Specifications and discussion
|Evesham Technology Solar Storm
|Chenbro ATX midi tower
|Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13GHz, 2MiB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB, LGA775)
|Foxconn P9657AA - Intel P965
|1GiB (2 x 512MiB) DDR2 667 @ 5-5-5-15
|Western Digital WD3200JD 320GiB SATA 8MiB cache
|XFX GeForce 7900 GS PCIe, DVI, 256MiB
|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)
|HD Audio, 8-channel, Realtek ALC883 CODEC, ICH8R
|Creative I-Trigue 3220 2.1 Speakers
|Hauppauge Media Center hybrid TV tuner card, PCI
|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
|Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
|Microsoft Works 8.5, BullGuard anti-virus (limited trial), Roxio Easy Media Creator 9
|Logitech Internet Pro Cordless Keyboard and Mouse
|Evesham Gold - 2 years on-site; 3rd year RTB (labour only)
|£999.99, including VAT
|£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.