NEC i-Select D5610 review

£799
Price when reviewed

We’ve been impressed with NEC’s desktop PCs of late, particularly by their quietness. The D5610 breaks this tradition – it was by far the noisiest NEC machine we’ve heard in a long time.

The CPU fan is entirely to blame. It’s temperature controlled, but when the 3GHz Intel Pentium 4 heats up even slightly, it spins up to maximum speed and creates an almost deafening drone. We measured this to be 51.5dBA from the front and almost 58dBA from the side. When cool and idle, these figures drop to between 40 and 45dBA – still nowhere near as quiet as NEC’s previous PCs.

More noise comes from the huge GeForce 7800 GTX, a graphics card we could hardly believe had been shoe-horned into the microATX tower case, let alone into the £799 price. It’s a formidable 3D card, but pairing it with the Pentium 4 630 (which scored just 0.79 in our 2D benchmarks) wasn’t one of NEC’s better choices.

In Far Cry, the card managed 53fps – not a bad result, but far from the CPU-limited frame rate it could have achieved with a CPU such as an Athlon 64 4000+. In fact, Cube247’s Radeon X800 XL beat the NEC’s 7800 GTX by 5fps – an almost ridiculous situation.

With the graphics card using up so much of the budget, it’s surprising that we couldn’t immediately see any huge corners cut in other areas. There’s a 200GB hard disk, a gigabyte of PC2-4300 DDR2 memory and dual-layer DVD writer (albeit one lacking support for DVD-R9). In addition, there’s a brilliant three-year on-site warranty with a next-business-day response time.

A tell-tale sign of the tight remaining budget, however, is the absence of any separate speakers – you get only a basic stereo pair integrated into the 17in monitor. It’s the LC17m that we’ve seen before. It has a simple captive D-SUB cable, no DVI and no other frills. The image it produces isn’t terrible by any means, but look closely and you can see quality isn’t quite on a par with the TFTs that accompany the Mesh and Evesham.

You do get the same cordless Logitech keyboard and mouse as with the Mesh and Evesham, and NEC also includes a card reader supporting just about every type of media including xD-Picture cards. Software includes Works 8 and a 90-day McAfee Antivirus subscription.

Overall, we can’t help feeling that NEC didn’t think long and hard enough about the D5610 – we appreciate the great warranty and 7800 GTX, but the latter is too big and powerful for the chassis and CPU.

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