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Arbico Phenom 5550 QCS review

Arbico Phenom 5550 QCS
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £530
inc VAT

The unlocked processor provides excellent performance, but the 19in monitor is small and the budget graphics card will struggle to play games.


3.1GHz AMD Phenom II X2 550 (unlocked to 4 cores), 4GB RAM, 19in 1,440×900 display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

When a quad-core processor is tested in the factory, sometimes one or more of the cores fail the manufacturer’s quality control, and so these cores are disabled and the processor is sold as a dual- or (in AMD’s case) a triple-core processor. The Phenom II X2 550 is actually a quad-core processor with two cores disabled, but Arbico has unlocked these disabled cores. The company has guaranteed that it has an adequate supply of stable, unlocked 550s to fulfil orders for the Phenom 5550 QCS.

The result of this unlocking is a noticeable performance jump. When we tested the Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition recently, it scored 91 overall, whereas Arbico’s Phenom 5550 QCS scored 108 and posted consistently higher scores in the other tests, too. This means it’s powerful enough to handle just about anything you’d care to throw at it.

Along with the fast processor, Arbico has installed a Radeon HD 5550 graphics card. This wasn’t powerful enough to run Call of Duty 4 at a playable 30fps, but if you reduce settings, for example by turning off anti-aliasing, you should see smooth gameplay. It’s capable of playing older games, but as more and more games use the latest 3D technologies to increase realism, you’ll find the 5550 will hold you back. It will also speed up applications, such as the latest version of Photoshop, which support GPU acceleration.

Arbico Phenom 5550 QCS

Inside the Phenom 5550 QCS you’ll find plenty of room for expansion, with free drive bays and SATA ports for extra storage. There are three PCI and two PCI-E x1 slots for TV tuners and other cards, although one of the PCI-E x1 slots is rather too close to the graphics card’s fan for comfort. With two free RAM slots, upgrading your memory won’t mean throwing away the existing pair of memory sticks.

A total of eight USB2 ports is reasonable, but two of these are taken up by the budget Logitech keyboard and mouse set. The keyboard has quite a light action but feels spongy, which reduces feedback, and the mouse has only two buttons and is very light. There aren’t any eSATA ports, and no support for the latest USB3 standard, but there’s one FireWire port mounted on the front panel.

Sadly, Arbico has compromised on the monitor and opted for a budget 19in Digimate. We’ve come to expect a 22in monitor as standard, even at this low budget, and despite decent image quality, the Digimate’s 1,440×900 resolution and small dimensions feel cramped when compared to the Full HD 1,920×1,080 resolution that you’ll find on most 22in monitors.

Without the monitor, the Phenom 5550 QCS still costs £460, mainly due to the expense of the graphics card which won’t satisfy serious gamers. If gaming isn’t a requirement, CyberPower’s Infinity i3 Apollo XT base unit is better value at £418 thanks to the faster CPU.

Basic Specifications

Rating **
Processor AMD Phenom II X2 550 (unlocked to 4 cores)
Processor external bus 200MHz (2GHz HyperTransport)
Processor multiplier x15.5
Processor clock speed 3.1GHz
Processor socket AM3
Level 1 cache 4x 128KB
Level 2 cache 4x 512KB
Memory 4
Memory type DDR3
Maximum memory 16GB
Motherboard Biostar TA770-E3
Motherboard chipset AMD 770


USB2 ports (front/rear) 2/6
Firewire ports (front/rear) 1/0
eSATA ports (front/rear) 0/0
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support none
Other ports none

Internal Expansion

Case midi tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free) 2 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free) 1 (0)
Free Serial ATA ports 4
Free memory slots 2
Free 3.5in drive bays 4

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s) Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD502HJ
Interface SATA 300
Total storage capacity 500GB
Spindle speed 7,200rpm


Graphics card(s) ATI Radeon HD 5550
Graphics/video ports VGA, DVI, HDMI


Sound HD audio
Sound outputs 5.1 line out
Speakers none

Removable Drives

3.5in floppy drive no
Supported memory cards none
Optical drive model Optiarc AD-5240S
Optical drive type(s) DVD+/-RW +/-DL


Viewable size 19 in
Screen model Digimate DGM L-1935WD
Native resolution 1,440×900
Response time 5ms
Screen inputs VGA, DVI

Other Hardware

Modem No
Keyboard Logitech Deluxe 250 Keyboard
Mouse Logitech B110


Software included none
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore option Windows disc

Buying Information

Warranty two years RTB
Price £530

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