Mesh Xtreme AM2 5000 Live Inverness
Mesh Xtreme AM2 5000 Live
This month, Intel's arch rival AMD launched AMD Live! - its answer to Intel's home entertainment PC standard Viiv. Unlike Viiv, AMD Live is designed to produce PCs that work with all your other home electronics devices rather than replace them.
In order to qualify for an AMD Live! sticker, a PC must have one of the latest AMD processors, at least 1GB of RAM and Microsoft Windows Media Center. So, just a very fast PC then really, a bit like Viiv. AMD has also put together a software bundle that's designed to turn a Live! PC into the ultimate media server. The AMD Live! Entertainment Suite consists of five applications that allow you to stream your music and video files to a compatible set top box plugged into your TV or stereo.
Even more cleverly, the Entertainment Suite can stream music and video files over the internet to any broadband connected PC - allowing you to watch and listen anywhere in the world. AMD even provides 25GB of online storage space for your media files - absolutely free, whether you have an AMD Live! PC or not. And that's the really exciting bit - all this software is completely free to absolutely anyone, just download it from www.amdlive.com. According to AMD, these programs are optimised for use on AMD Live! PCs, but they're happy for anyone who wants these programs to use them.
Mesh's Xtreme AM2 5000 Live is the first AMD Live! PC we've reviewed and it pairs one of AMD's new Athlon 64 X2 5000+ processors with 2GB of RAM. With two processor cores, the 5000+ will happily provide all of your home entertainment needs, sail through photo editing, or do both at the same time. The 5000 Live is also a good choice for gaming, with an nVidia GeForce 7950 GX2 graphics card installed. This card actually has two graphics processors on it and while this doesn't quite make it as powerful as two cards, it does add a lot of extra 3D muscle. There isn't a game, or any other program, that the AM2 won't run. You don't need to take our word for all this, just look at the benchmark scores - 157% in our 2D tests and 161% in our 3D gaming benchmark. Those aren't the highest scores we've seen, but they're not far off.
As a media powerhouse, the Xtreme AM2 wouldn't be complete without a Freeview TV tuner, but we were disappointed to find only one fitted. With only a single tuner you can't record one channel while watching another. With over thirty channels to choose from now and again there's bound to be two things you want to watch on at the same time. We were also a bit disappointed to find that the 5000 Live only has a 300GB hard disk. That might sounds like a lot, but a 45-minute TV recording alone takes up 1GB of disk space.
We really liked the 20in ViewSonic VX1025WM monitor. It has a very high native resolution, so you'll get plenty of detail in your games and movies, and it's widescreen too. It's not flawless - we found that dark scenes in movies lacked a little detail, as well as showing up a slightly uneven backlight - but colours were accurately handled and it's pleasingly bright.
This is a very fast PC, it has some good features and it's rather natty looking too, but it costs an arm and a leg. For this price, we'd expect nothing less than the best. We were also a bit puzzled by the whole AMD Live! package. This is a great PC, but the really eye-opening thing about AMD Live! is the software, which anyone can download for free, even people with an Intel PC. That's very generous, but it won't really motivate people to buy a new PC.