A single point shy of the 160-mark in WorldBench 6, Arbico’s Elite i7 9568 HSD is the fastest machine yet to grace our desktop PC charts.

A single point shy of the 160-mark in WorldBench 6, Arbico’s Elite i7 9568 HSD is the fastest machine yet to grace our desktop PC charts. Based on a 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950 processor, it features premium components and delivers impressive scores across the board, yet touts only a £1,279 price tag.

Fitted with 12GB of DDR3 RAM, the Arbico Elite i7 9568 HSD desktop PC has double the amount of memory we’re used to seeing in a Core i7 system. Its roomy 1.5TB hard drive offers 50 percent more disk space than most of its rivals too. Arbico has selected a 60GB OCZ SSD to supplement storage, and this Vertex 2 model is one of the fastest available.

An ATI Radeon HD 6870 graphics card delivers very good value for money, but the Arbico Elite i7 9568 HSD desktop PC can’t match the performance of the slightly older HD 5870s selected by Chillblast and Palicomp, nor the CyberPower’s GeForce GTX 480. We recommend keen gamers sacrifice a little general performance and plump for a machine with superior graphics, such as Chillblast’s Fusion Reaper.

The Arbico Elite i7 9568 HSD desktop PC's 23.6in HKC 2249A monitor is very popular in mid- to high-end systems, offering good image quality and a full-HD resolution at a reasonable price. If money is no object, however, you might prefer the Chillblast’s Samsung screen or the larger 25in Hanns-G display supplied by DinoPC.

A Blu-ray/DVD-combo drive is included with the Arbico Elite i7 9568 HSD desktop PC. As with the Chillblast, its 12-speed BD-ROM capabilities make it one of the fastest Blu-ray drives available. A set of five Trust speakers and a subwoofer completes the multimedia credentials.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Reaper
  2. Arbico Elite i7 9568 HSD
  3. DinoPC Maxosaur 870
  4. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 950-24 SSD
  5. CyberPower Infinity White Knight

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NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

A single point shy of the 160-mark in WorldBench 6, Arbico’s Elite i7 9568 HSD is the fastest machine yet to grace our desktop PC charts.

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; some may even make the leap to 12GB, although most of us won’t need this much. For dual-core machines, look for 8GB 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 GTX 480 and AMD’s Radeon HD 5870. It’s a close call between the two, with nVidia’s card often offering a performance edge, but costing considerably more. nVidia’s cards offer support for PhysX in-game effects and stereoscopic 3D using glasses.

Don’t be fooled by AMD’s naming system: the HD 6850 and 6870 are in fact slower than the 5850 and 5870.

Look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards. 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.

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NEXT PAGE: Expert verdict and specification

Arbico Elite i7 9568 HSD: Specs

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit, XP or Vista at no extra cost)
  • 12GB 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 6870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 78/41fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 153/didn't complete due to software errors)
  • Asus Xonar DS sound
  • 5 x Trust speakers and subwoofer
  • 12x/8x/8x/8x (BD-ROM/-R/-R DL/-RE)
  • 16x/16x/12x/12x/6x/8x (DVD-/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 159
  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit, XP or Vista at no extra cost)
  • 12GB 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 6870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 78/41fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 153/didn't complete due to software errors)
  • Asus Xonar DS sound
  • 5 x Trust speakers and subwoofer
  • 12x/8x/8x/8x (BD-ROM/-R/-R DL/-RE)
  • 16x/16x/12x/12x/6x/8x (DVD-/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 159

OUR VERDICT

A blisteringly fast PC for day-to-day computing tasks, the Arbico Elite i7 9568 HSD won’t prove quite so attractive to gamers.

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