Palicomp Kinetic Hydro-X review

Price when reviewed

We were impressed by AMD’s Radeon HD 6870 last month, but until now, we’ve not seen it in a PC. The Palicomp Kinetic Hydro-X rectifies this by lining up two in a CrossFireX configuration.

The Palicomp roared through our gaming tests to deliver the best results we’ve seen: an average of 76fps in our 1,920 x 1,080 Very High quality Crysis test is a full 11fps faster than the Wired2Fire Hellspawn Xtreme – a system that had two HD 6850 cards. With 8x anti-aliasing it managed a stunning 64fps, and 49fps in our 2,560 x 1,600 benchmark is still 9fps faster than the Wired2Fire.

But it didn’t stop at smashing our gaming records. While the Intel Core i7-950 normally runs at 3.07GHz, here it’s overclocked to 4.2GHz. The score of 2.91 is the best we’ve recorded in a full PC – although with Sandy Bridge CPUs on their way don’t be surprised if that’s beaten again very soon.

Six gigabytes of RAM is becoming the standard in enthusiast machines, and the Blu-ray writer is a step forward from the BD-ROM drives we generally see. There’s also a 64GB Kingston SSDNow V+ disk to house Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, alongside a 1.5TB Samsung SpinPoint F3 hard disk.

All these powerful components need suitable housing, and the Cooler Master HAF X chassis fits the bill. Remove the windowed side panel and you’re greeted by an array of additional hardware: the power cables are hidden behind a shield, and the pair of graphics cards is held in place by an adjustable scaffold.

These extras make the matte-black interior look tidy, but upgrade room is limited. The third PCI Express x16 slot on the Asus Sabretooth X58 motherboard is blocked – although it only runs at 4x speed anyway – and there’s a single PCI Express x1 slot free. The on-board connectors are difficult to access, and spare SATA ports are blocked by the graphics cage. At least the pipes from the Corsair watercooler don’t impede the trio of empty DIMM sockets.

Palicomp Kinetic Hydro-X

Palicomp has also foregone the HAF X’s five tool-free hard disk bays, instead using the two 5.25in front bays with 3.5in converters. A small daughterboard connects the SSD and hard disk to the motherboard and power supply, and the bays can be removed via a couple of clamps – so you can change your disks without having to find your way to the SATA ports.

There are problems, the first of which is noise. While the Palicomp is quiet when idling, the graphics cards ramped up when stressed. Thermals weren’t great, either: a peak CPU temperature of 86C shows the cooler at its limits with the overclock, and the peak of 89C across both graphics cards is High, too. then there’s the peak power draw of 705W.

The peripherals are better. The 24in Full HD Samsung SyncMaster B2430L offers sharp detail, and colours that sit nicely between accurate and saturated. There’s minor grain across light areas, a little backlight bleed around the edges and the stand isn’t height adjustable, but it’s perfectly acceptable. The Creative A500 5.1 speakers provide rumbling bass and rich sound throughout the range, and the Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse are acceptable.

So our big issue is that this PC’s noise and heat are a touch high, but that’s the price you pay for these benchmark results. The Chillblast Fusion Dimension is undoubtedly a slicker all-round system, but if you’re willing to trade finesse for frame rates, and can’t wait for Sandy Bridge, this monster of a PC is a blistering alternative.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity1,064GB
RAM capacity6.00GB
Screen size24.0in


CPU familyIntel Core i7
CPU nominal frequency3.07GHz
CPU overclocked frequency4.20GHz
Processor socketLGA 1366
HSF (heatsink-fan)Corsair H70 water-cooling


MotherboardAsus Sabertooth X58
Motherboard chipsetIntel X58
Conventional PCI slots free0
Conventional PCI slots total0
PCI-E x16 slots free1
PCI-E x16 slots total3
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 total2
Internal SATA connectors6
Internal SAS connectors1
Internal PATA connectors1
Internal floppy connectors0
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec


Memory typeDDR3
Memory sockets free3
Memory sockets total6

Graphics card

Graphics cardAMD Radeon HD 6870
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?yes
3D performance settingLow
Graphics chipsetAMD Radeon HD 6870
Graphics card RAM2.00GB
DVI-I outputs4
HDMI outputs2
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
DisplayPort outputs2
Number of graphics cards2

Hard disk

Hard diskKingston SSDNow V-Series 64GB
Hard disk usable capacityN/A
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Spindle speedN/A
Hard disk 2 make and modelSamsung Spinpoint F3
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity1,500GB
Hard disk 2 spindle speed7,200RPM
Hard disk 2 cache size32MB
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


Optical disc technologyBlu-ray writer
Optical disk 2 make and modelN/A
Optical disk 3 make and modelN/A


Monitor make and modelSamsung SyncMaster B2430L
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Pixel response time5ms
Contrast ratio1,000:1
Screen brightness300cd/m2
DVI inputs1
HDMI inputs0
VGA inputs1
DisplayPort inputs0

Additional Peripherals

SpeakersCreative A500
Speaker type5.1
Sound cardRealtek HD Audio


ChassisCooler Master HAF X
Case formatFull tower
Dimensions230 x 550 x 600mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supplyThermaltake Evo_Blue
Power supply rating750W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays2

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)8
FireWire ports1
eSATA ports3
PS/2 mouse portyes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
3.5mm audio jacks6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports2
Front panel FireWire ports1
Front panel eSATA ports1
Front panel memory card readerno

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboardMicrosoft wireless keyboard and mouse

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption166W
Peak power consumption705W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score2.91
Office application benchmark score2.50
2D graphics application benchmark score3.10
Encoding application benchmark score2.41
Multitasking application benchmark score3.63
3D performance (crysis) low settings200fps
3D performance settingLow

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