It’s no surprise to see Intel’s Core i7-2600K feature in Eclipse's Supernova P67i526r697; more interesting is this system’s 16GB of DDR3 RAM. Combined with a super-fast 64GB Crucial C300 SSD, this high-performance componentry powered the PC to a 178-point score in our WorldBench 6 speed test.

If you’re interested in overclocking, the Eclipse Supernova P67i526r697's preinstalled Arctic Cooler Freezer 13 processor cooler is a welcome improvement over the standard Intel unit. It has improved cooling performance and quieter operation.

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

      An AMD Radeon HD 6970 graphics card delivers similar performance to the nVidia GeForce GTX 570, but the Eclipse Supernova P67i526r697 came out just behind in our games tests. Graphics-card supremacy varies from game to game, however, and this card also lets you hook up multiple monitors.

      A 25in Hanns-G monitor provides an expansive desktop and immersive gameplay. It’s also a good complement to the 12-speed Blu-ray drive. No speakers are provided with the Eclipse Supernova P67i526r697.

      The Eclipse Supernova P67i526r697's Asus Sabertooth P67 motherboard is unlike any other we’ve seen. Its components are hidden from view beneath a layer of ‘Thermal Armor’, which has slots for inserting cards and other components. CrossFireX and SLI are supported for multiple graphics cards, plus you get four USB 3.0 ports and a pair of eSATA connectors, one of which is powered.

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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.

      Eclipse Supernova P67i526r697: Specs

      • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
      • Arctic Cooler Freezer 13 CPU cooler
      • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
      • 16GB DDR3 RAM
      • 2TB SATA
      • 64GB SSD
      • 8x USB 2.0
      • 2x USB 3.0
      • Asus Sabertooth P67 motherboard
      • 750W Cooler Master PSU
      • 25in Hanns-G H251DPB (0.28mm pixel pitch, 1920x1080)
      • 2GB XFX AMD Radeon HD 6970 XXX (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 88/51fps, Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 185/112fps)
      • onboard sound
      • speakers built into monitor
      • 12x BD-ROM
      • 16x/16x DVD-R/+R, 8x/8x DVD-R DL/+R DL, 6x/8x DVD-RW/+RW, 12x/16x DVD-RAM/-ROM
      • one-year return-to-base warranty
      • WorldBench 6 score: 178
      • 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600K
      • Arctic Cooler Freezer 13 CPU cooler
      • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
      • 16GB DDR3 RAM
      • 2TB SATA
      • 64GB SSD
      • 8x USB 2.0
      • 2x USB 3.0
      • Asus Sabertooth P67 motherboard
      • 750W Cooler Master PSU
      • 25in Hanns-G H251DPB (0.28mm pixel pitch, 1920x1080)
      • 2GB XFX AMD Radeon HD 6970 XXX (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 88/51fps, Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 185/112fps)
      • onboard sound
      • speakers built into monitor
      • 12x BD-ROM
      • 16x/16x DVD-R/+R, 8x/8x DVD-R DL/+R DL, 6x/8x DVD-RW/+RW, 12x/16x DVD-RAM/-ROM
      • one-year return-to-base warranty
      • WorldBench 6 score: 178

      OUR VERDICT

      Eclipse's Supernova P67i526r697 is ideal for the performance-hungry enthusiast, but the lack of speakers disappoints and gaming framerates are eclipsed by Chillblast.

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