The Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35 is an inexpensive and fast desktop PC base unit.
Intel hasn't had it all its own way recently. Of the machines populating our Budget PCs chart, most are powered by Intel's rival AMD. The Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35 sees another outing for the AMD team. We're not convinced, however, that this tilt at the higher price point has been altogether successful.
The beating heart of the base-unit-only Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35 is its AMD Athlon II X4 630 CPU. Launched last autumn, the 630 is another attempt to bring quad-core processing to the masses. It's certainly well-priced, and opting for this chip over Intel's quad-core i5 750 should save you around £50.
However, if you're having to budget an extra £120 or so for a flat-panel, the Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35 would pitch against many of the machines in our £501-£750 PCs chart. And here, there are a few unflattering comparisons for Palicomp.
Like most of today's real-life applications, WorldBench 6 doesn't highlight the possibilities of quad-core processing. Yet Palicomp has given this 630 chip a healthy boost in clock speed - the factory setting 2.8GHz has been ratcheted up to a hefty 3.5GHz. Given that, the WorldBench score of 125 is a mite disappointing. This is a good 10 points slower than the best Intel Core i5 750 machines in our £501-£750 chart, and a massive 19 points down on this month's Yoyotech. CineBench shows the Palicomp to be a decent performer in quad-core applications though.
Overall, these AMD 630 processors might appear to save you a few pounds, but ultimately they are slower than Intel's Core i5 750 chips. In fairness to AMD though, the Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35's supporting hardware isn't as cutting-edge as it might be. Specifically, 4GB of memory is fine, but those chips are slower DDR2-800 from Crucial's Ballistix range. If you're spending this much on a base unit, you might be expecting faster DDR3 memory.
Hard drive storage is more impressive, and a pair of 500GB 7200rpm drives adds up to a capacious 1TB. The presence of two drives is pre-configured in the Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35's faster but risky RAID 0 array.
The Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35 gave us mixed results in games testing. Graphics are courtesy of an overclocked HIS-branded ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB memory, a potentially fast card that should outstrip most PCs at this price. But, whether hampered by the AMD chip or not, it fought its way to a moderate score of 58 in our lighter Crysis lab tests.
At a resolution of 1680x1050 and with the settings on Very High, the Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35 struggled past the 23fps mark.
These aren't bad scores, but they're marginally down on figures hit by PCs in our Top Five charts - and some of those systems have cheaper ATI 5750 cards. The Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35 is better in FEAR, managing a score of 221fps. Of those Top Five PCs, only the machine with an ATI HD 4890 betters this.
The Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35 does have its strengths. The Cooler Master chassis won't be unattractive to gamers eyes, with see-through casing giving a glimpse of many LEDs glowing inside.
We experienced no overheating issues, and the Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35 PC is reasonably discreet - notwithstanding an ever-present faint hum.
Inside is a generous-spec 750W supply, which offers potential for future upgrades, and the Palicomp Excalibur 630OC35 is spacious and well-organised internally. A battery of connectors includes 12 USB 2.0 ports, and a 24-speed Optiarc DVD dual-layer burner is a handy addition.
The system is supplied with 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, although you can slice £50 off the price if you bring your own OS. We'd prefer to see a more confident warranty, however - particularly on an overclocked system.
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