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Mesh Mesh Elite Quad 6600 FX review: Mesh Elite Quad 6600 FX

The Mesh Elite Quad 6600 FX is all about value for money. It's more of a PR stunt for Mesh Computers than anything else, but don't let that turn you away -- any quad-core PC costing less than £700 shouldn't be sniffed at.

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8.3

Mesh Mesh Elite Quad 6600 FX

The Good

Quad-core CPU; 4GB of RAM.

The Bad

Entry-level graphics card.

The Bottom Line

We find it difficult to fault the Elite Quad 6600 FX. It has a fast quad-core processor, ample memory and a graphics card that while not particularly fast, doesn't shy away from games. If you have a spare £700 and want a solid all-round PC, you really should consider it

It packs one of the fastest CPUs on the market, has a ridiculous amount of memory and a fairly decent graphics card. As a result, it's capable of doing pretty much anything and is perfect for anyone from humble students to bargain-hunting video editing aficionados.

Design
The Elite Quad 6600 is not unattractive, but it's not exactly pretty either. It's basically the Ugly Betty of PCs -- a munter compared to the best lookers, but with the potential to look good in certain situations.

The chassis is primarily black with some contrasting silver along the front. The middle is home to a circular power button, status lights and, more significantly, a couple of USB ports. Mesh also supplies a memory card reader with slots for the most popular card types.

Mesh helps improve the machine's airflow with a couple of strategically placed chassis vents. There are two on the left side panel, one adjacent to the graphics card and another near the CPU. The latter has 89mm funnel attached in order to more efficiently direct hot air away from the processor.

The rear is pretty bland. You get four additional USB ports, a parallel port, LAN and six-pin FireWire ports, an optical S/PDIF audio out and an eSATA port for connecting an external hard drive. Arguably the most interesting thing at the rear is an RoHS "lead free" sticker, which should appeal to the planet-saving hippy inside you. Let's hope it's made with biodegradable glue.

Features
This is where the Quad Elite excels. It's based on the solid foundation of an Asus P5JN-E SLI motherboard -- a comparatively old but sturdy motherboard that uses the Nvidia 680i chipset. Think of it as the Lauren Bacall of motherboards -- not that young, but still appealing in many ways.

The real star of the show, however, is the Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU. Don't be fooled by the 2.4GHz clock speed. It may sound low in comparison to the 3+GHz CPUs of yore, but it contains four separate cores on a single die, which means it's nippier than anything you or your mates have ever owned. Unless, obviously, you've owned a quad-core PC in the past.


Mesh could be forgiven for skimping on the RAM. Sony certainly did with its Vaio RM1N PC that shipped with only 2GB of DDR2 667MHz. The Quad Elite has double that amount, making it theoretically faster and more capable of handling memory-intensive applications and large files. The only problem here is that the motherboard has all four DIMM slots occupied, which slows the operation of the memory somewhat. Having two 1GB sticks would have allowed for a faster 'dual-channel' memory configuration.

Mesh doesn't tout the Elite Quad as a gaming PC, but it won't let you down completely if you like playing 3D titles. It uses an Nvidia GeForce 8500 GT graphics card -- an entry-level DirectX 10 offering that should run most games, provided you scale back the fancy graphics effects. We're pretty serious about our games at CNET.co.uk, so we'd toss the 8500 GT and buy at least one Nvidia 8600 GTS instead. We're happy to note the motherboard supports dual-card SLI configurations.

One area Mesh has compromised on is storage. The machine ships with a 250GB hard drive, which in the age of broadband and file-hungry users, simply isn't enough. It arrived in our offices with about 200GB of free space, so you might be making backups with the 18x DVD rewriter sooner rather than later.

As for software, you get Windows Vista Home Edition and a copy of Microsoft Works 8.5, which includes word processing, database, presentation and spreadsheet apps. You also get CyberLink DVD/CD burning and video editing tools plus a one-year on-site warranty.

Performance
Obviously, the Elite Quad 6600 FX is quick -- most quad-core PCs are. It racked up a stirring 5,246 in PCMark 2005, which is 2,083 less than the £2,500 Vaio RM1N. The Mesh has more RAM, but the fact it's not arranged in a dual-channel configuration may have affected it slightly, as might its comparatively old motherboard chipset. Don't be put off though, it's still very quick indeed.

The Sony holds the advantage in 3D performance, too. It scored 5,571 in 3DMark 2006, to the Mesh's 2,881. Both will play games, but pushing polygons isn't the Elite Quad 6600 FX forte.

Conclusion
The Elite Quad 6600 is fast and fairly well-equipped -- so what's not to like? It outpaces most computers with its performance and embarrasses the Sony Vaio RM1N with its excellent price.

If you're after an inexpensive new PC, or want a second PC simply for number crunching, video compression and the like, you won't find many better.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield