Carrera Vision PRO2800 Quiet review

Price when reviewed

This is the first appearance of a Carrera system in PC Pro since the brand was bought by Watford Electronics earlier this year. Only the sales team remains from Carrera SSC’s original staff – production and warranties are wholly handled by Watford.

The PRO2800 Quiet features a few similar components to Watford’s own Performa 5563, including the same 17in ViewSonic TFT and Microsoft keyboard and mouse set. We like the screen, despite its captive VGA cable, since it offers great image quality and good brightness and contrast – it falls behind Evesham’s VX715 in terms of even backlighting, but then again the Axis 32SB costs almost £200 more.

Microsoft’s corded keyboard and mouse are comfortable to use too, although those with large hands might find the mouse a touch small. Unfortunately, the bundled speakers aren’t too praiseworthy – the term subwoofer in the 2.1 set is used far too loosely for our liking – although they’re better than those integrated into several of the monitors on test.

Being similarly priced to the Watford, it’s good to see that the Carrera uses a different motherboard and chipset. It’s an MSI board based on the VIA K8M800 chipset, with integrated VIA/S3 UniChrome II graphics. These consume 64MB of main memory, but refused to run our Far Cry benchmark at any resolution.

An AMD Athlon 64 2800+ is a bit slower than Watford’s 3000+, and the overall 2D application score of 1.54 is noticeably slower than the Performa’s 1.75. This is in part down to the 120GB hard disk, which is an older Ultra ATA Maxtor Plus 9 disk.

A Sony DVD writer is another component shared with the Watford, but it’s a capable drive and can burn to dual-layer media. It leaves three 5.25in bays free, while a further five 3.5in bays (one in the front panel) are also ready for upgrades. Fortunately, five power connectors are also available, two of which are of the Serial ATA variety.

The system is quiet overall, even with an 80mm rear fan installed. We recorded 31.7dBA at idle, but the hard disk is a noisy seeker – it can easily be heard clicking away. The other large niggle is the AGP slot. It’s nice to have the upgrade path, but every other machine here offers PCI Express.

Software comprises anti-virus, office and burning apps, while the warranty manages to include a first year of on-site cover. Unfortunately for the PRO2800, this isn’t quite enough to usurp Watford’s Performa, which is faster and quieter for only £17 more.

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