Palicomp’s Phoenix i5 Solar Flare desktop PC outclasses the competition, with a far superior specification and significantly better performance.

We've had some complaints from users that Palicomp has supplied the Phoenix i5 Solar Flare desktop PC with different components to those specified and tested by PC Advisor. Palicomp assured us that if this had occurred it was an honest mistake but - as with any PC purchase - we urge readers to check that the specifications they are purchasing are the same as those in this review.

Like most PCs at this price, it comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a one-terabyte (1TB) hard drive. In every other key area, however, the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Solar Flare desktop PC goes one step beyond.

Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs are now the most popular choice at this price. The Palicomp Phoenix i5 Solar Flare is the only desktop PC here to specify the 3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K. This is the fastest Core i5 chip you can buy, and it’s multiplier-unlocked for easy overclocking. The Palicomp scored a staggering 166 points in our WorldBench 6 real-world speed test.

Whereas most of the PCs here use motherboards based on the entry-level H67 chipset, Palicomp has selected a board based on the more expensive P67 chipset for its Phoenix i5 Solar Flare. It doesn’t provide integrated graphics, but it offers enthusiast features, Bluetooth, overclocking and three PCI Express x16 slots.

The P67 chipset is always going to be a much faster option for any K-series CPU, but the motherboard found inside the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Solar Flare is a more expensive version than those found in some £1,000-plus PCs.

AMD’s excellent ATI Radeon 6850 graphics card is found in every other PC on test, but Palicomp has managed to include the quicker 6870. The Phoenix i5 Solar Flare is unsurprisingly the fastest PC here for gaming, with a lead of up to 14fps over its rivals in Stalker (‘Ultra’ settings).

It may lack a Blu-ray drive, but the 24in full-HD monitor and set of external speakers make the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Solar Flare a decent multimedia PC, too.

Budget desktop PCs: chart ranking

  1. Palicomp Phoenix i5 Solar Flare
  2. Arbico i5-2568 Pro HD
  3. Chillblast Fusion Event
  4. Dino PC Elmisaur 2400
  5. Mesh Evolution GTX PCA

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