I'm a miserable old git.
I'm ashamed to say it's been a **** very **** long time since I reviewed my "trusts", have sought to rectify this by going through every review I've written in the past couple of years, if you feel hard-done-by, drop me a note.
Members who trust:33
Perfectly competent corporate desktop
Bread and butter, bog standard box, predictable and easy to deploy
Not the lowest price for specification
Ease of use
Value For Money
Memory / capacityExcellent
Range of Extra FeaturesGood
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You might expect a lot from the company who rightly claimed to be the inventor of the 'personal computer' - and in sense, you'd be right, but only to a point.
It's all a question of exactly what you want from a personal computer.
The hint is in the company name; International Business Machines, and if that's not quite strong enough, the strapline 'Machines for business' should really ram it home.
This will be a first for me - an 'average' rating - there's nothing wrong with the kit that a couple of hundred off the asking price wouldn't sort!
This PC is mainly aimed at the sort of market where a couple of hundred quid doesn't matter a great deal!
Ciao's new product format outlines the technical specifications on the product 'front page' - so there's little point in me going through this in any particular detail, except to suggest it's a system based around a single motherboard with 'integrated everything' you could want for a standard desktop unit.
The particular model I use is built in a 'standard desktop' format - or to put it rather less politely, a big flat horizontal slab upon which you rest your monitor.
The box comes in the somewhat austere corporate box, at one time, they tried to sex the look up by describing it as 'stealth
black' nine out of ten for trying, two out of ten for looks - actually, I'll revise that to a six, as I don't mind plastic and tin looking like plastic and tin, and I hate silver paint for the sake of it!
Mine came with a CD-Rom (not a DVD) and a 3.5" floppy drive.
- it surprises me that floppies still come as standard, I can't remember the last time I used one, 1.4Mb doesn't get you very far these days (I downloaded the ethernet driver for this system a couple of days ago and found it took up 15Mb)
Of course, it's what's inside that counts, and that's why, in a business context, this unit starts to score points.
The motherboard comes in a predictable bog-standard ATX format - and sports 3 PCI and one AGP graphics slot - not that you'd need them!
Onboard are all the usual goodies; sound, graphics, network (10/100 BPS ethernet) etc, an internal speaker provides what could be described as 'adequate' output, however this barely caters for much more than windows sounds, and the odd commentary from digital radio - I wouldn't bin your multimedia speakers quite yet!
Some concession to progress has been made, however, by placing two of the six USB ports on the front panel, so you don't have to pull everything out in order to plug in your digital camera.
I was, however, a disappointed to notice that the sound jacks were still located round the back. Still - the CD rom has an earphone socket, and a volume control, which is an increasingly rare commodity these days.
The 2.53GHz Intel P4 chip and 133MHz memory bus provides quite respectable performance, although by current standards is tending towards the mediocre.
The 40Gb 7200rpm hard disk drive is reasonable enough, and whilst not exactly designed for high-end data serving, matches the rest of the system specification pretty well.
The list price for such a system is around the thousand dollars mark - or around £700 in Sterling - that includes an operating system but no bundled software or monitor.
The standard onboard video is strictly designed for supporting a standard business applications, any attempt to use high-end video games will almost universally result in disappointment, but at least you have the option to put in an AGP card at a later stage (some of the hardware options allow for an ATI Radion card, or nVidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB (VGA & TV & DVI-D) 4X AGP )
Build quality is a tad better than we have come to expect from IBM of late; practical, quite nicely engineered, but again, the description of 'adequate' springs to mind.
They have obviously taken a leaf or two from the competition, virtually all of the internal components can be exchanged without having to revert to tools - the IBM standard has been retained, anything marked blue implies that it's for removing (In Compaq, it's green)
Depending on the model you buy, it comes with Windows XP Professional, or Windows/2000 Where IBM scores is in the cost of 'total system ownership' - because it comes as a fully integrated 'stand alone' unit it all hangs together rather nicely, and you don't expect any surprises.
It supports IBM's own system management software, all of which is designed to assist deployment in an enterprise (big business) environment.
Now, if you were the manager of several thousand desktop PCs, and you wanted to sleep at nights, which system would you want to deploy; the latest whizz-bang kit, with countless variations and flavours, each of which required individual setting up, or an anonymous 'bread and butter' machine which did it's job day in, day out (I rest my case)
In summary, well up to office tasks, but of limited interest to home users, but nonetheless well built, and will give many years faithful service.
My previous comparisons between IBM kit in general and Volvo remain unchallenged, it's capable, even a little sporty on occasions, but above all safe.