Arbico Value i7 Gamer Inverness

The Value i7 Gamer may be the cheapest Core i7 system we've seen on the market in Inverness, but it's not without its faults: the chassis, for instance, is ugly and lacks finesse.

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Arbico Value i7 Gamer

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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.

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.

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.

The Value i7 Gamer may be the cheapest Core i7 system we've yet reviewed, but it's not without its faults: the chassis, for instance, is ugly and lacks finesse. Nevertheless, its benchmark results suggest that it could cope with the demands of both keen photographers and gamers - so, if you prioritise power over style, Arbico's best PC yet could prove a prudent investment.

System Specifications

2.66GHz Intel Core i7 920; 6GB 1,600MHz DDR3 RAM; Gigabyte GA-EX58-ED3R motherboard; 500GB Samsung SpinPoint F1 hard disk; DVD+/- RW; ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics; 2 x DVI-I; S/PDIF out; 11 x USB, 2 x PS/2, FireWire; Gigabit Ethernet; 7-in-5 card reader; Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit; 1yr RTB warranty; 185 x 480 x 410mm (WDH)

Verdict

Arbico's latest PC sacrifices elegance and design for raw performance at a good price

Author: Mike Jennings

Arbico Value i7 Gamer