We're all aware that HD DVD is a dead format.
If you were silly enough to invest in it, don't worry -- you can still
enjoy your movies via the G5 6801M's hybrid optical drive, which also
plays Blu-ray. If regular telly is all you're after, then the bundled
DVB-T Freeview TV tuner should be right up your street. We recommend
you spend either an extra 79p on the model with an FM tuner, or better
still an extra £6 on the model with Freeview as well as analogue TV --
in case digital reception at your home is dodgy.
HD movies traditionally demand a decent graphics card to play smoothly. The trouble with those is they make a lot of noise, which isn't a desirable characteristic in a home cinema PC. Luckily, the G5 6801M uses a graphics card designed specifically with this environment in mind -- an ATI Radeon HD 3450. Not only is it fairly quick, but it also doesn't generate much heat or noise.
The G5 6801M comes with Vista Home Premium edition, as we've already discussed. It also comes with a choice of movie playback software. The standard package includes the two-channel version of PowerDVD 7.3 Ultra -- which lets you play audio in stereo. If you have surround-sound speakers you might be better off spending an extra £35 on the 7.1-channel version of the software. An infrared remote control is included as standard.
The G5 6801M offers fairly average performance. The Athlon 64 X2 4200+ in our review sample achieved a PCMark 2005 score of 5,902, which isn't going to worry an Alienware or Dell XPS any time soon. Don't be put off, though. This score, plus our own anecdotal tests indicate the machine is perfectly fit for purpose -- playing media with no hassle.
The G5 6801M isn't very impressive graphically. The ATI Radeon HD 3450 racked up 1,720 in 3DMark 2006, showing it's fast enough to play the odd game, so long as you don't crank the screen resolution up too high.
The amount of noise the G5 6801M produces can best be described as fairly low. It's nowhere near silent -- few PCs are -- but it shouldn't annoy you while you're watching a flick. The noise will be quite noticeable if you sleep with the machine in your bedroom, but generally-speaking, it's pretty quiet.
The G5 6801M is decent all-round machine, which fares best in a home cinema environment. We like the fact it supports both HD DVD and Blu-ray, plus has a TV tuner, and is fairly quiet in operation. Its boxy looks means it might not look so at home in a living room, so if that's a concern, we'd recommend looking into the far more attractive Asus A33.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday