Watford Electronics – Aries Spacecube 1200 review

a little different to the usual beige box
Photo of Watford Electronics – Aries Spacecube 1200
£399 + VAT

If you’re still of the opinion that PCs are too big, Watford’s Aries SpaceCube 1200 could change your mind. Not that much bigger than a games console, the SpaceCube is small, but perfectly formed. Its all-aluminium case looks less office-like than the typical beige box and also provides extra cooling. With so much packed into a small volume, you might expect the PC to get hot, but its two fans and latest Celeron technology manage to keep the heat output down.

And there really isn’t a lot of room inside the SpaceCube 1200. As well as the 1.1GHz Celeron processor, there’s 128MB of main memory and a 40GB hard drive – and that’s just in the base configuration. You can build in the components you want from a mix-and-match facility on Watford’s Web page. The configuration priced here includes a 16-speed DVD drive and a 3.5-inch floppy. There’s no room for any other drives.

One of the most interesting parts of the SpaceCube 1200 is its wide range of input and output sockets. As well as four USB ports, to at the front and two at the back, there are two Firewire ports, a V92 modem and a 10/100 BaseT Ethernet port, all at the rear.

The only places you lose out with this economical, compact design are in its graphic and sound support. The graphic signal is provided by an S3-designed chip on the system board and uses 16MB of main memory for its own purposes. This kind of architecture means you don’t need a separate graphics card, but its performance leaves something to be desired. You may find some jerkiness when trying to play the latest 3D games on this machine, though it will be more than adequate for general-purpose graphics applications, including playing back DVD movies.

Sound, like the graphics output, comes from part of the support chipset on the system board, and is basic stereo. You’re not going to be able to wire this PC up for 5.1 Dolby soundtracks and there are no expansion slots, so you can’t plug-in a separate soundcard or graphics adapter. You have to accept what you’re given.

The rest of the SpaceCube’s performance is fair for its specification, with some reasonably impressive results on typical application benchmarks. Because of its small size, it’s a little noisy, but no more so than several tower-case PCs we’ve tested in the past.

What the price tag doesn’t include is a monitor, keyboard or mouse. You should add on an extra £150 for these, or £200 if you want the keyboard and mouse to be cordless. Double that, if you want an LCD monitor. This is still a good overall price for what is a very convenient, tuck-away, lifestyle PC.

Company: Watford Electronics

Contact: 0870 220 0700

You lose little with the size reduction in the SpaceCube 1200, other than video performance. Maybe not one for the gamer, then, but for most other uses this is a well-made, very compact PC.