Evesham Solar VP review

£700
Price when reviewed

Evesham may not be the first manufacturer to spring to mind when you’re choosing new business PCs, but the company’s exemplary track record in our Reliability & Service Awards (which includes another win this year) means you shouldn’t rule Evesham out.

There’s a Core 2 Duo CPU and Intel vPro technology inside, but at £596 we’d expect nothing less. While not as powerful as the NEC or Fujitsu Siemens’ E6600 CPUs, the Solar’s E6400 reached 1.30 overall in our benchmarks, aided by 1GB of DDR2 memory.

A DVD writer, 250GB hard disk and a three-year on-site warranty (with a two-day best endeavour response) help to justify the high price, but NEC matches all this for £52 less. You can opt for a lesser return-to-base warranty if you want to save money.

Fortunately, Evesham has an ace up its sleeve: Windows Vista Business. Evesham has made a considerable investment ensuring it’s ready to support Vista right from its release date, which is ideal for smaller businesses looking to take advantage of Vista’s new features, such as the much-improved Group Policy system. But for larger firms wanting to stick with existing XP rollouts, Evesham can also provide the Solar VP with the previous version of Windows. Other bonuses of buying direct from Evesham include free bespoke disk imaging and free network pre-configuration – services that others either charge for or don’t offer at all.

The PC itself isn’t as easy as others to service. The cover is held by a quick-release latch, and the front panel is dispatched without tools. But, two screws secure the drive cage, which then hinges forwards to reveal the four screws holding the DVD writer in place. The hard disk is mounted on the underside of the cage, secured by a further three screws. The spare 3.5in bay could be used for a floppy drive and/or card reader. Two PCI slots, a PCI Express 16x slot and a PCI Express 1x slot are all free, but bear in mind they’re all low profile. The only other highlight is that six-pin FireWire ports can be found at the front and rear.

Ultimately, the Solar VP is a decent choice. It isn’t the quietest machine, or the quickest to fix or upgrade, but Evesham’s top-notch service combined with a solid set of components – plus Vista Business – more than make up for the shortcomings. But, with Fujitsu Siemens’ similarly specified Esprimo costing significantly less, it pips the Evesham to the post.

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