It doesn’t immediately stand out as an impressive machine, but a premium motherboard provides the Eclipse Cosmos i726n57 with several unique features and bags of overclocking potential.

The Eclipse Cosmos i726n57 delivered the slowest performance in our WorldBench 6 test with 166 points, but increasing the RAM to 16GB and adding an SSD for SRT would give it a significant speed boost. Both upgrades are easy to perform, if your budget allows for them. Such tweaks depend on a compatible motherboard, however, so the same can’t be said for every PC on test.

The Asus board supplied with the Eclipse Cosmos i726n57 also offers improved overclocking capabilities, built-in Bluetooth (with support for apps you can run on a smartphone) and SLI.

Graphics performance from the Eclipse Cosmos i726n57’s nVidia GeForce GTX 570 is similar to that of the ATI Radeon HD 6970 – which is faster will largely depend on the games you play.

The Eclipse Cosmos i726n57 is housed in a tough-looking NZXT Beta system case, which includes top-mounted USB, audio and eSATA jacks for easy access, plus tool-free drive bays and plenty of fan-mounting points.

The 23.6in HKC 2249A is a reasonable full-HD display that offers digital and analogue inputs and built-in speakers. External speakers aren’t supplied, however, leaving the Eclipse Cosmos i726n57 flagging in the audio department. The screen itself is also bettered elsewhere.

£1,000 PC chart ranking

  1. 1. Chillblast Fusion Volt
    2. Eclipse Cosmos i726n57
    3. Palicomp Phoenix i7 Z68 Assassin
    4. Arbico Elite i7-2697 Pro
    5. Dino PC Ravenous 2600K

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£1,000 PC buying advice

Processor: Intel’s second-gen Core i5 and i7 CPUs are the only serious contenders at this price. These ‘Sandy Bridge’ chips are much faster and use less power than their predecessors.

The 3.4GHz Core i7-2600K is the fastest available, with its ‘K’ designation denoting an unlocked multiplier. K-series CPUs are designed for overclocking, but demand a compatible motherboard.

At 3.3GHz, the Core i5-2500K offers a slightly lower specification. Unlike the Core i7, it has no support for hyperthreading and has 6MB rather than 8MB of level-three cache.

Motherboard: K-series chips require a motherboard that supports overclocking. These boards cost a little more, but a good version will do the hard work for you, providing a significant speed boost without any specialist knowledge.

Never pair a K-series CPU with a motherboard based on the H67 chipset – these don’t support overclocking. If you want to overclock, you should also invest in a third-party CPU cooler.

A 64bit OS will take full advantage of your RAM, but check that your software and drivers will be supported.

Storage: With storage prices falling, expect 1TB. We’re even seeing systems with 2TB at this price. An SSD may be available, providing a noticeable improvement in bootup times and system responsiveness. Their price requires cutbacks elsewhere, however.

Paired with a Z68 chipset, an SSD can boost hard-drive performance using Intel’s Smart Response Technology.

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.

It’s not uncommon to find a DVD drive that also reads Blu-ray discs, but DVD-burning speeds will be slower. Look for separate Blu-ray and DVD drives for the fastest performance.

Flat-panel: 24in flat-panels are standard at this price. Many vendors supply cheap screens to leave more cash for other components, but it’s worth spending more on a display if you intend to work with digital photos or video.

All twisted-nematic (TN) screens now have a response time of 8ms or less to minimise blur on fast-moving images. For image editing, contrast ratio and colour fidelity are more important – look for better in-pane switching (IPS) tech here.

An LED backlight doesn’t guarantee a superior display, but such models are often slimmer and more stylish. A digital input preserves picture quality.

Graphics card: At this price, the ATI Radeon HD 6990 is an excellent choice for gamers. It offers multi-screen and DirectX 11.0 support. nVidia’s GeForce GTX 560 Ti delivers similar performance, as well as support for 3D Vision.

You may find a GeForce GTX 570 at this price, which will give you even better gaming framerates.

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

Many graphics cards can be upgraded to dual-card setups. However, current motherboards have limited support for multiple graphics cards, so we advise you to buy the fastest single card you can.

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.

Eclipse Cosmos i726n57: Specs

  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P8Z68-V motherboard
  • 650W Cooler Master PSU
  • 23.6in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch, 1920x1080)
  • 2 x 1.28GB nVidia GeForce GTX 570 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 94/48fps, Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 187/115fps)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 12x BD-ROM
  • 22x DVD-R/22x +R/12x -R DL/16x +R DL/6x -RW/8x +RW/12x -RAM/16x -ROM
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 166
  • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus P8Z68-V motherboard
  • 650W Cooler Master PSU
  • 23.6in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch, 1920x1080)
  • 2 x 1.28GB nVidia GeForce GTX 570 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 94/48fps, Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 187/115fps)
  • onboard sound
  • speakers built into monitor
  • 12x BD-ROM
  • 22x DVD-R/22x +R/12x -R DL/16x +R DL/6x -RW/8x +RW/12x -RAM/16x -ROM
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 166

OUR VERDICT

Despite a few shortcomings, the Eclipse Cosmos i726n57 offers a great starting point for enthusiasts and tinkerers.

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