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PCs Reviews
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Palicomp Alpha Media Blaze review

£549.99 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Palicomp

Our Rating: We rate this 2.5 out of 5

The Palicomp Alpha Media Blaze is really a standard budget PC with some multimedia components and peripherals added to enable it to function as a Media Centre.

Palicomp’s Media PC is a world apart from what we’re used to seeing in this category. Its Palicomp-branded media centre chassis is a rather unimpressive steel-bodied full-size ATX case with flimsy plastic fittings. See also Group test: what's the best budget PC?

It looks very much like a standard PC and simply doesn’t come close to the level of build quality of any of the competition.

Aside from its horizontal format and dual-tuner TV card, the Alpha Media Blaze incorporates few of the key features we’d expect from a Media-centre PC.

A powerful 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Ivy Bridge processor is used, which is great of overall system performance but rather over-powered and power-hungry for a Media Centre. Arbico’s 5300-HD Media Centre uses the same chip, but Palicomp hasn’t included a 3rd-party cooler, opting instead for the standard Intel model which is noisier and less efficient.

A Blu-ray combo drive is included, together with a Peak dual TV tuner allowing playback and recording of two channels simultaneously, supporting Freeview, but not Freeview HD, and coming with a remote control and a Xenta wireless keyboard with a built in touchpad and media transport controls.

A collection of video can take up a large amount of space, so Palicomp has included a whopping 2TB of internal storage to take care of it. Many would opt to keep their files on an external device such as a NAS, but keeping everything in one box can help to cut down considerably on costs – and this is the one area where Palicomp’s Alpha Media Blaze makes a big impact.

The system comes without the SSD or graphics card of Arbico’s model, but at only £549.99 it’s considerably less expensive than any alternative in this round-up. If money is tight, it may be all you can afford, but be aware that you’ll be missing out on a significant proportion of what a Media centre PC can truly deliver.

Palicomp Alpha Media Blaze Expert Verdict »

Processor: 3.4GHz Intel Core i5-3570K (Quad core)
Storage: 2TB Sata III
Power supply: 650W Ace
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z77-D3H
CPU cooler: Standard Intel cooler
USB: 6x USB 2.0, 4x USB 3.0
TV tuner: Peak dual TV tuner (dual DVB-T)
Graphics card: Integrated Intel HD4000
Media-centre software: WMC
Sound: onboard
Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet
Optical drive: LG Blu-ray player / DVD re-writer
Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
Case: Palicomp Media Centre Case
Keyboard and mouse: Xenta wireless media keyboard with touchpad
Extra features: Remote control
WorldBench 6 score: 169
Gaming performance (fps): 48 / 29.8
MediaEspresso time: 1min 56sec
Power consumption (Idle/Max): 50W / 116W
Dimensions (WxDxH): 451x368x149mm
Warranty: 3-year RTB
  • Build Quality: We give this item 2 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 6 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 7 of 10 for value for money
  • Performance: We give this item 9 of 10 for performance
  • Overall: We give this item 5 of 10 overall

The Alpha Media Blaze is really a standard budget PC with some multimedia components and peripherals added to enable it to function as a Media Centre. The system case is bulky and simply not good-looking enough to sit in a living room and a low-power processor has not been used. It is however, much less expensive than any of the alternatives.

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