Mesh Stylus review

£783
Price when reviewed

Small form-factor PCs, undeniably, have plenty of advantages. They’re far easier to accommodate on, or under a desk, than the traditional, bulky ATX tower, and they often have enough power to be used as a main PC as well as a quiet, unobtrusive media centre.

Shuttle has had this corner of the market practically sewn up, over the past few years. Its full PC systems – including the XPC P2 3500G (web ID: 191256) have sat as alternative choices on the A List for several months – and Shuttle’s barebones cases also frequently impress. Now, finally, there’s a new contender: the Mesh Stylus.

Instead of the common Shuttle case, this machine uses a Silverstone chassis – the Sugo SST-SG02-F. It’s larger and heavier than most of the Shuttle cases that we’ve seen, and the huge struts of metal inside provide evidence of solid build quality throughout.

Initially, it seems that this extra bulk has been put to good use: A free hard disk bay can be used to augment the existing 500GB disk, and a spare PCI slot and pair of empty DIMM sockets all aid expansion. At the front of the machine there’s an empty 3.5in socket below the optical drive that could easily accommodate a card reader.

The Silverstone chassis isn’t without fault, though. The excellent build quality means that, as well as being bigger than the Shuttle cases we’re used to seeing, the sheer amount of steel used tends to interfere with sections of the case. It’s difficult to access the empty 3.5in bay or DIMM slots, for instance, without having to remove other parts of the PC first.

Thankfully, the impressive specification does mean that the need to upgrade will be some way off. The processor, an Intel Core 2 Duo E8500, runs at 3.16GHz and is one of the newest Wolfdale parts, built using the more efficient 45nm manufacturing process.

Accordingly – and when coupled with the system’s 4GB of RAM – the Stylus provided a superb benchmark result. Its overall score of 1.61 is quicker than the 1.45 scored by the Shuttle XPC, and far faster than the 1.32 scored by the formerly A-Listed Mesh Elite Pulse HD (web ID: 175197) and its Core 2 Duo E8200 CPU, which only ran at 2.66GHz.

For gaming, the Stylus is equally well equipped – with a huge Nvidia GeForce 9800GTX+ graphics card. This takes up plenty of space inside the Silverstone case – so much so, in fact, that it would be difficult to cram even the smallest of expansion cards into the vacant PCI slot.

But it did at least ensure impressive performance in our 3D benchmarks. A score of 35fps in our high settings test is far more impressive than the 21fps scored by the Mesh Elite Pulse HD or 24fps scored by the Shuttle. It’s clear that the 9800 GTX+ is more than capable of handling modern games with little fuss, even at the highest detail settings. Meanwhile, a high-definition optical drive adds to the Stylus’ media capabilities: it can read both Blu-ray and HD-DVD media.

Where this Mesh differs from the Shuttle XPC, and sidles up to traditional ATX rivals, such as the Mesh Elite Pulse HD, is in the addition of a full range of peripherals. There’s a wireless keyboard and mouse from Logitech plus a set of competent – although not outstanding – S220 2.1 speakers.

The monitor, though, a 22in Hanns.G Hi221DP, is deeply average. Blacks and dark greys lack depth, light grey tones and whites lack intensity, while brighter colours appearing especially pale and lifeless.

The price makes up for this somewhat. Remarkably, for a PC that offers such awesome power and a full range of peripherals, the Stylus costs just £681 exc VAT – far more palatable than the £954 for the Shuttle PC without peripherals and also cheaper than the £765 that Mesh demand for the Elite Pulse HD.

Warranty

Warranty 1 year(s) return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 500
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Screen size 22.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core 2 Duo
CPU nominal frequency 3.16GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A
Processor socket LGA 775
HSF (heatsink-fan) Intel low profile cooler

Motherboard

Motherboard Asus P5N-MX
Motherboard chipset Nvidia nForce 610i
Conventional PCI slots free 1
Conventional PCI slots total 1
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
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR2
Memory sockets free 2
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting High
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX+
Graphics card RAM 512MB
DVI-I outputs 2
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0
Number of graphics cards N/A

Hard disk

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 500GB
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

Drives

Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Monitor make and model Hanns.G Hi221DP
Resolution screen horizontal 1,680
Resolution screen vertical 1,050
Resolution 1680 x 1050
DVI inputs 1
HDMI inputs 0
VGA inputs 1
DisplayPort inputs 0

Additional Peripherals

Speakers Logitech S220
Speaker type 2.1

Case

Chassis Silverstone Sugo SST-SG02-F
Case format Micro ATX
Dimensions 270 x 393 x 212mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader no

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Logitech Cordless Keyboard and Mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Windows Vista

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 102W
Peak power consumption 205W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.61
Office application benchmark score 1.68
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.72
Encoding application benchmark score 1.36
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.69
3D performance (crysis) low settings 35fps
3D performance setting High

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