Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Palicomp AMD Shockwave review

Michael Passingham
30 Oct 2015
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
500
inc VAT

An overclocked processor and terrific graphics performance make this PC a budget hero

Advertisement

Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 4GHz AMD Athlon X4 860K (overclocked), RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3, Rear USB ports: 4x USB2, 2x USB3, Total storage: 1TB hybrid hard disk, Graphics card: 4GB AMD Radeon R7 370, Display: None, Operating system: Windows 10 Home 64-bit

Brightly-lit gaming PCs can be divisive, but there's no denying that the green LED colour scheme Palicomp has gone with for the AMD Shockwave is distinctive. The front and rear fans both get the illumination treatment, although the case interior and components remain stubbornly dark, so you can't see the tidy cable work through the plastic side panel window.

It’s fair to say there’s compromise with almost every budget PC. In this case, like the Chillblast Fusion Drone, Palicomp has used an inexpensive AMD processor. The 3.7GHz Athlon X4 860K is still surprisingly potent, however, and keeps Windows 10 feeling snappy. It has even received a modest overclock to 4GHz, but Palicomp hasn’t added any extra cooling to cope with this, sticking instead with the default AMD heatsink. This didn’t appear to cause any issues in our benchmark tests, with the processor never throttling back when under extreme load. The system comes with 8GB of RAM in the form of two 4GB sticks, and the motherboard has two additional empty memory modules if you want to upgrade at a later date.

The AMD Shockwave managed an overall score of 60 in our 4K benchmarks, beating the Chillblast by six points due to its higher clock speed. Windows 10 apps and web pages open with minimal delay, making this a fine everyday PC for more modest users. Intense multimedia work such as HD video editing will also be possible, but expect longer render times and lower-quality video previews as the processor tries to catch up.

We were a little concerned about the stock AMD cooler, fearing the system would suffer from noise problems. While it wasn’t as quiet as the closed loop watercooler fitted to the Chillblast Fusion Drone, this turned out not to be the case; even at full pelt the whir coming from the AMD Shockwave’s case, processor and GPU fans were perfectly acceptable for a budget system.

With a relatively cheap processor on board, Palicomp has been able to push the boat out slightly with its choice of graphics card. The MSI-branded AMD Radeon R7 370 manages to pack a serious punch considering you can pick one up for a little over £100 online. It isn’t able to outpace slightly more expensive mid-range cards from Nvidia, but as is usually the case when budget is key, AMD wins out for systems like this.

In our Dirt Showdown benchmark, with the detail settings pushed to Ultra and the resolution set to 1,920x1,080, the AMD Shockwave managed a very respectable average frame rate of 68fps. More modern titles give the card a harder time, as seen in the Metro: Last Light Redux test. With the ultra-demanding super-sampling anti-aliasing (SSAA) switched on, things quickly stuttered down to a 21fps average. Using SSAA is akin to doubling the display resolution, so disabling it instantly improved the average frame rate to a more playable 39fps. Dropping all the detail settings by a notch brought this up to an even more stable 54fps, although processor intensive physics calculations can sometimes send frame rates tumbling.

With a bit of tweaking, the AMD Shockwave should be able to play modern games at Full HD resolutions. This is primarily because the MSI GPU has 4GB of dedicated video memory, instead of the 2GB you get on the Gigabyte card supplied with the Chillblast Fusion Drone.

Palicomp and Chillblast have both opted for a hybrid hard disk, rather than compromise on storage space with an inexpensive yet small capacity SSD. The AMD Shockwave has 1TB of mechanical storage, backed by 8GB of on-board SSD cache that should make your most frequently-used applications, files and games feel a little snappier. The caching process is automatic, so you don’t have to worry about manually choosing which programs will benefit from it.

The Asus A88XM-PLUS motherboard is extremely compact, meaning its upgrade potential is fairly limited. There are six free SATA3 connectors on the right of the board, with four free 2.5in drive bays and three free 3.5in bays available inside the case for future storage upgrades. The 5.25in bay is occupied by a DVD optical drive.

There are two free PCI-E connectors; one x16 slot running at x4 speeds and a smaller x1 connector. There's also a legacy PCI port for older hardware.

Four USB2 ports and two USB3 connectors sit at the rear, alongside three 3.5mm audio jacks. There's no optical S/PDIF connector, though, so if you have expensive audio equipment, you will have to use the 3.5mm jacks. These connectors complement the two USB3 ports and two 3.5mm jacks at the front of the case.

The AMD Shockwave ships with Palicomp’s three-year warranty, and while it's not as generous as Chillblast's standard cover, it's still pretty good. You get parts cover for the first year and labour is covered for the full term. You'll pay for shipping to and from Palicomp after the first seven days.

The AMD Shockwave had some stiff competition from Chillblast’s Fusion Drone, and while the compact, stylish chassis and generous warranty of the Chillblast is attractive, it can't match the Palicomp's outright processor performance and better gaming performance.

Core specs
ProcessorQuad-core 4GHz AMD Athlon X4 860K (overclocked)
Processor socketFM2+
RAM8GB
Memory type1600MHZ DDR3
Maximum memory32GB
MotherboardAsus A88XM-PLUS
Motherboard chipsetA88X
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports2x USB3
Rear USB ports4x USB2, 2x USB3
Other ports2x PS/2
Networking1x 10/100/1000
Case typeATX
Case dimensions HxWxD430x445x200mm
PCI (free)1 (1)
PCIe x1 (free)1 (1)
PCIe x16 (free)2 (1)
Serial ATA (free)8x SATA3 (6)
Memory slots (free)4 (2)
Drive bays 2 1/2" (free)4 (4)
Drive bays 3 1/2" (free)3 (2)
Drive bays 5 1/4" (free)1 (0)
Storage
Total storage1TB hybrid hard disk
Memory card readerNone
Optical drive typeDVD RW
Graphics
Graphics card4GB AMD Radeon R7 370
Graphics/video ports2x DVI, 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort
Sound
Sound cardRealtek ALC887 (integrated)
Sound card outputs3x 3.5mm
SpeakersNone
Display
DisplayNone
Native resolutionN/A
InputsN/A
Other hardware
KeyboardNone
MouseNone
ExtrasNone
Software
Operating systemWindows 10 Home 64-bit
Operating system restore optionWindows 10 restore
Buying information
WarrantyThree years RTB
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£500
Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)N/A
Supplierpalicomp.co.uk
Detailspalicomp.co.uk
Part CodeKAV2

Read more

Reviews