PC Specialist Apollo HD 4850 Pro review

£805
Price when reviewed
Since this review was published, PC Specialist can no longer supply the processor that was originally included. For other configuration options for this system, visit PC Specialist.

If there’s one thing missing from PC Specialist’s entry, we can’t find it. In fact, its Apollo HD 4850 Pro is so well-equipped it makes several of the rival PC manufacturers here look stingy by comparison.

Many of the other PCs here can boast spare PCI slots for future expansion, but only the Apollo trumps that by filling two with an 802.11bg wireless card and a dual-tuner DVB-T TV tuner. Whether it’s hooking up to your home network or recording two TV programmes at once, this PC Specialist is ready to deliver, right out of the box.

The rest of the components aren’t half bad either. The Apollo includes one of LG’s GGC-H20L drives capable of reading both Blu-ray movies and the now-defunct HD-DVD format, while Creative Inspire T3100 2.1 speakers give enough oomph to do justice to even bombastic movie soundtracks.

Reassuringly, this is all icing on an already very capable build. The Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 leaves the Apollo sitting near the rear of the pack overall, but its 2.5GHz clock speed and accompanying 4GB of memory still earn a reasonable 1.57 in our benchmarks. And the ATI Radeon HD 4850 may not be the fastest card on test, but an average of 31 frames per second in our most demanding Crysis benchmark is far from sluggish.

So, why does the PC Specialist not win this month’s group test? Well, first, the monitor is a tad disappointing. Basic specification is fine, with a 22in diagonal and 1,680 x 1,050 resolution, but image quality is lacking. Whites are tainted with a slightly blue hue, and the overblown highlights and poor contrast leave skin tones looking forced and unnatural. For general duties it’s fine, but it can’t compete with the Chillblast’s Samsung SM-223BW.

To its credit, the Apollo HD 4850 Pro is a well-specified, quiet PC with heaps of features, and worthy of consideration if you really need everything it offers. But, with a superior warranty, monitor and overall performance, the Chillblast is a hard act to follow.

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 Quad
CPU nominal frequency 2.50GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A
Processor socket LGA 775
HSF (heatsink-fan) Intel stock cooler

Motherboard

Motherboard Asus P5K SE/EPU
Motherboard chipset Intel P45
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 3
PCI-E x1 slots total 3
Internal SATA connectors 6
Internal PATA connectors 1
Internal floppy connectors 1
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 ATi Radeon HD 4850
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

Hard disk Western Digital Caviar SE16
Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 500GB
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 drive LG GGC-H20L
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 HW223
Resolution screen horizontal 1,680
Resolution screen vertical 1,050
Resolution 1680 x 1050
Pixel response time 5ms
DVI inputs 1
HDMI inputs 0
VGA inputs 1
DisplayPort inputs 0

Additional Peripherals

Speakers Creative Inspire T3100
Speaker type 2.1
Sound card Realtek HD audio

Case

Case format Full tower
Dimensions 190 x 423 x 460mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply rating 450W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 2

Rear ports

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

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader yes

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 Hi-Def Suite

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.57
3D performance (crysis) low settings 31fps
3D performance setting High

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