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Palicomp Intel i7 Nebula review: Big, brash and expensive, but also an incredible PC

Stuart Andrews
22 Aug 2018
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,550
inc VAT

Awesome performance combines with a dazzling light show for a killer gaming system

Pros 
Pushes performance to the limit with its overclocked system
Potential to take this incredible PC even further
Cons 
Expensive when compared to its rivals
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Some PCs are content to sit quietly in a corner, unobtrusively going about their work. The Palicomp Nebula, however, is not one of those PCs, coming in a gigantic Kolink Observatory case with a glossy, semi-transparent mirror effect side panel and transparent front. Behind the latter, you’ll find three 12in RGB LED fans, with another one working at the back. Each fan has 16 RGB LEDs controlled by a bundled RGB controller, with a choice of more than 300 lighting effects. On our test machine, Palicomp had preconfigured a rotating, colour-changing light show; headache-inducing, perhaps, but even as you headed off to your darkened room you’d mutter about how spectacular it was.

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Palicomp Intel i7 Nebula review: Specifications

Luckily, there’s substance to back up the style. That starts with a Core i7-8700K overclocked to max out at 4.8GHz rather than the usual 4.7GHz. Then there’s a Palit GTX 1080 graphics card, also clocked to a storming 1,858MHz with the 8GB of GDDR5 RAM overclocked to match. And as if this weren’t speed-crazed enough, Palicomp has also fitted two 256GB Samsung PM981 M.2 SSDs in the two M.2 sockets, then configured them for RAID0 to maximise performance. Running the A-SSD benchmark saw sequential read speeds in excess of 3,250MB/sec and write speeds of over 2,800MB/sec. That’s ludicrously fast.

The Asus TUF-Z370 motherboard is a great platform for this kind of beast. It supports the Palicomp’s 16GB of 3,200MHz DDR4 and can even stretch to 4,000MHz. It supports extremely easy overclocking should you want to tinker further, plus RGB lighting controls, built-in light strips and full control of both fans and water pumps. Given that the i7 Nebula uses an ID-Cooling FrostFlow watercooling system, complete with a whopping 240mm radiator, heat shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, we rarely saw CPU temperatures creep north of 60°C.The case itself is spacious, with the combination of the cooling system and effective cable management making it easy to work inside. There’s space for another two DDR4 DIMMs, plus two PCIe 3 x 1 expansion slots and another PCIe 3 x 16 slot if you can squeeze the card in past the double-height GPU. Down at the bottom of the case, there’s a spare 3.5in drive bay, just below the one housing a 2TB Seagate Barracuda.

Palicomp Intel i7 Nebula review: Performance and verdict

There’s potential, then, to take this PC further. Yet where it’s at right now is pretty great. The Palicomp is one of the fastest systems we've seen on test in our standard 2D benchmarks, with only the CyberPower Infinity X88 GTX providing any serious competition. The triumph continued when it comes to games, with the Palicomp scoring 122fps on Far Cry 5 at 1440p, and 45fps at 4K.

The figures for Rise of the Tomb Raider and Metro: Last Light need more explanation. In both cases, our benchmarks refused to run with the Palicomp at factory settings. We could only get it to run both benchmarks once we’d dialled the overclock down to the stock 1,607MHz. This enabled the CyberPower, with a smaller overclock, to sneak ahead in the Tomb Raider benchmark.

Has Palicomp over-egged its overclocking? Well, these issues only occurred in these two benchmarks, and not in other recent games we sampled. Given the extreme speeds on offer, even stock performance is fantastic in most games, so we’d suggest keeping the overclock for certain titles at 4K but stepping it back for others. Whatever proves stable.

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A system such as this isn’t for everyone, and you'll be paying out just over £1,500 for all this good stuff. Yet if you’re looking for maximum performance without paying close to £2,000, then the i7 Nebula is tough to beat. It’s big, it’s brash and it’s expensive, but it’s also an incredible gaming PC.