CCL BrightSpark Micro PC review
A fast, fully featured compact system let down only by its lack of dedicated graphics
Review Date: 2 Oct 2012
Reviewed By: Ross Twinning
Price when reviewed: £495 (£594 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
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.
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.
Author: Ross Twinning
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