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Palicomp Phoenix i5 Z68 Warrior review

Verdict

Superb application performance, solid peripherals and strong build quality make this the best all-round PC we’ve seen at this price

Review Date: 16 Jun 2011

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £999 (£1,199 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Palicomp’s latest high-end PC, the Phoenix i5 Z68 Warrior, is the first we’ve seen based on Intel’s Z68 chipset. It’s the only one to support both K-edition unlocked processors and Sandy Bridge’s integrated graphics.

The company has chosen a Core i5-2500K and overclocked it to a mighty 4.8GHz. That’s the same chip and overclock as in the PC Specialist Vortex Enforcer, but with different results: the Palicomp outscored its rival by 1.17 to 1.13 in our benchmarks. The margin can be explained by memory: while the PC Specialist made do with 8GB, Palicomp has loaded its machine with a whopping 16GB of DDR3 RAM.

Palicomp Phoenix i5 Z68 Warrior

The Z68 chipset comes aboard Gigabyte’s Z68X-UD3P-B3 and brings one major new feature. Dubbed Intel Smart Response Technology (ISRT), it uses solid-state storage to cache frequently accessed data from your hard disk. In theory, it’s a neat idea: your most popular files benefit from lightning-fast access times and, because the SSD is pure cache, you only need to use a smaller, cheaper drive. Palicomp has opted for a 64GB Kingston V+.

We connected the A-Listed Samsung Spinpoint F3 hard disk and Kingston SSDNow 100V SSD to the Palicomp and ran our tests. An average burst speed of 246.8MB/sec puts ISRT between the 262.9MB/sec of the SSD and the 218MB/sec of the hard disk. Average read performance was just as impressive, with the Palicomp’s 184.8MB/sec slightly faster than the SSD’s 174.2MB/sec, and far quicker than the hard disk.

Palicomp Phoenix i5 Z68 Warrior

For graphics, Palicomp has fitted the Phoenix i5 Z68 Warrior with an AMD Radeon HD 6970, enhanced by some crafty overclocking from MSI to run at 940MHz rather than 880MHz. The results speak for themselves: it managed an impressive 55fps in our 1,920 x 1,080 Very High quality Crysis test, and still ran at a playable 33fps when we cranked up the resolution to 2,560 x 1,600.

The Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced chassis is a Palicomp favourite, and with good reason. The black and chrome styling looks great, the metal side-panels and removable plastic façade exude strength, and there’s a useful SATA dock on top of the chassis.

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User comments

You wont get what you paid for

I purchased a Palicomp Phoenix i5 Z68 Warrior off the back of this PC Pro Recommended award, despite the presence of what seems to be a lot of negative press surrounding this manufacturer online. This negative press has now proven to be fully justified. I received a machine with no fewer than seven major discrepancies compared to the model reviewed with no discussion from the manufacturer regarding product substitution prior to sending out my order. The problems with the machine are as follows;

1. The power supply is a cheap “Powercool” model, not a Thermaltake in the PC Pro review.
2. The Radeon 6970 is a cheap VTX branded model and not the overclocked MSI as shown in the review.
3. The Noctua cooler is not present, a cheap Freezer 13 is included instead.
4. The CPU clock speed is 4.4GHz not 4.8GHz as advertised.
5. RAM is generic unbranded 4GB 1333 not the 1600MHz Corsair Vengeance used in the review
6. A seemingly ebuyer-exclusive £7 “Xenta” branded keyboard and mouse is included instead of the Labtec in PC Pro review
7. The SSD used for the cache is an SSDNow V100, not a V100+, a drive that provides half the performance in PCMark Vantage.

I estimate a difference in price between the machine reviewed and the one customers actually receive amounts to more than £100. Anyone thinking of ordering a Palicomp PC off the back of reviews they read is making a fatal flaw, as the machine this firm sends in for review bare little relation to the model you will actually receive.

On discussing my problem with the manufacturer they offered me a generous compensation package because they didnt want any "bad word of mouth ". Tempting though this was, if I dont trust a company, I can't do business with them.

Caveat emptor!

By GMSL80 on 7 Sep 2011

WARRIOR UPDATED SPEC

Hi All,

Quick update on our Warrior spec as its been out for a while now, some parts have gone end of life - so we have taken the opportunity to modify the spec slightly, and at the same time reduce the price by £50, so this PC is now only £1149.99. The main change is the fact we have upgraded the motherboard from the Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P as this has just gone end of life. We are now using the ASUS P8Z68-V board which has an extra PCI-E slot, Bluetooth integrated onboard, and handles overclocks better at lower temperatures.

We have made the above customer a full refund as we will always do if there is any issues that we cannot resolve with our customers.

The below is the current changes/upgrades that we are currently selling with the Warrior spec...

1. Power Supply supplied with now be the 850W PowerCool PSU, which is an 80+ RealPower PSU, its also 80+ Efficiency and these are very reliable. We decided on these over the 750W ThermalTakes as these are only 74% Efficient. Power Efficiency is ever more important with high power draw systems such as our Warrior.

2. The MSI graphics cards have gone end of life so we are currently using VTX branded or similar and are overclocking them as standard so that they perform the same as the MSI.

3. Freezer13 heatsink is included as standard.

4. Overclock we always endeavour to get to 4.8Ghz, which we are now managing to do without any issue with the new ASUS motherboard. If you select Q-JUMP next day as the above customer did, for stability purposes it could be a lower overclock.

5. RAM will be Corsair 16GB (4x4GB) DDR3 1600Mhz

6. Wireless Keyboard Set are Xenta branded - a value set, Microsoft available as an upgrade.

7. SSDs are Kingston and the models may differ slightly but this will not affect system performance as this is used as Cache mode in this system.

By Palicomp on 20 Sep 2011

Astonishing!

So in the message above, Palicomp confirms they are not able to supply a system as reviewed, and routinely send out inferior products without consultation. That’s exactly what happened in my case, and I’m frankly astonished at the points raised above by the supplier.

I feel compelled to reply in detail once again to try and forewarn customers who might be considering a purchase from this highly misleading manufacturer.

1. Every single 80 Plus certified PSU appears on the 80 Plus website with its own report: http://www.plugloadsolutions.com/80PlusPowerSuppli
es.aspx. Have a quick look and “Power Cool” is not even listed as a manufacturer, let alone having an 80 Plus certificate for this model. The fact that it costs about £55 while pretty much every quality 850W sells for between £80 and £140 is telling.

2. So, the video card received by the customer is of a different class to that reviewed by PC Pro. If you can’t get the MSI then a similarly specified overclocked product from a respected brand like Sapphire or Asus should be provided, not a stock speed model with no consultation.

3. So, the cooler received by the customer is inferior to the Noctua setup as reviewed. The Freezer 13 costs £15.99 from Play.com and performs very averagely in reviews. Mike Jennings in his review particularly praised the Noctua NH-D14, which costs £72.98 at Overclockers UK – that’s over 4 times as much as the Freezer 13.

4. Great, so I pay more for a Queue Jump, and you don’t test the system long enough to verify the stability of the overclock as you do for customers not paying for the privilege.

5. So the RAM received by the customer is inferior to that reviewed by PC Pro, where the flagship Vengeance RAM is clearly on show in the photographs above. For the record the RAM received in my PC was NOT corsair, it was unbranded – in other words the cheapest of the cheap.

6. So the keyboard and mouse received by the customer is inferior to the Labtec setup as reviewed by PC Pro

7. So you are basically admitting that you send out whatever Kingston SSD you like, because in your opinion it “will not affect system performance”. This is very misleading, yet again. Reviews have shown clear and measurable differences in cache performance depending on the disk used inside! Also, what if the customer decides to deploy windows using the SSD as a standalone SSD? Then the differences between the V100+ advertised and the V100 supplied is a factor of 2!

There’s a reason the second highest Google ranked page from Palicomp is “Do not buy from Palicomp”.

This system should be stripped of its award.

By GMSL80 on 26 Sep 2011

MESH?

This set-up is not comprised of the previous ownership/management and staff from Mesh Computers, is it?

