Mesh Elite Pulse HD review
It’s not often we see a standard desktop PC with a Blu-ray drive. The last we saw came in our Ultimate PCs Labs and cost upwards of £2,000. Before that it was Sony’s £1,191 Media Center PC, the VAIO VGC-LT1S. So when we got wind that the Mesh Elite Pulse HD contained the format war winner for way below a grand, we were compelled to investigate.
The drive in question is a Pioneer BDC-202 that’s capable of reading Blu-ray discs, but not writing them. Old-school DVD is fully supported, however, with reading, writing and burning handled easily.
High definition playback is the key selling point of this machine, however, and the 24in Iiyama monitor helps here. Despite being a budget model its 1,920 x 1,200 maximum resolution provides ample room for numerous desktop applications, and quality is pretty impressive. Our only qualms were a number of slightly dark areas around the edges of the screen, and a slightly green cast to colours, but apart from that it’s perfectly usable. Impressively dark blacks ensure that dark scenes in movies don’t look too washed out and grey.
Blu-ray performance was at the forefront of our minds during testing, and it didn’t disappoint – the powerful graphics card ensured that playback was perfectly smooth and judder-free. The only minor problem was that the colours weren’t as punchy as they are with the very best 24in monitors but this wasn’t enough to ruin viewing.
The Iiyama screen is a modestly styled black unit that matches the ATX case, which is also unassuming in appearance. The Blu-ray drive at the summit of the tower sits atop three free 3.5in drive bays and a card reader, as well as a panel containing three USB sockets, headphone and microphone jacks and a FireWire port. The power button is a bit self-indulgent – it’s a circular button that lights up in the familiar blue tone of the Mesh logo – but we’ll forgive it as a nod to the Blu-ray inclusion.
The rear of the case is well-appointed with all the ports and sockets you could need. Four more USB ports are sandwiched by ethernet and S/PDIF out sockets, and there are audio jacks, a parallel port for legacy printers and an eSATA port for any extra storage requirements.
The interior is just as unassuming but well-organised. It’s spacious and tidy, with cables stowed and tied away ensuring that air flows unimpeded through the case. Expansion possibilities are numerous, too: as well as the three 3.5in bays, there’s room for a pair of extra hard disks and additional RAM. Sensibly, there’s a bevy of power connectors lashed together at the top of the case which allows you add extra components as necessary.
One of the most exciting upgrade possibilities is provided by the motherboard. It’s an Asus P5N-E SLI and, as the name suggests, offers scope for doubling the already impressive graphics capabilities of the Mesh with an SLI setup.
That’s something to think about in the future, though, as the Mesh already has a GeForce 9600 GT installed. Despite being the ‘mid-range’ offering from Nvidia’s new 9-series chipset cards, our tests show the 9600 GT blows many of the old 8800 cards out of the water, and isn’t far behind the performance of the top-end previous-generation GPUs.
In our Crysis benchmarks, low and medium-setting tests were dispatched with little difficulty (90fps and 47fps respectively), and only with higher resolutions and settings did the card begin to struggle, achieving a barely playable 21fps in our high test. Crysis is a punishing example, though, so the Mesh should have enough graphical grunt to cope with most other modern games at their highest settings.