Monday, December 9, 2013

Review: Computer Planet ND 200

Review: Computer Planet ND 200

Review: Computer Planet ND 200

The ND 200 name might be rather uninspiring, but it certainly makes a change from some of the more overly bombastic titles you normally associate with gaming desktop manufacturers. To be honest, we don't give a wet slap what a machine is called if its overall build quality and performance make a statement.

However, this machine from Computer Planet seems to be making a bit of a garbled one. It certainly looks the part, with that stylish, modern Fractal Design chassis. It's modest, clean and beautifully made, with the controls and USB 3.0 ports tucked away around the side, leaving the front free of clutter.

Sadly though, those USB 3.0 ports were the first sign of trouble - they simply don't work. We were planning to install our rather hefty test su ite on the 500GB HDD using a speedy USB 3.0 connection to ease the transfer. It was only when we finally checked for the tell-tale blue USB ports on the back panel that we realised how elderly this budget motherboard really was.

The MSI 760GM was a decent AMD board a few years back, but now the lack of USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps connections means there are some serious roadblocks along this little machine's upgrade path. It will also only officially support dual-channel memory up to 1,333MHz, so speedy RAM is completely out, though as our feature on memory later on will show that's no great issue.

Still, it's a shame Computer Planet opted for single channel memory rather than the higher performance dual channel pairing.

Weak heart

We don't mind the AMD FX-4100 CPU though. It's a decent little pseudo quad-core standard processor, and ably supports Computer Planet's chosen GPU. Sadly, that mATX motherboard won't let it shine.

Being a Black Edit ion chip, the FX-4100 is fully unlocked and we were able to push our engineering sample well over 5GHz, enabling it to deliver some really impressive processing performance. This motherboard wont allow you to reach such heights however, and stands right in the way of any upgrade you may want in the future. The first thing to replace is the motherboard, and that's not a tempting prospect for anyone.

The choice of graphics card is this build's redeeming feature; pairing the FX CPU with the AMD HD 7850 puts the ND 200 mighty close to the top table in terms of the straight gaming performance. The HD 7850 is along the same lines as the GTX 650 Ti Boost in performance terms.


Multi-thread CPU performance
Cinebench 11.5: Index score: Higher is better

Aria Gladiator Hurricane: 3.7
Chillblast Fusion Cannon: 3.66
Computer Planet ND 200: 2.96
Cyberpower Ultra Fusion: 1.53
DinoPC Batman GTX 660: 3.96
Pali comp Haswell i5 Gamer: 5.53
PC Specialist Trinity Trion A8: 3.25
Vibox Crypt: 3.45
Wire2Fire Velocity Ultima: 3.28

Gaming performance
Heaven 4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better

Aria Gladiator Hurricane: 9.1
Chillblast Fusion Cannon: 25.4
Computer Planet ND 200: 22.5
Cyberpower Ultra Fusion: 14.7
DinoPC Batman GTX 660: 28.8
Palicomp Haswell i5 Gamer: 15.2
PC Specialist Trinity Trion A8: 18.7
Vibox Crypt: 11.5
Wire2Fire Velocity Ultima: 25.1

Bioshock Infinite: Frames per second: Higher is better
Aria Gladiator Hurricane: 16
Chillblast Fusion Cannon: 46
Computer Planet ND 200: 39
Cyberpower Ultra Fusion: 26
DinoPC Batman GTX 660: 51
Palicomp Haswell i5 Gamer: 25
PC Specialist Trinity Trion A8: 33
Vibox Crypt: 19
Wire2Fire Velocity Ultima: 44

CoH 2: Frames per second: Higher is better
Aria Gla diator Hurricane: 6
Chillblast Fusion Cannon: 16
Computer Planet ND 200: 18
Cyberpower Ultra Fusion: 6
DinoPC Batman GTX 660: 19
Palicomp Haswell i5 Gamer: 11
PC Specialist Trinity Trion A8: A8 6
Vibox Crypt: 6
Wire2Fire Velocity Ultima: 15

GRID 2: Frames per second: Higher is better
Aria Gladiator Hurricane: 27
Chillblast Fusion Cannon: 52
Computer Planet ND 200: 50
Cyberpower Ultra Fusion: 33
DinoPC Batman GTX 660: 60
Palicomp Haswell i5 Gamer: 38
PC Specialist Trinity Trion A8: 45
Vibox Crypt: 26
Wire2Fire Velocity Ultima: 49

Video encode performance
X264 4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better

Aria Gladiator Hurricane: 24.64
Chillblast Fusion Cannon: 21.63
Computer Planet ND 200: 18.64
Cyberpower Ultra Fusion: 10.79
DinoPC Batman GTX 660: 28.44
Palicomp Haswell i5 Gamer: 33.39
PC Specialist Trinity Tr ion A8: 21.86
Vibox Crypt: 22.34
Wire2Fire Velocity Ultima: 21.42

Memory bandwidth @ optimised defaults
SiSoft Sandra: Gigabytes per second: Higher is better

Aria Gladiator Hurricane: 15.53
Chillblast Fusion Cannon: 21
Computer Planet ND 200: 8.63
Cyberpower Ultra Fusion: 8.53
DinoPC Batman GTX 660: 16.32
Palicomp Haswell i5 Gamer: 21
PC Specialist Trinity Trion A8: 7.5
Vibox Crypt: 12.14
Wire2Fire Velocity Ultima: 12.26

If straight gaming is all you're looking for then the ND 200 isn't necessarily a bad choice, but you'll hit problems when it comes to upgrading, and thus ultimately with the value of your purchase.

Right now you can get some decent 1080p gaming performance out of it, but in terms of general computing it already feels rather sluggish because of the weak memory and the slow hard drive.


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//PART 2