PC Nextday Zoostorm 5-5401 review

£599
Price when reviewed

We didn’t expect to see dual-core computing at this price and certainly not an Intel machine. But here it is – PC Nextday has managed to squeeze a 2.8GHz Pentium D 820 into its £599 budget.

Although it wasn’t the fastest machine on test in terms of outright 2D performance, the 820’s multitasking strength means this machine is a wise choice for those who like to do several things at once and still maintain responsiveness in Windows. Plus, demanding applications such as video encoding will be much quicker on the Zoostorm than on others.

The CPU sits in a well-featured Foxconn motherboard, where it’s supported by Intel’s 945P Express chipset. Some may be enticed by the GeForce 6800 XT, but this is a cut-down version of the plain 6800 and isn’t a great performer, managing only 22fps in Far Cry. It means you can play the latest 3D games at lower resolutions, but the Mesh is still a better gaming PC.

A whopping 250GB hard disk provides the storage, being one of two Serial ATA II disks this month. It’s good to see two optical drives too, with a dual-layer Philips writer in place for fast direct copying from the DVD-ROM drive. The system is rounded off with a floppy drive and a useful 6-in-1 card reader that also adds a third USB port to the front of the machine.

When it comes to peripherals, the AOC monitor is attractive, but has an external PSU and basic stand. We still like it, though: it offers a DVI interface as well as analog input, and delivers a decent-quality image. The Zoostorm S2176 three-piece speakers are fine for general listening with good bass response, and they won’t clutter the place with wires.

So far so good, but there are a couple of flaws that we can’t ignore. The case is an old-fashioned design; the one-piece metal cover is far from convenient to remove. There are no quick releases on the drives, and with screws on both sides they’re slightly tiresome to replace. The keyboard and mouse may be cordless, but they’re not great quality and the mouse uses a ball rather than an optical pickup.

The CPU fan is also rather noisy: we measured 40.2dBA when the PC was idle. Fortunately, the Foxconn motherboard has passive coolers for the chipset. But, as with the Gladiator, the biggest loss of feature points comes from the disappointing 12-month return-to-base warranty.

Ultimately, the core components are great at this price, but they cause too many compromises elsewhere for us to recommend the Zoostorm. With a better case and warranty, PC Nextday would have been vying for an award.

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