Zoostorm 63-5402 Family Package review

Price when reviewed

Zoostorm’s 63-5402 Family system aims to provide versatile and powerful home computing with a couple of extra benefits: a Blu-ray drive adds high-definition capabilities, while an HP DeskJet F2180 all-in-one device is something that we don’t often see included in PC bundles.

Starting with the PC itself, there’s enough performance to motor through almost anything that you’d ask of a typical family machine. A Core 2 Duo E8200 at 2.66GHz may be slightly slower than rivals – the CyberPower Gamer Infinity 850 includes a 3GH Core 2 Duo E8400, for instance – but it’s still tremendously capable.

A 2D benchmark result of 1.36 outscores more expensive packages, such as the Mesh Elite Pulse HD. However, better benchmark performance can be had for less cash: the £499 Eclipse Zenith i82n98GTX scored 1.40 and also featured a brand-new 9800 GTX graphics card.

The Zoostorm’s graphical performance, by comparison, disappoints. The Nvidia GeForce 8500 GT may come with 512MB of RAM, but it’s a poor mid-range GPU. In our low Crysis benchmark – our least demanding graphical test – the 63-5402 managed 29fps, but this dropped to single figures when we moved to medium settings. Movies, everyday work and older games are the card’s limit.

But the Zoostorm isn’t aiming to break any speed records, it’s instead looking to provide for all your daily needs. The rest of the specification is thus relatively impressive. A 750GB hard disk is generous, and easily enough for a large media collection, while 2GB of RAM is more than enough to handle a good bout of multitasking of an evening.

A set of 5.1 Edifier M1550 speakers is included, and they’re competent enough for everyday use. They lack treble compared to Creative’s T6100s, which we’ve seen in systems such as the PC Specialist Apollo Q6600 GT, but as you probably won’t be gaming anyway that shouldn’t be a great concern.

Unlike all of the PC packages we’ve recently seen, the 63-5402 also includes an all-in-one printer, copier and scanner. The HP DeskJet F2180 is a budget choice, but still produces decent quality – documents in our tests were sharp and crisp, and colours suitably bright; gradients showed slight banding, though, indicating weak colour blending.

Our only other gripe with the F2180 was its lack of speed – it took more than four minutes to churn out ten copies of our ISO letter at normal quality (around 2.3ppm), which doesn’t compare too favourably with more expensive machines. The Canon Pixma MP610, for example, spits out documents at nearly 9ppm. Still, for a cheaper model, it’s perfectly adequate for home use.

The case is a standard Zoostorm chassis that hasn’t exactly impressed us in the past. The power button, located on the metallic bottom half of the case, is cut into the metal and difficult to press. The three plastic doors that hide the optical drive, card reader and single spare 5.25in bay feel flimsy and liable to break sooner rather than later.

A vast swathe of space towards the bottom of the chassis is left empty – in other systems we’ve seen it given over to spare hard disk bays. Here, though, just three free bays – an internal and external 3.5in and the aforementioned 5.25in – are left open to expansion. The Foxconn motherboard doesn’t offer a huge amount of upgrade potential, either, with the PCI Express 16x and 1x slots occupied by the graphics card and a TV tuner – admittedly, a nice inclusion.

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