Do it yourself. Or pay someone else to sort it all out for you. This, dear readers, is the perennial problem for any well-heeled purchaser of PCs.
If you're monied, of course, the default option at the higher end of the market is to buy a pre-built PC. You'll typically pay more than if you knock the thing together yourself from parts – but if you can afford it, that's a whole lot easier from day one and far more convenient in the long run.
After all, if a pre-built PC goes pop, you just send it back to base. If your homebrew rig implodes, however, the tricky fault isolation is your problem (and very tricky it will be unless you have a drawer full of spare components to swap in), following which you face the vagaries of RMA'ing a single component.
But here's the thing. Even if you can easily afford to buy a high-end rig, there are reasons to DIY. First, it's fun and satisfying. Second, you have total control over your component mix. It's that latter thought that frames our impressions of the new Mesh Elite Game Changer 980.
Mesh, of course, is a familiar name. But this isn't quite the Mesh outfit you might have bought a PC from as far back as the 1990s. That went bust in 2011 before being bought back by the guy who originally ran it. No matter. What does count is that this is a £1,500 PC. At that price, it needs to not only be good, but also to absolutely not offend in terms of the component mix.
Performance and peripherals
For the most part, Mesh achieves just that. The combination of an Intel Core i7-4790K and Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics card can hardly be quibbled with, and, as our benchmark results show – see the following image for the details – this machine certainly cranks out the numbers. Ditto the 16GB of memory, the MSI Gaming Z97 mainboard and the Coolermaster Neptune water cooler for the CPU.
From there, however, it gets a little dicier. The NZXT H440 case, for instance, looks polished and interesting, but is peculiarly difficult to crack open and lacks a slot for an optical drive, which is odd for a full tower case. We also note that the system overall is surprisingly noisy at idle, which may also be related to the NZXT box.
As for the Roccat keyboard and mouse, well, they are quality items but also quite personal items. If you're paying £1,500, you may well have something very specific that you prefer. However, what we're pretty sure you won't want is the Roccat headphones, which suffer from pretty pants sound quality, or the thoroughly poxy Powercool Pro Audio USB-powered speakers.
Actually, the latter are truly an embarrassment on this class of PC. It would be far better off with no speakers than these poverty-spec efforts. We could continue. But you're getting the picture. The core system is nice – but some of the details grate. Tolerable for £500. Less easy to swallow at three times the price.
Another possible stumbling block is the stock-clocked i7-4790K CPU. You can have it shipped at 4.4GHz forced for no extra charge. But that's only what the 4790K is supposed to do courtesy of its Turbo mode. At least an option to take things further would be appreciated on this kind of enthusiast box.