Palicomp's adventurous overclock makes this one of the fastest PCs you can buy, but the lack of a Full HD monitor or a longer warranty means it just misses out on an award.
3.8GHz Intel Core i5-750, 4.000000 RAM, 22in 1,680×1,050 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
This is the first PC we’ve seen from Palicomp, and it gives a great first impression. The CM Storm case has aggressive lines, a large side panel window and a chunky carrying handle, with red highlights and internal LEDs that add a bit of devilry – even the graphics card has red DVI outputs. Palicomp has overclocked the Intel Core i5-750 processor from its stock 2.67GHz to a sizzling 3.8GHz, making it the fastest PC we’ve seen at this price.
We’ve never tested a PC with so many expansion ports and options. For a start, there are a staggering 14 USB ports, with four on a front panel along with an eSATA port, audio sockets and a button that turns off the internal fan LEDs. The rear panel includes another eSATA port, and both optical and coaxial S/PDIF digital audio outputs. Palicomp has fitted an extra header board with two more USB ports and a second FireWire port. Whatever peripherals you own or plan to buy, you’ll be able to plug them in.
Inside the case is much the same story. The bottom-mounted power supply makes access easier, and there are free PCI sockets of each kind, although one PCI slot is blocked by the extra ports mentioned above. There are two free memory slots, and plenty of space for extra hard disks and optical drives. The water-cooling apparatus has a couple of large tubes feeding its fan, but all other cabling is neatly tucked away.
Overclocking your own PC will void your warranty, so having it done for you is the safest bet. The Ice Blast not only has water-cooling, but an impressive array of fans to keep the internal temperature stable (these make quite a lot of noise, but it’s an acceptable low-pitched hum). Be warned however that there’s a button marked “clr CMOS” on the rear panel which, if pressed, will reset the BIOS to default values and clear the overclock.
We weren’t disappointed by the Ice Blast’s performance: an overall score of 166 beats a previous best set by a £1,200 PC. Image editing, video encoding and other high-performance applications will fly along. The ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card breezed through Call of Duty at 72fps, and managed an outstanding 38fps in Crysis. It has two DVI ports as well as HDMI and DisplayPort, so is ideal for a multi-monitor setup.
At this price, you’d expect the output of such a powerful graphics card to be shown off on Full HD (1,920×1,080) monitor, but instead Palicomp has supplied a 1,680×1,050 model. BenQ make some excellent 22in Full HD-capable monitors, but the G2200W isn’t one of them. It’s bright and even, with vibrant, natural colours, and has a matt finish that cuts down on reflections, and Palicomp ships it with a chunky DVI cable. While the lower resolution is still decent, it’s just not what we’d expect for our budget.
Replacing the generic keyboard and mouse might be your first upgrade – the keyboard is spongy and the mouse has no heft – but replacing the monitor is a much bigger investment, and we’d prefer to buy a decent monitor from the start. Compared to Eclipse’s Matrix i75R577 with its 24in, Full HD monitor and 1TB hard disk, the Ice Blast is only marginally faster and doesn’t offer quite as good value, and so it just misses out on an award. It’s still impressive for a first showing, and we look forward to seeing more products from Palicomp.
|Processor||Intel Core i5-750|
|Processor external bus||190MHz (3GHz QuickPath Interconnect)|
|Processor clock speed||3.8GHz|
|Level 1 cache||4x 64KB|
|Level 2 cache||4x 256KB|
|Motherboard||ASRock P55 Pro|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel P55|
|USB2 ports (front/rear)||4/10|
|Firewire ports (front/rear)||0/2|
|eSATA ports (front/rear)||1/2|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||none|
|Other ports||coaxial and optical S/PDIF output, clear CMOS button|
|PCI-E x1 slots (free)||1 (1)|
|PCI-E x16 slots (free)||2 (1)|
|Free Serial ATA ports||3|
|Free memory slots||2|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||4|
|Hard disk model(s)||Seagate Barracuda (ST3500320NS)|
|Total storage capacity||500GB|
|Graphics card(s)||1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770|
|Graphics/video ports||2x DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort|
|Sound||Realtek High Definition Audio|
|Sound outputs||7.1 line out, stereo line out, mic in|
|3.5in floppy drive||no|
|Supported memory cards||none|
|Optical drive model||Optiarc AD-7241S|
|Optical drive type(s)||DVD+/-RW +/-DL|
|Viewable size||22 in|
|Screen model||BenQ G2200W|
|Screen inputs||DVI, VGA|
|Keyboard||generic wired keyboard|
|Mouse||HiPoint 3D Optical Mouse|
|Software included||Nero Burning ROM 9|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|Operating system restore option||Windows disc|
|Warranty||one year RTB|