Palicomp Alpha Blade review
The first Windows 8 PC we've seen from Palicomp is a no-nonsense powerhouse. Its Intel Core i5-3570K processor is overclocked to 4.6GHz, and the PC even has an overclocked AMD Radeon HD 7950 graphics card.
Unfortunately, it's not a pretty PC, certainly not compared to the Windows 8 machines we’ve seen from companies such as Wired2Fire and Scan. The Thermaltake case has rather too much cheap-feeling plastic and glossy strips to look particularly classy. The case doesn’t have any soundproofing, either, and the PC makes a slight rushing sound, which seems to come mainly from the graphics card.
The case isn’t a problem from a practical point of view, though. You get five free 3 1/2in drive bays and two 5 1/4in models for expansion. There's also a SATA docking connector on the top of the case, which means you can plug a 3.5in hard disk straight in. This is useful for transferring files from your old PC's disk. While there's nothing to obstruct airflow and all the PC's cables are neatly tied up in bunches, they're not hidden behind a false side panel as in some of the neater PCs we've seen.
The PC's motherboard is the same Asus P8Z77-V LX we saw in Wired2Fire's Windows 8 Diablo Predator. This means you get a fairly modest selection of ports on the rear, including four USB, two USB3 and 5.1 analogue audio outputs and optical S/PDIF. The front of the case has two USB ports, but unfortunately no USB3, although you could always add another USB3 port using a backplate and the header on the motherboard. There are three PCI expansion slots and a spare PCI Express x16 slot, which you could also use for PCI Express x1 or x4 cards.
The motherboard's 120GB boot SSD and large 2TB hard disk take up both of the board's SATA3 ports, while two of the SATA2 ports are taken up by the Blu-ray reader/DVD rewriter drive and top-mounted hard disk dock. This leaves a couple of SATA2 ports for extra storage.
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