Mesh Matrix II review

£652
Price when reviewed

It’s not often that a system arrives in the PC Pro Lab with an AMD processor under the hood – such is Intel’s dominance that a PC with an Athlon or Phenom chip attracts curious glances. This new Mesh, though, has attracted more attention than most thanks to the presence of the new Phenom II X4.

Mesh Matrix II review

The chip in question is the 2.8GHz 920, which comes with 2MB of L2 cache, 6MB of L3 cache – which is more than any of the previous Phenom parts – and a 1.8GHz HyperTransport, which is almost as quick as Black Edition chips from the last generation.

Benchmark results proved that the new part is an extremely capable performer. An overall 2D result of 1.67 isn’t quite at Core i7-920 levels – Mesh’s equivalent rig, the Xtreme i7-920, managed 1.94 – but it’s still tremendously fast, and certainly enough to cope with any demanding application you wish to throw at it.

The new chip is quicker than its nearest A-List rival, the Eclipse Zenith i82n98GTX, which scored a mere 1.4. And it’s a significant improvement over AMD chips of old: even the formidable Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition chip – the best that the previous generation could offer – paled in comparison, scoring 1.6 in our benchmarks when slotted inside the Mesh Xtreme P9950 HD, which also had 8GB of RAM at its disposal.

Gamers will be reasonably pleased by the other major component of the Dragon platform. An ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics card performed well in our recent Labs test and continues to flex its mid-range muscle here, scoring 48fps in our medium-quality Crysis benchmark and a playable 33fps in our high-quality test.

Even though very high settings proved too much for the Mesh, this set of results shows the machine should be able to cope with more demanding titles.

Elsewhere, Mesh has packed in a solid specification, although a lack of luxury extras touches exposes its low-budget credentials. The 500GB hard disk and 4GB of RAM, for example, are nothing more than standard fare, especially with 64-bit versions of Windows Vista becoming more prevalent.

Luckily, Mesh has spent more time and money on the chassis replacing its bland, blue-logoed case with an NZXT Hush. It’s a case designed from the ground up to be whisper-quiet, with several features installed aimed at reining in noise.

Both side panels, as well as the top and bottom, are covered with noise-absorbing foam and rubber washers prevent components from transmitting distracting vibrations to the chassis.

The Akasa AK-876 heatsink is a carbon copy of the superb Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro – albeit for AMD’s Socket AM2 – and the HIS IceQ 4 Turbo heatsink on the graphics card is both cooler and quieter than the ATI stock cooler.

The result, in stark contrast with most other PCs we’ve recently seen from Mesh, is that the Matrix II is incredibly quiet. We had to listen quite carefully at close quarters as we ran the machine through our most demanding of benchmarks before we heard even a murmur from it.

As well as being good at damping down the noise the interior is neat, tidy and well-organised. Cables are routed sensibly and there’s a fair amount of room for future expansion – three empty 3.5in hard disk bays, two forward-facing 3.5in bays and three larger 5.25in bays lay fallow. There are free PCI and PCI-Express 1x slots, are well as a pair of empty DIMMs, but no extra PCI-Express 16x slot – so no CrossFire X potential.

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