Mesh Cute X215 HD review
Bringing a PC into your lounge might be considered grounds for divorce in some households, but Mesh’s latest aims to slip under the radar by cramming a capable Windows Media Center PC into a compact package.
We’re not, however, talking fit-in-your-pocket petite. Compared to the latest net-tops, such as Acer’s slimline Aspire Revo R3600, the Mesh doesn’t push the boundaries of miniaturisation very far. About the size of a Shuttle barebones, it’s neither particularly small or, for that matter, cute.
It isn’t that Mesh hasn’t tried to give the Cute a friendly face, it’s just that, to all intents and purposes, it looks desperately ordinary. Despite the attention-grabbing glossy red fascia and the rest of the chassis being finished in smart gloss black, the Mesh singularly fails to set the pulse racing.
Look past its shiny exterior, though, and the Mesh’s Media Center credentials are pretty convincing. There’s a dual-tuner DVB-T TV card nestling in the sole PCI Express x16 slot, and Mesh has even managed to squeeze a Blu-ray reader into the budget.
And we have few quibbles with the rest of the Cute’s pedigree. The AMD Athlon II X2 215 processor is hardly high-end, but it’s plenty powerful enough for watching TV and recording it, and it managed 1.16 in our application-based benchmarks.
Its modest performance goes hand in hand with reasonably low power consumption, too: the system draws 112W at full tilt, and idles at just 75W.
The presence of integrated graphics is hardly a surprise at this price, but the ATI Radeon HD 3200 chipset is a cut above many of its rivals. There still isn’t a great deal of 3D gaming potential, as a result of 22fps in our lowest Crysis benchmark testifies, but ATI’s Avivo technology is a welcome sight since it offloads Blu-ray decoding from the CPU and consequently helps to keep power consumption down.
Hot to trot
The Cute’s power demands might be miniscule, and its mini-ITX motherboard equally so, but a peek around its rear reveals a backplate simply fit to bursting with useful ports and connectors. HDMI takes care of most modern TVs but, with DVI and VGA sockets snuggled alongside, the Mesh is equally happy connected to a standard PC monitor.
Meanwhile, audio can be ferried through the onboard 7.1 sound card and hooked up to suitable set of PC speakers, or bypassed completely with the optical and coaxial digital outputs at the rear. And with two USB ports at the front, six at the rear and a single eSATA connection ready and waiting, you’ll need a veritable army of peripherals before the Cute is found wanting.
The moment you turn the Cute on, however, it’s attention-seeking in all the wrong ways. The noisy fans whirr incessantly, and with just a low-profile CPU cooler and a 80mm exhaust fan at the rear, the Mesh struggles to keep its cool.
The AMD processor idled at a toasty 48 degrees centigrade, and after mere minutes of stress-testing shot up to 72 degrees. Such temperatures might be forgivable if the Cute was silent, but it’s quite the opposite, and given its inefficient cooling we’d hardly recommend stifling the Mesh in the confines of an AV rack.
The reasonable performance and generous specification make the Mesh Cute X215 HD look like a truly stonking deal, then, but it’s by no means perfect. The key requirements for a capable media-centre PC are efficiency and silent running, and while the Mesh won’t send your electricity bill ballooning, its noisy fans will soon leave you reaching for the off switch.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Total hard disk capacity||320|
|CPU family||AMD Athlon|
|CPU nominal frequency||2.70GHz|
|CPU overclocked frequency||N/A|
|HSF (heatsink-fan)||AMD Low-profile|
|Motherboard||J&W Minix 780G-SP128M|
|Motherboard chipset||AMD 780G|
|Conventional PCI slots free||0|
|Conventional PCI slots total||0|
|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||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots total||0|
|Internal SATA connectors||4|
|Internal SAS connectors||0|
|Internal PATA connectors||1|
|Internal floppy connectors||0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Memory sockets free||0|
|Memory sockets total||2|
|Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?||no|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Graphics chipset||ATI Radeon HD 3200|
|Graphics card RAM||1.00GB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Number of graphics cards||1|
|Hard disk||Samsung HD322HJ|
|Hard disk usable capacity||298GB|
|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 drive||Lite-On iHES106|
|Optical disc technology||Blu-ray reader|
|Optical disk 2 make and model||N/A|
|Optical disk 3 make and model||N/A|
|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|
|Sound card||Realtek HD audio|
|Case format||Mini ITX|
|Dimensions||200 x 301 x 171mm (WDH)|
|Power supply||CFI KT-T150FXS-06A|
|Power supply rating||150W|
Free drive bays
|Free front panel 5.25in bays||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||8|
|PS/2 mouse port||yes|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||1|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|3.5mm audio jacks||6|
|Front panel USB ports||2|
|Front panel memory card reader||no|
Mouse & Keyboard
|Mouse and keyboard||Logitech Deluxe 660 Cordless desktop|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows Vista|
|Recovery method||Recovery disc|
|Software supplied||Cyberlink BD Solution|
Noise and power
|Idle power consumption||75W|
|Peak power consumption||112W|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.16|
|Office application benchmark score||1.07|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||1.37|
|Encoding application benchmark score||1.15|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||1.07|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||22fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|