Advent CBE1401 review

£650
Price when reviewed

Advent is known for its affordable and generally fairly plain PCs, but the new CBE1401 is a step in a different, more ambitious direction. It’s marketed as a fast and flashy gaming system, and the core specification goes some way to backing that up.

Using the same architecture as AMD’s fastest chips, the Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition only has two cores but it’s no slouch. It’s been overclocked from its stock speed of 3.1GHz to 3.4GHz, and paired with 4GB of RAM to produce a solid benchmark score of 1.59. It’s a good level of base performance, even if we have seen scores as high as 2.38 from PCs at similar prices.

Sitting below the CPU is ATI’s Radeon HD 5750 which, although a mid-range part, still offers enough power for most modern games. The Advent handled our Medium-quality Crysis benchmark at 70fps respectively, and then churned through the 1,600 x 1,200 High-quality test at a playable 35fps. Again, we’ve seen faster PCs at this price, but it’s a competitive performance.

Advent CBE1401

Advent has worked hard to make its machine look the part, too. The imposing chassis features a red strip-light around its angular facade and, aside from its dramatic styling, the exterior provides a good selection of ports. A card reader is joined by four USB ports, an eSATA socket and two audio jacks, and there’s a small padded area on top to keep your MP3 player or your car keys. Build quality is consistently good.

More unusual for an Advent PC is the use of a CoolIT water-cooling module. The AMD processor sat idle at 24 degrees and peaked at just 35 degrees amid our demanding benchmarks. It also kept the PC quiet, with a gentle hum the most we heard throughout our time with it. It’s impressive stuff at this price, but we can’t help but wonder if it’s at all necessary: the processor is hardly a roasting high-end chip, and the CoolIT costs a substantial £40 exc VAT, far more than a decent fan.

It also helps to distract from the less than inspiring internals of the chassis around it. For a start, it’s sparse and unpainted, and little attempt has been made to tidy away the multicoloured cables that sprawl out of the budget PSU. Upgrade space is at a premium, too, with just a single PCI Express x1 slot and one SATA port; there are no empty DIMM sockets or PCI Express x16 slots.

While the case does also include two front-orientated 3.25in bays, there aren’t any gaps on the front of the chassis to access them. What you do get is three spare hard disk bays and two 5.25in bays. The only other plus points are a welcome 802.11bg wireless card, a 750GB hard disk and DVD writer.

The keyboard and mouse are poor, too. Advent’s own-brand peripherals feel cheap and clicky, and you’d be much better off spending peanuts on a basic Logitech set.

That’s a list of issues long enough to undo the work done by the core components. When you can buy a PC as impressive as the A-Listed Wired2Fire Hellspawn Ultima for a similar price, it’s hard to see why anyone would settle for such a poorly designed chassis and weak peripherals. Credit to Advent for trying something new, but it has a long way to go before we start associating the brand with high-end PCs.

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 500
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Screen size N/A

Processor

CPU family AMD Phenom
CPU nominal frequency 3.10GHz
CPU overclocked frequency 3.40GHz
Processor socket AM3
HSF (heatsink-fan) CoolIT E.C.O. ALC

Motherboard

Motherboard Foxconn A7VMX-K
Motherboard chipset AMD 780V
Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 2
PCI-E x16 slots free 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 1
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 1
PCI-E x1 slots total 1
Internal SATA connectors 4
Internal SAS connectors 1
Internal PATA connectors 1
Internal floppy connectors 0
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 2

Graphics card

Graphics card ATI Radeon HD 5750
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD 5750
Graphics card RAM 1.00GB
DVI-I outputs 2
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Hard disk

Capacity 750GB
Hard disk usable capacity 698GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 16MB
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

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Monitor make and model N/A
Resolution screen horizontal N/A
Resolution screen vertical N/A
Resolution N/A x N/A
Pixel response time N/A
Contrast ratio N/A
Screen brightness N/A
DVI inputs N/A
HDMI inputs N/A
VGA inputs N/A
DisplayPort inputs N/A

Additional Peripherals

Speakers N/A
Speaker type N/A
Sound card N/A
Peripherals N/A

Case

Chassis Advent Centurion
Case format Full tower
Dimensions 210 x 500 x 550mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 3

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 8
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 4
Front panel eSATA ports 1
Front panel memory card reader yes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Advent wired keyboard and mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

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