Palicomp's Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU power desktop PC immediately stands out from the competition with its big, heavy and rugged Cooler Master Storm system case.

The subtle name change from last issue’s Core i7 Blitz 950-25 BLU hints at a processor upgrade to the faster Core i7-960. No such upgrade has taken place; rather, Palicomp has replaced the older Blitz’s Radeon HD 5850 graphics card with the brand-new HD 6870 in the Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU power desktop PC.

Despite some very similar components across the board, the Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU power desktop PC immediately stands out from the competition with its Cooler Master Storm system case. It’s big, heavy and rugged, and comes with built-in handles to help you lug it around to your LAN gaming parties.

A transparent side panel shows off the multicolour light show within. It’s also quite practical, with a row of four front-facing USB ports along the top allowing easy access when the case is placed on the floor. As a result, the Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU power desktop PC looks and feels considerably more expensive than the competition.

A 24in HKC full-HD monitor is supplied with the Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU power desktop PC, which performs well but is one of the cheaper options available. Other vendors have upped their game, offering premium displays from Iiyama and Samsung.

An eight-speed Blu-ray drive and a set of Creative 5.1-channel (five speakers and a subwoofer) surround-sound speakers complete the Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU power desktop PC's HD multimedia experience.

Due to no fault of the Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU power desktop PC, we were unable to run one of the 10 tests in our WorldBench 6 benchmark. Based on the nine tests it did complete, as well as previous Palicomp performance results, we estimate it would have scored 145 points.

Power desktop PCs chart ranking

  1. Chillblast Fusion Raven
  2. Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU
  3. Mesh R&D 960
  4. DinoPC Fermisaur 870
  5. Eclipse Supernova Crossfire i795r687

NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Palicomp's Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU power desktop PC immediately stands out from the competition with its big, heavy and rugged Cooler Master Storm system case.

Power desktop PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s Core i7-900-series chips are taking this price bracket by storm. They’re a match for the best dual-core systems and will outpace any previous-generation quad-core machine.

Alternatively, the latest 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’re even seeing 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. You may also find a drive that reads Blu-ray discs, although it’s unlikely to offer BD-R writing, 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 outside and in.

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 primarily 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 only provide analogue inputs.

Graphics card: At this price, the ATI Radeon HD 6870 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.

Many 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. If you want a multimedia PC then don’t forget a set of speakers. You should be able to get a full 5.1 surround set at this price.

NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Palicomp Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU: Specs

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R motherboard
  • 750W Thermaltake PSU
  • 24in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 6870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 76/40fps
  • Stalker: Call Of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 171/83fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Creative A500 speakers and subwoofer
  • 8x BD-ROM
  • 24x/24x/12x/16x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 145 (estimated)
  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB SATA
  • 10 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R motherboard
  • 750W Thermaltake PSU
  • 24in HKC 2249A (0.27mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 1GB Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 6870 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 76/40fps
  • Stalker: Call Of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 171/83fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Creative A500 speakers and subwoofer
  • 8x BD-ROM
  • 24x/24x/12x/16x/12x/16x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RAM/-ROM)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 145 (estimated)

OUR VERDICT

Good-looking and a strong performer, Palicomp’s Core i7 Blitz 960-24 BLU power desktop PC ticks many boxes.

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