Palicomp's Core i7 Blitz 920-T24-4890 offers little that we haven't seen higher up the chart in terms of its specification. There's a pair of 500GB hard drives, teamed up in a Raid 0 array. The Asus motherboard is the same CrossFireX-compatible component as used by Chillblast and Mesh - here, it comes with a beefy 1,050W power supply unit that's easily able to support a second graphics card. There's also 6GB of RAM, with space available for an additional 6GB.

But if you're wondering why you might choose the Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 920-T24-4890 over its faster rivals, look to its 24in Acer monitor. It's the largest panel here, and it supports a full-HD (1,080p) resolution. If only it had a Blu-ray drive to go with it.

A pair of stereo speakers and a subwoofer are also supplied with the Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 920-T24-4890 - an important and often overlooked addition. A front-facing multiformat memory-card reader should also help to keep photography enthusiasts happy.

Performance scores are pretty average for general-purpose use. We recorded 128 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test, tying the Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 920-T24-4890 with the third-placed Mesh. The Blitz's gaming scores were also very similar to the competition in our gruelling Crysis and Fear tests.

Chart ranking: Power desktop PCs (Nov 09 issue)

  1. Chillblast Fusion Apex
  2. Arbico HD 7090 Pro
  3. Mesh Elite Ice7 920 PCA
  4. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 920-T24-4890
  5. CyberPower Gamer Infinity i7 Hercules

>> NEXT PAGE: Power desktop PCs buying advice

Power desktop PCs buying advice (Nov 09 issue)


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, Core i7 chips require more expensive DDR3 memory and a new motherboard design, so expect to make sacrifices elsewhere.

Dual-core CPUs are still popular at this price point, offering good performance and considerably lower system costs. Intel's E8600 offers the best performance.

Quad-core processors, such as the Q9400, are another option. These chips use the same memory and motherboard as dual-core machines and can offer huge speed advantages if you run multithreaded applications such as video encoding.

Memory: Consider 4GB as a minimum, particularly if you're running Windows Vista. If you're buying a Core i7-based system, however, expect 3GB or 6GB of RAM (such machines install memory chips in threes). A 64bit operating system 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 operating system is essential.

Storage: Anything less than 500GB is now considered a small amount of storage space. Many users will get by with 320GB but, with prices falling, it isn't impossible to find a terabyte at this price point.

Get a multiformat DVD writer that can write to a dual-layer format if you want to store 8.5GB rather than 4.7GB on a disc. Look for a minimum of eight-speed DVD+R DL; DVD-R DL is nice but not essential. Try to get eight-speed DVD+RW.

At this price you should be able to find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs - note that it won't burn to Blu-ray, and DVD burning speeds will be slower.

Display: 22in flat-panels are the standard here. Many vendors supply budget screens in order to leave more cash in the pot for other components, but it's worth spending a little more if you intend to work 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.

If you're a movie fan, look for one of the new 16:9 format 22in-plus displays that offer full-HD playback. You may even be able to find a 24in example.

Graphics card: At this price point, the ATI Radeon HD 4890 is an excellent choice for gamers. You'll also find good deals on nVidia's GeForce GTX 260 (or even 280). Look for souped-up versions with faster clock speeds or additional memory. All of our Top 5 machines go for the HD 4890.

The GTX 260 and HD 4890 can be used in dual-card setups later but, to take advantage of this, your motherboard and power supply must be compatible. Ready-made dual-card solutions are available but can work out more expensive.

Power supply: The level of power you require will depend largely on the type of graphics card you expect to use. Look for at least a 500W unit at this price point, but consider 750W upwards if you have any thoughts of moving up to a dual card solution later. Overclocking will also demand a high-quality power supply.

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


>> NEXT PAGE: Specifications and our expert verdict

Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 920-T24-4890: Specs

  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2 x 500GB SATA (Raid 0)
  • Asus P6T SE motherboard
  • 11 x USB 2.0
  • AlphaPower 1,050W PSU
  • 24in Acer X243H (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,080)
  • 1GB PCI Express PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 67/30fps
  • Fear = 263fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888/1200 sound
  • 2 x Logitech S220 speakers
  • subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 128
  • 2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2 x 500GB SATA (Raid 0)
  • Asus P6T SE motherboard
  • 11 x USB 2.0
  • AlphaPower 1,050W PSU
  • 24in Acer X243H (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1,920x1,080)
  • 1GB PCI Express PowerColor ATI Radeon HD 4890 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 67/30fps
  • Fear = 263fps)
  • onboard Realtek ALC888/1200 sound
  • 2 x Logitech S220 speakers
  • subwoofer
  • max DVD speeds: 24x/24x/12x/16x/6x/8x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 128

OUR VERDICT

Don’t let the Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 920-T24-4890's fourth-place position fool you. This is a worthy PC with the best display here. Although it’s beaten on raw performance, it isn’t left in the dust.

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