PC Specialist Apollo Q6600GT review

Price when reviewed

Although a £1,000 PC is by no means high-end, it isn’t unreasonable to expect great performance and peripherals to match. And that’s exactly what you get with the PC Specialist Apollo Q6600GT: a powerful and well-built machine with good gaming potential, but one that doesn’t stray into four-figure territory.

PC Specialist Apollo Q6600GT review

It’s made possible by Intel’s 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600, the cheapest in the quad-core range, which offers a great combination of performance-per-pound.

As you’d expect of a PC with gaming pretensions, the Apollo Q6600GT is brash and bold, but the design is cleaner than many consumer PCs we’ve seen, with no garish details or fake carbon fibre panels. It’s a good, solid case, too – the hefty door adorned with blue LEDs might seem over the top at first, but at over a centimetre thick it helps to mask the whine from the internal fans.

Its large dimensions also mean there’s plenty of room for expansion inside. The chassis has space for another three optical drives and two hard disks, although there are only two spare SATA slots and a single spare IDE port. At least the 600W power supply won’t struggle when asked to power additional drives. The motherboard supports four RAM modules, although only two are occupied by the generous 4GB of RAM, and an eSATA port on the rear makes adding an external drive for backup or storage duties easy.

As well as all this, there are nine USB ports, which will accommodate all but the largest peripheral collections. Four are on the rear panel, four on the front edge of the case and one is hidden behind the hinged front door. A memory card reader is located behind the door, too, which supports the six most popular memory card formats, and above this is an LG LightScribe DVD writer.

The PC ships with a dual TV tuner card, although the Apollo isn’t predominantly designed as a media-centre computer. There’s no HDMI output or HD drive, for example, although the 22in LG Flatron L226WTQ monitor provides enough resolution and size to show HD video. In common with most of the LG monitors we’ve seen recently, the quality is impressive, too.

The monitor can run in several modes, including a movie mode that boosts contrast. This makes black look very black, perfect for watching movies and playing games, but the Vista desktop suffered. Tweaking the settings manually provided a happy medium for all uses.

Audio output is also well catered for, with S/PDIF out and a set of solid all-round Creative T6100 5.1 surround speakers.

Most importantly, however, the quality of the case and peripherals is backed up by good performance. Thanks to 4GB of RAM and that Q6600 processor, the PC Specialist scored an impressive 1.45 in our 2D benchmarks. This may fall 0.05 behind our previously A-Listed sub-£1,000 PC, the Mesh Tempest Quad Pro (web ID: 137316), but the difference is negligible.

it_photo_5458The difference between the two in our 3D tests was much larger, with the Mesh’s Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS unable to compete with the PC Specialist’s more powerful 8800 GT. Running Call of Duty 2 at its highest settings, the Mesh managed a highly playable 36fps, but the PC Specialist trounced it with 67fps. Running our more demanding Crysis benchmark at 1,280 x 1,024 saw 47fps on medium settings and 30 on high. Only on very high settings did this drop to unplayable levels.

As a gaming PC, the Apollo Q6600GT’s performance figures make it hard to ignore at this price. Combined with a solid core specification and a decent array of extras, it’s enough to earn this PC a coveted spot on our A List.

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