So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Medion Akoya E4055 D (MD 8365)
A small PC with a small price tag that's good enough for everyday tasks
- Compact size
- USB 3.0
- Good graphics performance
- AMD CPU a little sluggish
- Noisy hard drive
The Akoya E4055 goes on sale at ALDI supermarkets on 8 February. Pick one up if you're looking for an inexpensive PC that can be used for a little bit of everything. It has plenty of storage and a decent set of features, including USB 3.0 and 802.11n wireless networking. We just wish its CPU was a little quicker.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
The Medion Akoya E4055 D (MD 8365) is a small desktop PC with a basic configuration that's designed for everyday tasks. It features an AMD A8-3820 APU (accelerated processing unit), which also includes a built-in AMD Radeon HD 6550D graphics adapter. You won't get as much speed out of this machine as you would from an Intel Core i3-based PC, but the price point this Medion is hitting is a little bit below what you would pay for an i3-based PC. That said, it's still a fast enough machine for running office applications, undertaking photo editing tasks, encoding media files, and you could even do a little gaming on it (if your favoured games are not too graphics intensive).
Specifications and performance
AMD's A8-3820 APU has four cores, meaning it's capable of processing four software threads simultaneously, which is advantageous for multitasking and running multi-threaded applications. It has a standard speed of 2.5GHz and a Turbo speed of 2.8GHz. In our Blender 3D rendering test, it recorded a time of 41sec, while in our iTunes MP3 encoding test it got 1min 24sec. Neither of these times are faster than the previous Akoya that we looked at, the E2025 D, which features an Intel Core i3 CPU and took 39sec in Blender3D and 52sec in iTunes. The new machine was also slower in the AutoGordianKnot DVD-to-Xvid file conversion test, taking 1hr 6min compared to 49min for the Core i3 machine.
Unfortunately, the AMD doesn't win in terms of efficiency either. We measured the PC's power draw at 91W when it was under a full load, which is higher than what the Core i3-based Akoya got (64W) in the same test. When idle, the power consumption was around 34, which is also a little higher.
Where this AMD-based machine is noticeably better is in the graphics department. Its integrated AMD Radeon HD 6550D graphics recorded a score of 5540 in 3DMark06, which is an improvement of 1564 in this benchmark. It allows some games to be played, as long as they aren't too graphics intensive. Games such as Battlefield 3 will struggle on it, but it will occasionally achieve a frame rate up to 30 frames per second when played at a resolution of 1024x768.
Design and build quality
The Akoya has a shiny front panel and a case that's small and easy to handle. It's a mini tower with a micro-ATX-sized motherboard on the inside and the motherboard is installed upside-down compared to regular ATX configurations — the CPU socket is at the bottom while the power supply is at the top. This means that you will need to remove the right side panel to access the internal components.
Medion has tied all the cables out of the way and the construction is about as neat as expected for a basic machine with a rock-bottom price. There is a large shroud installed over the CPU cooler and it sucks cool air in through the vent in the side panel. It's the only fan in the system (except for the power supply), but that doesn't mean it's a whisper-quiet system. In fact, its 1TB, 7200rpm Samsung hard drive (model HD103SJ) made a lot of noise while it searched for and wrote data — it recorded a rate of 58 megabytes per second (MBps) in our transfer tests, which is a good result. It's installed on its side instead of being flat in the cage. The cage can accommodate one more hard drive if you wish to upgrade, and there is also one free 5.25in bay.
Other upgrades can be made via the motherboard's free slots: it has one free PCI Express x16 slot and two free PCI Express x1 slots. There are only two DIMM slots and both of them are occupied with two 2GB modules that make up the system's 4GB, DDR3 capacity. If you want more than 4GB of RAM, you will have to replace one or both modules in order to increase the capacity. The power supply is 350W, which means it has adequate headroom for a few upgrades (say one more drive and a mid-range graphics card), but it won't handle a high-end graphics card.
A Samsung DVD burner (model SH-216AB) is also installed and there is a compartment on the front panel that hides a memory card reader. It can read SD and CF cards among other formats. There are microphone and headphone jacks on the front, as well as two USB ports, one of which is USB 3.0, which is very convenient. An interface for Medion's own USB 3.0 drives is situated at the top of the case — you'll have to be lucky enough to come across one on sale at ALDI if you wish to use that interface.
The rear of the case features analogue, surround sound audio jacks; digital audio (optical), Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek), four USB 2.0 ports, two PS/2 ports, VGA and HDMI ports (but no DVI). Wireless networking is also installed in this machine (Realtek RTL8191SU 802.11n), but its range isn't great, so you won't be able to set up this PC too far away from your router. It should suffice for a small home or apartment though.
For only $499, it's hard to be too critical of this machine, but it isn't as fast during general tasks as the previous Intel Core i3-based Akoya E2025 that we tested last year. It's $100 cheaper though, and its graphics performance is better, so it all evens out in the end. All up, it's a decent machine for running office tasks, editing photos and even for tougher tasks such as encoding your CDs and DVDs. It goes on sale at ALDI supermarkets on 8 February.
• Read more Medion desktop PC reviews
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