RM One ecoquiet 965 review

£745
Price when reviewed

Of all the environments a PC could work in, a school is possibly the most grueling: unsympathetic users, a wide range of roles and a work environment as harsh as they come call for a carefully-built PC. We first saw the RM One Media Centre Edition in 2005, and since then RM has been crafting a follow-up that will stand up to anything the kids can throw at it.

RM is keen to trumpet the ecoquiet’s environmental features. It claims around 20 per cent of the plastic used in the PC’s construction is recycled, and in use it registered just 61 watts. Usefully, you can remove the screen at the end of the One’s life and use it on its own.

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It may not be the most handsome of PCs, but the RM is appealing in terms of how much space it occupies. It’s just 200mm deep at its thickest, and 460mm wide. It’s also chunky: you could, if you tried, tip it over backwards, but it sits sturdily on a desk, and the front ports and buttons have been tested to withstand up to 100n of force. A pair of rubber rollers at the back of the system make turning it around on a desk easier: useful if you’ve got a crowd gathered around it.

The attached 19in screen isn’t particularly good. Contrast is poor out of the box, and although we did our best to correct it via the irritating onscreen menu, we still ended up with a poor picture. Still, colour accuracy isn’t the name of the game here: the 1,440 x 900 screen is protected by a thick sheet of clear plastic, and it certainly feels like it will withstanding the odd tantrum.

The same goes for the rest of the system: the RM One’s styling isn’t exactly subtle, but feels tough. The same goes for the wired keyboard and optical mouse. A final ease-of-use quibble goes to the way the screen is attached to the rest of the system: it feels a little bolted on, and the upshot is the screen has a separate power switch which looks like it should control the rest of the system. Instead, there’s another power button on the body of the PC. On the plus side, it’s this semi-integrated build that allows you to remove the screen from the system when the PC itself has had its day.

Performance isn’t a headline feature. The One has a 2GHz Intel Celeron 550 processor; a single-core part that, in concert with 2GB RAM, scored just 0.65 in our benchmarks. It’s enough power for Office applications and web browsing, although it’s likely to struggle with more hardcore creative applications. There’s a modicum of 3D power, supplied by the integrated Nvidia GeForce 8400 graphics, which produced 22fps in Crysis at its very lowest settings.

Inside, the RM One has a vertically-mounted Asus micro-ATX motherboard, hidden behind a metal panel that requires an Allen-key style tool to remove. The 160GB hard disk is also vertically mounted, next to the laptop-style DVD re-writer and 9-in-1 memory card reader. The last two are options that you can specify on RM’s website: if you can live without them you’ll save £15 exc VAT for the optical drive and £16 for the memory card reader.

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The motherboard has all the mod-cons: Gigabit Ethernet, 5.1 HD audio, and Intel GM965 graphics, although the latter is unused. The only potentially serious omission is wireless networking, which could prove an annoyance in temporary or unwired classrooms. It’s available as a £46 exc VAT option, though. Schools with older equipment will appreciate the parallel and serial ports, and you also get four USB ports, a FireWire port and two PS/2 ports. All of these are concealed behind a metal panel on the back, this time one secured with standard cross-head screws. It’s enough to make sure that small hands can’t pull out cables in the name of experimentation, and to that end the power cable is also inaccessible without a screwdriver.

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