PC Specialist Fusion 1090T Evo review

Intel was first to the table with a six-core CPU – the £689 exc VAT Core i7-980X – but typically, AMD’s riposte was much more affordable. It’s called the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T, and the PC Specialist Fusion 1090T Evo is the first system we’ve seen to include this new part.

AMD’s version has no Hyper-Threading, so the PC Specialist’s Device Manager detects only six cores rather than the 12 seen by systems running a Core i7-980X. The X6 1090T also has less cache, with only 512KB per L2 core – a third as much as the Core i7-980X – and 6MB of L3 cache, half as much used by Intel’s top-end chip.

AMD’s chip falls behind in other areas, too: its core clock speed of 3.2GHz is slightly slower than the Intel’s 3.33GHz, and the Phenom uses the older 45nm fabrication process rather than Intel’s more efficient 32nm architecture.

The system achieved a commendable 2.06 in our application benchmarks, a good result indicating the system is more than fast enough for all but the most intensive applications. But power users will still want to stick with Intel: the stock speed Core i7-980X scored 2.23 in our test system, and PCs with cheaper, overclocked Core i7 parts score higher still.

PC Specialist has chosen impressive components to sit alongside AMD’s latest processor, too. Its ATI Radeon HD 5870 is one of the most powerful graphics cards around, and it motored through our High-settings Crysis benchmark at 60fps then demolished our Very High-settings test, run at a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200, with a score of 45fps.

A higher resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 at the same quality settings saw the HD 5870 return a score of 40fps, and only at the monster resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 did the card falter, and even then its frame rate of 25fps wasn’t far from playable.

However, this PC is not just about the processor and graphics card; the rest is equally well equipped. Four gigabytes of 1,333MHz DDR3 RAM is more than enough, and the 750GB hard disk will swallow all but the largest of media collections. Movie buffs will be pleased with the inclusion of a Blu-ray drive, too.

Not only that, but PC Specialist has packed its latest machine into a quality chassis. The Cooler Master HAF 922 isn’t the largest around, but its clean, unfussy lines are pleasing on the eye: the front is adorned with a grille-covered 200mm case fan, and the rest of the case is set off by dramatic, angled panels.

PC Specialist Fusion 1090T Evo interior view

Build quality is top-notch, and the front offers plenty of connections. There are three USB 2 ports, a card reader, eSATA socket, a small area for peripheral storage and a button to turn off the assortment of red LEDs. The rear is similarly well equipped, with eight USB 2 ports, FireWire, another eSATA socket and a pair of PS/2 inputs. The graphics card provides a trio of display outputs: DVI-I, DisplayPort and HDMI.

Remove the sturdy, meshed side panel and the good impressions continue with plenty of space for expansion, and PC Specialist has worked hard to maximise it. The PSU, for instance, isn’t modular, but cables are neatly stowed away behind the motherboard tray, with cable ends tidily strapped in place, ready for use. On the motherboard, a single empty PCI-Express x16 slot caters for a potential CrossFireX setup, and there’s also a PCI-Express x1 slot, two PCI sockets and a pair of empty DIMM slots. The four fallow hard disk bays boast screw-free mounting clips, and there’s also a trio of empty 5.25in bays.

Finally, PC Specialist has even found enough room for an extensive cooling system, packing in two large 200mm fans, plus a CoolIT ECO A.L.C. water cooler attached to the CPU. It’s a basic kit, but did a good job of keeping the CPU chilled. Even when pelting through our benchmarks, the 1090T only peaked at around 47ºC.

We’re not convinced about the value for money on offer from PC Specialist, though. At £1,199 exc VAT, the A-Listed Wired2Fire Hellspawn XFire is £200 more expensive, but it blows away the PC Specialist in every benchmark and includes a superb Samsung monitor as well as a keyboard, mouse and speakers. Other base units offer better value, too: upgrade the Chillblast Fusion Midgard to an HD 5870 and it’ll cost around £50 less than the 1090T Evo.

Both of these competing machines run Intel processors, and it’s clear that these CPUs – which have also proven themselves eminently overclockable – are a better fit for higher-end systems such as this. AMD’s new CPU has the potential to shake up the market, but not in machines as pricey as the PC Specialist.

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