Specifications and thoughts
|PC Specialist Apollo Q260GTX
|ATX midi tower
|Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (2.66GHz, 12MiB L2 cache, 1,333MHz FSB, LGA775
|ASUS Silent Knight
|ASUS P5N-D (nForce 750i SLI)
|4GiB (2 x 2GiB) Corsair CM2X1024-6400 @ 5-5-5-18 2T / DDR2-800
|Western Digital Caviar SE 750GiB, 8MiB cache
|24in LG FLATRON W2452T TFT LCD flat-panel display - DVI-D and VGA (5ms) - 1,920 x 1,200 native resolution
|NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 896MiB
|Optical drive 1
|LG SuperMultiDrive H20L (6x BD-R read, 3x HD DVD read, 16x DVD-ROM read, 12x DVD-R, LightScribe)
|Optical drive 2
|None, optional extra
|Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio
|Creative Labs Inspire 5.1 T6100
|1x 10/100/1000, Marvell PHY, 750i
VIA 6308P two-port FireWire400 controller
|I/O ports (usable)
|8x USB2.0 (4x side, 4x rear I/O), 1x FireWire400 (rear), 1x RJ45 (Gigabit), audio (side and rear), optical/coaxial S/PDIF-out, COM PS/2
|Windows Vista Premium, 64-bit
|FSP Quiet 700W
|Logitech G15 rev 2.0 gaming keyboard
Logitech G5 gaming mouse
|Ahead Nero 7 Essentials
CyberLink PowerDVD 7
Windows Office 60-day trial
|Built-in card-reader (SD, MMC, MS, CF, MD, SM)
|One-year return-to-base, including free carriage and return
|£1,349, including VAT
|Included in price
NotesArmed with a price-tag of £1,349, including VAT, PC Specialist has sought to engineer and all-round system that provides plenty of processing power and decent performance.
Heading up matters is an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450, based on the 45nm Yorkfield core and packing in, as the name says, four execution cores. Currently priced at around £200 in retail form, it's definitely better value than the model next rung up, Q9550, operating at 2.83GHz but costing £350. A fast front-side bus and lots of cache imbue it with, well, decent performance.
The first concession to pricing is the ASUS nForce 750i SLI motherboard. The £75 P5N-D is competent, however, offering Gigabit LAN, FireWire, copious amounts of USB, both optical and coaxial S/PDIF-out, and, of course, a second x16 PCIe 2.0 slot (x8 electrical, mind) if you plan to add a second NVIDIA SLI-certified graphics card at the time of purchase or at a later date.
Running nicely to graphics, the system adds in a stock-clocked GeForce GTX 260 card, available for around £215, and providing good-enough performance from NVIDIA's latest architecture. The card's a good choice for a system at this price-point, and we reckon that it makes little sense to pay another £100 for the GTX 280.
The hard-drive choice is decent if uninspiring, especially given that other 750GiB models can be purchased for under £70 now. We'd have been inclined to throw a couple of 500GiB drives (~£45 retail) for faster inter-drive transfers when moving large files.
Audio, however, is good. PC Specialist has eschewed the on-board high-definition codec and supplanted it with Creative's X-Fi Xtreme Audio that's allied to the tried-and-trusted Inspire T6100 speakers - a combination that it has been shipping for a while now.
Optical is taken care of by an LG SuperMultiDrive that's capable of playing both Blu-ray (6x) and the now-defunct HD DVD (3x) content. The latter isn't completely forlorn as it's possible to buy ultra-cheap HD DVD-written films for under £5 from the likes of HMV.
The drive can do the usual reading and writing to regular DVD-R discs, too. It's very quiet in use, which is a bonus, but such is the price-drop on these all-in-one units, that it can be purchased for around £65 in bulk form.