Rig building by the numbers. At first glance, that pretty much sums up the approach PC Specialist take. Aesthetically, the Apollo V-80 certainly delivers little by way of surprise and delight. The chassis is a deeply anonymous plastic and pressed metal affair of the kind we would defy anyone to get excited about.
Of course, the upside to this sort of mechanical, joyless approach to system building should be a no-nonsense machine that trades showbiz looks for quality components and an excellent all-round specification. Right?
With the Apollo, it's a case of very nearly, but not quite. It's certainly a neat and professionally assembled system inside and out. And we have no bone to pick with the headline specifications. How could we when this system packs a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo processor fed by a 1,333MHz processor bus and 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 memory?
Oh, and an Nvidia GeForce 8800GTS 320MB which is ready to tag team with another GTS, should you wish, courtesy of the Asus P5N SLI motherboard.
It is in those essential finer details, therefore, that this gaming rig falls a little short. We would certainly prefer to see something a bit more effective and imaginative cooling the CPU than the stock Intel item PC Specialist had plumped for, for instance.
The Corsair ValueRam and cheap-looking, if theoretically powerful, 600W FSP power supply smack of penny pinching, too. We also reckon the 320GB hard drive is a little stingy given the vanishingly small sticker prices of hard disks these days.
It's a fault shared with a few others on test this month, but that will be precious little compensation when those hard-disk devouring video downloads have you constantly bumping off the buffers.
Still, there's no doubting the Apollo returned a set of very respectable test results and went about its business in an inconspicuous but quietly impressive manner. Only its slightly sub-par scores in Half-Life 2 disappointed.
Half-Life 2 is a distinctly CPU-sensitive game at low to mid-range resolutions. Given its Core 2 Duo 2.66GHz processor, we expected the Apollo to match the similar-specced Mesh and Yoyotech systems in that benchmark.
Nevertheless, a slightly clattery DVD aside, PC Specialist has done a rather good job of isolating system noise. Similarly, we're pleased to see that the temptation to splatter the Apollo with tiresome software trials has been resisted. PowerDVD and Nero Home essentials make an appearance on the desktop, but that's fine by us.