An updated version of the Elite i7 9568 HSD, the Arbico Elite i7969 HSD desktop PC delivers improved gaming performance and a superior monitor.

Arbico’s Elite i7969 HSD is an updated and improved version of the Elite i7 9568 HSD (tinyurl.com/4uyLqsz). It’s a little pricier than its predecessor at £1,329, but this PC also delivers improved gaming performance and a superior monitor.

The specification appears generous: there’s a Core i7-950 processor, 12GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1TB hard drive and a 60GB Corsair Force SSD. This combination powered the Arbico Elite i7969 HSD to an 160-point score in WorldBench 6, which would have topped last issue’s £1,001+ PCs chart. However, the Chillblast and CyberPower PCs not only beat it in performance, but also in price.

Gaming performance is also very good, with the Arbico Elite i7969 HSD desktop PC's ATI Radeon HD 6970 and 2GB of video memory placing it joint-top of the chart with Chillblast in our Crysis and Stalker tests. It managed 50fps in our ‘Very High’ Crysis test and 108fps in Stalker: Call of Pripyat at the game’s ‘Ultra’ setting.

One of the nicer-looking system cases here, the Arbico Elite i7969 HSD PC's Cooler Master Elite 335 is smart but lacks the internal black paint job, bottom-mounted power supply and cable management of superior cases.

A 24in Iiyama monitor is supplied with the Arbico Elite i7969 HSD, offering a full-HD (1920x1080 pixels) image, an HDMI input and higher image quality than we see with the budget panels often bundled with PCs.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. CyberPower Infinity Achilles GT
  2. Chillblast Fusion Torpedo
  3. Arbico Elite i7969 HSD
  4. Palicomp Kinetic Blitz 950-6970
  5. DinoPC Maxosaur 870

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

An updated version of the Elite i7 9568 HSD, the Arbico Elite i7969 HSD desktop PC delivers improved gaming performance and a superior monitor.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s ‘Sandy Bridge’ CPUs offer such a huge amount of performance that enthusiasts will be eager to get one as soon as possible. Intel’s 3.4GHz quad-core Core i7-2600K offers fantastic performance, hyperthreading, Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz and easy overclocking.

You can make a small saving by opting for the non-’K’ version, which does without the overclocking feature. Alternatively, the Core i5-2500 offers a reduced cache, no hyperthreading and a 3.3GHz clock speed, but will still outpace many Core i7 chips.

Core i7-950 and -870 processors cost less, but buying a PC based on one will tie you to a motherboard that doesn’t support the newer processors.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Core i7 machine should come with at least 6GB of RAM. Some come with 12GB, although most of us won’t need this much.

The triple-channel architecture of Core i7-900-based PCs requires you to install chips in threes. Core i7-800- and the new Core i7 2000-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.

Display: PCs at this price are nearly always offered with a 24 or 25in display. 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 – for less money.

Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality, while an extra HDMI port is great for hooking up additional devices.

Graphics card: For a thrilling gaming experience, choose between nVidia’s GTX 580 and AMD’s Radeon HD 6970. nVidia’s card is faster and offers support for PhysX in-game effects, but is also more expensive. Both ATI and nVidia cards now support stereoscopic 3D when used with the right display hardware and glasses.

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

Look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards. Some cards also come with custom cooling solutions, offering faster clock speeds and quieter operation.

Buying a single-card setup leaves more space for sound cards or TV tuners.

Motherboard: If you’re considering a RAM upgrade, check there are free slots.

SLI or CrossFireX support lets you add extra graphics cards to boost gaming performance. If you’re using an Intel CPU, an X58-chipset motherboard offers better performance in multi-card 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 brand, and consider from 750W upwards if you plan to add a second graphics card. Any form of overclocking will also demand a powerful PSU.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Arbico Elite i7969 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
  • 1TB SATA
  • 60GB SSD
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P6X58D-E motherboard
  • 580W Xilence PSU
  • 24in Iiyama ProLite 2409HDS (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 2GB Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 83/50fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 164/108fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Trust speakers and subwoofer
  • 12x/8x/8x/8x/8x (BD-ROM/-R/-R DL/-RE/-ROM DL)
  • 16x/16x/12x/8x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 160
  • 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
  • 1TB SATA
  • 60GB SSD
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P6X58D-E motherboard
  • 580W Xilence PSU
  • 24in Iiyama ProLite 2409HDS (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 2GB Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 83/50fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 164/108fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Trust speakers and subwoofer
  • 12x/8x/8x/8x/8x (BD-ROM/-R/-R DL/-RE/-ROM DL)
  • 16x/16x/12x/8x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL)
  • two-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 160

OUR VERDICT

The Arbico Elite i7969 HSD is a fantastic example of a Core i7-950 PC, offering very good general and gaming performance. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that this machine can do that the Chillblast Fusion Torpedo can’t – and for less money.

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