The only PC in this group test not to plump for a Core i7-950 processor and an X58-chipset-based motherboard, the DinoPC Fermisaur is powered by a Core i7-870 CPU and uses a P55-chipset motherboard.

The only PC in this group test not to plump for a Core i7-950 processor and an X58-chipset-based motherboard, the DinoPC Fermisaur is powered by a Core i7-870 CPU and uses a P55-chipset motherboard.

These components are closely matched in price and performance, but the DinoPC Fermisaur 870 power desktop PC's setup allows memory modules to be installed in pairs rather than threes. Thus the Fermisaur comes with a huge 8GB of DDR3 RAM – although its speed benchmark results wouldn’t suggest this, with the DinoPC lacking the performance boost obtainable from using triple-channel memory. Neither will you be able to add extra graphics cards.

The DinoPC Fermisaur 870 power desktop PC scored a still very fast 146 points in WorldBench 6, placing it on a par with the Core i7-950-powered Palicomp at the bottom of the speed table.

While it’s not the best performer, the DinoPC Fermisaur 870 power desktop PC packs an enormous 2TB hard drive, a set of external speakers, and by far the nicest – and largest – monitor of the group. Pleasingly, a Blu-ray drive complements this 25in full-HD display.

The DinoPC Fermisaur 870 power desktop PC's graphics are provided by an nVidia GeForce GTX 460. This card is slightly slower than the ATI Radeon HD 5850 found in the competition, which is particularly noticeable when you raise the detail settings a notch.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 950-25 BLU
  2. Chillblast Fusion Bullet
  3. CyberPower Infinity Phoenix
  4. DinoPC Fermisaur 870
  5. Arbico Elite i7-9558 HD

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>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

The only PC in this group test not to plump for a Core i7-950 processor and an X58-chipset-based motherboard, the DinoPC Fermisaur is powered by a Core i7-870 CPU and uses a P55-chipset motherboard.

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 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 i7-900-based PC, 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: With storage prices falling, expect 1TB. We’ve seen systems with 2TB that cost less than £1,000.

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: 24in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply cheap screens to leave more cash 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.

Graphics card: At this price, the ATI Radeon HD 5850 is an almost unbeatable choice for gamers. It offers multiscreen and DirectX 11.0 support.

nVidia’s GeForce GTX 470 is also DirectX 11.0-compatible and delivers excellent performance, as well as support for the company’s 3D Vision glasses.
The GTX 460 is a good-value card, but it performs a little slower. It’s a superb choice if you intend to add a second card.

Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory.

nVidia and ATI graphics cards can be upgraded to dual-card setups later. To take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible.

X58-based motherboards supporting Intel’s Core i7-900-series processors are better equipped to deal with multi-card graphics solutions because of their improved PCI Express bandwidth.

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

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend on the graphics card you want to use. Look for at least a 500W unit or 750W-plus if you plan to add another card or overclock the CPU.

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

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>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

DinoPC Fermisaur 870: Specs

  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-870
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2TB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E LX
  • 800W EZCool PSU
  • 25in Hanns-G HH251DPB (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (Crysis High/Very High: 80/30fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat Medium/Ultra: 133/65fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Gigabyte GP-S4600 speakers
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • 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: 146
  • 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-870
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2TB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P7P55D-E LX
  • 800W EZCool PSU
  • 25in Hanns-G HH251DPB (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Palit nVidia GeForce GTX 460 (Crysis High/Very High: 80/30fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat Medium/Ultra: 133/65fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 2 x Gigabyte GP-S4600 speakers
  • 4x BD-ROM
  • 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: 146

OUR VERDICT

DinoPC’s Fermisaur 870 PC is a welcome departure from the samey-samey competition. Performance isn’t top-notch, but it has a good selection of components.

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