The CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy is a highly impressive if rather expensive desktop PC.

The Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy from CyberPower and Mesh's i7 920 HD are the first systems we’ve reviewed to feature Intel’s Core i7 processor. CyberPower has opted for the i7 940, running at 2.93GHz.

Part of a new breed of quad-core CPUs, this chip brings with it many new technologies and potential performance far in excess of its predecessors. It also requires an entirely new type of motherboard and DDR3 RAM rather than DDR2. The triple-channel memory controller built into the CPU means memory sticks should be installed in threes rather than pairs, which is why the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy is equipped with 6GB.

Previously, choosing a quad-core system meant compromising headline performance figures on the common applications that can’t take full advantage of multiprocessing technology. However, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy is right up there with the best of the Core 2 Duo E8600 systems that usually dominate our charts. With an excellent WorldBench 6 score of 131 points, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy is very fast indeed.

However, this performance comes at a price: this PC is the most expensive of the group. The CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy's Core i7 940 costs around twice as much as the slower Core i7 920 found in Mesh's i7 920 HD, while DDR3 RAM costs twice as much as DDR2.

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy’s ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card is a stellar performer at a good price. However, the cheaper Mesh i7 920 HD has a Radeon HD 4870 X2 with around twice the graphics power. If gaming is your primary focus, you may want to look elsewhere.

Also included with the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy is a Blu-ray-capable DVD writer and a set of 5.1-channel surround speakers (five speakers and a subwoofer) to help you make the most of movie soundtracks.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (Feb 09 issue)

  1. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy
  2. Mesh i7 920 HD
  3. Arbico Elite 8630 Pro
  4. Chillblast Fusion Medusa
  5. Zoostorm 64-6503

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy is a highly impressive if rather expensive desktop PC.

Buying advice: Power desktop PCs (Feb 09 issue)

Processor: Until recently, Intel Core 2 Duo chips were your best bet. Today, quad-core processors such as the Q9550 have begun to match their performance on standard desktop applications. Systems running on four cores can deliver excellent performance at the same price as dual-core machines.

If you demand the ultimate in performance, go for one of Intel's new Core i7 CPUs. These offer a number of speed boosts, including the ability to run eight threads simultaneously, but require far more expensive motherboards and memory than previous-generation chips.

Memory: If you're spending more than £1,000 on a PC, it should come with at least 4GB of RAM. Any less will prevent a Vista PC reaching its full potential. To plan for the future, get 4GB in two modules to allow room for expansion.

A 64bit operating system will ensure you take full advantage of your memory, especially if you're using dual graphics cards - these sap RAM on 32bit systems. If you're going for an i7-based PC, you'll need to buy your chips in threes to take advantage of the triple-channel architecture. You'll also need to splash out on DDR3 rather than DDR2 chips.

Storage: Expect at least 750GB. Look for a pair of drives rather than a single larger unit; it will boost performance and prevent you losing lots of data if a drive fails. Raid setups are also an option. Consider mirroring for added security.

Cover backup with a multiformat DVD writer. Dual-layer capabilities (allowing you to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc) are useful. Make sure the drive supports DVD+R DL at eight-speed or above - some more recent drives offer twice this speed. 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. This is currently the magic size at which full 1,080p HD playback becomes available, so these make ideal partners for Blu-ray drives.

If this doesn't appeal, 22in displays are excellent value. Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality and additional inputs if you want to attach other devices. An HDMI is useful for connecting to a games console.

Graphics card: For a thrilling gaming experience choose between an nVidia GeForce GTX 280 and ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2. 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 solution keeps your options open for adding a second card later. It also leaves more space in your PC for sound cards or TV tuners.

Sound card and speakers: There have been improvements in onboard sound, but it's still no match for a decent sound card. You should be able to get a Creative Audigy or one of the excellent X-Fi cards.

If you only want 2.1-channel sound (two speakers and a subwoofer), make sure they're high-quality models. Most firms are bundling 5.1-channel speakers.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy: Specs

  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 940
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Asus P6T Deluxe
  • 12 x USB 2.0
  • 22in Fujitsu-Siemens H22-1WS (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 1GB PCI Express XpertVision ATI Radeon HD 4870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 65/26
  • Fear = 223)
  • Realtek HD 889 7.1
  • 5 x Logitech X540 Surround
  • subwoofer
  • 6x BD-ROM
  • 3x HD DVD
  • 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • Nero Essentials
  • Norton Security (90-day trial)
  • OpenOffice installed on request
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 131
  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 940
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 750GB SATA
  • Asus P6T Deluxe
  • 12 x USB 2.0
  • 22in Fujitsu-Siemens H22-1WS (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,680x1,050)
  • 1GB PCI Express XpertVision ATI Radeon HD 4870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 65/26
  • Fear = 223)
  • Realtek HD 889 7.1
  • 5 x Logitech X540 Surround
  • subwoofer
  • 6x BD-ROM
  • 3x HD DVD
  • 12x/12x/4x/4x/6x/6x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • Nero Essentials
  • Norton Security (90-day trial)
  • OpenOffice installed on request
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 131

OUR VERDICT

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Galaxy is a highly impressive if rather expensive PC, incorporating all the latest hardware. It should serve you well for some time to come.

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