A very fast PC at a very reasonable price, but you'll need to supply your own peripherals.
To date there have been two adjectives that describe Intel’s Core-i7 processors: fast and expensive.
So we were impressed when Arbico submitted a Core-i7 PC for just £799 including VAT. It doesn’t come with any peripherals, but it still provides an awesome amount of processing power for a reasonable price.
The processor is the i7-920, the same one in the overclocked Chillblast Fusion Pegasus, but here it’s running at its intended 2.66GHz. There’s been no cost-cutting on memory, with 6GB of DDR3 RAM fitted. In our application benchmarks, the Arbico scored 152 overall – 36 per cent quicker than the fastest AMD-based PC we’ve seen, Mesh XGS PII 955CS. It’s particularly well-suited to processor-intensive tasks such as editing HD video.
The ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card is more powerful than we’d expect given the PC’s price and processor. It ran our Crysis benchmark at 38.9fps and our Call of Duty 4 test at 71.1fps. We increased the resolution in Crysis to 1,920×1,080 and still achieved a playable frame rate of 34fps with high-quality settings selected. This should please anyone wanting to play games, and its fast graphics processing unit can be put to use in other applications, such as video encoding, thanks to ATI’s Stream technology.
With all that computing power, it’s not surprising to find there’s little else to get excited about. The 500GB hard disk is half the size we’d expect on a PC at this price, as 1TB drives cost very little these days. There’s no Blu-ray drive, either – just a DVD writer. Arbico has chosen a Gigabyte case, but it’s not the best we’ve seen, the front is divided into several panels, some of which are covered in fake leather, which looks a little naff. Inside, there’s plenty of space for adding storage devices and expansion cards.
The power draw of this PC, like all the Core-i7 systems we’ve seen, is terrifying. The Value i7 Gamer drew 329W when running through our benchmarks – far higher than any AMD Phenom II PC we’ve seen. It draws 50W more than Mesh’s XGS PII 955CS when both PCs are simply idling. This is worth bearing in mind if you’re looking to save on your electricity bills.
The Mesh XGS PII 955CS is noticeably slower in intensive tasks and its HD 4770 graphics card isn’t as fast as the Value i7 Gamer’s HD 4870. However, it has 2GB more RAM, a 1TB hard disk and a better-designed case. It also comes with a superb monitor and input devices.
For around £140 you could pick up a BenQ E2200HD monitor, plus a decent wired keyboard and mouse, to make the Arbico into a complete PC. If you’re looking for a very powerful PC, the Value i7 Gamer is well worth the money. However, Mesh’s XGS PII 955CS offers better value for most users.