MSI looks to add executive chic to a winning laptop formula
Also Technology OfficeMate
- Excellent price, solid performance for basic tasks
- Little room for upgrading
Although the AlsoTech OfficeMate will get you by with a ready-to-go system that includes a monitor, there's very little room for upgrading. Buying this budget PC might suffice now, but in a year's time, you'll find yourself looking at a whole new system.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
Inside and out, the AlsoTech OfficeMate is a basic PC. The low price tag of this bundle reflects the level of components and understandably moderate performance. However, considering the package also includes a 17in Mitsubishi DV170JB LCD monitor together with a keyboard and mouse, the system is ideal for those on a budget.
The OfficeMate uses an Intel Pentium D 940 3.2GHz CPU with 512MB of DDR2 667MHz RAM. We tested the system performance using World Bench 5 where it earned an average score of 84. This score is consistent of a system with these specifications and should handle most essential needs. The dual cores on the CPU will help in multi-tasking situations but with programs like anti-virus, word processors, email and Internet browsers all running simultaneously, the system may experience some slow down. The mediocre system performance can be partially attributed to the limited amount of installed RAM; increasing the memory is definitely recommended. The Albatron P4M800 Pro motherboard supports a maximum of 2GB but bear in mind that there are only two DIMM slots for RAM expansion, so we'd advise you buy one single large memory stick rather than two smaller one's, to allow for further upgrades later.
The OfficeMate uses an Via/S3G UniChrome Pro IGP graphics chip integrated into the motherboard, rather than a dedicated graphics card, so games and heavy rendering tasks are sluggish, if they run at all. A total of three PCI expansion slots are available, along with an 8x accelerated graphics port (AGP) slot. Generally, AGP graphics cards are not as capable as the newer PCI express cards. However, since some manufacturers have AGP versions of their most recently released cards, there should be a few good options if you choose to upgrade at a later stage.
Also Technology has included an 80GB Western Digital hard drive and an LG DVD re-writer. Should you require any additional drives, they shouldn't be difficult to install since the Numan mid-tower case is as basic and user-friendly as you can get. Easily accessible and clearly marked USB, FireWire and audio ports can be seen on the front, while adding components is so simple that even a first-timer shouldn't have too many problems.
Unlike other cases, the Numan mid-tower case doesn't use any thumbscrews. The main access points are held together using bright orange clips that are easily undone or fastened with one single-handed motion. This 'clip-n-play' design continues inside the case with an inventive clip-in system for your optical drives and an equally simple system for all the expansion slots (such as a dedicated graphics card, sound card or wireless network adapter). The hard drive bays face front to rear and are the only screw-in mounts in the case. Although the case is designed for easy upgrades, the motherboard's lack of PCI Express capacities and limited RAM capacity leaves few possibilities for boosting the systems performance down the track.
The CPU is cooled by a stock Intel cooler while a 120mm fan mounted behind the front panel of the case blows air across the hard drive and out the back. This is effectively the only viable means of pushing stagnant hot air out of the case. With so little installed there's no cable mayhem to worry about and subsequently air flow through the case is almost entirely unhindered. Apart from the three PCI expansion slots and AGP port there are four 3.5in hard drive bays, two for floppy drives or card readers and four 5.25in drive bays. On the rear panel there are four more USB ports, a 10/100 LAN port and audio connections.
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