Buying Guide: Gaming PCs For Hardcore Gamers' Dreams (Part 1) - Arbico Elite 5357 OCX

10/3/2012 9:14:56 AM

Only the fastest, most powerful PCs can handle the intensive frames of hardcore gamers' dreams. Paul Monckton looks at six such beasts, rating them on performance, features, build quality and value

Gaming PCs aren't about following rules; we want power, excitement and flat-out speed. This is our only PC category in which we allow overclocking.

All the systems here use an Intel Core i5-3570K processor; any differences in performance can therefore be attributed to the level of overclocking, the amount and speed of the system memory, and the performance of the internal storage. If your budget allows, the Intel Core i7-3770K is slightly faster still.

Description: Intel Core i5-3570K processor

Intel Core i5-3570K processor

Both chips come from Intel’s Ivy Bridge series, the third generation of its Core processors. Second-gen Sandy Bridge processors are slower but support greater overclocking, so a PC running one of these older chips could potentially keep up with an Ivy Bridge machine.

Cooling is essential if an overclocked CPU is not to overheat. You won’t see stock coolers fitted in any of these PCs. Instead, expect large heatsinks, often with multiple fans. Liguid cooling systems can also offer greater cooling capacity than airflow alone.

The dust filters attached to a PC’s fans can help prevent debris from clogging up your PC and causing it to overheat.

Any self-respecting gamer will demand a system case that looks the part, but it also needs to be practical. Good internal cable management aids airflow, while fan controllers let you tweak their speeds to reduce noise or boost cooling as necessary.

The graphics card is the single most important component in a gaming PC. It may be worth trimming your budget in areas such as storage capacity and connectivity, then splashing out on the graphics subsystem instead. nVidia is our current champion with its GeForce GTX 670. It's almost as fast as the more expensive GeForce GTX 680.

Description: GeForce GTX 680

GeForce GTX 680

If the GTX 670 is out of your price range, buy the best you can afford and reduce your render guality settings accordingly.

If you choose a motherboard that supports SLI or CrossFireX, you can add a second card when the funds become available.

nVidia's GeForce GTX 560 Ti is a cheaper card that still offers very good performance. You may need to drop the display options to maintain the fastest frame rates in some games, however.

Look for a monitor that's large, clear and offers a fast response time; getting the best colour guality is of less importance. Pricey in-plane switching panels, for example, are less important unless you intend to view the screen from the side or use the PC for image and video editing. If you’re a console gamer, you may want a display with multiple inputs.

If you’re playing competitively, the keyboard and mouse can make a huge difference to your performance. You'll benefit from wired rather than wireless devices, which tend to be more responsive. Look for high-resolution mice and keyboards with programmable keys and backlighting. Some draw attention to the W, A, S, D keys with different labelling or texture. Also consider a gaming headset with a built-in mic.

Warranty terms are critical in this category. The longer the better, and look for a collect-and-return rather than return-to-base option.

Arbico Elite 5357 OCX

With its Intel Core i5-3570K CPU overclocked from 3.4GHz to 4.4GHz, Arbico's Elite 537 OCX turns in some impressive performance scores.

Despite competing systems in this group running faster overclocks, the Arbico produced the biggest numbers in both our application-based benchmark and those all-important gaming tests.

Description: Arbico Elite 5357 OCX

Arbico Elite 5357 OCX

The Arbico scored 214 points in WorldBench 6, putting it just inches ahead of Dino PC's Maxosaurus 3570K. The inclusion of a high-end GeForce GTX 680 graphics card gives it a boost in gaming speed, making it the best all-round performer here.

The PC is housed in a black CIT Jupiter case, with the blue LED on the large front fan clearly visible through a mesh panel. Two more 120mm fans are found inside: a bright red one at the rear and a blue-lit transparent one at the top; there’s space here for another fan to be fitted, too. The CPU is cooled by a large Xigmatek Gaia heatsink, with yet more 120mm fans fitted on either side.

Internal slots allow cabling to be tucked out the way, with the remaining slack tidied with cable ties. A 2TB hard drive and 120GB SSD are mounted in perpendicular drive bays, allowing for easy access.

The Asus P8Z77-V LX is similar to the P8Z77V and P8Z77-V Pro models used elsewhere, but a few compromises are evident. Without support for SLI or CrossFireX you won’t be able to add a second graphics card, for example. The board also features fewer SATA 6Gbps ports and has only four USB 3.0 ports. Wi-Fi is absent, as are Asus’ advanced automatic overclocking features.

The latter isn’t particularly worrying on a vendor-overclocked system (especially one that performs as well as the Arbico), although tinkerers may prefer a more versatile motherboard.

Description: Arbico Elite 5357 OCX

Arbico Elite 5357 OCX

Verdict: The Arbico is a superbly fast PC and delivered the best application- and gaming-performance results across the board, despite not having the fastest overclock. The price is lower than some of its rivals here, but you'll need to add your own monitor and peripherals. Its motherboard isn’t the best for tweakers.


Price: $1,884


Build: 6/10

Features: 6/10

Performance: 10/10

Value: 6/10

Overall: 8/10



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