AdvanceTec AT-FX Slayer Pro review
This is the first system from Rochdale-based PC retailer AdvanceTec to enter the PC Pro Labs and, with a name like Slayer, we expected great things from this affordable base unit, monitor and speakers bundle.
The debut gets off to a good start. An ASRock G31MS motherboard, equipped with Intel’s G31 chipset, harbours a 3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor and 4GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM. This solid core specification resulted in a decent benchmark result of 1.47, proving that the Slayer can, indeed, put demanding desktop applications to rest. The result sits amid some of the other budget systems we’ve seen recently, quicker than the 1.41 of the Medion Akoya P4314 D but marginally slower than the Cyberpower Gamer Infinity Yin and Mesh Matrix HD 9950R, which scored 1.51 and 1.53 respectively.
Gaming is handled by ATI’s Radeon HD 4770, a part which replaces the HD 4850 in its range and, in this PC, instantly outpaces every one of its price rivals. Our low and medium-quality Crysis tests were handled easily, with a playable score of 33fps in our 1,600 x 1,200 high-quality benchmark outstripping the 29fps of the Cyberpower. An average of 26fps when upped to Very High settings at the same resolution is also impressive.
While our 2D and 3D benchmarks returned good results, the rest of the Slayer’s specification is less deadly. The 320GB hard disk is the smallest we’ve seen in a PC for some time – the Medion Akoya P4313 D included a terabyte drive, with other recent budget machines offering at least 500GB – and there are no media extras, such as a TV tuner.
The chassis a mixed bag, too. The CoolerMaster 340 case sits the wrong side of cheap, with the gunmetal grey border and mesh facade feeling plasticky and low-quality. The pair of USB ports and well-appointed card reader on the front of the chassis go some way to making this up, though: the card reader is an Akasa model that can read every major format as well as some more obscure types, such as SIM cards.
Open up the case and, unfortunately, there’s little expansion potential. One free hard disk bay and one empty 5.25in bay is a better offering than that of the Medion, but there are no empty DIMM slots and the two empty PCI slots are blocked off by the graphics card’s heatsink and fan. Thankfully, the GPU fan and low-profile Intel cooler are quiet and, out of the bevy of budget machines we’ve seen recently, this will be the least intrusive in a living room or study.
The Slayer makes up for its deficiencies with decent peripherals. The Logitech EX110 keyboard and mouse set are wireless, comfortable and packed with media features, and the 19in Asus VW195s is reasonable, even if its 1,440 x 900 native resolution pales in comparison to the full-HD Iiyama screen packaged with the Mesh.
While we found that there was little backlight bleed and most colours were rendered accurately, we also noticed that it was hard to distinguish colours, particularly at the high end, and that banding crept in to gradients. The Asus is fine for everyday use and a relatively good panel for gaming, but the larger size and resolution of the Iiyama means that we prefer the Mesh’s panel.
Another area where the Slayer falls behind is price. At £565, it’s the most expensive of the budget machines we’ve recently seen and, aside from the superb graphics performance, the AdvanceTec does little else to justify the outlay in the face of its competition.