With an Intel Core i7-950 processor and a 60GB SSD, the Arbico Elite i7-9500 HSD is the fastest power desktop PC on test.

Arbico’s decision to build its Elite i7-9500 HSD around the Core i7-950 all but guarantees this will be a powerful desktop PC. Add a 60GB OCZ solid-state disk (SSD), and this PC offers the fastest performance here.

ATI’s flagship single-chip graphics card, the Radeon HD 5870, is supplied with 1GB of DDR5 memory. It enabled the Arbico Elite i7-9500 HSD power desktop PC to deliver impressive gaming results in our tests, where it was on a par with the nVidia GTX 470. Both cards were beaten by the dual-graphics setup of Eclipse’s Armageddon, however.

Very similar in its specification to DinoPC’s Maxosaur 950, the Arbico Elite i7-9500 HSD power desktop PC scored higher in WorldBench 6 (154 points versus 153), but was slower in our games tests. DinoPC’s HD 5870 is a factory-overclocked graphics card, however.

Other components include 6GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1.5 terabyte (TB) hard drive and the popular Asus P6X58D-E motherboard. Found in three of our top five machines, this board offers support for SATA 6 gigabits per second (Gbps) and USB 3.0. It also comes with three PCI Express x16 slots, letting you add two more graphics cards for maximum gaming power. Our one concern is that the 580W power supply unit (PSU) supplied with the Arbico Elite i7-9500 HSD power desktop PC might not be capable of handling a lifetime of component upgrades.

A 23.6in full-HD monitor is supplied with the Arbico Elite i7-9500 HSD power desktop PC, but it isn’t as well-made as the same-size Hanns-G supplied with the Eclipse or the 24in BenQ from CyberPower.

Chart ranking: Power PCs

  1. Arbico Elite i7-9500 HSD
  2. Apple iMac 27in (Mid-2010)
  3. Eclipse Armageddon i795n460 SLi
  4. DinoPC Maxosaur 950
  5. CyberPower Infinity i7 Phoenix (repeat)

>> NEXT PAGE: Power PCs buying advice

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With an Intel Core i7-950 processor and a 60GB SSD, the Arbico Elite i7-9500 HSD is the fastest power desktop PC on test.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s original 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 i7-800-series chips are excellent value, delivering good performance while requiring less expensive motherboards.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Core i7 machine should come with at least 6GB of RAM, although 3GB may be 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 i7-900-based PCs requires you to install chips in threes. Core i7-800-series CPUs use a two-channel system.

A 64bit OS is essential to 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 trio of drives to reduce the risk of total data loss, although noise levels will increase. Raid 0 setups boost speed at the expense of reliability.

Consider mirroring for added security. SSDs provide a speed boost, but offer limited capacity and are expensive. Go for an SSD with at least 60GB if you’re running Windows 7.

Dual-layer DVD+/-R capabilities are useful, preferably at eight-speed or above. Also look for eight-speed DVD+RW.

If you want Blu-ray playback, be prepared to compromise on DVD speeds or buy a dedicated Blu-ray drive.

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 new GeForce GTX 480 and AMD’s ATI Radeon HD 5870. It’s a close call between the two, with nVidia’s newer card often offering a performance edge, but costing considerably more. nVidia’s cards offer support for PhysX in-game 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 and 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. If you’re using an Intel CPU, a motherboard with an X58 chipset will give you better performance in multicard setups.

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: Specification and our expert verdict

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Arbico Elite i7-9500 HSD: Specs

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit, XP or Vista at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1.5TB SATA
  • 60GB SSD
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P6X58D-E motherboard
  • 580W Xilence PSU
  • 23.6in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 5870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 83/42fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 142/71fps)
  • onboard sound
  • five speakers and a subwoofer
  • 8 x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • BullGuard Internet Security
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 154
  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit, XP or Vista at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1.5TB SATA
  • 60GB SSD
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P6X58D-E motherboard
  • 580W Xilence PSU
  • 23.6in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Asus ATI Radeon HD 5870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 83/42fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 142/71fps)
  • onboard sound
  • five speakers and a subwoofer
  • 8 x BD-ROM
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/12x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • BullGuard Internet Security
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 154

OUR VERDICT

Overall, this is the best Windows 7 PC in this category. The Arbico Elite i7-9500 HSD power desktop PC offers excellent performance for everyday computing tasks and plenty of gaming power.

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