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Altech Matador No.1

Altech Matador No.1

If you're looking for a budget PC option, the Altech Matador No.1 offers a complete package. This is a neat combination that includes the PC, a 17in LCD, keyboard and mouse. It comes with Windows XP Home and includes a coupon for a free Vista upgrade. The Matador will happily run most tasks required of the average PC without a hitch, but it does have some upgrade limitations.

Using this machine for surfing online, burning DVDs, completing homework or doing home accounting will be fine, but if you decide you need more taxing tasks such as advanced photo editing or producing music, you may find these programs demand more than this PC can give.

The Matador No.1 includes an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ (2.0GHz) CPU installed with 512MB of 400MHz DDR RAM. It uses an integrated VIA/S3G UniChrome Pro IGP graphics chip rather than a dedicated graphics card. With these specifications it was able to score 82 in World Bench 5. This score suggests it will handle most everyday tasks, and puts this system in a great position for the user who needs to do their essential home and business work.

The installed mini-ATX motherboard only supports an 8x AGP (advanced graphics port) slot and three PCI slots. Altech's decision to use a motherboard that doesn't support PCI Express leaves this system in limbo for future upgrades. Although many graphics card manufacturers are making AGP versions of their recently marketed cards, the best performance comes with PCI Express cards. This motherboard also restricts the kind of RAM you can use, limiting it to PC3200 (DDR400MHz) RAM. The latest AMD CPUs use the AM2 socket, but the Matador No. 1 motherboard uses socket 754. This means an AMD Athlon 64 3700+ (2.4GHz) is the best CPU available to install in this system.

There is only one IDE and SATA port free with the DVD re-writer and 80GB hard drive installed, which doesn't allow much expansion. However, the available upgrades will improve system performance and should be fairly inexpensive too, so there's still room for improvement. Simply increasing the RAM will help system performance and may be the easiest and cheapest option to boost this PC.

The minimal hardware means there's little heat generated and as such, the CPU fan and power supply fan should be enough to keep it at a functioning temperature. We did note that the power supply fan seems to be constantly running at full speed, so noise is noticeable.

Connectivity is fairly standard with six USB ports and a 10/100 Ethernet connection. The case has a pleasant design and allows for up to five 3.5in hard drive bays, two 3.5in external (floppy drive) bays and four 5.25in optical drive bays. On the fascia, users will find two of the six USB ports but there's no FireWire or audio ports easily accessible on the front panel.


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