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Eclipse Excalibur Z87 review

Kat Orphanides
26 Sep 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
900
inc VAT

Poor case and cooling choices let down an otherwise decent selection of components

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Specifications

3.2GHz (3.4GHz upgrade) Intel Core i5-4430 (Intel Core i5-4670K +£40), 8GB RAM, 23.6in 1,920x1,080 display, Windows 8

This PC was provided to us as a base PC system with a variety of internal and external upgrade options, contact the manufacturer to get the exact specification you require

As with most PCs, the Eclipse Excalibur Z87 is available in a basic specification, and has a choice of upgraded components. The basic version costs just £546, but has a small hard disk, low-power graphics card and a mid-range Intel Core i5-4430 processor. The i5-4430 runs at up to 3.2GHz and can't be easily overclocked. It managed a score of 87 in our benchmarks, which is around the level of a top-spec laptop.

Eclipse Excalibur Z87

If you want to indulge in plenty of high-definition video editing you should consider an upgrade. Eclipse will fit an Intel Core i5-4670K for an extra £40. This gave us a score of 95 in our application benchmarks, which is slower than we expect from this processor. After investigation we decided that the case's limited cooling meant the processor wasn't running at optimum speeds.

The CPU cooler is actually a little large for the case - the Perspex side panel had a couple of vicious scratches on it from where the cooler had pressed against it, and the panel bulged a little when screwed into place. The only fans in the entire system are attached to the processor cooler and graphics card, and the PC runs remarkably quietly, although it was perceptibly warm. The fans buzzed slightly during our gaming tests, but not to an obtrusive degree. Fine mesh grilles cover most but not all of the vents, which give you the option of mounting fans in the future.

Eclipse Excalibur Z87

The case has seven 3 1/2in drive bays, one of them external and suitable for a memory card reader, and three 5 1/4in bays. Depending on which configuration you choose when ordering the PC, some of the bays will contain either a 500GB hard disk or a 120GB SSD and a 2TB hard disk. The SSD will set you back an extra £88, and will make your PC boot quicker and applications load faster, while if you're hungry for masses of storage the 2TB disk will cost you an extra £67. The PC comes with a DVD-RW drive, and a comfortable and attractive Microsoft Wireless Desktop 800 set.

At the rear of the PC, the Asus Z87-K motherboard's backplate gives you two USB3 and four USB ports, as well as a pair of PS/2 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and 3.5mm outputs for 5.1 analogue surround sound. Moving into the guts of the system, two of the motherboard's four memory slots hold 4GB modules of 1,600MHz DDR3 RAM. There are two PCI-E x16 slots, although the lower one runs at x4 speed. There are also three PCI slots and two PCI-E x1 slots, although one of the latter will be blocked if you decide to upgrade the graphics card. There are also six SATA3 ports, providing plenty of scope to add more storage in the future.

Eclipse Excalibur Z87

As standard, the system comes with a tiny 2GB AMD Radeon HD 6450 graphics card with DVI, VGA and HDMI outputs. You can upgrade this to a 1GB AMD Radeon HD 7850 for £94, and if you plan on playing modern games you certainly should, as the standard HD 6450 card failed all our graphics benchmarks.

The HD 7850 upgrade is a pretty decent graphics card for games, managing a frame rate of 65.5fps in Dirt Showdown at 1,920x1,080 and Ultra quality. It couldn't quite handle Crysis 2 at the same settings, managing just 26.1fps, but when we dropped the quality from Ultra to Extreme it got 45.9fps.

For £110 you can add a Benq GL2460 monitor, which is a 23.6in matt display with DVI and VGA inputs. Its contrast levels are by no means the worst we've seen, but they're still distinctly mediocre; our calibrator returned a contrast ratio figure of 798:1. The screen's performance in our colour test was even worse, as it could only display 76.3% of the sRGB colour gamut. In our subjective tests, colours looked a little dull, with more intense yellow tones.

If you buy all the upgrades mentioned above with the PC, the Excalibur Z87 will cost you £900 - a £45 discount. However, we suggest avoiding the monitor due to its poor colour reproduction, while even the upgraded graphics card isn’t necessarily your best option for gaming. We’d also recommend adding fans to the PC as a priority item and aren’t too happy about the poor fit of the CPU cooler in the case.

Because of these problems, if you're on a budget, we recommend the PC Specialist Infinity A10 Pro Elite, while users with more to spend should look at the Palicomp Sniper Elite2 Gamer.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorIntel Core i5-4430 (Intel Core i5-4670K +£40)
Processor external bus100MHz (DMI)
Processor multiplierx32 (X34 upgrade)
Processor clock speed3.2GHz (3.4GHz upgrade)
Processor socketLGA1150
Memory8
Memory typePC3-12800
Maximum memory32GB
MotherboardAsus Z87-K
Motherboard chipsetIntel Z87

Ports

USB2 ports (front/rear)3/6
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/0
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking supportnone

Internal Expansion

Casemidi tower
PCI-E x1 slots (free)2 (1)
PCI-E x16 slots (free)2 (1)
Free Serial ATA ports3
Free memory slots2
Free 3.5in drive bays5

Hard Disk

Hard disk model(s)500GB Seagate Barracuda HDD (replacement 120GB Crucial M500 SSD +£88, 2TB Seagate Barracuda HD +£67)
InterfaceSATA3

Graphics

Graphics card(s)2GB AMD Radeon HD 6450 (1GB AMD Radeon HD 7850 +£94)
Graphics/video ports2x DVI, 1x HDMI, 2x mini DisplayPort

Sound

SoundRealtek ALC887
Sound outputs5.1 line out, headphone, microphone
Speakersnone

Removable Drives

Supported memory cardsnone
Optical drive type(s)DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Display

Viewable size23.6 in
Screen modelBenq GL2460 (+£110)
Native resolution1,920x1,080
Screen inputsDVI, VGA

Other Hardware

KeyboardMicrosoft Wireless Keyboard 800
MouseMicrosoft Wireless Mouse 800

Software

Operating systemWindows 8
Operating system restore optionWindows disc

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£900
Supplierhttp://www.eclipse-computers.com
Detailswww.eclipse-computers.com

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