Advent DT1308 review

22 Sep 2011

Not the best built PC ever, but a rock-bottom price and Core i5 performance make for a tempting purchase

Price when reviewed: 
400(£400 inc VAT)
4

Intel’s Core i5 processors have found a profitable niche in the market thanks to a fine balance of price and performance, but we’ve not yet seen one of these mid-range chips in a system as cheap as Advent’s £399 DT1308.

The chip in question, the 2.9GHz Core i5-2310, is one of Intel’s lower-end, more limited Core i5 models. It’s quad-core, but there’s no Hyper-Threading, and Turbo Boost only scales up the 2.9GHz core clock to 3GHz ,with all four cores engaged, or 3.2GHz when one core is being used.

You also get 6MB of L3 cache - 2MB less than you’ll find in a Core i7, and the integrated graphics have been reigned in. Instead of the Intel HD 3000, you get Intel HD 2000. It’s a less powerful GPU, with a score of 25fps in our Low-quality benchmark and its failure to play 1080p video smoothly testament to its limited abilities.

Advent DT1308 - guts

Still, the application benchmark score of 0.84 is fine, with enough power on tap to run most applications. And the rest of the specification is decent for this price with 3GB of RAM, a 1TB Western Digital Caviar Green hard disk and DVD writer.

As you might expect of a PC at such a low price point, the chassis isn’t quite the epitome of style or build quality. The glossy black plastic looks generic and feels cheap, and the thin metal used to build the rest of the enclosure feels lightweight.

Pop off the side panel and you’ll find that, aesthetics aside, the Advent is built around the same chassis as the Medion Akoya P5704. That means an unusual layout: the motherboard is on the opposite side of the chassis to where we’re used to seeing it, and the processor, its heatsink and attendant plastic funnel are at the bottom of the chassis instead of the top.

Towards the front of the system are two hard disk bays. One is occupied by the hard disk and, while the second is vacant, installing a second drive will be tricky – the cables running from power switch to motherboard intrude on its space.

Elsewhere, upgrade potential is equally limited, with the system’s pair of DIMM sockets fully occupied, only one free PCI Express x16 slot and a pair of spare PCI Express x1 sockets available for upgrades. There is an empty 5.25in bay, but the PSU will need to be removed before it can be filled with, say, a Blu-ray drive.

Advent DT1308

A mess of interior cabling sprouting from the top-mounted power supply doesn’t help matters. As with the Medion, little effort has been made here to keep the interior neat, with a bundle of cables barely tied together and left to hang in the middle of the machine.

But with a PC this cheap you have to take the rough with the smooth, and there are many reasons to like this simple Advent machine. The lack of graphics card and modest processor cooler mean the Advent is very quiet when idle and barely any louder when stressed, and it runs extremely cool. An idle temperature of 51˚C and a stress-tested maximum of 67˚C is nothing to worry about. The modest specification also resulted in idle and peak power draws of 69W and 114W.

That, combined with the £399 price tag, means the DT1308 is well worth a look. It has its problems, but the Core i5 processor makes it a capable base unit for little more cash than the average nettop – and something of a bargain.

Details

Price ex VAT £333
Price inc VAT £400
Overall rating 4
Performance 4
Features & Design 2
Value for Money 6

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,000GB
RAM capacity 3.00GB

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 2.90GHz
Processor socket LGA 1155

Motherboard

Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots free 1
PCI-E x16 slots total 1
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 1
PCI-E x1 slots total 1
Internal SATA connectors 5
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 2
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

Graphics card Intel HD 2000
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Intel HD 2000
Graphics card RAM 512MB
DVI-I outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
DisplayPort outputs 0
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Capacity 1.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 931GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 32MB

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer

Case

Case format Full tower
Dimensions 186 x 394 x 380mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 1

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 4
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader yes

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 69W
Peak power consumption 114W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 25fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.84
Responsiveness score 0.86
Media score 0.86
Multitasking score 0.80