Dino PC puts the now obligatory Intel Core i7-2600K to good use in its update to the Maxosaur 2600K (tinyurl.com/3reuxcw). This revision also embraces a new motherboard and is supplied with two monitors.

A pair of smart-looking 21.5in LG displays feature LED backlighting and a super-slim design. When combined, the extra screen space can boost productivity if you run more than one program at a time. One serious down side is that both the Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K V2's displays lack a digital input.

Dino PC has selected a similar motherboard to the CyberPower. It’s based on the Z68 chipset, but doubles up on its rival’s 6Gbps SATA and USB 3.0 offerings, with four of each. It also supports SLI. Like the Dino PC’s board, however, the Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K V2's lack of video connectors forces it to rely solely on its (very fast) factory-overclocked Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 580 graphics card.

The Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K V2 is fitted with a 64GB Crucial M4 SSD. This is a fast drive, but it doesn’t take advantage of Intel’s SRT to boost hard-drive performance. A 2TB hard drive is also supplied.

The Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K V2 comes with a Blu-ray drive and a pair of rather attractive Creative T20 speakers; the set lacks a subwoofer, but still offers better audio quality than most speakers we see bundled with desktop PCs.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. 1. Arbico Elite i7-2657 MX mkII
    2. CyberPower Infinity Achilles Extreme
    3. Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K V2
    4. Eclipse Supernova i726n580 Sli
    5. Palicomp Phoenix i7 Attitude

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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 previous-gen Core i7 chips. It’s also available in a ‘K’ version.

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

Memory: A £1,001-plus Sandy Bridge Core i7 PC should come with at least 8GB of RAM. Some come with 16GB, although most of us won’t need this much. 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.

Z68-chipset motherboards support Intel’s Smart Response Technology, allowing even a low-capacity SSD to speed up hard-drive performance. This technology is still in its infancy, however, and performance gains aren’t always as great you might expect.

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.

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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: If you’re considering a RAM upgrade, check there are free slots. If you want to overclock, look for automatic overclocking functions on the motherboard. Z68-chipset boards offer more features than their P67 counterparts and cost only a little more.

SLI or CrossFireX support lets you add extra graphics cards. Sandy Bridge motherboards support this mode of operation, but current boards aren’t able to deliver the full bandwidth required for peak performance. For a multi-card gaming system, you may better off with an older Core i7 9xx CPU and an X58-chipset motherboard.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend on the graphics card you use. Look for a known brand, and consider from 750W upwards if you plan to add a second card. Any form of overclocking will demand a powerful PSU.

Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K V2: Specs

  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2TB SATA
  • 64GB SSD
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3P-B3 motherboard
  • 700W Xigmatek PSU
  • 2 x 21.5in LG E2260S-PN (0.25mm pixel pitch, 1920x1080)
  • 1.5GB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 580 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 98/59fps, Stalker: Call Of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 201/32fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Creative Gigaworks T20 speakers
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • 24x DVD-R/24x +R/12x -R DL/16x +R DL/6x -RW/8x +RW/12x RAM/16x -ROM
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 170
  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2TB SATA
  • 64GB SSD
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3P-B3 motherboard
  • 700W Xigmatek PSU
  • 2 x 21.5in LG E2260S-PN (0.25mm pixel pitch, 1920x1080)
  • 1.5GB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 580 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 98/59fps, Stalker: Call Of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 201/32fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Creative Gigaworks T20 speakers
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • 24x DVD-R/24x +R/12x -R DL/16x +R DL/6x -RW/8x +RW/12x RAM/16x -ROM
  • three-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 170

OUR VERDICT

The Dino PC Maxosaur 2600K V2 is a fearsome two-headed gaming machine with good all-round performance, but it costs £200 more than any of the competition.

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