CCL BrightSpark Micro PC review

2 Oct 2012

A fast, fully featured compact system let down only by its lack of dedicated graphics

CCL
Price when reviewed 
594
5

At only 225mm deep and 75mm wide, the CCL BrightSpark Micro PC will fit the smallest of spaces. It packs a mighty punch, however, thanks to Intel’s 3.3GHz Core i5-3550 quad-core processor. It lacks a dedicated graphics processor, but the integrated Intel HD 2500 GPU can handle mainstream 3D applications. The 8GB of DDR3 RAM rounds out a convincing core specification.

The good news doesn’t stop there: it also combines a 120GB SSD and a 1TB traditional drive, balancing speed for Windows and key applications and capacity for your data. Connectivity is also good, with four USB 2 ports at the front, and two USB 3 and two USB 2 ports at the rear. The rear panel also houses VGA, HDMI and DVI outputs, a Gigabit Ethernet port and audio outputs.

CCL

It’s a well-built system, up to the wear and tear of school life. Our biggest concern is the slim DVD/RW drive, which might prove flimsy in the hands of careless students. It’s also a little noisier than other systems on test.

The compact form factor is great if space is limited, but means upgradability is limited. There is a spare PCI Express slot, but the casing doesn’t provide space to add a graphics card, and you can’t add more memory without swapping out the existing RAM. What’s more, as the motherboard doesn’t include Intel’s latest Express 7 chipset, PCI Express 3 and 6Gbits/sec SATA III support are absent.

CCL supplied our test machine with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, but there are upgrade options if your school prefers Windows 7 Professional. It also comes bundled with Microsoft’s excellent 600 Series wired keyboard and mouse.

This is a fast PC, with a benchmark score of 0.97. The only thing that lets it down is 3D performance, and if that’s a key requirement then a larger system with a dedicated card would suit your needs better. The BrightSpark’s final trump card is the price and warranty. At only £495 excluding VAT and with a three-year on-site warranty, it’s an excellent deal.

Details

Price ex VAT £495
Price inc VAT £594
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 3yr on-site

Basic specifications

RAM capacity 8.00GB

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 3.30GHz

Motherboard

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3

Graphics card

Graphics card Intel HD Graphics 2500

Hard disk

Hard disk 120GB SSD
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity 1,000GB
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity 931

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Performance tests

Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.97