The only desktop PC here to provide a multiplier-unlocked Sandy Bridge processor, Palicomp’s Phoenix i5 Sonar takes a 3.3GHz Intel Core i5-2500K chip that’s designed for overclocking. Unfortunately, you’ll need a P67-chipset-based motherboard to take advantage: Palicomp supplies an H67 board.
The Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar's Gigabyte motherboard comes with SATA 6Gbps support, a full set of digital audio connections, HDMI and a large selection of software. The latter is often as bizarre as it is innovative – there’s a utility that forces your PC into sleep mode whenever your mobile phone goes out of Bluetooth range, for example. Its H67 chipset doesn’t support USB 3.0 as standard; the other vendors here have added their own cards, but Palicomp has not. Instead, you get 12 USB 2.0 ports.
Despite this PC’s lack of overclocking abilities, there is still some benefit in having a ‘K’ chip over the standard version: its integrated graphics processor has double the number of execution units, giving the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar PC an advantage in gaming. In our Fear test, this amounted to only an extra 2fps at ‘Maximum’ detail settings, but other titles may fare better – particularly those optimised for Intel graphics solutions.
Unfortunately, the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar PC's overall system performance wasn’t as good as we expected. It scored 156 WorldBench 6 points, which is only four more than the Core i5-2400-based Chillblast Fusion Summit.
As with the other PCs, you also get 4GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive and a 21.5in AOC monitor. Pleasingly, the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar pairs its external speaker set with a subwoofer.
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