and four SATA ports on the motherboard will make upgrading later easy. You also get a pair of optical drives, one DVD-ROM drive for straightforward playback and reading, and another Sony drive that will write to all formats.
Mesh has also made a play for the hearts of gamers, with the Nvidia GeForce 7900 GT graphics card. The core GPU speed of 660MHz and 256MB of RAM are both welcome. Call of Duty 2 ran at an average of 40fps at 1,280 x 1,024 at our Medium settings, while Far Cry at the same settings managed a very respectable average of 55fps. A second slot is free for SLI graphics too.
The most noticeable aspect of the 19in Sony SDM-HS95PR TFT is its exceptionally reflective coating. This does have its benefits – apparent contrast is increased, which means films, games and photographs are displayed more dramatically – but you’ll need to be careful about placement, as lights and background movement can be distracting. The monitor is also less adjustable than most. You can change the angle of tilt but not its height, and it won’t rotate on its base. Mesh also bundles Creative’s Inspire T7900 speakers: seven satellite speakers and a subwoofer are more than adequate for most rooms, although we’d hesitate to use them in a family living room, because audio fidelity isn’t quite good enough, and the 24W subwoofer is a little boomy.
Our only other concern was fan noise. With third-party CPU coolers available for comparatively little cost, there’s little reason for such expensive PCs to use Intel’s noisy, overpowered stock cooler. It’s an ageing design, and when it accelerates to its maximum speed it takes the noise generated by the Elite E6600 Pro from a background hum to an aggressive whoosh. Replacing a CPU cooler isn’t for the faint-hearted, as it often involves removing the motherboard, so the noise is something you could be stuck with for the foreseeable future too.
Aside from this, the Elite E6600 Pro has little wrong with it. It’s as fast as you could possibly want – certainly quick enough for HD video editing, high-resolution photo processing and current games. 2GB of RAM is a generous inclusion, and means that the E6600 can be expected to go for a good few years before it starts to look tired. The only problem is that there are other PCs available at around this price point that offer similar, or better, specifications. Evesham’s Solar Plus costs £85 more but offers a quicker 2.66GHz CPU and 20GB larger hard disk, as well as a non-reflective TFT and quiet running. Admittedly, you get half the RAM and a smaller speaker setup, but Evesham also provides a better warranty – three years on-site as opposed to Mesh’s two years on-site followed by one year return-to-base. The Elite E6600 Pro is a great machine, but it’s ultimately undone – albeit only slightly – by the Evesham Solar Plus.