By far the most impressive-looking PC we've seen this month is CyberPower’s Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven. Finished in stealth black both inside and out, it looks more like a piece of military hardware than a consumer desktop PC.

Twin ATI Radeon HD 4890 graphics cards are paired in a CrossFireX configuration, providing the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven with more graphics processing power than any other system here. We found the Best Buy Chillblast's single-chip HD 5870 to be a better performer in Crysis, but the relative gaming performance of these two systems will depend on a game's CrossFireX support. In Fear, for example, the 4890 combo achieved a much faster result than the 5870.

What this powerful combination doesn't give you is support for DirectX 11.0. This will be necessary for some upcoming games and the DirectCompute 11.0 features in Windows 7, although the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven will still give superb performance on current titles.

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven's WorldBench 6 performance is outstanding, scoring a chart-leading 152 points. This achievement is largely down to the machine's 3.2GHz Intel Core i7 960 processor - the fastest of the group.

The CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven is a considerably more powerful system than the slightly cheaper Eclipse in second place, but it lacks some key features. Most notably, it's the only system in this price category to ship with a 22in flat-panel monitor - the others offer 24in or thereabouts. This Digimate model is also unable to display a full-HD image.

Given that neither a Blu-ray drive nor speakers are provided, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven would need yet more money spent on it in order to compete with the multimedia capabilities of the other systems here. It also comes with a single 1TB hard drive, which offers 500GB less capacity than most of the competition and lacks the performance increase that could be gained from a Raid 0 array.


Power PCs chart ranking: February 10 issue

  1. Chillblast Fusion Condor
  2. Eclipse Titan i795R585
  3. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven
  4. Arbico Elite 9590 HD
  5. Eclipse Titan X58 i796R489

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice


By far the most impressive-looking PC in this group is CyberPower's Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven. Finished in stealth black both inside and out, it looks more like a piece of military hardware than a consumer desktop PC.


Power PCs buying advice

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 more expensive motherboards and memory than previous-generation chips. At this price, the Core i7 950 or 960 would be a great choice.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Core i7 PC should come with at least 6GB of RAM (although 3GB is acceptable if it compensates with other extras). For dual-core machines, look for 4GB in two modules to allow room for expansion.
The triple-channel architecture of Core i7 9XX-based PCs requires you to install chips in threes. Core i7 8XX-series CPUs use a two-channel system, which will save you some cash. You'll also need to splash out on DDR3 RAM, but the price of such memory is falling fast. A 64bit operating system can take full advantage of this memory, particularly if you're running a dual-graphics setup.

Storage: Expect at least a terabyte. Look for a pair or even a trio 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 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, making them excellent value for money.

Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality and 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 GeForce GTX 285 or GTX 295 and AMD's DirectX 11.0-compatible ATI Radeon HD 5870. The GTX 275 and HD 4890 cards also offer great performance and very good value for money. Radeon cards seem to be the current favourite for raw performance, but nVidia's cards offer unique features such as support for PhysX in-game physics effects and stereoscopic 3D using special glasses.

Also look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards, which can deliver excellent value 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 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 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 also 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.


>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven: Specs

  • 3.2GHz Intel Core i7 960
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • MSI X58 Pro-E
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 950W CyberPower PSU
  • 22in Digimate L2254WD (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1680x1080)
  • 1GB PCI Express 2 x ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 78/33fps
  • Fear = 399fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888S
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 152
  • 3.2GHz Intel Core i7 960
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • MSI X58 Pro-E
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 950W CyberPower PSU
  • 22in Digimate L2254WD (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1680x1080)
  • 1GB PCI Express 2 x ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 78/33fps
  • Fear = 399fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888S
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 152

OUR VERDICT

On performance alone, the CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Heaven would find itself higher up the chart. However, with a smaller screen that doesn't offer a full-HD resolution and less storage than the competition, we feel it isn't quite as good an all-round machine as the top two PCs.

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