The PC offers plenty of storage space too. Our review sample came with a 300GB Maxtor 6L30020 serving as main storage, with a 200GB Maxtor 6L200M0 acting as backup. Mesh offers slightly different configurations on its site -- the fastest of which is a RAID 0 disk configuration consisting of two 250GB drives. Should you need to make hard-copy backups, you can make use of the Sony DW-Q30A DVD rewriter. It's about as fast a rewriter as is currently available, so you can burn DVD+/-RW backups at up to 16x, and its dual-layer support means compatible discs can be as large as 8.5GB. Disc-to-disc copying is possible thanks to the addition of a Sony DDU-1615 DVD-ROM drive.
We were impressed with the number of input/output ports provided. There are two easy-to-access USB ports at the front of the base unit and four on the IO motherboard panel at the rear. There's also a 6-pin FireWire port and a pair of Ethernet ports. These can be used in a similar fashion to a hardware router, enabling you to share a wired Internet connection with a second PC, and one is equipped with Nvidia's Active Armour to help keep you protected against hackers, worms and other Internet threats.
The X-treme FX60 comes with a range of software, including Microsoft Works 8.5, so you can start word processing and spreadsheet tasks from the minute you switch it on. There are also copies of Cyberlink PowerDVD 6, Power2Go 4, PowerProducer 3, PowerDirector 3, PowerBackup 1.1, PowerCinema 4 and MediaShow 3 -- all of which help you indulge in multimedia editing. Unfortunately, the PC doesn't come with any games, so you'll need to buy your own if you're to get the most from the hardware from day one.
Reassuringly, the X-treme FX60 includes as standard an excellent three-year onsite guarantee including free parts and labour and 24-hour, seven-day online support. This is a great deal considering most manufacturers charge you extra for this level of support. There's also a handy lifetime hardware support telephone line that'll help you out if you get stuck.
The X-treme FX60 turned in a sterling performance, as we'd expect from any PC that uses the AMD Athlon FX-60 CPU. It achieved 6,302 in PCMark 2005, which is only marginally lower than the score achieved by the Alienware Aurora 7500.
We were equally impressed with this PC's gaming performance. It chalked up a 3DMark 2006 score of 8,833 at the default resolution of 1,280x1,024 pixels, even with 4x anti-aliasing and 4x anisotropic filtering effects enabled. It didn't slow much when running at 1,600x1,200 pixels either, as proven by the score of 7,080.
Its performance in our synthetic benchmarks was matched by its performance in our real-world tests -- Doom 3 ran at 94 frames per second at a resolution of 1,600x1,200 with Ultra High quality graphics enabled.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide