We've been looking at a few budget gaming PCs recently, like the £600 CyberPower Infinity i5 Hercules SE and £700 Scan 3XS i3 OC. But for those with cash to spare looking for a machine that performs at the bleeding edge, the disappointing £2,750 Fujitsu Celsius ULTRA Gaming Workstation has been the only recent entrant, so can CyberPower's Infinity i7 Phoenix Gaming PC live up to its £2,800 price tag?
Well, to begin with specifications are certainly damn impressive, and going by these alone it should thoroughly trounce the Fujitsu in every way. First off we have an Intel Core i7 920 processor. This might not sound too impressive as it's the cheapest, lowest-clocked offering in the i7 9xx line-up, but CyberPower has added watercooling to push this CPU up to a stable 4GHz – that's significantly faster than the slightly overclocked Core i7 975 Extreme Edition found in the Celsius ULTRA. The Phoenix also doubles that machine's already prodigious memory capacity, coming with an incredible 24GB(!) of DDR3 RAM. Other highlights include an AMD ATI Radeon 5970 (the fastest graphics card money can buy) and 80GB Intel X25 SSD main drive.
Like CyberPower's previous high-end Ultra Perseus, the Phoenix comes in Antec's Twelve Hundred gaming case. At 60cm high, this makes it an imposing beast, and like its predecessor it's generously provisioned with blue LED lighting. With blue-backlit fans, a backlit water-cooling reservoir (which takes up two of the case's prodigious twelve 5.25in drive bays), and transparent reactive blue water pipes (visible through the large side window) this is certainly a machine that grabs the attention.
Size aside, the Twelve Hundred is a very well-built and impressively-featured case – though it lacks the tool-free options of many competitors. It's constructed from thick steel, painted matte black inside and out, and without a sharp edge in sight. Physical speed switches are provided for all case fans, which include five 120mm ones and a huge top-mounted 200mm fan. All intake fans also sport removable dust filters.
Connectivity is strong as well. In addition to the usual twin USB ports and headphone and microphone jacks found at the case's front, there's an eSATA port - a great addition, especially as the Antec Twelve Hundred's build allows you to securely place an external hard drive on its top.
CyberPower has added a 3.5in card reader below the optical drive. This provides a third USB 2.0 port and can read every memory card available – even SIM cards! Speaking of the optical drive, as you would expect at this price point the company has included a Blu-ray rewriter, specifically LG's BH08LS20 sporting an attractive fascia with silver trim. This drive offers 8 x BD, 8 x BD-R and 2 x BD-RE speeds.
At the machine's back, motherboard connectivity is relatively sparse. There are a further six USB ports, one FireWire and one eSATA port, a single Gigabit Ethernet connection and good old PS2 mouse and keyboard inputs. A nice selection of analogue and digital audio connections are also on hand from the board's integrated audio, though these are made redundant by those found on the installed Creative X-Fi Gamer sound card.