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Palicomp AMD Abyss review: An all-rounder of the best sort

James Archer
18 Feb 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
700
inc VAT

Well-specced in almost every regard, this is a keenly balanced, do-anything PC with some standout storage

Pros 
No clear weaknesses
Great value
Extensive connectivity and upgradability
Cons 
Rivals are slightly faster
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It's neither uncommon nor surprising when two rival PCs share the odd component – as these very systems show with their matching motherboards and graphics cards. Still, the visual aspect makes it impossible to gloss over how the AMD Abyss has the exact same case - the Kolink Strong - as the Chillblast Fusion Recoil. If it weren’t for the little Chillblast logo added to the latter, things could have gotten very confusing very quickly.

The AMD Abyss doesn’t have the HAL 9000-esque red circle glowing through the tinted, tempered glass side panel, but some cycling RGB effects on the motherboard give it something to admire through the pane. This also takes better advantage of the Stronghold’s proportions, coming fitted with a full ATX motherboard instead of microATX – so you get more RAM and PCI-E slots to play with.

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Palicomp AMD Abyss review: Features

The Fusion Recoil has a better (if older) CPU in its Ryzen 7 1700, as well as 16GB of RAM, compared to the AMD Abyss’ Ryzen 5 2600X and 8GB of DDR4. However, Palicomp’s PC also has a much more capable GPU, the Radeon RX 570, as well as hands-down the best storage configuration of any £700 system: a 512GB NVMe SSD with a 1TB hard disk. That’s a combination generally reserved for PCs well beyond the £1,000 mark.

SATA SSDs can’t hope to keep up with the 512GB drive’s read and write speeds, which AS SSD measured at 1,657.4MB/s and 953.3MB/s respectively. The PC Specialist Apollo S2’s SSD is even quicker, on both counts, but this one has twice the capacity, which is a more than acceptable opportunity cost. It means you can save far more folders and applications to the faster drive of the two, keeping performance high across a greater range of tasks than on the Apollo S2, where you’d much sooner have to rely on the slow hard disk.

Palicomp AMD Abyss review: Performance

A PC excelling in one area often means it falters in others, but what makes the AMD Abyss so good is that it can do pretty much everything either better, as well or almost as well as its peers. Take CPU performance – the hexa-core Ryzen 5 2600X doesn’t go dead even with the Fusion Recoil’s octa-core Ryzen 7 1700, but it’s closer than you might think, with the AMD Abyss scoring 146 in our 4K benchmark’s image test, 222 in the video test and 264 in the multitasking test, for 230 overall. That’s a mere 11 point difference on overall scores, and also happens to put the AMD Abyss as second-best of all eight (just ahead of the Mesh Matrix Ryzen Pro, which scored 227).

It’s a similar story with the graphics card, which isn’t the very best you can get – the Apollo S2 and Overclockers Gaming Vision VR use varying GeForce GTX 1060 cards, which put them ahead in the most GPU-intensive gaming benchmarks. Nonetheless, it’s never more than a small difference: in Metro: Last Light Redux, for instance, the AMD Abyss averaged 43fps at 1,920x1,080 and 24fps at 2,560x1,440, respectively just 5fps and 3fps behind the Gaming Vision VR.

Overclockers’ and PC Specialist’s systems are better for VR, as the AMD Abyss scored a more middling 6.3 in the SteamVR Performance Test, but it was much more competitive in Dirt: Showdown. Here, it produced 124fps at 1,920x1,080 and 89fps at 2,560x1,440, so you couldn’t visibly tell the difference between this and the Apollo S2. It also notably beat the Gaming Vision VR by a decent margin, thanks to the latter’s weaker processor and Dirt’s CPU-leaning optimisation.

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Palicomp AMD Abyss review: Connectivity

The AMD Abyss also has both systems outmatched for connectivity and upgradability. Externally, there are welcome provisions to faster ports than the usual USB2 and USB3 fare. There are still two each of these on the rear I/O panel, but they’re accompanied by two USB3.1 and, most unusually, a USB Type-C connector. If you need even more, there are two USB2 ports and one USB3 on the front.

PS/2, Ethernet and 3.5mm audio connectivity are all pretty standard, and there’s no Wi-Fi without adding an expansion card yourself, but the GPU adds a fine mix of outputs: one HDMI, three DisplayPorts and one DVI-D.

Back on the inside, you get (understandably) the exact same three 3.5in bays and two 2.5in bays, and of these, only one of the 3.5in slots are already taken, as the SSD sits in an M.2 slot. The motherboard also offers a spare PCI-E x16 slot, three PCI-E x1 slots (none of which are blocked by the graphics card) and three empty RAM slots. Only the Gaming Vision VR has a comparably comprehensive array of upgrade opportunities.

Palicomp AMD Abyss review: Drawbacks

As for complaints, there’s not much to say – this is essentially a set of very good components inside a very nice-looking case. There is one minor issue which, curiously, didn’t affect the Fusion Recoil’s chassis, and it’s how the plastic front panel of the AMD Abyss vibrates slightly when the PC is running. This causes a slight humming sound when placed on a hard surface, so it’s best placed on a carpeted floor.

Palicomp AMD Abyss review: Verdict

Otherwise, there’s just about nothing to dislike. While the AMD Abyss doesn’t have the absolute best CPU or graphics card, it doesn’t have any strong weaknesses in exchange – and in many cases, it’s only second-best to its competitors by tiny margins. It’s an all-rounder of the best sort, and that makes it absolutely worth buying.

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Key specifications
ProcessorHexa-core 3.6GHz AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
RAM8GB
Memory64GB
MotherboardAsus TUF B450-Plus
Front USB ports2 x USB2, 1 x USB3
Rear USB ports2 x USB2, 2 x USB3, 2 x USB3.1, 1 x USB Type-C
Total storage512GB SSD, 1TB hard disk
Graphics card8GB AMD Radeon RX 570 Armor 8GB OC
Graphics/video ports1 x HDMI, 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x DVI-D
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
WarrantyThree years RTB
Price£700 inc VAT