Another desktop PC that combines Intel’s Core i7-950 CPU with 6GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, a Radeon HD 5850 graphics card and a 24in HKC monitor, the Arbico Elite i7-9558 HD fails to stand out among the competition.

Another desktop PC that combines Intel’s Core i7-950 CPU with 6GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, a Radeon HD 5850 graphics card and a 24in HKC monitor, the Arbico Elite i7-9558 HD fails to stand out among the competition.

Housed in a black Cooler Master Elite case, the Arbico Elite i7-9558 HD power desktop PC's smart-looking exterior is neither flashy like the CyberPower nor imposing like the Palicomp. And the messy cabling inside does little to hide the distinct lack of cooling fan mounts.

Performance in our tests was mid-range, with the Arbico Elite i7-9558 HD power desktop PC scoring 148 points in WorldBench 6 and hitting the lowest framerates of all the HD 5850-equipped PCs in our Crysis and Stalker: Call of Pripyat tests. Only the GeForce GTX 460-powered DinoPC proved slower in gaming.

A set of external speakers is provided with the Arbico Elite i7-9558 HD power desktop PC, which comes with a subwoofer but no surround-sound capability.

Another disappointment is the Arbico Elite i7-9558 HD power desktop PC's lack of a Blu-ray drive. Although the CyberPower also omits one, it at least comes with a super-fast graphics card to make up for it.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 950-25 BLU
  2. Chillblast Fusion Bullet
  3. CyberPower Infinity Phoenix
  4. DinoPC Fermisaur 870
  5. Arbico Elite i7-9558 HD

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>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Another desktop PC that combines Intel’s Core i7-950 CPU with 6GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, a Radeon HD 5850 graphics card and a 24in HKC monitor, the Arbico Elite i7-9558 HD fails to stand out among the competition.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s Core i7 chip is taking this price bracket by storm. It’s a match for the best dual-core systems and will outpace any previous-generation quad-core machine. However, some i7-900-series chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices.

The latest Core i7-800-series processors use lower-cost motherboards but can still compete with the lower end of the Core i7-900-series on performance.

Intel’s dual-core Core i5 CPUs are also worth considering, offering higher clock speeds for your money.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum. If you’re buying a Core i7-900-based PC, expect 3GB or 6GB of RAM (such PCs install memory chips in threes). The Core i7-800-series and Core i5 chips install memory sticks in twos, however, making them excellent value for money.

A 64bit OS will take full advantage of your RAM, but check that your software and drivers will be supported. If you opt for more than 4GB, a 64bit OS is essential.

Storage: With storage prices falling, expect 1TB. We’ve seen systems with 2TB that cost less than £1,000.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB on a single disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW. At this price you may also find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs – note that it won’t burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Keep an eye out for new motherboards with USB 3.0 and 6Gbps SATA support, enabling high-speed drives to be added.

Display: 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens to leave more cash for other components, but it’s worth spending a little more on a display if you intend to work primarily with digital photos or video.

A screen with a response time of 8ms or less will minimise blur on fast-moving images. For image editing, contrast ratio and colour fidelity are more important.

A digital input can preserve picture quality, so think twice about displays that provide analogue inputs only.

Graphics card: At this price, the ATI Radeon HD 5850 is an almost unbeatable choice for gamers. It offers multiscreen and DirectX 11.0 support.

nVidia’s GeForce GTX 470 is also DirectX 11.0-compatible and delivers excellent performance, as well as support for the company’s 3D Vision glasses.
The GTX 460 is a good-value card, but it performs a little slower. It’s a superb choice if you intend to add a second card.

Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory.

nVidia and ATI graphics cards can be upgraded to dual-card setups later. To take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

X58-based motherboards supporting Intel’s Core i7-900-series processors are better equipped to deal with multi-card graphics solutions because of their improved PCI Express bandwidth.

Ready-made dual-card setups are available but can be more expensive.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend on the graphics card you want to use. Look for at least a 500W unit or 750W-plus if you plan to add another card or overclock the CPU.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is no match for a sound card. Consider Creative’s Audigy 4 or X-Fi range.

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>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Arbico Elite i7-9558 HD: Specs

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P6X58D-E motherboard
  • 850W AvengePower PSU
  • 24in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB XFX ATI Radeon HD 5850 (Crysis High/Very High: 83/35fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat Medium/Ultra: 128/71fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Logitech speakers and subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 148
  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P6X58D-E motherboard
  • 850W AvengePower PSU
  • 24in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB XFX ATI Radeon HD 5850 (Crysis High/Very High: 83/35fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat Medium/Ultra: 128/71fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Logitech speakers and subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 148

OUR VERDICT

Arbico has played it safe with its Elite i7-9558 HD, producing a well-balanced but unexciting Windows 7 machine. While the Palicomp will be attractive to overclockers, the Chillblast is the fastest PC on test, the CyberPower is a good gaming machine and the DinoPC has a fantastic monitor, Arbico offers nothing that makes its machine stand out from the pack.

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