I agree that the product should be stripped of its award if not supplied as per the A list review.

This PC looked promising until I read the customer review and was suddenly overcome with the horrors that visited me when I once regrettably purchased a PC Pro recommended MESH computer.

By Glovepuppet on 29 Sep 2011

Yikes!!! thats a blow..... was JUST about to click to buy this on their website when I thought i'd better check here first and let people know about the "good news" on spec upgrade! bloody glad I did now.. this sounds bad Palicomp, seriously think you need to address these issues.... and, in the words of the Dragons "Let me tell you where I stand on this.... I'M OUT"
(Well, unless and until its sorted)

In the meantime I shall now go review the new A listed Chillblast....

By misterp999 on 2 Oct 2011

Yikes!!! thats a blow..... was JUST about to click to buy this on their website when I thought i'd better check here first and let people know about the "good news" on spec upgrade! bloody glad I did now.. this sounds bad Palicomp, seriously think you need to address these issues.... and, in the words of the Dragons "Let me tell you where I stand on this.... I'M OUT"
(Well, unless and until its sorted)

In the meantime I shall now go review the new A listed Chillblast....

By misterp999 on 2 Oct 2011

Intriguing

Such a disappointing collection of reviews. I was looking forward to owning this machine, it seemed to offer so very much for the money and, like all customers, we do rely upon professional reviews and so expect the product given for review to be identical to the product offered for commercial sale. There is still much in this machine that makes it a potential buy (I have no interest in bundled keyboards or mice, I have my own preference and my own suppliers - indeed, Logitech sends me a new keyboard every year at no charge whatsoever because I give my boards such incredible usage, and never for games). All I can do now is think again, perhaps keep this review page, and follow other comments that are made. This is such a shame, a seemingly excellent product given a brilliant review, only to be let down by the manufacturer being unable to supply an identical (or improved) product. Hopefully others will make comments here of their experience, and it would be nice to read some favourable reviews.

By eliotnpt on 4 Oct 2011

Interesting

I for one are very disappointed that there has been no response from PC Pro to these negative comments and the suggestion that it should be stripped of its award.
It seems to me that advertising revenue is far more important than reliable and professional reviews.

By tycalch on 6 Oct 2011

PALICOMP REPLY

Hi All,

As our previous comment stated we have had to change this spec as parts have gone end of life and hard to get hold of - due to winning the award 4 months ago. We have therefore reduced the price by £50 to £1149.99 and amended the spec slightly, the performance in general and gaming is still very high. We also sent in the amended spec to ITReviews, who have awarded us 5/5 stars and their top award the ITReviews BEST BUY award. You can view the review here http://www.itreviews.com/hardware/desktop-pcs/pali
comp-phoenix-i5-z68-warrior/
If anyone has any questions or would like to discuss this personally please contact us on 01270 898104

By Palicomp on 7 Oct 2011

What a machine!

I've recently taken delivery of one of these systems and all I can say is AWESOME! The machine has more power than you really need and for the price, its absolutely fantastic! Palicomp also deserve and big thumbs up for their attentive service both prior and after the sale.

I did read the other comments above before ordering. I took it with a pinch of salt! GMSL80 even states that Palicomp tried their best to put things right (generous compensation package), but it still wasn't enough...You just can't please some people.

If anyone is interested in this system, feel free to contact me for an impartial view. You can get me @ wayne at wr2.co.uk

Cheers,

Wayne.

By WayneRobshaw on 14 Oct 2011

Nervous. Will look elsewhere

I read the pcpro review and came here considering a purchase.
I read the reviews and got nervous.
I then did a google search of this company and it seems this is their norm - to swap parts out without consultation which seems to exploit the fact few people will look inside their machines. Been going on for years and many posts report this. Why is it we have to read their explanations where their competitors seems to continue producing what they advertise? I think Chillblast are going to be getting my custom unless I get an offer I cannot refuse from Pallicomp.

By dca860 on 16 Nov 2011

Feedback deters me from buying

Thanks for taking the time to give feedback I was looking for a good fast system but I will now look elsewhere.

By k4711 on 9 Jan 2012

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