Palicomp Phoenix i5 Shinobi review
With blistering performance and high-quality hardware, Palicomp's Shinobi is a ninja PC
Review Date: 30 Oct 2011
Price when reviewed: £1,000
Reviewed By: Kat Orphanides
If you spend £1,000 on a PC, you shouldn't have to make compromises; something Palicomp's i5 Shinobi proves with style. Even the case looks brilliant, with a glossy front panel lid that closes over the external drive bays and a matt black finish on both its exterior and interior. It's also sound-proofed, with a layer of foam attached to the side and front panels. Even with the side panel removed, you can only hear a low rushing sound from the case, CPU and graphics card fans. It's not completely silent with the case closed, but it's not loud enough to really be noticeable either. There aren't many perforations to let dust in, either - the bottom air vent for the PSU is covered by a gauze mesh.
The 850W Powercool power supply isn't from a big brand, but it's a step above the unlabelled generic power supplies fitted to most PCs. It's a modular PSU, so only the cables it needs are plugged in - the ones that aren't in use are supplied with the PC, along with a DVI cable and extra drive rails for the case. The case has seven unused 3 1/2in drive bays, one of which is adapted for a 2 1/2in disk, so you could fit an SSD easily. The only occupied bay contains a generous 2TB hard disk. Two of the four 5 1/4in bays are in use. One contains a Blu-ray reader and the other a hot-pluggable external hard disk bay connected to one of the motherboard's two SATA3 ports.
The disc drive and hard disk are connected to SATA2 and SATA3 ports, leaving one spare SATA3 and two spare SATA2 ports available for future expansion. There are also plenty of slots for PCI and PCI-E expansion cards, although a lot of space is taken up by the large graphics card and heatsink. One PCI-E x1 slot is obstructed by the graphics card, but there are two unused PCI-E x16 slots, which can be used for both PCI-E x1 and x4 cards, as well as a couple of vacant PCI slots, so there's still plenty of room for expansion. All four of the motherboard's memory slots are occupied by 2GB sticks of 1,600MHz Corsair XMS RAM. You'll need to remove the processor cooler's fan to take out one of the RAM sticks, but this is fairly simple to do.
The large processor cooler is needed, as the CPU has been overclocked to 4.8GHz, making it one of the highest Core i5-2500K overclocks we've seen. The system's overall score in our application benchmarks was 141, one of the fastest we've seen from a Core i5 and certainly fast enough for anything we can think of doing with a home PC. The graphics card is also a bit of a monster: a 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6970 with two DVI, one HDMI and two mini-DisplayPort outputs. It's an incredibly powerful card, producing 69fps in Dirt 3 at 1,920 x 1,080, 4x anti-aliasing and Ultra quality settings. Even the punishing Crysis 2 test ran at 25fps at Ultra quality. It's ideal for gamers who really care about their graphics.
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