Dino PC’s Maxosaur 2600K looks rather different to the competition. It has a huge, 27in Iiyama monitor, which is one of the best displays we’ve seen submitted with a chart PC. Its full-HD resolution, generous screen size and height-adjustable stand make it ideal for playing games and watching films in maximum comfort.

The Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K's Zalman Z9 Plus system case sports a distinctive asymmetric front panel, above which sits an illuminated temperature display and a fan-speed controller – useful features for balancing cooling and noise in overclocked systems. Noise is also reduced by rubber mounts on the hard drive. However, Zalman’s quality control leaves something to be desired, with the main power switch often sticking.

As you might guess from the Maxousaur 2600K's name, Dino PC fits an Intel Core i7-2600K processor. Its performance was slightly behind the competition in WorldBench 6, where the Maxosaur scored a still-fast 169 points.

Power desktop PCs chart ranking

  1. Arbico Elite i7-2657 MX
  2. Chillblast Fusion Omega
  3. Eclipse Supernova P67i526r697
  4. Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K
  5. Mesh Evolution 2600K PCA

A standard 8GB of RAM leaves two memory slots free for upgrades, while a 60GB Corsair Force SSD complements the Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K's large 2TB hard drive. Two optical drives are supplied, with one supporting Blu-ray, plus a pair of external speakers and a subwoofer.

The Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K's nVidia GeForce GTX 570 graphics card delivers excellent gaming performance, although it’s noticeably slower than the GTX 580 selected by Chillblast for its less expensive Fusion Omega.

The Maxosaur 2600K is also let down by Dino PC’s poor choice of motherboard. The P8P67 LE lacks many features of Asus’ ‘Pro’ version, including SLI support and advanced overclocking options. In an enthusiast system at this price, there’s no good reason to opt for this cut-price board.

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Power desktop PCs buying advice

Processor: 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. 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.

Models 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 graphics 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: Too early for this round-up, look out for 268 motherboards for best performance. These boards should really unlock the potential of Intel’s latest processors.

SLI or CrossFireX support lets you add extra graphics cards. Sandy Bridge motherboards support this mode of operation, but current H67 boards 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.

Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K: Specs

  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
  • standard Intel CPU cooler
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2TB SATA
  • 60GB SSD
  • 6x USB 2.0
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • Asus P8P67 LE
  • 650W Corsair PSU
  • 27in Iiyama ProLite B2712HDS-B1 (0.31mm pixel pitch, 1920x1080)
  • 1.28GB KFA2 nVidia GeForce GTX 570 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 100/52fps, Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 195/122fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2x Logitech S220 speakers and subwoofer
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • 22x/22x DVD-R/+R, 12x/16x DVD-R DL/+R DL, 6x/8x DVD-RW/+RW, 12x/16x DVD-RAM/-ROM
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 169
  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
  • standard Intel CPU cooler
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2TB SATA
  • 60GB SSD
  • 6x USB 2.0
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • Asus P8P67 LE
  • 650W Corsair PSU
  • 27in Iiyama ProLite B2712HDS-B1 (0.31mm pixel pitch, 1920x1080)
  • 1.28GB KFA2 nVidia GeForce GTX 570 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 100/52fps, Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 195/122fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2x Logitech S220 speakers and subwoofer
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • 22x/22x DVD-R/+R, 12x/16x DVD-R DL/+R DL, 6x/8x DVD-RW/+RW, 12x/16x DVD-RAM/-ROM
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 169

OUR VERDICT

Dino PC’s Maxosaur 2600K comes with the best monitor we’ve seen included with a chart PC, a fantastic 27in Iiyama ProLite B2712HDS-B1. However, PC performance is less impressive.

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