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Palicomp Carbon AMD TFT-19 review

Barry de la Rosa
16 May 2010
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Palicomp Carbon AMD TFT-19
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
425
inc VAT

The Carbon's expansion potential and quality primary components make this a Budget Buy.

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Specifications

3.1GHz AMD Athlon II X4 630, 4.000000 RAM, 19in 1,440x900 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Palicomp is a new company to Expert Reviews, and the Carbon is the the second of the company's PCs we've looked at. The first was the Ice Blast 750OC-22, which we were very impressed with.

Palicomp has impressed us again with the choice of components and the system's power. Most budget computers come with a dual-core processor, but Palicomp has fitted a more powerful AMD Athlon II X4 630 processor. This usually runs at a clock speed of 2.8GHz, but it's been overclocked to 3GHz, giving the system a slight performance boost, while the stock AMD cooler remains good enough to keep the CPU cool.

With 4GB of RAM fitted, this PC did well in our benchmarks, with an overall score of 88: very close to that of our reference Phenom system. In this computer's case, its score was helped by decent performance in our video editing test, which uses all four processor cores.

It's no surprise that there's no dedicated graphics card. Instead, graphics are provided by the motherboard's onboard Nvidia 8200 chip. This only managed 4fps in our Call of Duty 4 test, which shows that you can't play games on this computer. However, the graphics chip will decode HD video, so if you add a Blu-ray drive later, you'll be able to watch the films with ease. There's a PCI-E x16 slot free, so should you want to upgrade to a dedicated graphics card, you'll find this easy to do.

The 19in BenQ G900W monitor has a resolution of 1,440x900, which is slightly higher than the more common 1,366x768. This extra doesn't make a huge amount of difference in day-to-day use, although we found the Windows desktop had plenty of space on it. The matt finish means you get few reflections from lights, although lower contrast than with a glossy display. That said, the picture quality from this display is very good.

There are acres of space inside the case, with room for more hard disks, memory and expansion cards. The cabling is bundled but not particularly tidy, and some cables have been tied so that they block a hard drive slot. A heatsink on the motherboard may block some PCI cards, but with three free slots you shouldn't have any problems, and there are two free PCI-E x1 slots in any case.

Oddly, the PC we tested came configured with the wrong suspend mode set in the BIOS, so entering Sleep mode kept the system fans spinning and the PC drew 49W of power. Adjusting the mode to S3 fixed this and the PC drew only 4W in Sleep mode afterwards.

The Carbon has no eSATA or FireWire ports, but Palicomp has fitted an extra two USB ports at the rear, and a generous 500GB hard disk should handle your storage needs for some time. There's no memory card reader, and no digital audio output, but at least there's a full set of 7.1 surround sound outputs.

A more comfortable keyboard will probably be your first upgrade, as the cheap, unbranded model that comes in the box has incredibly spongy keys we've come across so far, with no feedback. The half-height Enter key is annoying, and the large set of shortcut keys, that let you launch programs, control multimedia and other common tasks, aren't arranged in intuitive groups.

We were impressed by the Carbon's expansion potential and the choice of quality primary components, including the case, processor and monitor. It's a Budget Buy.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****
ProcessorAMD Athlon II X4 630
Processor external bus220MHz (2.2GHz HyperTransport)
Processor multiplierx14
Processor clock speed3.1GHz
Processor socketAM2+
Level 1 cache4x 128KB
Level 2 cache4x 512KB
Memory4.000000
Memory typeDDR2
Maximum memory16GB
MotherboardASRock K10N78
Motherboard chipsetNvidia GeForce 8200

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)2/8
Firewire ports (front/rear)0/0
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/0
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking supportN/A
Other portsN/A

Internal Expansion

Casemidi tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)2 (2)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)1 (1)
Free Serial ATA ports4
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays4

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)Seagate Barracuda (ST3500320NS)
InterfaceSATA 300
Total storage capacity500GB
Spindle speed7,200rpm

Graphics

Graphics card(s)Nvidia GeForce 8200
Graphics/video portsVGA, DVI

Sound

SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Sound outputs7.1 line out, stereo line out, mic in
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy driveno
Supported memory cardsnone
Optical drive modelOptiarc AD-241S
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size19 in
Screen modelBenQ G900WD
Native resolution1,440x900
Response time5ms
Screen inputsDVI, VGA

Other Hardware

ModemNo
Keyboardgeneric wired keyboard
MouseHiPoint 3D Optical Mouse

Software

Software includedNero Burning ROM 9
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionWindows disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£425
Supplierhttp://www.palicomp.co.uk
Detailswww.palicomp.co.uk

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