Palicomp i5 Matrix review

This gaming PC is designed to cope with virtual reality games. Palicomp has pulled out all the stops and the i5 Matrix turns in some impressive performance results, though it’s not without its problems. See also: Best gaming chairs

Palicomp i5 Matrix review: Price

You can buy the i5 Matrix for £1199.99 inc VAT from Palicomp. That includes a 27in Asus monitor, plus a mouse and keyboard.

If you only want the PC base unit, the price drops to £1074.99.

Note: Since Palicomp sent us the i5 Matrix, nVidia has launched the GTX 1080 and 1070. You can specify one of these graphics cards when ordering.

Palicomp i5 Matrix review: Performance

By pushing the Intel Core i5-6600K from 3.5GHz all the way up to 4.7GHz, Palicomp has attempted by far the most ambitious overclock we've seen with this CPU. We can’t blame it for trying, after all appearing at the top of the performance charts always looks good and it’s sure to capture any reader’s attention.The PC also comes fitted with an nVidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics card, which is a big step up from the base spec of a GTX 970, resulting in noticeably better gaming performance across the board.

It’s also one of three systems in our group test to achieve a ‘Very High’ VR quality rating from the SteamVR Performance test. With an average VR quality rating of 9.1, it benchmarks well ahead of challengers from Chillblast, Overclockers and Zoostorm, but not as fast as either the Wired2Fire Diablo Predator VR or the Yoyotech Warbird RS14, both of which use the faster GeForce 980 Ti graphics card.

What this shows us is that Palicomp’s overclocking hasn’t boosted bottom-line gaming performance what can be achieved at the same price with stock processor speeds and a faster graphics card. Just lowering the speed a notch or two would, in our opinion, make this a better PC. Of course this will vary from CPU to CPU, but our review sample either needed to run a little slower or to be fitted with an even more powerful cooling system.

Unfortunately, there are side effects to pushing the CPU all the way to 4.7GHz and these come in the form of the demands placed on power consumption and cooling. When we first powered up the i5 Matrix, we noticed that CPU temperatures were far too high. Palicomp, to its credit, diagnosed a damaged processor cooler and quickly shipped out a replacement to which was slightly upgraded in specification as per our suggestion.

With the new cooler in place, CPU temperatures were kept much lower, but under full load still climbed as high as 100Cº. You’d be very unlikely to see this happen under normal use but we would have been happier with a less ambitious overclock along with some much lower temperatures.

Palicomp i5 Matrix review: Benchmark results

Bear in mind that all these PCs were tested before the GTX 1070 and 1080 were released. You should specify at least the GTX 1070 if you decide to buy the i5 Matrix.

Palicomp i5 Matrix review: Design and specs

Palicomp’s other component choices reveal a pleasantly high specification for the £1074 price. You get a full 16GB of RAM and a 2TB hard drive, which is double the storage capacity provided by any other vendor in the test. For speed, this is paired with a 256GB Samsung SM951 M.2 NVMe PCI Express solid-state drive, which is one of the very fastest drives currently available. These components live on an Asus Z170-Pro Gaming motherboard, which comes with Intel’s enthusiast level Z170 chipset. This gamers’ version of the board adds support for nVidia SLI graphics, enhanced overclocking and upgraded audio components over the standard model.

The i5 Matrix is built inside a Sharkoon VG5-W Midi ATX Tower. It’s an imposing beast, with looks described by Sharkoon as “brawny”, this is most certainly a case aimed at gamers who like brightly illuminated fans and a clear view of internal components. The front panel comes with a pair of 120mm fans installed with another mounted at the rear. Our review sample was fitted with red lighting, although blue and green models are also available.

The front panel has a cable-free design which allows it to be easily removed to access the 5.25in drive bays behind. Unusually these days, one of these bays was fitted with a DVD rewriter, making it the only PC we've reviewed recently to include an optical drive as part of the spec.

 

 

Palicomp i5 Matrix: Specs

  • Intel Core i5-6600K (3.5GHz stock, 4.7GHz OC)
  • BeQuiet Pure Rock cooler
  • 16GB DDR4 2133MHz RAM
  • Samsung SM951 256GB M.2 PCI-e NVME + 2TB Seagate SATA 3
  • 750W FSP power supply
  • Asus Z170-Pro Gaming motherboard
  • Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit
  • 27in Asus VX278H monitor
  • KFA2 nVIDIA GTX 980 4GB graphics card
  • onboard audio
  • onboard Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1xUSB 3.1 (Type-A) 1xUSB 3.1 (Type-C) 4xUSB 3, 2xUSB 2.0
  • 1xPS/2, 1xDVI, 1xD-Sub, 1xDisplayport, 1xHDMI, Optical S/PDIF out
  • Samsung 24XDVD+/-RW Dual Layer/Dual Format optical drive
  • Sharkoon VG5-W Red case
  • Nemesis Kane gaming keyboard & mouse set
  • Software: AVG Anti-Virus, CD Burner XP, Open Office
  • 3-Years collect & return warranty
  • Intel Core i5-6600K (3.5GHz stock, 4.7GHz OC)
  • BeQuiet Pure Rock cooler
  • 16GB DDR4 2133MHz RAM
  • Samsung SM951 256GB M.2 PCI-e NVME + 2TB Seagate SATA 3
  • 750W FSP power supply
  • Asus Z170-Pro Gaming motherboard
  • Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit
  • 27in Asus VX278H monitor
  • KFA2 nVIDIA GTX 980 4GB graphics card
  • onboard audio
  • onboard Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1xUSB 3.1 (Type-A) 1xUSB 3.1 (Type-C) 4xUSB 3, 2xUSB 2.0
  • 1xPS/2, 1xDVI, 1xD-Sub, 1xDisplayport, 1xHDMI, Optical S/PDIF out
  • Samsung 24XDVD+/-RW Dual Layer/Dual Format optical drive
  • Sharkoon VG5-W Red case
  • Nemesis Kane gaming keyboard & mouse set
  • Software: AVG Anti-Virus, CD Burner XP, Open Office
  • 3-Years collect & return warranty

OUR VERDICT

The Palicomp i5 Matrix is very fast and reasonably priced considering its premium components. However the 4.7GHz overclock is perhaps a little overambitious for the supplied cooling solution.

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