With a CPU specially designed for overclocking, the CyberPower Infinity i7 Hercules XT power desktop PC will prove a hit with those who are happy to tinker.

CyberPower has plumped for Intel’s Core i7-875K for its Infinity i7 Hercules XT power desktop PC – in essence an i7-870, but with an unlocked multiplier that makes this chip ideal for overclocking.

At stock speeds, the CyberPower Infinity i7 Hercules XT power desktop PC performed slightly slower than we’d like. Its 136-point tally in our speed test was beaten by the Arbico and Eclipse, which both use the Core i7-870 at the same speed, as well as the Palicomp.

The nVidia GeForce GTX 460 graphics card selected by CyberPower not only offers more RAM than the Eclipse’s version (1GB versus 768MB), but it uses a wider 256bit memory interface. This factory-overclocked card has also had its core clock bumped from 675MHz to 700MHz. Yet it still can’t beat the Eclipse’s deadly duo – it’s important to note that Eclipse’s Tornado SLi i87n46 is available at the same price as the CyberPower Infinity i7 Hercules XT power desktop PC, yet comes with two 768MB GeForce GTX 460 cards as standard – nor the ATI Radeon HD 5850 found in three of the four other PCs here. Note, however, that the GTX 460 is reputed to be a highly overclockable card – your mileage may vary.

While the CyberPower Infinity i7 Hercules XT power desktop PC comes with the very latest processor and graphics card, it’s actually the slowest PC overall in our chart. That’s to ignore its overclocking capabilities, however, and if you’re happy to tinker away then this machine could be the best investment of all.

Power PCs chart ranking

Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 930-24 USB3
Arbico Elite i7-8785 HD
Eclipse Tornado SLi i87n46
CyberPower Infinity i7 Hercules XT
Chillblast Fusion Hammerhead

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

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With a CPU specially designed for overclocking, the CyberPower Infinity i7 Hercules XT power desktop PC will prove a hit with those who are happy to tinker.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s Core i7 chip is taking this price bracket by storm. It’s a match for the best dual-core systems and will outpace any previous-generation quad-core machine. However, some Core i7-900-series chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices.

The latest Core i7-800-series processors use lower-cost motherboards but can still compete with the lower end of the Core i7-900-series on performance.

Intel’s dual-core Core i5 CPUs are also worth considering, offering higher clock speeds for your money.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum. If you’re buying a Core i7-based system, expect 3GB or 6GB of RAM (such PCs install memory chips in threes). The Core i7-800-series and Core i5 chips install memory sticks in twos, however, making them excellent value for money.

A 64bit OS will take full advantage of your RAM, but check that your software and drivers will be supported. If you opt for more than 4GB, a 64bit OS is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 500GB is considered small. With prices falling, it’s more typical to find 1TB at this price point.

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. At this price you may also find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs – note that it won’t burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Keep an eye out for new motherboards with USB 3.0 and 6Gbps SATA support, enabling high-speed drives to be added.

Display: 22in or 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens in order to leave more room in the budget for other components, but it’s worth spending a little more on a display if you intend to work primarily with digital photos or video.

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 displays that provide analogue inputs only.

If you’re a movie fan, look for one of the new 16:9-format 22in-plus displays that offer full-HD playback. You may even be able to find a 24in model.

Graphics card: At this price point, the ATI Radeon HD 5850 seen in three of the five PCs here is an almost unbeatable choice for gamers. It offers multiscreen support and supports DirectX 11.0.

nVidia’s GeForce GTX 470 also supports DirectX 11.0 and delivers excellent performance, as well as support for the company’s 3D Vision glasses. Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory.

The GTX 260 and HD 5850 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

Ready-made dual-card setups are available but can be more expensive.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend largely on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for at least a 500W unit at this price point or 750W upwards if you plan to add another card. A known brand is also likely to give better stability. Overclocking also demands a high-quality power supply.

Sound card and speakers: Onboard sound is no match for a sound card. Consider Creative’s Audigy 4 or X-Fi range.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

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CyberPower Infinity i7 Hercules XT: Specs

  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-875K
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Gigabyte P55-USB3 motherboard
  • 850W AvengePower PSU
  • 24in HKC 2249A (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 76/30fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 127/65fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888 sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 136
  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-875K
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Gigabyte P55-USB3 motherboard
  • 850W AvengePower PSU
  • 24in HKC 2249A (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 76/30fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 127/65fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888 sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • max DVD speeds: 22x/22x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 136

OUR VERDICT

Tested at stock speeds, the CyberPower Infinity i7 Hercules XT was the slowest power desktop PC in our group test and failed to impress. But if you're happy to overclock the specially designed CPU and graphics card, you're likely to be satisfied with the speed boost returned.

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