Evesham Axis SB review

£599
Price when reviewed

Looking at the other PCs on test, the Evesham Axis SB and the NEC PowerMate VL350 could be long-lost twins. Unlike their bigger, noisier competitors, these two machines share the same design philosophy of being more compact and very quiet. If you’re after a space-saving PC for the home office, these are the ones to choose between.

Evesham Axis SB review

The overall packages are similar in many ways, but if you look hard enough there are some clear differences. Most notably, the NEC is faster.

The main reason the Axis SB didn’t match the NEC in our 2D benchmarks is that it’s powered by a 2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3200+. NEC chooses an Athlon 64 3400+ and twice the Axis’ 512MB of RAM, pushing the PowerMate to 0.95 against the Evesham’s 0.86.

Graphics are handled by the ATi Radeon X300 GPU on the motherboard, just like the NEC. Evesham clearly doesn’t intend people to play games on the Axis, as the 4fps in our Far Cry test shows. The Mesh is a much better choice if this is your priority, but Evesham does provide advantages elsewhere.

For a start, this is a quiet PC. We measured 30.7dBA when idle, although this rose to 37.9dBA when the hard disk was searching. There’s also a bracket with S-Video and composite video outputs, should you wish to connect the PC up to a TV.

You’re unlikely to run out of storage space thanks to the 250GB hard disk, which makes the NEC’s 80GB disk look very small. And unlike both NEC and Mesh, there are two optical drives – handy for backing up your DVDs.

Another welcome addition is the 17in ViewSonic VX715 TFT. Although the stand lacks height adjustment and pivot, it delivered a pleasing image, being brighter than the Mesh’s display. The only drawback is that you can’t make use of the digital DVI input, since the PC has only analog D-SUB output. But, together with the respectable three-piece Altec Lansing 2100 speakers and cordless keyboard and mouse set, the Axis has a solid set of peripherals.

We’re also impressed by Evesham’s support package. Not only does the company offer a superb three-year on-site warranty – just like NEC – it also earns a bonus point for offering technical support on Saturdays, and proved the pick of the UK companies in our Reliability & Service Survey.

Ultimately, the choice is between the Evesham and Mesh. The latter is better if you’ll take advantage of its 3D power and expansion potential, while the Axis offers more storage, two optical drives, FireWire and a superior warranty.

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