Aria AXL Obsidian 6300 review

£821
Price when reviewed

You can buy a lot of PC for £699 these days and – seen on their own – Aria’s headline specifications are tempting. A Core 2 Duo E6300 CPU, 1GB of 667MHz DDR2 memory, a passively cooled Nvidia GeForce 7950 GT graphics card and a 19in TFT.

Aria AXL Obsidian 6300 review

But look at the feature table on p88 and you’ll quickly discover that most of these components are par for the course, or at least not unique. It’s main advantage is that the MSI motherboard uses the latest P965 chipset, while others use the older 945.

The graphics card is the highlight, though, producing 40fps and 33fps respectively in Far Cry and Call of Duty 2 at 1,600 x 1,200. These are a lot higher at 1,280 x 1,024, which is all the bundled monitor can handle anyway.

Despite our invite stating that machines should be bundled with a widescreen monitor, Aria chose to send an Asus PG191 – a 4:3 TFT. It’s primarily aimed at gamers but doesn’t have a glossy coating. The 2ms response time is quick, though, image quality is decent and there are DVI and VGA ports, a built-in three-port USB hub, plus 2.1 speakers – the subwoofer is mounted on the rear. Volume is surprisingly loud and, while the sub makes the monitor 230mm deep, the speakers are just about good enough to replace a separate basic 2.1 set.

The Tsunami chassis is bulky, being 488mm deep. It feels cheaper than those with metal front panels, and it looks odd with only one of the six drive bays occupied. A Lite-On DVD writer is installed in the top bay, with a 250GB Western Digital Caviar installed in one of the six 3.5in bays. In fact, there’s ample room inside the chassis, with a good 85mm clearance between the motherboard and the drive cages. Cabling is neat, but the problem is a lack of spare power connectors for all the available bays – there’s just one free. Like the Eclipse, the PSU is overly noisy – a shame since the CPU and front fan are particularly quiet. There’s space at the rear for two 80mm fans, but none are installed.

Aria rounds off the system with a cordless keyboard and mouse from Microsoft, but there’s nothing in the way of extra software. Likewise, the warranty is lacking, being a single year of return-to-base cover, but delivery is included in the £699 price. Ultimately, the Aria is beaten by the Eclipse for performance and the xFire i6600 also has FireWire, a card reader and a widescreen TFT.

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