Arbico Value i7 Gamer review

£799
Price when reviewed

When Intel’s Core i7 chips were released towards the end of 2008, the first systems came complete with extortionate prices. The Mesh Xtreme i7 920, the first Core i7 system in the PC Pro Labs, for example, cost a whopping £1,701. It’s testament to the relentless march of technology then that, just eight months later, the Arbico Value i7 Gamer offers a similar level of performance for over £1,000 less.

The Core i7 920 chip runs at 2.66GHz and has proven itself an able performer despite being the cheapest part in Intel’s range, and it’s partnered with 6GB of Corsair DDR3 RAM running at 1,600MHz – the fastest speed available for desktop machines without overclocking.

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The air of quality continues elsewhere. The ATI Radeon HD 4870 is provided by XFX and has 1GB of GDDR5 memory, and the hard disk is a 500GB Samsung SpinPoint F1, the half-terabyte cousin of the 750GB drive that won our recent Hard Disks Labs test.

The motherboard, a Gigabyte GA-EX58-ED3R, is a low-end cousin of the GA-EX58-UD5 that’s been an A List ever-present since its Labs debut in issue 175. We’re pleased to see so many quality components used in the Arbico’s construction, as it should ensure excellent reliability over the next few years.

The Arbico is quick as well as reliable: in our 2D benchmarks, the Value i7 Gamer used its Core i7 muscle to return an overall result of 1.96, faster than one of our current A-Listers, the Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 775 Silent Edition, which scored 1.69. Also impressive were some of the Value i7’s individual benchmark scores, with results of 2.22 in our 2D graphics test and 2.35 in our multi-tasking benchmark suggesting that photo-editing fans, as well as gamers, could find the Arbico useful.

Gaming performance is also up to scratch, with the HD 4870 GPU running through our 1,600 x 1,200 high-quality Crysis test at 44fps. The highest quality settings were too much for the Arbico, though, with a result of 27fps – not fast enough to be playable in the most frantic scenes.

Unfortunately, in filling the case with high-end components Arbico looks to have overlooked an important part: the case itself. The front of the Gigabyte GZ-X6, is constructed from several panels – two are of the kind of faux-leather that we’ve seen on the garish Asus Lamborghini VX3 (web ID: 204384) – which results in a cheap-looking chassis.

The situation doesn’t improve inside thanks to Arbico’s lack of cable management: the numerous wires are clumped together in large bundles but there’s been little attempt to hide any of them out of sight, resulting in an ugly interior that does nothing to help airflow through the case.

There’s been no work done to limit noise, either. The stock Intel cooler, GPU and pair of 120mm fans are reasonably loud and the constant whirr of the PC hasn’t been dampened by sound-absorbing foam or specially designed heatsinks and fans.

Thankfully, there’s a fair amount of upgrade potential available inside. An empty PCI Express x16 slot could cater for a CrossfireX setup, and there are empty PCI and PCI Express x1 sockets available for wireless cards and TV tuners. A single DIMM slot is also empty but, with 6GB of triple-channel RAM already installed, it’s debatable whether you’d need more memory.

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Also available are a trio of empty 5.25in bays that could be used for a Blu-ray drive, and five empty internal 3.5in sockets for extra storage. Disappointingly, though, none of the expansion options have toolless entry.

Warranty

Warranty1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity500
RAM capacity6.00GB
Screen sizeN/A

Processor

CPU familyIntel Core i7
CPU nominal frequency2.66GHz
CPU overclocked frequencyN/A
Processor socketLGA 1366
HSF (heatsink-fan)Intel stock cooler

Motherboard

MotherboardGigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R
Motherboard chipsetIntel X58
Conventional PCI slots free3
Conventional PCI slots total3
PCI-E x16 slots free1
PCI-E x16 slots total2
PCI-E x8 slots free0
PCI-E x8 slots total0
PCI-E x4 slots free0
PCI-E x4 slots total0
PCI-E x1 slots free1
PCI-E x1 slots total1
Internal SATA connectors6
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory typeDDR3
Memory sockets free1
Memory sockets total4

Graphics card

Graphics cardATI Radeon HD 4870
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?no
3D performance settingLow
Graphics chipsetATi Radeon HD 4870
Graphics card RAM1.00GB
DVI-I outputs2
HDMI outputs0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0
Number of graphics cards1

Hard disk

Hard diskSamsung Spinpoint F1
Capacity500GB
Hard disk usable capacity465GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Hard disk 2 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacityN/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speedN/A
Hard disk 2 cache sizeN/A
Hard disk 3 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 4 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacityN/A

Drives

Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and modelN/A
Optical disk 3 make and modelN/A

Monitor

Monitor make and modelN/A
Resolution screen horizontalN/A
Resolution screen verticalN/A
ResolutionN/A x N/A
Pixel response timeN/A
Contrast ratioN/A
Screen brightnessN/A
DVI inputsN/A
HDMI inputsN/A
VGA inputsN/A
DisplayPort inputsN/A

Additional Peripherals

SpeakersN/A
Speaker typeN/A
Sound cardRealtek HD audio
PeripheralsN/A

Case

ChassisGigabyte GZ-X6
Case formatFull tower
Dimensions185 x 480 x 410mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays3

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)11
FireWire ports1
PS/2 mouse portyes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports1
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Modemno
3.5mm audio jacks6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports2
Front panel memory card readeryes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboardN/A

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows Vista

Noise and power

Idle power consumption199W
Peak power consumption329W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score1.96
Office application benchmark score1.63
2D graphics application benchmark score2.22
Encoding application benchmark score1.66
Multitasking application benchmark score2.35
3D performance (crysis) low settings44fps
3D performance settingLow

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