Very PC Treeton review

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Climate change is a hot topic right now, and power-hungry electronic gadgets are in the firing line. Adding low power consumption to your list of specifications next time you buy a PC will not only do the environment less harm, but can also save you some substantial cash on electricity bills. To this end, Very PC offers a range of environmentally friendly desktops that run on a fraction of the power required by your average PC.

Very PC Treeton review

The most efficient of the bunch is the tiny Treeton, which we measured to use a mere 28W of power when idle, rising to a peak of only around 60W when under the heavy load of our benchmarks. Compare that to the Mesh Matrix Venom, which consumes 145W and 207W for idle and peak respectively, and you’ll get the picture. While you can add around a further 30W for a 19in TFT monitor, it’s a huge difference nonetheless.

The majority of these power savings come from the use of energy-efficient laptop components. AMD’s dual-core 1.9GHz Athlon X2 BE-2300 processor may not break any speed records, but its 45W TDP (thermal design power) means that it cuts cooling and power requirements significantly. The inclusion of a 2.5in mobile hard disk and notebook DVD writer further reduces power demands, as well as size.

The tiny case is only 200 x 273 x 100mm, so even these smaller mobile components inside are packed tightly. The motherboard is also rather unusual; the tiny mini-ITX format board measures just 17 x 17cm and would be more at home in an embedded system, rather than a fully fledged desktop. These cramped conditions do make cooling difficult: our benchmark scripts did cause some overheating problems after a while, but we couldn’t replicate the issues by manually giving it plenty to do.

Inside the case, there’s only a single PCI slot free, so most upgrades will have to come from external sources. There’s room for a 3.5in hard disk if you’re desperate for more storage capacity, although you need to replace the existing disk and choose a comparatively cool-running model to keep the cooling under control. Not surprisingly, there’s no option for discrete graphics with a Radeon 1200 integrated chip on duty. Its 3D performance is very modest in modern terms, with our Call of Duty 2 benchmark running at barely 5fps even at its lowest settings. But that needn’t concern non-gamers in the slightest.

On the outside, the chassis’ exterior is well turned out, too; black painted steel, fronted with a hefty aluminium plate that features a pop-out cover to hide the reset button, two USB ports, a FireWire port and the audio output. It’s a shame Very PC couldn’t find a way of hiding the optical drive in here, too, but it’s forgivable given the space constraints. Another four USB ports on the back of the machine offer yet more upgrade opportunities, as well as a duplicated set of audio ports and the VGA and HDMI video outputs courtesy of the Radeon 1200 chip.

It’s interesting to note that Very PCs come configured with only base components as standard, allowing customers to specify exactly what they need. The justification is that a TV tuner card, for example, will use power whenever the PC is turned on, not just when it’s being used, as well as being a waste of energy to produce and eventually dispose of.

Admittedly, the modest chassis size, processor and notebook hard disk do come with some trade-offs. But with a benchmark score of 0.8, the Treeton is more than fast enough for day-to-day office jobs or acting as a media centre. For those seeking a little more power, you can upgrade to a 2.1GHz processor, although the impact on performance would be minimal.

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