The Esys EPC A40001L really exudes 'cut price' from the moment you pull it out of the box.

It's large, rattly and cavernous, with a flimsy front panel.

Perhaps we shouldn't be quite so superficial – cheap it may well be, but nothing has been left out.

Generous feature set

There's a DVD burner for instance, an addition that seems to be increasingly rare among low-end machines, particularly as the credit crunch bites system builders already desperately fighting with their profit margins. There's a keyboard, mouse, and speakers too.

Ubuntu comes pre-installed, which is always a plus, although the version included as a CD with our machine was Dapper Drake – stable, yes, but long since outdated.

Low efficiency

Our energy-efficiency test hit this one hard. It's toting perhaps the most capable architecture of the bunch, running a dual-core Athlon 64 X2, but while this was a low-power chip in its day it can't quite match up to the efficient silicon of the other candidates.

Average draw was around 60W, which is almost quadruple some of the others. Aside from its last-gen power requirements, the flexibility that the 64-bit architecture offers is limited at best. Running in 64-bit mode could be asking for trouble unless you're very familiar with your compiler, since many packages and distros don't come ready-built for it.

The platform will happily run 32-bit code, of course, but you won't get the benefits of your 64-bit architecture.

Hard to recommend

The Esys EPC A40001L is built for deployment.

It's quite good for the money and certainly well featured, but we couldn't really recommend it en masse – that energy drain is about 10W higher than the minimum you should consider if kitting out a server room.