Arbico’s Elite i7268 HDX takes full advantage of its Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600 CPU. This devastatingly fast PC scored 171 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test.

Delivering the joint-fastest Windows performance in this group, Arbico’s Elite i7268 HDX takes full advantage of its Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600 CPU. This devastatingly fast PC scored 171 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test.

Fitted with a generous 8GB of DDR3 RAM, the Arbico Elite i7268 HDX PC offers double the memory allocation usually specified at this price. A 1TB hard drive is more common, however.

The Arbico Elite i7268 HDX's multimedia and gaming potential is immense, with a Radeon HD 6870 graphics card that’s beaten only by the Palicomp’s 6950, a 12-speed Blu-ray drive, a 24in monitor and a 2.1-channel speaker set. Unlike Palicomp’s set these speakers don’t produce surround sound, but they do offer a step up in quality from CyberPower and Dino PC’s in-monitor solutions.

The Asus P8P67 motherboard has a slightly lower spec than the ‘Pro’ version selected by Palicomp, with no support for scalable link interface (SLI) or eSATA. The Arbico Elite i7268 HDX's version is better than the ‘LE’ model chosen by Chillblast and Dino PC, however.

This board also offers a graphical EFI, plus support for USB 3.0 and 6 gigabits per second (Gbps) SATA. As is the case with the Palicomp, however, you’ll need an i7-2600K CPU to take full advantage of its overclocking features – this would add around £20 to the Arbico Elite i7268 HDX PC’s price tag.

Arbico’s Elite i7268 HDX desktop PC is housed in a reasonable Cooler Master Elite 335 case with tool-free drive bays. It looks insubstantial and lacks top-mounted cooling fans and USB ports in comparison to the Palicomp’s Scout Pro.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. Palicomp Phoenix i7 2600-24 BLU
  2. Arbico Elite i7268 HDX
  3. Chillblast Fusion Zeus
  4. CyberPower Infinity i5 Silent Edition
  5. Dino PC Ravenous 2600

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Next page: Buying advice

Arbico’s Elite i7268 HDX takes full advantage of its Sandy Bridge Core i7-2600 CPU. This devastatingly fast PC scored 171 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s second-generation Sandy Bridge Core i5/i7 CPUs are currently the only serious contenders in this price category, having utterly outclassed the previous-generation of Core i7-800 and 900 processors. These chips are much faster and use less power.

The 3.4GHz i7-2600K is the fastest in the series, with the ‘K’ denoting an unlocked multiplier that offers safe and simple overclocking.

At 3.3GHz, the Core i5-2500K offers a slightly lower specification. It has no support for hyperthreading and 6MB rather than 8MB of level 3 cache.

Both chips are also available in cheaper non-K versions that don’t offer the same overclocking potential.

Motherboard: To take full advantage of Intel’s K-series CPUs, you’ll need a fully compatible motherboard. This will likely be more expensive. Avoid pairing with an H67 chipset-based motherboard.

A 64bit operating system is essential if you intend to use 4GB or more of RAM.

Storage: Expect 1TB, but you may find 2TB at this price. A complementary solid-state disk (SSD) will provide a noticeable boost to bootup times and system responsiveness, but these are pricey.

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.

It’s not unusual to find a drive that reads but doesn’t write to Blu-ray. Note that DVD-burning speeds will be slower on these combo drives.

Display: 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens to help budget for other components, but it’s worth spending a little more here if you’ll be working with digital media.

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 cheap displays that provide only VGA inputs.

Graphics card: At this price, the ATI Radeon HD 6870 is near-unbeatable. It offers support for multiple display and DirectX 11.0. You may be able to get an even faster Radeon HD 6950.

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 technology. The GTX 460 offers good value, but it performs a little slower. It’s a superb choice for dual-graphics setups, however.

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

Many 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.

However, the current crop of motherboards which support the new processors have only limited support for multiple graphics cards, so buy the fastest single card you can afford.

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 decoding is so good these days that you’re unlikely to need a separate sound card – except for specialist applications such as studio music creation.

Next page: Specification and our expert verdict

Arbico Elite i7268 HDX: Specs

  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P8P67 motherboard
  • 580W Xilence PSU
  • 24in Iiyama ProLite 2409HDS-B (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 6870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 87/42fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 171/87fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Logitech S220 speakers and subwoofer
  • 12x/8x/8x/8x/8x (BD-ROM/-R/-R DL/-RE/-ROM DL)
  • 16x/16x/12x/12x/12x/12x/12x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 171
  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit or XP at no extra cost)
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P8P67 motherboard
  • 580W Xilence PSU
  • 24in Iiyama ProLite 2409HDS-B (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Powercolor ATI Radeon HD 6870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 87/42fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 171/87fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Logitech S220 speakers and subwoofer
  • 12x/8x/8x/8x/8x (BD-ROM/-R/-R DL/-RE/-ROM DL)
  • 16x/16x/12x/12x/12x/12x/12x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 171

OUR VERDICT

An incredibly fast PC, the Arbico Elite i7268 HDX would offer even more performance with the multiplier-unlocked i7-2600K CPU.

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