Quaddra XT Pro - PC Pro (Oct '04)
Although it uses a very similar chassis to the Mesh, the Rock is quite a different system. It uses a SiS645 chipset instead of the Mesh’s SiS648. This runs on a 533MHz bus, which gives the CPU a speed of 3.06GHz. Mesh’s runs on an 800MHz bus, which is why the CPU has a marginally slower clock speed.
The Quaddra outperformed the Mesh in our 2D benchmarks - 1.48 against 1.30. However, tables were turned in 3D. With an older Radeon 9000 core in place, the Rock was about 25 per cent slower in both games, managing 34fps in Unreal Tournament 2004, but only 15fps in Halo.
As you’d expect, the 15in TFT is identical to Mesh’s. Again, it lacks a certain amount of sharpness but we appreciate the high brightness. It doesn’t have the kudos of HPs widescreen TFT, but the 1,400x1,050 resolution means the desktop area is much bigger than the XGA screens on show.
The two machines are tied again when it comes to built-in storage. Both have a 60GB hard disk, and they share identical DVD writers, namely a dual-format unit from Sony This isn’t quite as fast as the Acer’s Lite-On at dealing with CDs, but they’re all equal on the various DVD formats.
Where the Rock really slips behind the Mesh is at networking. The Quaddra doesn’t support gigabit Ethernet, but more importantly it doesn’t have wireless LAN, despite the misleading switch on the front of the system. Instead of the media card reader, Rock has installed a floppy disk drive, which won’t be used by many people.
Both machines share the same connectivity with USB 2 and FireWire ports. The Rock benefits from a third USB port, as one isn’t used for wireless LAN. There’s also the webcam above the screen for video conferencing or instant messaging.
In use, the Rock ran noticeably hotter and noisier than the Mesh. The wristrest became uncomfortably hot even on fairly basic tasks, such as word processing. When the fan kicks in, it’s very noisy and obtrusive - certainly a distraction when you’re trying to do some work. Although it’s faster in 2 D tasks, in most other areas the Rock fell behind the standard set by Mesh. Given that they’re the same price, it’s only the three-year collect-and-return warranty and pre-loaded anti-virus software that make the Rock worth considering.