Arbico's Elite 9387 HD power desktop PC provides our first glimpse of Intel's brand-new 2.8GHz Core i7 930 processor, a still cost-effective yet superior overclocker than the 920 it replaces.

The Arbico Elite 9387 HD provides our first glimpse of Intel's brand-new Core i7 930 processor. Running at 2.8GHz, it's a small step up from the Core i7 920 found in the Chillblast Fusion Pinnacle. The Arbico's performance results are correspondingly higher: 142 WorldBench 6 points in comparison to the Chillblast's 138. The i7 930 provides excellent value for money, too, since it's available for around the same price as the i7 920 it replaces, and is rumoured to be a superior overclocker.

Being an i7 9xx-series CPU, it requires a socket 1366 motherboard and triple-channel memory. The Arbico Elite 9387 HD uses the Asus P6T SE, which offers three spare memory slots for easy expansion. A trio of x16 PCI Express slots are also present, allowing multiple ATI graphics cards to be installed in a CrossFireX configuration.

Like the Chillblast, the Arbico Elite 9387 HD comes with three hard drives, with two paired in a high-speed Raid 0 array. The total storage capacity here is a smaller 1.5TB, however.

Every system here runs ATI's Radeon HD 5870 graphics card, so the Arbico Elite 9387 HD's score of 45fps in our gaming tests is in line with the competition.

The design of the Arbico Elite 9387 HD's angular NZXT Gamma case is claimed to increase airflow through the front and improve cooling.

As with the other machines here, a 24in full-HD monitor is supplied. The Arbico Elite 9387 HD's AOC display has elegant hidden controls and a handy front USB port, but also a rather thick and old-fashioned silver-grey bezel.

A Blu-ray/DVD combo drive is also supplied, but no speakers are provided to improve the Arbico Elite 9387 HD's film-viewing experience.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (June issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Pinnacle
  2. Mesh Ice7 5870 HD
  3. Arbico Elite 9387 HD
  4. CyberPower Infinity Hades GT
  5. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Arbico's Elite 9387 HD power desktop PC provides our first glimpse of Intel's brand-new 2.8GHz Core i7 930 processor, a still cost-effective yet superior overclocker than the 920 it replaces.

Buying advice

Processor: Intel's Core i7 CPUs offer a number of speed boosts, although they require more expensive motherboards and memory than previous-generation chips. The Core i7 950 or 960 are good choices at this price, or you can save money by opting for an i7 930. Core i7 860 chips cost even less.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Core i7 machine should come with at least 6GB of RAM, although 3GB is acceptable if the manufacturer compensates with other extras. For dual-core machines, look for 4GB in two modules to allow expansion.

The triple-channel architecture of Core i7 9xx-based PCs requires you to install chips in threes. Core i7 8xx-series CPUs use a two-channel system, which will save you some cash. You'll also need to splash out on DDR3 RAM, but the price of such memory is falling fast.

A 64bit operating system can take full advantage of this memory, particularly if you're running a dual-graphics setup.

Storage: Expect at least 1TB. Look for a pair or even a trio of drives rather than a single unit to reduce the risk of total data loss, although noise levels will increase. Raid setups are an option for speed at the expense of reliability. Consider mirroring for added security. SSDs provide speed boosts, but offer limited capacity and are expensive.

Dual-layer DVD+/-R capabilities are useful, preferably at eight-speed or above. You should also be able to get eight-speed DVD+RW. If you want Blu-ray playback, be prepared to compromise on DVD speeds.

Display: We're seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays in our PC charts. This used to be the magic size at which 1080p (full-HD) playback became available, making these ideal partners for Blu-ray drives. However, some of the newest 22in (16:9) monitors can also display full-HD - and with a considerable saving.

Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality, while an extra HDMI port is great for hooking up additional devices such as games consoles without having to switch cables.

Graphics card: For a thrilling gaming experience, choose between nVidia's GeForce GTX 285 or GTX 295 and AMD's DirectX 11.0-compatible ATI Radeon HD 5870. The GTX 275 and HD 4890 cards also offer great performance and very good value for money. Radeon cards seem to be the current favourite for raw performance, but nVidia's cards offer unique features such as support for PhysX in-game physics effects and stereoscopic 3D using special glasses.

Also look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards, which can deliver excellent value and are approved by chip manufacturers. Buying a single-card setup keeps your options open for adding a second card later. It also leaves more space for sound cards or TV tuners.

Motherboard: If you're considering any upgrades, check that the motherboard offers enough memory slots to support the chips. SLI or CrossFireX support will enable you to add extra graphics cards to boost your gaming performance.

Power supply: The level of power you require will largely depend on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for a known and respected brand, and consider from 750W upwards if you have any thoughts of moving up to a dual-card setup later. Any form of overclocking will also demand a powerful PSU.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

Arbico Elite 9387 HD: Specs

  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 930
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3 x 500GB SATA (2 in Raid 0)
  • Asus P6T SE
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 600W Xilence PSU
  • 24in AOC 2436PWA (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 79/44fps
  • Fear = 339fps)
  • onboard 7.1-channel sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • BullGuard Internet Security one-year licence
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 142
  • 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 930
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3 x 500GB SATA (2 in Raid 0)
  • Asus P6T SE
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 600W Xilence PSU
  • 24in AOC 2436PWA (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB PCI Express Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 79/44fps
  • Fear = 339fps)
  • onboard 7.1-channel sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • BullGuard Internet Security one-year licence
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 142

OUR VERDICT

The excellent-value Arbico Elite 9387 HD offers an impressive list of specifications, with fast general speed and gaming framerates in line with the competition.

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