Arbico's Elite i7 RSX topped our July issue's power PC chart with a devastating general-purpose performance score in WorldBench 6. The Pro version featured here adds a faster graphics card and sees a price drop of £50. With a speed score just one point below the original RSX, that's not a bad deal.

The Arbico Elite i7 RSX Pro swaps a factory-overclocked BFG Maxxcore GeForce GTX 260 graphics card for a GTX 275. The new card offers similar performance at a reduced price. And it's the same card used by our Best Buy Chillblast Fusion Thunder.

That PC keeps the Arbico off the top spot with a slightly better spec and a lower price tag. The Arbico Elite i7 RSX Pro is the only system here to specify just 3GB of RAM; the motherboard design also means that an upgrade would require replacing the existing memory modules rather than adding to them.

Like the Chillblast, the Arbico Elite i7 RSX Pro comes with a huge 1.5 terabytes (TB) of storage space in the form of three 500GB hard drives. Unlike that PC, however, the Arbico ‘stripes' all three drives in Raid 0. This boosts the PC's performance, but you run more of a risk that a disk failure will destroy your data. Be sure to make regular backups.

The Arbico Elite i7 RSX Pro's 24in Iiyama display offers fantastic value for money and good image quality, although it lacks the height-adjustable stand of the Chillblast's Edge 10 monitor.

Both the Arbico Elite i7 RSX Pro and Chillblast Fusion Thunder make use of the 460W power supply that comes as standard with the Cooler Master Elite 331 case. We'd like to see a more powerful unit in a system of this specification - you'll almost certainly need to upgrade it if you plan to add or upgrade any components.


Chart ranking: Power PCs (August issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Thunder
  2. Arbico Elite i7 RSX Pro
  3. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy
  4. Eclipse Titan X58 i7A489
  5. Chillblast Fusion Hercules


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Buying advice: Power PCs (August issue)

Processor: Intel's quad-core Core i7 CPUs offer a number of speed boosts, including the ability to run eight threads simultaneously, although they require far more expensive motherboards and memory than previous-generation chips. The dual-core E8600 is still a very fast processor and delivers excellent value.

Memory: If you're spending more than £1,000 on a Core i7 PC, it should come with a minimum 3GB of RAM and preferably 6GB. For dual-core machines, look for 4GB in two modules to allow room for expansion.

Core i7 PCs require you to buy your chips in threes, in order to take advantage of the triple-channel architecture. You'll also need to splash out on DDR3 RAM.

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

Storage: Expect 750GB. Look for a pair of drives rather than a single unit; it will boost performance and prevent the risk of total data loss. Raid setups are an option. Consider mirroring for added security. SSDs can provide speed boosts, but offer limited capacity and are expensive.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB on a disc) are useful. Make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL 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. Alternatively, buy a second DVD burner for backup.

Display: We're seeing increasing numbers of 24in displays in our PC charts. This used to be the magic size at which 1,080p (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, making them excellent value for money.

Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality.

Graphics card: For a thrilling gaming experience, choose between nVidia's GeForce GTX 285 or GTX 295 and an ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. The latest GeForce GTX 275 and Radeon HD 4890 cards also offer great performance and very good value for money.

Also look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards, which can deliver excellent value for money 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 in your PC for sound cards or TV tuners.

Motherboard: If you're considering any upgrades, check that the motherboard offers enough memory slots to support additional chips. SLI or CrossfireX support will enable to you 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 demand a powerful PSU.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to get a Creative Audigy or X-Fi card at this price. If you only want 2.1-channel speakers, make sure they're high-quality models.

Arbico Elite i7 RSX Pro: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3 x 500GB SATA (all 3 in Raid 0)
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R motherboard
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 460W Cooler Master PSU
  • 24in Iiyama E2407HDS-B1 flat-panel monitor (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,080)
  • 896MB PCI Express Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 275 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 80/27fps
  • Fear = 224fps)
  • onboard 7.1-channel sound
  • 5 x Trust Soundforce speakers and subwoofer
  • 6x BD-ROM
  • 3x HD DVD
  • max DVD speeds: 16x/16x/4x/4x/6x/8x/5x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 138
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit
  • 3GB DDR3 RAM
  • 3 x 500GB SATA (all 3 in Raid 0)
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R motherboard
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 460W Cooler Master PSU
  • 24in Iiyama E2407HDS-B1 flat-panel monitor (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,080)
  • 896MB PCI Express Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 275 graphics card (games scores: Crysis (High/Very High) = 80/27fps
  • Fear = 224fps)
  • onboard 7.1-channel sound
  • 5 x Trust Soundforce speakers and subwoofer
  • 6x BD-ROM
  • 3x HD DVD
  • max DVD speeds: 16x/16x/4x/4x/6x/8x/5x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 138

OUR VERDICT

With a speed score just one point below the original RSX, a £50 price drop and a faster graphics card, the Arbico Elite i7 RSX Pro is a worthy contender. It can't compete with the Best Buy Chillblast's specification, however, and we'd like to see a higher-rated PSU.

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