Palicomp Alpha Detonator review
Fine performance throughout and good choices elsewhere make for a winning, if unflashy, desktop PC
Review Date: 14 Sep 2012
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £1,041 (£1,249 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Compact and small form factor desktop PCs are an increasingly common sight in PC Pro’s Labs, but if power and future-proofing are top of your shopping list, bigger is always better. Palicomp aims to prove as much with its latest build, the Alpha Detonator, which takes a full-sized ATX case and packs it with an overclocked Ivy Bridge CPU and a top-drawer Nvidia GPU.
Star of the show is the i5-3570K. It’s a 3.4GHz part that isn’t Hyper-Threaded, but the four cores have been overclocked to 4.7GHz. That’s a hefty amount of extra power, and it propelled the Palicomp to a benchmark score of 1.16 – a reasonable jump over its stock speed, and slightly ahead of the Overclockers Titan Prodigy Arctic, which scored 1.09 from the same chip running at 4.2GHz.
It’s certainly enough power to plough through demanding applications, and high-end games will be brushed aside just as easily. Graphics horsepower comes from Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 680, which is its top single-GPU card. It’s not an overclocked part, so its score of 62fps in our 1,920 x 1,080 Very High quality benchmark isn’t quite the best we’ve seen: the Overclockers system extracted 79fps from its overclocked GTX 680. The gap was still wide at 2,560 x 1,600, too: the Palicomp scored 35fps, with the Overclockers system fourteen frames per second quicker.
The rest of the specification is good. OCZ’s 120GB Vertex 3 proved itself to be a reasonable performer in our recent Storage Labs: its large and small file write results of 507.4MB/s and 171.1MB/s were particular highlights. Palicomp has divided its 120GB capacity, with 91GB used as the boot drive and the rest used as a cache to improve boot times.
There’s 16GB of RAM – twice the amount we’re used to seeing in high-end PCs – alongside a Blu-ray reader and 2TB Samsung hard disk, and it’s all covered by a three-year RTB warranty, which is one year more than Wired2Fire offers.
Palicomp has picked the familiar Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced chassis. It’s one of our favourites, and that’s not just because of its cool good looks and chrome-effect border – it’s big enough for the most enthusiastic of upgraders and has plenty of features.
- Bloom.fm: 20 buyers show interest in London music startup
- Forget monitors: your next display may be mist or bubbles
- Heartbleed: the race to reissue security certificates
- Computing in schools "not only about code"
- School coding: why one teacher training programme failed
- Q&A: the importance of coding, from a non-coder
- Mark Shuttleworth interview: Taking Ubuntu beyond desktops
- Surveillance panic could lead to restrictive data laws
- Multipath routers: the easy way to faster broadband?
- DIY broadband: how one remote not-spot went wireless
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone