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Palicomp AMD Avenger review - A great budget PC

James Archer
7 Jul 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
500
inc VAT (as of 7th of July)

Palicomp has assembled a mighty, if miniscule, budget PC with premium-grade storage

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Specifications

PROCESSOR: Quad-core 4.5GHz AMD Athlon X4 880K, RAM: 8GB DDR3, FRONT USB PORTS: 2x USB3, REAR USB PORTS: 4x USB2, 2x USB3, TOTAL STORAGE: 240GB SSD, 1TB HDD, GRAPHICS CARD: 4GB Palit GeForce GTX 960, DISPLAY: None, OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 10

Buy the AMD Avenger now from Palicomp

The Palicomp AMD Avenger employs a Fractal Design Core 1100 case putting it very much at the smaller, shorter end of the tower PC spectrum - which most people prefer these days over hulking monster PCs it seems.

It may be modest in size but the AMD Avenger hasn’t paired the case with similarly modest components. For starters, it’s packing a 2016-launched AMD Athlon X4 880K, with each of its four cores pre-overclocked to a formidable 4.5GHz. The graphics card is one of our favourites: the GTX 960, which in this case a Palit-built variant with an added dual-fan cooler.

Truth be told, this bulky card looks to have been a tight squeeze to get inside the chassis. The same could be said of the motherboard, an Asus A88XM-Plus – it’s micro-ATX, as you’d expect, but just managed to tuck inside without scraping against the bottom of the case.

We were actually quite impressed with the Asus motherboard’s selection of expansion slots, which is a rare thing to say about a micro-ATX board. There are loads of SATA ports – eight in total, with five not already in use – as well as two extra RAM channels, in case you ever want to improve on the included 8GB of 1,600MHz, DDR3 RAM without having to toss out any perfectly working sticks.

Slot topic

Most unusual of all is the second PCIe x16 slot, something that’s often first on the chopping block where smaller form factor motherboards are concerned. Admittedly it only runs at x4 speeds, unlike the GTX 960’s true x16 slot, but theoretically it could be used in the future for an SLI setup. We say theoretically, because the hitch is that the slot is so close to the bottom of the case that another card as thick as the GTX 960 wouldn’t be able to fit. You could use it for a PCIe x1 device like a sound card, though – this seems more likely as the existing dedicated PCIe x1 slot is obscured by the GPU. There’s also a PCI slot which is more easily accessible.

All that said, if you’re only planning to play a few games or do some light editing work, we don’t imagine you’ll be rushing to enhance the AMD Avenger’s core components. That’s if its results in our various benchmark tests are any indication; it scored 79 for image editing, 72 for video encoding, 54 for multitasking and 64 overall. These are some strong good scores indeed for £500.

Gaming capability, on the other hand, was genuinely exceptional. In Dirt Showdown, the AMD Avenger managed to average 75fps on Ultra settings, an outstanding achievement. It never dropped below 58fps during the most effects-heavy, visually taxing moments either. In the much tougher Metro: Last Light Redux, it averaged 30fps on Very High settings – that’s decently playable, but turning off SSAA provided a big boost up to 49fps, a nice compromise between graphical fidelity and smooth framerates. It’s certainly a much better showing than some other FM2+-based systems we've seen.

Making room

The AMD Avenger also has its competitors beat when it comes to storage. The 1TB hard drive would be fine on its own, but Palicomp has paired it with a 240GB SSD to ensure faster boot times and shorter loading screens. Happily, the numbers do add up; in the AS SSD benchmark, this Hynix drive accomplished a sequential read speed of 516.28MB/s and a sequential write speed of 443.91MB/s, culminating in an overall score of 733. These are the kind of speeds we’d expect from a £1,000 behemoth, so having them – plus ample overall storage capacity – in a machine that costs half of that is more than welcome.

You do only get room for two storage drives, though, so if you want even more you’ll have to swap one out. As with the Eclipse Fusion Pro, 2.5in and 3.5in drives are screwed directly onto the chassis, and there are only two mounting points in total – though in the AMD Avengers case in particular, it’s fortunate that they’re at the side and out of the way. If they were sat in a conventional rack of bays at the front of the case, the Palit GTX 960 simply wouldn’t fit. Still, the lack of extra bays makes the wealth of free SATA ports fairly redundant.

Socket science

There is a spare 5.25in drive bay, in addition to the one already occupied by a DVD R/W drive. We’d have liked more than two USB3 ports at the front, but at least there are plenty round the back. Here, you’ve got access to four USB2 and two USB3 ports, two PS/2 ports (for the few that haven’t updated their mice and keyboard in years), Mic in, Line in and Line out 3.5mm jacks, and Ethernet socket, and a nicely diverse array of display outputs. These include one DisplayPort, two HDMI ports, one VGA output, two dual-link DVI-D sockets and one dual-link DVI-I socket.

This isn’t strictly-speaking a perfect PC; as it has some upgradability issues due to that compact case, and proved itself a bit too loud for our liking during intensive testing. Nonetheless, the AMD Avenger’s terrific performance and winning HDD/SSD combination make it an excellent choice for first-time PC buyers. Besides, at this price range, there are hardly any upgrades worth making. Buy the AMD Avenger now from Palicomp

Core specs
ProcessorQuad-core 4.5GHz AMD Athlon X4 880K
Processor socketFM2+
RAM8GB
Memory typeDDR3
MotherboardAsus A88XM-PLUS
Motherboard chipsetAMD A88X
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports2x USB3
Rear USB ports4x USB2, 2x USB3
Other ports2x PS/2
NetworkingEthernet
Case typeMini tower
Case dimensions HxWxD485x235x420mm
PCI (free)1 (1)
PCIe x1 (free)1 (1)
PCIe x16 (free)2 (1)
Serial ATA (free)8 (5)
Memory slots (free)4 (2)
Drive bays 2 1/2" (free)1 (0)
Drive bays 3 1/2" (free)1 (0)
Drive bays 5 1/4" (free)2 (1)
Storage
Total storage240GB SSD, 1TB HDD
Memory card readerNone
Optical drive typeDVD R/W
Graphics
Graphics card4GB Palit GeForce GTX 960
Graphics/video ports1x DisplayPort, 2x HDMI, 1x VGA, 2x dual-link DVI-D, 1x dual-link DVI-I
Sound
Sound cardOnboard
Sound card outputsLine out
SpeakersNone
Display
DisplayNone
Native resolutionN/A
InputsN/A
Other hardware
KeyboardNone
MouseNone
ExtrasNone
Software
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
Operating system restore optionWindows 10 restore
Buying information
WarrantyThree years RTB
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£500
SupplierPalicomp
Detailswww.palicomp.co.uk
Part CodeKAV3

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