Palicomp Alpha Detonator review

14 Sep 2012

Fine performance throughout and good choices elsewhere make for a winning, if unflashy, desktop PC

Price when reviewed: 
1,249(£1250 inc VAT)
5

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.

Palicomp Alpha Detonator

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.

Palicomp Alpha Detonator

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,041
Price inc VAT £1,249
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4

Warranty

Warranty 3 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,240GB
RAM capacity 16.00GB
Screen size N/A

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 3.40GHz
CPU overclocked frequency 4.70GHz
HSF (heatsink-fan) Thermaltake ISCG-300

Motherboard

Motherboard Gigabyte Z77X-D3H
Motherboard chipset Intel Z77
PCI-E x16 slots free 1
PCI-E x16 slots total 2
PCI-E x1 slots free 2
PCI-E x1 slots total 2
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

Graphics card Nvidia GeForce GTX680
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Medium
DVI-I outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk OCZ Vertex 3
Capacity 240GB
Internal disk interface SATA/600
Spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 make and model Samsung Spinpoint F4
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity 2,048GB

Drives

Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Monitor make and model N/A
Resolution screen horizontal N/A
Resolution screen vertical N/A
Resolution N/A x N/A
Pixel response time N/A
Contrast ratio N/A
Screen brightness N/A
DVI inputs N/A
HDMI inputs N/A
VGA inputs N/A
DisplayPort inputs N/A

Additional Peripherals

Speakers N/A
Speaker type N/A
Sound card N/A

Case

Dimensions 214 x 528 x 496mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply XFX 850W
Power supply rating 850W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 3

Rear ports

PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 2

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 141W
Peak power consumption 389W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 133fps
3D performance setting Medium
Overall Real World Benchmark score 1.16
Responsiveness score 1.15
Media score 1.18
Multitasking score 1.16