Medion Akoya P4314 desktop PC review

Medion have a habit of coming along and selling PCs with a on limited availability through the likes of Aldi. The P4314 is typical of such an offering, giving you compelling hardware specs at a price that is pretty reasonable, in this case £479. So what do you get for your money.

First up the P4314 is a mini-tower, in that it measures 36.8 (height) x 40 x 15cm. It terms of design is it rather basic. The body is black with a front silver clip-on fascia. It does look a little cheap, but then this is available at a knockdown price, so we'll forgive that.

The DVD RW drive sits behind the top door, with a second bay beneath that provides some scope for the addition of an extra drive, perhaps a Blu-ray drive. The DVD drive leaps out with a bit of a clatter. There is also an empty space which could house a 3.5in drive, or any of the range of accessory drives that fits into a bay of that size. In the centre of the front is a drop down section that slides back to reveal a host of front connections - card readers covering SD/MS/MMC, CF, SM and xD, 2x USB 2.0 connections and 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks.

The slide action is a little rough and ready as the door raggedly drops out of the way. It feels as though it might break before the rest of the computer expires, so you probably want to leave it open if you intend to use those connections on the front. They are practically placed meaning day-to-day connections are not hassle as you don't have to scrabble around the back.

Around the back is where the action really is, however. There you'll find the motherboard-based audio connections, giving you surround sound and digital optical and coaxial connections should you wish to connect to an AV receiver and make the PC part of your home cinema setup.

You'll find 6x USB2.0, 2x PS/2 connections for an older keyboard and mouse, Ethernet, a serial port and IEEE 1394 FireWire around the back. There is no Wi-Fi though, so you'll either need to plug in to get online, or add it yourself, although this isn't uncommon in desktops and shouldn't be a deterrent.

Graphics are handled by the ATi Radeon HD 4650, housed on the motherboard's PCI-Express slot and features 1GB of graphics memory, so it will play some more demanding games, but not at the highest settings. We lost far too much time playing Crysis on the P4314, all for the purposes of testing, of course. The graphics card features HDMI for hooking up to the latest monitors or your HDTV, alongside DVI and VGA so all avenues are catered for.

High definition movie content is handled well, so if you have camera or camcorder that is capturing HD content, then this PC will let you play it back without any problems. We sampled content from a number of HD sources which all played smoothly.

Driving the P4314 is an Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 processor running at 2.8GHz and backed by 4GB of RAM. As a result, the PC has no problems handling multiple applications and zip around Windows Vista with no problem at all.

To boost the media offering, there is also a TV card included in one of the PCI slots, as is common on Medion devices. This offers you both a standard aerial connection and satellite, giving you both DVB-T and DVB-S tuners, as well as an analogue which will soon be obsolete, in the UK at least.

In terms of upgradability, there is a spare PCI slot inside but things are a little cramped due to the small stature, so expansion is limited. As a 32-bit system, the P4314 is maxed-out with 4GB or RAM anyway, so the two spare DIMM slots will most likely remain empty too.

There is a 1TB drive installed which should appeal to those who intend to use the P4314 to store large qualities of data, be it movies, music or photos, although the drive is rather noisy, so you'll hear it working away as you access that data. A large extraction fan sits over the processor, with plenty of ventilation packed into the left-hand wall of the PC case which means its a constant presence in the room, certainly not the quietest machine out there, which perhaps gives away it's budget status.

Included as part of the package you'll find the standard Medion keyboard and mouse offering which leave a lot to be desired as both feel cheap and take the pleasure out of daily use. If you are thinking of using this as your main PC, then it is well worth investing in aftermarket peripherals to improve the experience. There is no monitor either included in the £479 price.

The bundled software offering is rather standard, giving you OEM version of Nero and MS Works, and trials of Bullguard and Office.

Verdict

The Medion Akoya P4314 is likely to appeal to those looking for a budget desktop, perhaps to combine with an existing monitor, as a jack-of-all-trades computer. The design and construction doesn't really impress, but the basic specs are covered and it will serve as an all-round media PC without too many problems.

In terms of mainstream PC offerings the price is pretty competitive and you might struggle to find better value that gives you the same graphics offering or hard drive capacity. Although for the most part the hardware ticks the right boxes, it doesn't step much beyond this, both in terms of adding extras or in the quality of the build.