Mesh NERO 9950 HD review

£498
Price when reviewed

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.

it_photo_28415While 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

Warranty1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity500
RAM capacity4.00GB
Screen size22.0in

Processor

CPU familyAMD Phenom
CPU nominal frequency2.60GHz
Processor socketAM2+

Motherboard

MotherboardAsus M2N68-VM
Motherboard chipsetNvidia nForce 630a
Conventional PCI slots free2
PCI-E x16 slots free1
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory typeDDR2
Memory sockets free2
Memory sockets total4

Graphics card

Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?no
3D performance settingLow
Graphics chipsetNvidia GeForce 7050
Graphics card RAM256MB
DVI-I outputs1
HDMI outputs1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
DisplayPort outputs0
Number of graphics cards0

Hard disk

Capacity500GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Cache size16MB
Hard disk 2 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacityN/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speedN/A
Hard disk 2 cache sizeN/A
Hard disk 3 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 4 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacityN/A

Drives

Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and modelN/A
Optical disk 3 make and modelN/A

Monitor

Monitor make and modelIiyama ProLite E2208HDS-1
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Pixel response time5ms
Contrast ratio1,000:1
DVI inputs1
HDMI inputs0
VGA inputs1
DisplayPort inputs0

Additional Peripherals

SpeakersOn monitor
Speaker typeStereo
PeripheralsNone

Case

Case formatMicro ATX
Dimensions175 x 384 x 360mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays1

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)6

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboardLogitech Deluxe

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows Vista

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score1.53
3D performance (crysis) low settings6fps
3D performance settingLow

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