- Appealing design
- good features.
- No monitor supplied as standard
- little room for internal expansion.
The VAIO PCV-RX1 is the second Sony desktop we've reviewed, and whereas the previous model -- the PCV-LX1 -- was a compact unit with modest performance, this is a larger and more fully specified system. One of the most important improvements is the RX1's use of a proper 3D graphics card rather than the LX1's integrated graphics. What hasn't changed is Sony's committment to stylish design -- the RX1 would not look out of place in your living room.
The VAIO PCV-RX1 is based around a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 and comes with 256MB of RDRAM as standard. Graphics are handled by an ASUS-branded 32MB nVidia GeForce2 MX card. None of this is leading-edge technology, but you're not paying a leading-edge price for this system. The benchmarks results are modest, but not out of line with what you'd expect: a Business Winstone 2001 score of 41.1 and Content Creation Winstone 2002 score of 25.2 aren't as high as our reference 2GHz Pentium 4 system, but they aren't supposed to be. The GeForce2 MX chipset is beginning to show its age, and the RX1's 3DMark 2001 score of 2,375 is less than half of the typical scores for more recent cards.
The PCV-RX1 is well equipped, fitted with DVD-ROM and CD-RW drives, a Memory Stick slot, three USB ports and two IEEE 1394-compatible i.LINK ports. Two drop-down flaps on the front conceal the connectors and media -- the Memory Stick slot and floppy drive under the upper one, a 4-pin i.LINK port and two USB ports beneath the lower one. All the other ports are on the rear of the unit, including 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet and optical audio out connectors.
The case can be opened without the use of tools, although it's cramped once you get inside. The Intel 850-based ASUS motherboard is labelled 'P4T-LE', although this doesn't appear to be a separately available unit -- the nearest equivalent is the P4T-M. You get four RIMM slots which, in our review model, were all occupied.
Internal expansion space is at a premium. There are only three PCI slots, of which one is taken up by the modem. As mentioned, there are no free memory slots, and only a single 3.5in. internal drive bay for fitting a second hard drive. Otherwise, you'll have to rely on the RX1's admittedly good external connectivity for expansion.
We were supplied with a Sony SDM-M51 15in. TFT LCD monitor to use with the RX1, and found it to be disappointing. Using an analogue connection and requiring some tuning to optimise the picture , it's the kind of flat-screen monitor you'd have expected two or three years ago, and current LCD technology is better than this monitor would suggest. For the £399 (ex. VAT) price of SDM-M51, we think you can get a better display, and that's what we'd advise you to do (we haven't included the cost of this monitor in the price above).
Sony's usual bundle of multimedia software comes with the RX1, including a few Adobe packages such as Premier LE, LiveElements and GoLive. This collection of applications should allow you to use the PC to capture and edit still and moving pictures and audio tracks. Windows XP Home is installed as standard, and this includes support for CD-R and CD-RW drives, so no separate software is bundled for this purpose.
As with Sony's other desktop PC, this is a fine-looking machine, but you can use this one for fun and games as well as general office computing. There isn't the level of internal expansion that its larger case might suggest, but you have enough connectivity to add most external peripherals. The performance isn't record-breaking, but neither is the cost. Overall, it's a nicely designed and well priced PC that should satisfy all but the most power-hungry users.
|Case form factor||tower|
|OS & software|
|Operating system||Windows XP Home|
|Software included||Dvgate, Media Bar DVD player, PictureGear, PictureToy, SmartCapture, VisualFlow, MovieShaker, SonicStage, Adobe Premiere 6.0 LE, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe GoLive, Adobe LiveMotion, Norton Antivirus, Callserve, Panorama Maker 2000, Real Jukebox/RealPlayer, Quicktime, Acrobat Reader, Dance eJay 3 (not pre-installed)|
|Chipset & memory|
|RAM installed||256 MB|
|Number of memory slots||4|
|RAM capacity||0.512 GB|
|Storage controller||Intel 801|
|GPU||nVidia GeForce2 MX|
|Graphics RAM||32 MB|
|Display technology||TFT LCD|
|Display size||15 in|
|FireWire (IEEE 1394)||2|
|Other||Memory stick slot, optical audio out.|
|Service & support|
|Standard warranty||1 year|
|Rotation speed||5400 rpm|
|Hard drive interface||Ultra ATA/100|
|Hard drive capacity||80 GB|
|Processor & memory|
|Clock speed||1.7 GHz|
|Processor model||Pentium 4|
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