1. Advance Technologies ATFX-XPredator
The very first thing to catch your eye on this AdvanceTec build is the striking XPredator chassis, all stormtrooper white with black grills getting all up in yours. It also has a huge Perspex side panel, which reveals the second thing to catch your eye - the water-cooling setup.
This isn't the only build in the test to feature liquid as an aid to chilling out your chips - the Cyberpower Infinity Apollo has a closed-loop water cooler - but this is the only one to use a separate pump and reservoir setup. That means the setup can be expanded if you decide you want to include a loop for the graphics card, or even stick another reservoir in between to provide extra cooling for both.
2. Chillblast Fusion Thunderbird
The Chillblast machine is one big, fat beastie. The chunky Zalman chassis gives it a real sense of presence on your desk, and the internal goodies match that sense of scale, with a heftily overclocked i5 CPU and similarly overclocked GTX 670 doing the graphical grunt work.
Sadly though, it's in the overclocking department that the Fusion Thunderbird gets a serious black mark. The Core i5 3570K gets a headline-grabbing 4.8GHz clockspeed - easily the highest clocked chip in the test. If it ran solidly at that speed, we'd be all over this rig like a cheap LED strip.
Unfortunately, while it boots happily with these settings and will allow you to navigate around Windows with impunity, as soon as you start stressing the chip it begins to throw a wobbly. We couldn't run through either Cinebench or X264 encoding tests without it crashing.
3. Cyberpower Infinity Apollo
Fans of the big green graphics company rejoice, Cyberpower is showing its love of all things Nvidia here with a rig that's ripe for the fanboys. The SI has put some decent parts together for your pleasure, all of which are bathed in the eerie, mushypea glow of the Cooler Master 690's LEDs.
We say 'decent', because we're not entirely enamoured with Cyberpower's choice of components. It's the choice of graphics card that really has us stumped. We know that it's a new graphics card, but the GTX 660 Ti really isn't the sort of component we'd want in a rig we'd just paid a grand for. That's especially true when we're seeing overclocked GTX 670s, GTX 680s and an overclocked HD 7970 in the other machines.
4. Dino PC Baronyx
Housed within the simple, diminutive form of the Corsair Carbide 300R, you'd be forgiven for thinking this Dino PC build doesn't really look like a £1,000 PC. But this is a gaming machine - not something built to sit looking pretty on a stand at some Taiwanese trade show.
To be honest, so long as it's not obstructive in any way, we're not very bothered what clothes our gaming PCs arrive in. Most of our machines sit beneath our desks, and once the game is loaded all our attention is on the screen. If you can save money on a chassis then you've got some more cash to play with and throw at the more important components sitting inside it.
5. PC Specialist Vanquish Eclipse 670 MKII
When you're talking about a balanced PC build, it's tough to look past this machine from PC Specialist. It really has got the lot, and it's difficult to see where any real compromise or sacrifice has been made.
Pretty much all the other machines here have dropped something, or opted for cheaper versions in order to push more performance elsewhere, but there's precious little evidence of that in the Vanquish Eclipse.
Core i5-3570K with a decent overclock? Check. Quality graphics card? Check. Copious amounts of RAM? Check. Decent capacity solid state drive? Check. See, everything you could want in a £1,000 gaming machine - it's even all enclosed in the Cooler Master HAF chassis.
There was a time not so long ago when pretty much every gaming PC that came through our labs was housed in one of those.
6. Scan 3XS Z77 Performance GTK3
When you're putting together a machine for a thousand of your Earth pounds, there are many options to consider and many different configurations. We don't have any identikit builds in this test, though there are threads that run throughout, like the use of Intel CPUs.
Balance is important, but the chances are you're going to have to make a compromise or a sacrifice somewhere. Like the Cyberpower machine, you can plainly see where the sacrifices have been made in this rig before even looking at the benchmarks.
We are, of course, talking about the decision to opt for a GTX 660 Ti in the graphics card slot. Where it differs from the Cyberpower is that we've got a lot more in return for giving up some straight-line graphics performance. That 240GB SSD is a real bonus, and something we'd be pleased to find in any rig.
7. Vibox Boss XS
Attention all you pigeons out there, let me introduce to you the PC-shaped cat from relative system integrator n00b Vibox. There are two rigs in this group test that have thrown all their eggs in the gaming performance basket: this Boss XS and the YOYOTech machine.
The top-end pairing of the Core i7-3770K and the Nvidia GTX 680 make this an incredibly formidable gaming PC. Starting with the overclocked Core i7 CPU, you have essentially the finest example of Intel's desktop processor pedigree.
With eight full Hyperthreaded threads of processing power, it puts the quad-core i5 to shame in any straight-line CPU test. In the Cinebench and X264 encoding tests, the Hyperthreaded i7 in the Vibox machine is over 20 per cent faster than the quickest overclocked i5 rig.
8. Wired2Fire Diablo GTX
The safe money option seems to be a combo of the Intel i5-3570K, clocked up somewhere around 4.6GHz, with a GTX 670 and a 120GB SSD. This Wired2Fire machine looks to be hitting a similar spec to the excellent PC Specialist rig though with half as much RAM and a much quicker SSD.
To be perfectly honest, dropping the RAM count down won't make a blind bit of difference to your experience with this rig unless you're the sort of person who spends a lot of time tweaking massive image files in Photoshop on their home rig. Even then, 8GB is a pretty sizeable chunk of RAM to be playing with. In terms of gaming the difference is negligible to the point of being inconsequential.
9. YOYOTech Fi7epower PCF
Not convinced by the necessity of low capacity solid-state storage? Then YOYOTech's latest Fi7epower machine might well be the right rig for you. Like the Vibox Boss XS, it has thrown its full weight behind the performance of the processor and graphics card, rather than the more ephemeral positives of running the machine from an SSD boot drive.
With the Core i7-3770K, arguably the finest processor that Intel has made in recent memory, doing all the raw processing shenanigans at the heart of the budget-oriented Asus motherboard it's right up there at the top of the CPU performance tree. It's not the quickest due to a slightly speedier overclock from Vibox, but at 4.5GHz compared to the 4.6GHz of the Boss XS, it's a close run thing, and still makes the Fi7epower a lot quicker than the competing i5-based rigs.
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