As the least expensive PC here, Dino PC’s Maxosaur 2600 looks rather impressive at first glance. You get a large 24.6in monitor and a Zalman system case that’s not short on bells and whistles, including a fan-speed control wheel and an illuminated three-digit temperature readout.

As the least expensive PC here, Dino PC’s Maxosaur 2600 looks rather impressive at first glance. You get a large 24.6in monitor and a Zalman system case that’s not short on bells and whistles, including a fan-speed control wheel and an illuminated three-digit temperature readout.

The Maxosaur 2600's Crucial SSD is one of the fastest versions we’ve tested, but Dino PC hasn’t used the case’s dedicated bay to install it.

Dino PC has plumped for the standard Core i7-2600 CPU. It’s a fast chip, but the Maxosaur 2600 underperformed in our tests – systems based on the older i7-950 and 12GB of RAM can beat its 165-point WorldBench 6 score.

The Dino PC Maxosaur 2600 redeems itself in gaming, where a GTX 570 delivers similar performance to most of the competition.

A Blu-ray drive is separate to the DVD writer, enabling the Dino PC Maxosaur 2600 to offer fast DVD-burning speeds. The same can’t be said for the Blu-ray drive, but this is adequate for watching HD movies.

The Dino PC Maxosaur 2600's Asus P8P67-M motherboard is the smaller micro-ATX version of the board selected by every PC on test. It comes with two rather than four SATA 6 gigabits per second (Gbps) ports, an eSATA port and a single PCI Express slot, but no Bluetooth.

Power desktop PCs: chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Solar
  2. Palicomp Phoenix i7 Stealth
  3. Mesh Evolution 2600K PCA
  4. Arbico i7-2656 Stealth Gamer
  5. Dino PC Maxosaur 2600

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NEXT PAGE: Budget PCs buying advice

As the least expensive PC here, Dino PC’s Maxosaur 2600 looks rather impressive at first glance. You get a large 24.6in monitor and a Zalman system case that’s not short on bells and whistles, including a fan-speed control wheel and an illuminated three-digit temperature readout.

Power desktop PCs: buying advice

Processor: Intel’s ‘Sandy Bridge’ 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. It’s also available in a ‘K’ version.

If you intend to overclock the CPU, upgrade the standard Intel cooler first.

Core i7-950 and -870 CPUs cost less, but use a different type of motherboard.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Sandy Bridge Core i7 PC should come with at least 8GB of RAM. The triple-channel architecture of Core i7-900-based PCs requires you to install chips in threes. Core i7-800- and -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 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. 2TB drives are also available, but remember to back up regularly. Consider mirroring for added security.

SSDs provide a significant and very noticeable speed boost, from reduced startup times to improved system responsiveness. They’re now priced at a level where you should expect to see one in any PC costing more than £1,000. Go for an SSD with a capacity of 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.

Model’s with LED backlighting aren’t necessarily better, but can offer improved contrast, lower power consumption and a thinner, more desirable design.

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

Graphics card: For a top-level gaming experience, go for nVidia’s GeForce GTX 580. If you don’t need ultimate performance, the cheaper GTX 570 and AMD Radeon HD 6970 are a great match for a 24in monitor.

Both brands support stereoscopic 3D when used with the correct display hardware and glasses. Recent ATI cards can also be connected to multiple displays.

Look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards, as well as those that come with custom cooling solutions.

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. Sandy Bridge motherboards support this mode of operation, but those currently available aren’t able to deliver the full bandwidth required for peak 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 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.


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NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

Dino PC Maxosaur 2600: Specs

  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 64GB SSD
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P8P67-M motherboard
  • 650W Corsair PSU
  • 24.6in Hanns-G HH251DPB (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1.28GB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 570 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 99/48fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 193/115fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Dino PC speakers
  • 4 x BD-ROM
  • 24x/24x/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: 165
  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 64GB SSD
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P8P67-M motherboard
  • 650W Corsair PSU
  • 24.6in Hanns-G HH251DPB (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1.28GB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 570 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 99/48fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 193/115fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Dino PC speakers
  • 4 x BD-ROM
  • 24x/24x/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: 165

OUR VERDICT

If the Dino PC Maxosaur 2600 had been a little faster in our benchmark, it would have offered much better value for money. It’s got a fancy – but arguably unnecessary, given the multiplier-locked processor and standard cooler – system case.

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