Palicomp Phoenix i5 Z68 Warrior review

16 Jun 2011

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

Price when reviewed 
1,199
5

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £999
Price inc VAT £1,199
Overall rating 5
Performance 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 2,000GB
RAM capacity 16.00GB
Screen size 24.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 3.30GHz
CPU overclocked frequency 4.80GHz
Processor socket LGA 1155
HSF (heatsink-fan) Noctua NH-D14

Motherboard

Motherboard Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3
Motherboard chipset Intel Z68
Conventional PCI slots free 2
Conventional PCI slots total 2
PCI-E x16 slots free 1
PCI-E x16 slots total 2
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 3
PCI-E x1 slots total 3
Internal SATA connectors 6
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

Graphics card MSI R6970 Twin Frozr III
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset AMD Radeon HD 6970
Graphics card RAM 2.00GB
DVI-I outputs 2
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Hitachi 2TB
Capacity 2.00TB
Hard disk usable capacity 1.86TB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 32MB

Drives

Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo

Monitor

Monitor make and model Samsung Syncmaster B2430L
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080

Additional Peripherals

Speakers Logitech S220

Case

Chassis Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced
Case format Full tower
Dimensions 215 x 529 x 496mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 2

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 8
FireWire ports 1
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 8

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel eSATA ports 1
Front panel memory card reader yes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Labtec wireless keyboard and mouse

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 136W
Peak power consumption 421W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 206fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 1.17
Responsiveness score 1.18
Media score 1.16
Multitasking score 1.16