Palicomp’s Kinetic Blitz Core i7-950-based PC looks impressive with its very good system case, but it's let down by lacklustre performance.

Palicomp’s Kinetic Blitz Core i7-950-based PC looks impressive. The Cooler Master CM690II Advanced system case is a premium mid-size tower with stylish looks and plenty of room inside. It provides easy access to internal components, including tray-mounted hard drives that slide out sideways, and a retention bracket that holds the graphics card firmly in place. Cable management maximises air flow, while up to 10 fans can be installed.

At the top are a pair of USB ports, audio jacks and an eSATA connector. Hidden behind a removable plastic door is an additional SATA connector, letting you plug in a hard drive or SSD without opening the Palicomp Kinetic Blitz 950-6970 PC's case.

Palicomp provides a 24in BenQ full-HD (1920x1080 pixels) monitor, which delivers high-contrast images with excellent colour reproduction but no HDMI port, a Blu-ray drive and five speakers and a subwoofer with its Kinetic Blitz 950-6970 PC.

This is where the plus points end, however. The Palicomp Kinetic Blitz 950-6970's 154-point WorldBench 6 score would have been acceptable last month; by this issue’s standards, it’s slow. This will, of course, be plenty of speed for most users.

The Palicomp Kinetic Blitz 950-6970 also comes with ‘only’ 6GB of RAM, and its gaming scores are slower than the other PCs here, despite using the same graphics card as the chart leaders.

Power PCs chart ranking

  1. CyberPower Infinity Achilles GT
  2. Chillblast Fusion Torpedo
  3. Arbico Elite i7969 HSD
  4. Palicomp Kinetic Blitz 950-6970
  5. DinoPC Maxosaur 870

>> NEXT PAGE: Buying advice

Palicomp’s Kinetic Blitz Core i7-950-based PC looks impressive with its very good system case, but it's let down by lacklustre performance.

Power PCs buying advice

Processor: Intel’s ‘Sandy Bridge’ CPUs offer such a huge amount of performance that enthusiasts will be eager to get one as soon as possible. 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.

Core i7-950 and -870 processors cost less, but buying a PC based on one will tie you to a motherboard that doesn’t support the newer processors.

Memory: A £1,001-plus Core i7 machine should come with at least 6GB of RAM. Some come with 12GB, although most of us won’t need this much.

The triple-channel architecture of Core i7-900-based PCs requires you to install chips in threes. Core i7-800- and the new Core i7 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 at least 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.

Consider mirroring for added security. SSDs provide a speed boost, but offer limited capacity and are expensive.
Go for an SSD with 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.

Make sure you get a digital input for the best image quality, while an extra HDMI port is great for hooking up additional devices.

Graphics card: For a thrilling gaming experience, choose between nVidia’s GTX 580 and AMD’s Radeon HD 6970. nVidia’s card is faster and offers support for PhysX in-game effects, but is also more expensive. Both ATI and nVidia cards now support stereoscopic 3D when used with the right display hardware and glasses.

Don’t be fooled by AMD’s naming system: the Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 cards are slower than the 5850 and 5870.

Look out for pre-overclocked graphics cards. Some cards also come with custom cooling solutions, offering faster clock speeds and quieter operation.

Buying a single-card setup leaves more space for sound cards or TV tuners.

Motherboard: If you’re considering a RAM upgrade, check there are free slots.

SLI or CrossFireX support lets you add extra graphics cards to boost gaming performance. If you’re using an Intel CPU, an X58-chipset motherboard offers better performance in multi-card setups.

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.

>> NEXT PAGE: Specification and our expert verdict

Palicomp Kinetic Blitz 950-6970: Specs

  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1.5TB SATA
  • 64GB SSD
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus Sabertooth X58 motherboard
  • 750W Thermaltake PSU
  • 24in BenQ G2420HDBL (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 2GB Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 6970 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 76/49fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 147/86fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Creative A500 and subwoofer
  • 12x/12x/8x/2x (BD-R SL/-RAM/-R DL/-RW)
  • 16x/16x/8x/8x/8x/6x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 154
  • 3.06GHz Intel Core i7-950
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (choose Windows 7 32bit at no extra cost)
  • 6GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1.5TB SATA
  • 64GB SSD
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • Asus Sabertooth X58 motherboard
  • 750W Thermaltake PSU
  • 24in BenQ G2420HDBL (0.28mm pixel pitch
  • 1920x1080)
  • 2GB Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 6970 (games scores: Crysis [High/Very High] = 76/49fps
  • Stalker: Call of Pripyat [Medium/Ultra] = 147/86fps)
  • onboard sound
  • 5 x Creative A500 and subwoofer
  • 12x/12x/8x/2x (BD-R SL/-RAM/-R DL/-RW)
  • 16x/16x/8x/8x/8x/6x (DVD-R/+R/-R DL/+R DL/-RW/+RW)
  • one-year return-to-base warranty
  • WorldBench 6 score: 154

OUR VERDICT

Palicomp’s Kinetic Blitz 950-6790 desktop PC is supplied with a very good system case, but it’s let down by performance that must now be considered lacklustre.

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