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So far this CPU might not sound too exciting, which isn’t too surprising considering it’s a budget part. Scan hasn’t just left it at its default clock speed, however, overclocking it by a whopping 1007Hz (1.07GHz) to give you a total of 4GHz. Consequently the Core i3 holds it own against significantly more expensive processors in many scenarios, including the Core i7 860 used in the £1,000 i7-Osuarus. It’s certainly more than up to running most games as fast as the graphics card will allow.
Though such an overclock would be possible with the stock cooler, Scan has played it safe and gone with something a little beefier. Arctic Cooling’s Freezer 7 Pro V2 does a good job of preventing your CPU from turning into toast (we measured a maximum of 70 degrees) and is configured to send the hot air straight to the case’s rear exhaust fan, leaving the system’s insides relatively cool.
For memory duties four gigabytes is the norm nowadays and as much as all but the most demanding games will use. In Scan’s case it has filled two of the motherboard’s available four slots with Corsair-branded XMS3 1,600MHz DDR3 memory, which look great with their black heatspreaders.
Speaking of the motherboard, as mentioned earlier it’s a mini-ATX affair based on Intel’s new H57 chipset. Gigabyte has gone for an attractive blue and white colour scheme, with a small metal cooling block over the northbridge. As far as slots go you get two PCI-Express x16 slots supporting ATI’s CrossFire technology (with each card getting x8 bandwidth), allowing you to add a second video card at a later date. In case you were wondering, the 400W Corsair non-modular power supply should be able to handle a second HD 5770 without any problems.
In addition to the outdated EIDE HDD and floppy connectors the motherboard also sports five SATA ports, four of which are occupied by pre-routed cables allowing you to add either an optical or hard drive to the installed models. At least as far as permanent storage is concerned you might end up doing this rather quickly too, as games take up a lot of space and the 500GB provided by the 7,200rpm Samsung Spinpoint F3 is a bit stingy these days.
As always the highlight of any gaming PC is going to be its graphics card, and while not the top of ATI’s line, as part of the 5,000-series the XFX HD 5770 does offer the best feature set on the market and won our coveted Recommended Award by offering excellent performance for its price. Most important for gamers among its features is of course DirectX11 support, which is likely to gain wider support than its predecessor did. ATI’s Eyefinity technology, meanwhile, will let you hook up three monitors out of the box, though anyone who can afford that setup can probably afford a better PC too.