The Mini PC lets itself down slightly in the all-important area of storage. It ships with a 100GB hard drive as standard, though this is upgradeable to a 120GB drive for an extra £10. For the sake of not running out of space, we'd recommend you spend the extra money. Evesham, perhaps aware of the lack of storage, provides a range of options for external storage at the point of purchase.
Software is pretty thin on the ground, but the essentials are provided. The Mini PC ships with Windows XP Media Center Edition, which is almost identical to XP Professional Edition but has enhanced multimedia file support. It gives you access to all your movies, live and recorded TV programmes, pictures and music from one easy-to-use interface.
Evesham also includes Bullguard Antivirus with 90 days of free updates, which is a nice touch. The package is rounded off with a copy of Roxio Easy Media Creator 7 Basic DVD, Microsoft Works 8 and a 30-day free trial of Orange broadband. You get a one-year carriage and return warranty plus two additional years of return-to-base cover -- which is better than the Mac Mini's one-year standard warranty.
It would be churlish to dismiss the Mini PC as a performance lightweight. Certainly, the lower-specced £699 model doesn't provide much power, but it does everything asked of it without batting an eyelid.
Our review sample, complete with its 2GHz Core 2 Duo processor, racked up some fairly impressive performance figures. It achieved 3,232 in PCMark 2005, which is on par with many mid-range laptops. It's slightly disappointing that you can't add any more than 1GB of RAM, but this specification works just fine for most users.
Don't try to run games, though. Its integrated GMA 950 graphics card will baulk at even the merest prospect of running modern 3D titles. It'll cope fine running Solitaire or Pinball, and HD movies, but that's about it. It racked up a 3DMark 2006 score of 141, and sputtered through F.E.A.R. at an asthmatic rate of 2fps.
The Mini PC redeems itself for its lack of 3D performance, thanks to its fairly quiet operation. It's not as ridiculously quiet as our ultimate quiet PC, but you'll need to listen carefully to detect the hum of its internal cooling fans when running everyday applications.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield