Mesh Ultima Pro PCI-Xtreme review

£1299
Price when reviewed

Mesh is another system integrator to use the Clevo D900T chassis. The firm packs less in than SavRow, but this is reflected in the price: it costs almost £700 less. However, without the clever paint job, the chunky lines of the chassis aren’t disguised; the Mesh is no looker.

The Ultima Pro still packs a few more features than the Dell, though, which makes it a potential alternative. The usual D900T connectivity is there, so most people won’t be left wanting. Notably, there’s an S/PDIF output, which will be useful if you’re planning to watch DVD movies. Plus, Mesh has included a useful seven-port USB 2 hub along with an analog AverMedia TV Tuner, adding an extra entertainment angle. It’s only a shame you can’t watch TV without booting into Windows.

The 17in TFT is identical to SavRow’s in that it sports a 1,680 x 1,050 resolution and a reflective coating. It’s also sharp, lag-less and offers generous viewing angles. We like the keyboard and touchpad too: they’re large and almost as comfortable as the real desktop equivalents, but we still prefer SavRow’s bundled mouse.

At the front are the now-familiar media buttons, which allow you to play music without booting into Windows. The speakers are still weak, though: we advise plugging in a decent set if you’re going to listen to music or watch lots of TV.

Power is important too, and Mesh uses a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 desktop CPU with 1GB of PC2-4200 RAM. The hard disk is a single 80GB 5,400rpm Fujitsu model, and there’s room for a second if you want a striped RAID or simply need extra capacity. In our 2D application benchmarks, the Mesh produced a decent score of 1.51. 3D work is taken care of by the top-notch GeForce Go 6800 graphics chip. This delivered scores of 31fps in Half-Life 2 and 29fps in Far Cry. You should also be able to upgrade the graphics card in the future, so the Ultima Pro will still have the potential to play the latest games in a couple of years’ time.

Communications are solid – the Mesh packs a V.92 modem, as well as Gigabit Ethernet. You can ditch wires completely thanks to the 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios.

Overall, the Ultima Pro is only a little slower than the SavRow and is more upgradable than the Dell. The warranty is disappointing, as you have to pay courier charges throughout, plus the cost of parts for the final two years. With this in mind, it can’t match the Dell overall, but it’s still a good alternative to the SavRow. Sadly, it’s just as noisy. We heard 41.2dBA in our 3D benchmarks and, for many, this will be enough to secure pole position for the quieter Dell.

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