It has similar specs to the competition, yet the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar Extreme manages the not inconsiderable feat of being both the fastest and the slowest of the Intel-based machines in our sub-£500 desktop PCs chart.

The Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar Extreme scored 153 points in WorldBench 6 as standard. A technical problem meant we had to estimate one of the sub-test scores within the benchmark, but even with a higher result here it would be slower than the Arbico and Chillblast PCs.

Fortunately, then, Palicomp has specified a Z68-chipset motherboard. Unlike the H61-chipset budget boards favoured by the competition, this Gigabyte model is able to support the overclocking features of Intel’s Core i5-2500K’s processor. If you’re happy to tinker with the EFI and cooling, extra speed can be found in the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar Extreme.

This board also has greater scope for upgrades, with support for USB 3.0 and SATA 6 gigabits per second (Gbps). Should you see fit to add an SSD to the Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar Extreme, Smart Response technology can also boost hard-drive speed.

The Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar Extreme's Cooler Master Elite 330 system case is unexciting to look at, but offers decent build quality and tool-free drive bays.

Palicomp supplies 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive with the Phoenix i5 Sonar Extreme. The popular AOC F22+ monitor is combined with a set of external speakers that includes a subwoofer.

Budget PC chart ranking

  1. 1. Chillblast Fusion Neutron
    2. CyberPower Ultra Triton
    3. Palicomp Phoenix i5 Sonar Extreme
    4. Eclipse Voyager i525H61
    5. Arbico eXcel i5-2533LE

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