A powerful, highly upgradable PC, although we’ve seen cheaper base systems and faster graphics cards elsewhere
3.2GHz Intel Core i5-4670 (i5-4670K +£10), 16GB RAM, 23in 1,920×1,080 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
The Wired2Fire Diablo Reactor Z87 is housed in a rather attractive matt black BitFenix case which has plenty of room inside and decent soundproofing.
The PC’s £710 core specification includes an Asus Z87-K motherboard and an Intel Core i5-4670 processor. £10 upgrades that processor to an unlocked Intel Core i5-4670K. You’ll also need a better CPU cooler if you want the PC to be overclocked, and that’ll cost you another £19. If you buy the upgraded processor and cooler, Wired2Fire will overclock your PC for free to 4.4GHz, which should improve its already strong benchmark score of 112 to around the 134 mark.
The core system comes with a 1TB hard disk, but an extra £105 will get you a 120GB SSD system disk. This will improve boot times and make your desktop feel faster, but it’s not a very good-value upgrade. You can also upgrade from 8GB to 16GB of RAM for £62. Again, unless you plan on doing a lot of memory intensive work, such as running multiple virtual machines at once, you can safely dispense with this upgrade without affecting your PC’s performance.
The system is equipped with a 1GB AMD Radeon HD 7770 graphics card. This will run Dirt Showdown at Ultra quality at a resolution of 1,920×1,080 at a smooth frame rate of 48.1fps. When running Crysis 2 at 1,920×1,080 and Ultra quality settings, we only saw 23fps, but when we dropped quality settings to Very High we saw an average frame rate of 41.3fps.
For £9 you can upgrade to an AMD Radeon HD 7790 graphics card with 1GB of memory. This isn’t a huge upgrade, but it did improve our Dirt Showdown score to an average frame rate of 59.3fps. The card still struggled with Crysis 2 at maximum quality settings, producing a fairly jerky average frame rate of 24.4fps, but dropping the graphics quality to Extreme gave us a perfectly smooth frame rate of 34.7fps.
Wired2Fire will supply a 23in AOC I2367FH IPS monitor for £120. If you don’t already have a really good screen, you could do much worse than this one. We liked its brushed-aluminium design, even though it was a little difficult to fit onto its stand and has its controls hidden at the back of its chassis. It’s an IPS display with a typically excellent contrast ratio of 1129:1. The practical benefits of this are immediately apparent when looking at images with lots of dark areas, as this monitor let us see plenty of detail in the shadows. The display didn’t produce such good results as we’d normally expect from an IPS panel in our colour gamut coverage test, as it could only display 86.2% of the sRGB colour gamut, but we didn’t notice any unusual colour casts on our test images.
The keyboard and mouse are an extremely cheap Octigen set. The keyboard in particular isn’t pleasant to use, being spongy and unresponsive. The mouse drags a little when used, but is generally fine. Both will do the job until you find something better, but you will want to upgrade soon.
Whatever specification you opt for, Wired2Fire will install Classic Shell, which is an alternative to the Windows 8 Start screen which gives you a traditional Start menu button. Classic Shell gets better with every iteration and makes a great alternative if you can’t get to grips with Windows 8’s default interface. If you’d rather use tiles and apps – which are particularly handy if you have a touchscreen display – it’s simple to change Classic Shell’s settings so you can use both its menu and the Start screen and configure the shortcuts in any way you like.
The Diablo Reactor Z87 is available in a number of different configurations, depending on how much you want to pay and which components you require. The most highly specified version, with all the extra components, costs £900. However, if you want to save a bit of money, you can keep the upgraded graphics card and good quality display, dispense with the rest of the upgrades and still have an outstanding PC for £839. Its gaming performance wasn’t as good as the Chillblast Fusion Kestrel, but this is a powerful and well-made PC nonetheless; and if you opt for the upgraded processor cooler and factory overclock you can add a significant amount of desktop application power for just £29.
|Processor||Intel Core i5-4670 (i5-4670K +£10)|
|Processor external bus||100MHz (DMI)|
|Processor clock speed||3.2GHz|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel Z87|
|USB2 ports (front/rear)||4/6|
|eSATA ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||none|
|PCI-E x1 slots (free)||2 (1)|
|PCI-E x16 slots (free)||2 (1)|
|Free Serial ATA ports||3|
|Free memory slots||0|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||5|
|Hard disk model(s)||1TB Seagate Barracuda HDD (additional 120GB Kingston SH103 SSD +£105)|
|Graphics card(s)||1GB AMD Radeon HD 7770 (1GB AMD Radeon HD 7790 +£9)|
|Graphics/video ports||2x DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort|
|Sound outputs||5.1 line out, stereo line out, mic in|
|Supported memory cards||none|
|Optical drive type(s)||DVD+/-RW +/-DL|
|Viewable size||23 in|
|Screen model||AOC I2367FH (+£120)|
|Screen inputs||2x HDMI, VGA|
|Operating system||Windows 8|
|Operating system restore option||Windows disc|
|Warranty||three years RTB|