Mesh NERO 9950 HD review
Thank goodness for progress: without the rise of new technology and falling prices, yesterday’s £200 AMD Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition wouldn’t now be available for little over half that price, and Mesh wouldn’t have been able to cram one of last year’s best CPUs into its latest budget PC.
The quad-core X4 9950 has a core clock speed of 2.6GHz, 2MB of L2 and L3 cache and a 2GB HyperTransport which, when coupled with 4GB of RAM, propelled the Mesh to an overall benchmark score of 1.53. That’s quicker than other cheap systems we’ve seen recently: the Medion Akoya P4314 D could only manage 1.41 and the Cyberpower Gamer Infinity Yin was marginally slower with 1.51.
However, the rest of the Mesh’s specification is less impressive. The 500GB hard disk offers half the capacity of the Medion, there’s no TV tuner and, disappointingly, this is the first desktop system we’ve seen in some months to rely on integrated graphics. It uses Nvidia’s nForce 630a chipset which, in this case, comes with an integrated GeForce 7050 GPU.
While this may be perfectly adequate for playing HD content – our 1080p sample, streamed from the hard disk, played flawlessly – it’s not a gaming chip, as evidenced by its weak result of 6fps in our 1,024 x 768 low quality Crysis benchmark. With current-generation ATI and Nvidia GPUs costing as little as £40 at retail it’s a shame that an integrator like Mesh hasn’t included one; if you’re looking for gaming performance, the Cyberpower’s ATI Radeon HD 4830 GPU is a better choice.
The chassis is a mixed bag, too. It’s an updated model from the one we’re used to seeing for cheaper Mesh machines and certainly looks far better; the dour gunmetal grey has been replaced with glossy black and discreet grilles.
Inside, though, the Matrix sours. The Akasa cooler attached to the CPU is uncharacteristically loud, and there isn’t room to add an additional hard disk alongside the pair of empty front-facing 3.5in and 5.25in drive bays.
Thankfully, a pair of empty DIMM slots, a pair of PCI slots and a PCI-Express 16x slot allow for plenty of hardware upgrades should you wish to augment your Mesh with some gaming grunt, and the interior is relatively neat, albeit compact, so adding parts should be relatively painless. Just be aware that the case’s modest dimensions could rule out adding some of the largest dual-GPU graphics cards.
There’s a decent selection of ports on the back of the Matrix. As well as the usual USB, audio, PS/2 and Gigabit Ethernet ports, Mesh has included VGA, DVI-I and HDMI connectivity, so it’s easy enough to connect the system to an HDMI-capable screen – although the Iiyama monitor included here is limited to DVI-I and VGA. An eSATA port is a useful inclusion, too.
While the strict budget hasn’t resulted in the best specification or chassis build quality, Mesh has at least put some effort into the Matrix’s peripherals. The Iiyama ProLite E2208HDS is a cut above the usual budget monitor: with a 22in screen offering a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, the Iiyama can play full-HD clips, and image quality is also good, too. There’s very little backlight bleeding and colours at the low and high end are reproduced relatively well. There’s a little banding to gradients, but for movies this should be a perfectly usable screen.
The keyboard and mouse are decent, too. While they’re a mere budget set from Logitech, they’re comfortable and individual keys offer plenty of travel and, while both mouse and keyboard lack any luxuries, they won’t grate after several hour’s use – unlike the Medion-branded set that came with the Akoya.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Total hard disk capacity||500|
|CPU family||AMD Phenom|
|CPU nominal frequency||2.60GHz|
|Motherboard chipset||Nvidia nForce 630a|
|Conventional PCI slots free||2|
|PCI-E x16 slots free||1|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Memory sockets free||2|
|Memory sockets total||4|
|Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?||no|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce 7050|
|Graphics card RAM||256MB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Number of graphics cards||0|
|Internal disk interface||SATA/300|
|Hard disk 2 make and model||N/A|
|Hard disk 2 nominal capacity||N/A|
|Hard disk 2 formatted capacity||N/A|
|Hard disk 2 spindle speed||N/A|
|Hard disk 2 cache size||N/A|
|Hard disk 3 make and model||N/A|
|Hard disk 3 nominal capacity||N/A|
|Hard disk 4 make and model||N/A|
|Hard disk 4 nominal capacity||N/A|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Optical disk 2 make and model||N/A|
|Optical disk 3 make and model||N/A|
|Monitor make and model||Iiyama ProLite E2208HDS-1|
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Pixel response time||5ms|
|Case format||Micro ATX|
|Dimensions||175 x 384 x 360mm (WDH)|
Free drive bays
|Free front panel 5.25in bays||1|
|USB ports (downstream)||6|
Mouse & Keyboard
|Mouse and keyboard||Logitech Deluxe|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows Vista|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.53|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||6fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|