Mesh Elite Extreme QXG80 review

£2249
Price when reviewed

Future-proof is a term thrown around lightly these days, with even cheap PCs having dual-core CPUs and enough processing power to deal with demanding tasks reasonably quickly. But if you really want a future-proof PC, this is exactly the sort of system you need to be looking at.

Mesh Elite Extreme QXG80 review

First off, there’s a 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad CPU sitting under the heatsink. Performance is impressive where applications or tests are designed for multithreaded CPUs – just look at the multitasking test score of 2.46 in our benchmarks, which shows this PC is two-and-a-half times faster than our dual-core Pentium D reference system. It’s helped by similarly high-end components: 2GB of 900MHz DDR2 RAM, and a spacious 500GB hard disk with a 16MB buffer and NCQ to keep up.

The hard disk and RAM are housed in an Nvidia-branded motherboard. The chip maker has produced reference motherboard designs for years, but this is the first time it’s marketed them under its own name. Nvidia is keen to show off its innovations, which include a BIOS with helpful explanations for most options and a fan that can be removed from the north bridge if you don’t plan to overclock. The motherboard itself is based on the new Nforce 680i, which differs only marginally from the Nforce 500 series. There are now eight SATA 2 ports and a PCI Express 8x slot to join the two 16x slots for SLI. The latter reinforces the feeling that we’re likely to see a dedicated physics co-processing board at some point in the near future.

The GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card is DirectX 10 compatible – the first in the world. Weighing in at an astonishing 681 million transistors, it’s an absolute monster of a GPU and requires two six-pin PCI Express power connectors. Keeping it cool is a huge double-height heatsink, which seems quiet, but it’s hard to tell when the 1kW PSU the PC needs to run makes such a racket. If that sounds alarming, note that our measurements found it drew “only” 333W when running at full tilt and 234W when idle. It’s more than we’re used too, but then there’s a huge amount of performance on tap here.

With those 128 stream processors running at 1.35GHz, even the toughest of games race along at breakneck speeds – and that’s with beta drivers. At 1,600 x 1,200, Call of Duty 2 screamed along at 64fps and Far Cry at 108fps. Compare that with the next fastest graphics card currently available, the GeForce 7950 GX2, which scored 49fps and 73fps respectively when swapped into this PC. We were eager to try newer games, so installed Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Company of Heroes (CoH). At 1,600 x 1,200 with 4x AA and 8x AF, frame rates shot up from 29fps to 60fps in Oblivion and from 34fps to 90fps in CoH. That’s over double the speed in two of the most recent demanding games. And not only is the GeForce 8800 GTX wiping the floor with all DirectX 9 hardware now, but it will play forthcoming Vista-only (and DirectX 10-compatible) games such as Crysis and Halo 2.

To complement the next-generation graphics, there’s an X-Fi sound card to make audio sound especially good, and Mesh also includes the 22in Iiyama E2200WS TFT for that £1,914 asking price. While it’s a good rather than stunning panel, gamers will appreciate the accurate colour reproduction and the absence of lag. They should also enjoy the Logitech G15 keyboard, with its flip-up LCD for monitoring ammo in games or displaying track listings in almost any media player software. The Creative Fatal1ty mouse is less impressive, forcing you to splay your fingers, but it’s easily replaced.

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