NetHighStreet Net Pro SLI 999 review

£999
Price when reviewed

There’s no doubt what NetHighStreet’s focus was for this Labs: power, and bucketloads of it. We asked for a high-performance box with a decent TFT, and the SLI 999 delivers on both fronts. There are no speakers, no cordless peripherals and no accessories, just speed incarnate.

Delivering the grunt from inside the familiar Chenbro Gaming Bomb case is an Athlon 64 3500+ and two GeForce 6600 GT graphics cards in SLI mode. They’re installed onto an Asus A8N SLI motherboard using the nForce4 chipset. Coupled with 1GB of PC3200 of RAM, these components provided formidable performance.

Our 2D application suite produced a result of 2.31, beating the Mesh thanks to the faster chipset. 3D performance was equally impressive, turning in 56fps in Far Cry at 1,280 x 1,024 and 90fps in Halo.

You’d expect plenty of cooling in the case, but no front or rear fans are installed. We had no stability problems, though, and measured 36.8dBA at idle in our tests (from the front). There’s scope to drop this slightly by replacing the noisy chipset fan with a passive heatsink.

The case itself is a Labs favourite and offers completely tool-less maintenance – NetHighStreet secures drives with screws, though. Two of the 5.25in bays are free, as are four internal 3.5in spaces. No PCI slots are available, although you can add another 2GB of memory in the two DIMM sockets. Four spare power connectors are a welcome sight for the keen expander too.

NEC’s latest DVD writer offers all the fastest write and rewrite speeds and is paired with an LG DVD-ROM drive. Maxtor’s 250GB hard disk is another highlight, being both fast and quiet. A card reader is integrated into the floppy drive and lacks only xD-Picture Card support. FireWire and USB devices can be plugged in at the front, while the rear presents the usual array of ports. Eight-channel audio is also integrated.

Peripherals comprise a decent corded keyboard and mouse set and a 19in Philips TFT. It may not have a DVI interface, but image quality is fine – pixel jitter isn’t noticeable. Viewing angles match Mesh’s ViewSonic, providing around 140 degrees before colours change. We found it fine for gaming too.

Finally, we come to the warranty. After 12 months’ collect-and-return cover, it reverts to return-to-base, labour only; Mesh trumps NetHighStreet here. Ultimately, if 2D and 3D performance are important, you won’t be disappointed with the SLI 999, but most people are better off with the Mesh.

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