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Review: Evesham Solar Storm PC - Vista for the masses

by Tarinder Sandhu on 30 January 2007, 08:46

Tags: Evesham

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qahsp

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Specifications and discussion


Evesham Technology Solar Storm
Chassis Chenbro ATX midi tower
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13GHz, 2MiB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB, LGA775)
Mainboard Foxconn P9657AA - Intel P965
Memory 1GiB (2 x 512MiB) DDR2 667 @ 5-5-5-15
Hard Disks Western Digital WD3200JD 320GiB SATA 8MiB cache
Graphics Hardware XFX GeForce 7900 GS PCIe, DVI, 256MiB
Display 20in Viewsonic VG2030WM DVI TFT - 5ms - 1680 x 1050
Optical Drive 1 Sony AW-G170A 18x Dual-layer DVD ReWriter (Black)
Optical Drive 2 Sony DVD1615 DVD-ROM 16x Drive (Black)
Sound Hardware HD Audio, 8-channel, Realtek ALC883 CODEC, ICH8R
Speakers Creative I-Trigue 3220 2.1 Speakers
Multimedia Hauppauge Media Center hybrid TV tuner card, PCI
Modem None
Networking Hardware 1 x 10/100/1000, Marvell 88E8056, PCIe to ICH8R
2-port VIA VT6308P 1394a
I/O Ports (usable) 6 x USB2.0 (2x front, 4x rear I/O), 2 x FireWire400 (front and rear), RJ45 (Gigabit), eSATA, audio, optical S/PDIF-out, PS/2
Operating System Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
Additional Software Microsoft Works 8.5, BullGuard anti-virus (limited trial), Roxio Easy Media Creator 9
Input devices Logitech Internet Pro Cordless Keyboard and Mouse
Included Warranty Evesham Gold - 2 years on-site; 3rd year RTB (labour only)
Price £999.99, including VAT
Shipping £39.95, including VAT

Evesham's Solar Storm takes in a number of mid-range components to produce a £999.99 system that ships with Microsoft's Windows XP Vista Home Premium operating system.

We like the fact that Evesham has paired up an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and P965 chipset-based motherboard but the choice of an Allendale model - sporting 2MiB of L2 cache - is somewhat underwhelming given the price point.

We're also nonplussed by the inclusion of only 1GiB of DDR2 RAM, especially when current DRAM pricing is so low, and while there's nothing wrong with the capacity of the supplied Western Digital drive, it's an older model that only carries 8MB of onboard cache.

We have no reservations regarding the screen choice - a ViewSonic widescreen model with a bright, clear display and 5ms response time. Graphics grunt is provided by an XFX GeForce 7900 GS 256MiB card, plenty powerful enough for Vista's Aero interface, but you will need to upgrade to a faster model should the framerates start to become sluggish at the panel's native 1680x1050 resolution: the Foxconn P965 motherboard doesn't support true multi-GPU technology.

A couple of optical drives from Sony will allow disc-to-disc recording, which is always nice. Audio is run off the mainboard's southbridge and routed out to a 2.1 set of Creative speakers. At the £1,000 price point we'd have preferred a 5.1 set, really, but the speakers are a good-quality set nonetheless.

Given that Vista Home Premium includes all of the capabilities present in Windows Media Center, Evesham has integrated an Hauppauge TV Nova DT dual DVB-T tuner card that, as the name implies, has two digital tuners, allowing you to concurrently watch and record Freeview channels.

The supplied PSU - an FSP 350W - comfortably powers the system and is quiet in use. However, its rated capacity is at the low end of the market and, as such, may need to be replaced if you're likely to consider upgrading the graphics card and CPU in the future. A 500W model would have been a better choice, we feel.


Evesham has integrated reasonable, if not cutting-edge, components into a PC that takes good advantage of Microsoft Vista Premium's multimedia capabilities.