You may not have heard of RL Supplies. That's no surprising, given that it relies on word of mouth and reviews in the media to bring in business. It's been going for ten years though, so the company must be doing something right.
As well as selling computer components and ready-made systems, RL Supplies builds PCs to order. So, we set it a goal of coming up with a Vista setup that would appeal to those looking to replace their ageing (no doubt beige) home system. We specified that it should be capable of a range of functions and cost no more than £600.
The first thing to strike us when we unpacked the PC was the lightness of the case. It's made of black plastic and the thinnest of sheet metal, and may not withstand the to-ing and fro-ing of multiple component upgrades.
Yet this system should be fine for a good few years of use and the average user won't even need to delve inside the case. Furthermore, its lightweight nature means that it can be repositioned with ease. Inside the case it's extremely neat, with all cables tided away for optimum airflow.
With just the one processor fan cooling the factory-overclocked CPU, this is a quiet system that'll prove unobtrusive in the home.
A good combination of core components make up this system. An Asus motherboard and TV tuner card, Hitachi hard disk and Samsung optical drive mean extra peace of mind from these established manufacturers.
The RAM and graphics come courtesy of Elixir and Manli, respectively - companies that we're less familiar with and so can't vouch for their track record. Still, should anything go wrong with the PC, the two-year warranty provides a decent safety net.
Overall, credit to RL Supplies for upping the quality on offer, without doing the same to the price tag.
The hardware requirements for Vista Home Premium are exceeded by the PC and so the OS performs well enough. 3D Mark 06 produced a score of 2,177 that categories the machine as a media centre with the capacity for games and graphics work, and the Windows Experience score of 4.9 backs up the impression that this is an accomplished system.
As an aside, at the configuration stage you can opt to have Windows XP installed instead, which will give you a stable, mature OS and knock £10 off the price.
What with the graphics card being DirectX 10 compatible, able to handle HDMI and having both digital and analog output, we were surprised to see that the supplied monitor possessed a lone analog input.
Yet this didn't make a difference to the viewing experience, which was excellent. Good viewing angles, bright display and a solid build quality gets this Asus model a thumbs up from us. Elsewhere, the compact 2.1 Logitech speaker set features a novel digital music player cradle, while the wired Microsoft keyboard and mouse package is geared towards multimedia use.
Frankly, we're hard pushed to find fault with this system. RL Systems has fulfilled the brief that we gave it pretty much down to the letter. With service like this, we doubt you'll be disappointed with any system that it builds for you.