Medion Akoya P7300D desktop PC review

4 out of 5
£499

For

Price, plenty of connections, TV card

Against

No Blu-ray drive

There was a time that everyone had a desktop PC - it was the mainstay of your computing world, until notebooks started to become more portable, more powerful and more affordable. In the meantime, desktop PCs have continued to get cheaper and more powerful, offering a host of benefits that a notebook user might not have appreciated. For the many who use a notebook as a home computer, you can get desktop powerhouse for half the price of a similar spec notebook. Medion’s latest desktop offering is the Akoya P7300D, which is available for under £500.

The Medion Akoya P7300D is a typical tower PC, so is a substantial box that sits under your desk. It is sold as a base unit, i.e., it doesn’t come with a monitor. But that can perhaps be forgiven looking at the spec sheet. The P7300D packs in serious power thanks to the Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor which runs at 2.33GHz. This is backed by 4GB of RAM. The result is a setup that runs Vista with an Experience Rating of 5.9, i.e., top score.

In practice this means that the P7300D can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. It will zip around multiple tasks with absolute ease with barely a pause for thought. This also extends to more power-hungry tasks such as video editing and this will PC will suit the HD camcorder user, with 1TB of hard drive space onboard, providing plenty of storage.

Graphics are handled by the Nvidia GeForce 9600GT, a value offering, but powerful graphics card with 512MB dedicated memory, giving you support for HD video, with VGA, DVI and HDMI. It is a shame that there is no Blu-ray drive fitted (although one could be added for not too much extra). That HDMI will allow you to hook-up to the latest monitors or TVs, whilst the graphics card will let you play the latest games, without having to turn all the settings down.

Also packed in is a TV tuner, giving you analogue, DVB-T and DVB-S tuners, which when combined with Windows Media Centre will let you record TV, as well as access the EPG for your channels; a supplied remote gives you access to all the Media Centre Functions.

The tower itself is perhaps nothing to get excited about, mostly a silver/grey box with a glossy plastic front. The drive bays are hidden behind spring-loaded doors, giving you a clean look. A release catch around the right-hand side allows you to eject the discs, and yes, there is a spare space should you wish to install that Blu-ray drive as well.

Also in the front, lurking behind a third panel secured by a press catch is a "ConnectXL" panel, giving you two USB slots, MS/SD/MMC, CF, SM, xD readers, aSATA and IEEE 1394/FireWire. You also get collection of convenient media connections: headphone and mic jacks, stereo audio auxiliary in, as well as Composite and S-Video in.

Further connections around the back give you more TV and audio connections, giving you Scart, Component and Composite video, S-Video, further audio connections give you analogue and digital outputs, including SPDIF and Optical, and 8-channel audio support. There are a further six USB slots, Ethernet and FireWire, and the normal PS/2 connectors for a keyboard and mouse. There is also a serial port.

The P7300D comes supplied with a wireless keyboard and mouse, which, whilst rather basic do work fairly well. The mouse is fairly large but does give you four buttons on top of the clickable scroll wheel. The keyboard is full sized, with a number of shortcut keys, but unfortunately the keys are not very pronounced, but then travel too far, so you tend to hit the surrounding keys as you type.

On the top of the tower you’ll also find a HHD Tray with connections for hooking up a Medion HDDrive2Go. For connecting to your network you’ll find Gigabit Ethernet as well as b/g/n Wi-Fi.

The P7300D comes with Windows Vista Home Premium, with Media Centre, the 32-bit version installed, with the 64-bit edition included on DVD. You also get a range of other bundled software including Microsoft Works, Office 2007 trial, Coral Draw Essentials 3, Nero Essentials 8 and BullGuard Internet Security, as well as Google freeware. Those looking to get the most from their powerhouse will need to invest in full versions of some of this software, especially those looking for the full range of video file format support.

Verdict

It is easy to forget the advantages of a desktop unit once you have become accustomed to the portability of a notebook. However, if your notebook never moves, then you can get some serious power for your money, with the benefit of easy upgradeability.

Priced at a penny under £500, you will have to factor in the provision for a monitor, either as a new purchase or using an existing unit. Even so, as a quad-core unit this is highly competitive against similar spec base units.

But with performance as slick as this, at this price, it is difficult not to seriously considering the P7300D if you are looking to upgrade or replace your existing desktop PC. It is just a shame you don't get a Blu-ray drive to complete the package.

As with most Medion lines, you’ll have to look out for the stockist details, but it should be available Aldi stores from 27 November.