The Palicomp Phoenix i5 Nemesis is an £800 PC package with monitor, featuring an Intel Sandy Bridge processor that's been overclocked by 33%

Overclocked PCs aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. With the right components in place and a little know-how though, many CPUs have a bit of extra processing juice ready to be squeezed out.

Step a little too far, however, and the results can be a boil-over. But Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors (in particular, the unlocked ‘K’ versions) are ripe for overclocking.

The 2500K version of the Core i5, for instance, will already automatically push up from its base figure of 3.3GHz to 3.7GHz using its Turbo Boost function – for short-term bursts.

But here, Palicomp believes it has the parts to allow the chip to be pushed up further, to 4.4GHz. Continuously. In the time we had the PC, it remained stable over several days of testing.

The system’s WorldBench 6 performance score of 173 was almost 20 points up, compared to the chip's factory setting.

This enhanced speed is replicated in the graphics sub-system, where an MSI-branded ATI Radeon 5770 is pushed up to almost 2600-esque heights, despite those cards costing almost £100 more.

Frame-rates of 80fps in Crysis and 158fps in Stalker are very impressive given that the 5770 is only a moderate graphics card. The entire PC system with monitor costs less than £800, and for that price, this level of overall performance is remarkable.

The Palicomp comes with 4GB of Crucial DDR3-1333 RAM, while the 7200rpm Seagate Barracuda offers a quite ample 1TB of storage. Given the significant overclocking, you might expect the PC to be generating plenty of noise and heat.

In fact, the combination of a Cooler Master Elite 330 case and a Thermaltake 750W PSU (along with a Thermaltake ISGC-300 cooler) manage to keep disruptions down. As the load increases, the PC raises its noise levels, but even with the lid off we didn’t find it to be a nuisance in operation.  

The case has a wide array of ports and connectors. There are six USB 2.0 and four USB 3.0 ports at the back alone, with another two USB 2.0 connectors mounted at the front. Besides FireWire 400, you also get both eSATA and its powered version – eSATAp – ports at the rear.

The case isn’t particularly large, and a good deal of it is taken up by the ISGC-300 cooler, so there isn’t much space to access the components. Nonetheless, with elbow room and good light, it’s reasonably straightforward to replace such components as the RAM and graphics card.

The monitor, an LG E2240T, is a competent rather than exciting model. This DVI screen has a colour palette that’s fairly realistic, but not actually fizzing with intensity. There are certainly better screens available, although this will perform the job.

The 24-speed Sony Optiarc drive is another very solid addition. If we were being really pushy, we’d plead for BD-ROM, but at the price the Sony is very welcome. The Microsoft keyboard and mouse are cordless, and while the performance (in keeping with some wireless keyboards) is a touch erratic, these are better than the cheap input devices we might have seen.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

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Palicomp Phoenix i5 Nemesis: Specs

  • 3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K (overclocked to 4.5GHz)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Asus P8P67 Pro motherboard
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • 1TB SATA HDD
  • Cooler Master Elite 330 case
  • Thermaltake 750W PSU
  • MSI ATI Radeon 5770 with 1GB memory, DVI/HDMI/DP
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x FireWire 400
  • 1 x eSATA
  • 1 x eSATAp
  • Sony 24x DVD±RW DL drive
  • 22in (1920x1080) LG E2240T LCD display
  • Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse
  • 3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K (overclocked to 4.5GHz)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Asus P8P67 Pro motherboard
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • 1TB SATA HDD
  • Cooler Master Elite 330 case
  • Thermaltake 750W PSU
  • MSI ATI Radeon 5770 with 1GB memory, DVI/HDMI/DP
  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x FireWire 400
  • 1 x eSATA
  • 1 x eSATAp
  • Sony 24x DVD±RW DL drive
  • 22in (1920x1080) LG E2240T LCD display
  • Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse

OUR VERDICT

There are one or two components you might want to improve on if you’re being picky, but as an overall system the Palicomp is excellent. The level of performance comfortably eclipses that of most machines near or just above this price point. Palicomp has squeezed plenty of performance from the components at its disposal.

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