Evesham Solar Advantage review
The Evesham Solar Advantage is one of three PCs in the group to include a brand-new DirectX 10 graphics card. It might be the lesser GTS version of Nvidia’s 8800 monster, but it waltzed through our 3D tests without breaking a sweat. At the tough 1,600 x 1,200 settings, it blitzed Far Cry at 77fps and Call of Duty 2 at 49fps, showing that any current game will run smoothly.
And, like the equally gaming-friendly Mesh, you’ll enjoy the experience on the huge 22in widescreen Iiyama E2200WS. It’s a solid TFT with decent image quality; the 5ms response time proved more than quick enough to avoid motion blur. The black level is impressive (which helps to keep details visible in shadows) and colours are accurate, even if the image is a little grainy at times.
Evesham’s new chassis houses the components, all built upon Nvidia’s latest nForce 680i SLI chipset, which supports up to three graphics cards.
Build quality is suitably tidy, with plenty of spare quick-release brackets for adding extra drives. One 320GB SATA hard disk sits alone in the 3.5in cage with room for another in the future. Optical storage is taken care of by a DVD writer and a DVD-ROM drive for on-the-fly burning. A single 120mm fan keeps the air flowing without any excess noise, although the relatively loud CPU and graphics fans mean the Advantage is far from silent.
The CPU itself is a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo E6600 and it’s ably assisted by 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 memory. Not surprisingly, our 2D benchmarks posed the Evesham no problems; while the overall score of 1.40 isn’t the fastest this month, it’s still more than enough for even the most demanding applications.
Evesham has managed to squeeze some commendable accessories into the budget as well. The Logitech Deluxe 650 Cordless Desktop is a high-quality set, and the Creative Inspire T6100 speakers offer decent-quality surround sound.
The system is topped off with a three-year on-site warranty, and don’t forget that Evesham yet again won our PC Reliability & Service Award this year (see issue 148 for more details).
All-in-all, the Evesham Advantage offers a fantastic blend of power and features for the money, beaten only by the Mesh’s superior CPU, extra hard disk space and X-Fi sound. If warranty and support are important to you, it’s an excellent alternative.