Holly KAS43 review

£799
Price when reviewed

Some next-generation PCs aren’t as subtle as others. But whether the bold styling appeals or not, the Biostar iDeq chassis is a superbly designed version.

Holly KAS43 review

Holly opts for the 210M and its interior is so well laid out it creates acres of space to allow the air to flow through. Plus, the dual-fan CPU heatsink keeps that air flowing out of the case and, along with the chassis helping to dissipate the heat, it runs cooler than both the JAL and Microland PCs. In turn, this means it doesn’t make so much noise; a very good thing.

There are all the front-mounted ports you’d want including USB 2, FireWire and optical S/PDIF in and out. The floppy drive has four media card readers crammed into the space above it, so most storage cards are supported, save xD-Picture Cards. Round the back are two more USB 2 ports, a network socket and a legacy serial port.

Providing the power is one of many 3GHz Pentium 4s in this Labs and it’s matched with the expected 512MB of PC3200 RAM. The good news is that Holly has managed to squeeze a Gainward GeForce 6800 LE graphics card into the AGP slot. Its red LEDs glow menacingly through the side panel’s air vent, and the fan is quite noisy when running 3D games.

Performance was still average overall. In our 2D benchmarks, the Holly scored 1.56 – similar to the other Pentium 4-powered machines. The score of 35fps in Doom 3 is a good result though, making this an attractive PC for those who like to play the latest games.

It’s good to see the NEC ND-3500A DVD writer – speedy and able to burn dual-layer discs. The 160GB hard disk is big, but par for the course for this Labs. What we really like is the three-year on-site warranty, which is a welcome inclusion at this price.

Unfortunately, the speakers were below par. The Creative P580s might be a 5.1 set, but the subwoofer is simply awful at anything but the lowest volumes. The new Iiyama ProLite E435S isn’t quite as good as we were hoping for either. It doesn’t have a built-in PSU, which adds to desk clutter, and it looks slightly cheap too. It’s sharp and bright in general use, but there was more lag in games than the 10ms response time would suggest.

With no bundled software or extra hardware above the essentials, the KAS43 doesn’t quite make it into the awards this month, but remains a solid choice if you don’t want high-quality bundled speakers.

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