Mesh Elite IQ 2180 review
Conventional thinking suggests that you have to spend a reasonable amount of cash to get a decent PC – the Value PC section on the A List sees the best all-round budget machines costing close to £500 exc VAT. The real question is whether it’s possible to drop that price significantly without compromising too much, and it’s a challenge Mesh has taken up for us this month.
Thus, we have the Elite IQ 2180, a PC with a price tag of just £339, and it makes sense for us to begin with those inevitable compromises. The processor, for instance, is an Intel Pentium Dual Core, rather than the Core 2 found in virtually everything these days bar the flimsiest of netbooks.
The precise model is the E2180 – hence the PC’s name – which falls in the middle of the five-part Pentium Dual-Core range. It runs at 2GHz, but there’s only a single megabyte of L2 cache available as opposed to the usual 2MB of a Core 2.
Coupled with an impressive 4GB of RAM, performance is decent enough for the price. An overall score of 0.91 is enough to handle surfing the web, work applications and basic image manipulation, even if it won’t have dearer PCs quaking in their cases. If you’re looking for better all-round performance, then the Mesh Pulse 8400, with its Core 2 Duo E8400 processor, justifies its higher price.
3D performance isn’t any better, thanks to the extreme budget choice of an Nvidia GeForce 8400 GS graphics card, a low-end GPU from Nvidia’s last generation of cards more suited to video decoding than gaming. The Mesh stumbled to a score of just 23fps in our lowest Crysis benchmark, so it’s likely you’ll be limited to much older games, and possibly not at their highest settings.
The rest of the specification reflects the Mesh’s low price. You get a fairly reasonable 250GB hard disk to store all your video and music, but there’s little by way of entertainment extras like speakers or media-friendly features on the keyboard and mouse – they’re a basic wired set.
The minimal selection of components is encased in a Mesh micro-ATX chassis that doesn’t offer the best build quality or any huge amount of upgrade potential. The Pentium Dual-Core processor, normally a very competent overclocker, won’t get much purchase beyond its stock speed from the low-profile Intel cooler that’s about half the height of the usual proprietary heatsink.
Both DIMM slots are full of RAM with no free sockets available, the one PCI Express slot is occupied by the graphics card, and there’s not even any room for additional hard disks. The only way the Mesh will perform any better is if you’re willing to replace parts rather than augment them.
And the budget price means the included peripherals have followed suit. We’ve seen the Hannspree New York 19in monitor before, and we’re as underwhelmed now as we were then. The design, for instance, is particularly striking – Hannspree claim that it’s inspired by artists living in the Big Apple – but the exposed screws have always proved divisive in the PC Pro Labs.
The 1,440 x 900 resolution is standard at this size, and we all agree on the image quality: it’s just not that good. While darker colours are rendered reasonably, whites exhibit a faint red hue, detail is lacking, and better quality is available from panels that don’t cost a huge amount more – the ViewSonic VX1940w, for instance, costs just £137. The Hannspree is acceptable for every work and web browsing, but that’s about it.
|Warranty||1 year(s) return to base|
|Total hard disk capacity||250|
|CPU family||Intel Pentium|
|CPU nominal frequency||2.00GHz|
|CPU overclocked frequency||N/A|
|Processor socket||LGA 775|
|HSF (heatsink-fan)||Intel low profile cooler|
|Motherboard chipset||Nvidia nForce 610i|
|Conventional PCI slots free||2|
|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||0|
|Internal PATA connectors||0|
|Internal floppy connectors||0|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|Memory sockets free||0|
|Memory sockets total||2|
|3D performance setting||High|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce 8400 GS|
|Graphics card RAM||256MB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Monitor make and model||Hanspree New York|
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,440|
|Resolution screen vertical||900|
|Resolution||1440 x 900|
|Sound card||Realtek ALC662|
|Case format||Micro ATX|
|Dimensions||180 x 430 x 380mm (WDH)|
Free drive bays
|Free front panel 5.25in bays||1|
|USB ports (downstream)||7|
|Front panel USB ports||3|
|Front panel FireWire ports||1|
|Front panel memory card reader||yes|
Mouse & Keyboard
|Mouse and keyboard||Logitech wired keyboard and mouse|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows Vista|
Noise and power
|Idle power consumption||83W|
|Peak power consumption||113W|
|Overall application benchmark score||0.91|
|Office application benchmark score||0.87|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||1.11|
|Encoding application benchmark score||0.81|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||0.85|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||Fail|
|3D performance setting||High|