Advent 9515 review

We road-test a £400 laptop from PC World’s Internet arm

Advent 9515
As expected, £400 gets you a fair amount of computing kit,but without much finesse

TechRadar Verdict

Reasonable second PC, but outclassed by others


  • +

    Budget price

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    Good connectivity


  • -

    Cooling problems

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    Low graphics performance

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    Dodgy trackpad

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Maintaining an online business to complement an existing bricks and mortar store is often risky.

Yet there are genuine online bargains to be had from the UK's premier computer store, PC World, with its Advent range.

Having said this, £400 will get you a lotta laptop from anywhere these days, so how does PC World fit into the picture?

Inside Advent's latest laptop

The first thing you'll notice is the choice of AMD chip rather than a Core 2 Duo from Intel. The 2.0GHz Turion 64X2 TL60 chip and 2GB of RAM provides a good-enough feature set to handle Vista.

It may be out of favour in PCs generally, but the Turion produced excellent results in CPU tests, even passing 3,000 in 3DMark.

The low-end laptop does well to sport dedicated graphics in the form of ATI Radeon X1250, but it's nowhere near a gaming card and you won't find this laptop capable of much more than the basics where gaming or graphics-intensive applications are concerned.

A 160GB hard drive is average for this price and you'll find it pre-partitioned for back-up purposes.

Solid build

At first glance the Advent 9515 is well equipped in other areas at this price point.

You almost expect a horror chassis from low-end machines, but we liked the build quality of the 9515, which seemed rock solid, yet light with a neat design overall.

In particular, the generous keypad was comfortable and not of the flimsy nature often seen on machines costing around £300-£400. Sadly, the trackpad lets the keyboard area down.

The buttons aren't particularly responsive and the lack of an integrated scrollbar is a significant drawback considering that almost every other machine around has one these days.

The trackpad is also too small for a 15.4-inch notebook.

Side connections

Connectivity is good with wireless B and G built-in and three USB2 ports. Oddly though, no use is made of the back of the laptop.

All ports are located on either side of the laptop, particularly crowding the right-hand side. Because the battery doesn't protrude it would have made sense to at least locate the power socket at the rear to prevent clutter at the sides.

Back on top you'll find some odd buttons next to the power button: just a quick launch for your default Web browser and a fan button that's designed to aid cooling.

The rest of this strip is blank, when it could have easily been utilised for more shortcuts. The fan button in particular is of concern: why is it deemed of such importance? The simple answer is because this machine had serious heat issues.

Heat issues

The big negative here is the amount of heat generated, which was at times disturbing. Being expelled from the right-hand side of the laptop is the kind of air that you expect from a jet engine.

You can barely put your hand to the right of the laptop and even on the laptop's surface you'll find it quite hot.

The fan makes a huge difference, but the drain on battery life when using it is a big sacrifice. A third-party laptop cooler would be recommended instead.

As a secondary machine there's enough hardware here to make it a useful purchase, but with some excellent deals from bigger and better manufacturers there's not enough to get it to the level found in recent machines from Samsung and Toshiba, for example.

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