Palicomp Phoenix Hydro-X review

Sandy Bridge's potential rises from the flames (and, er, water)

Palicomp Phoenix Hydro-X
The must-have combination of gear this season. Don't be seen without it

TechRadar Verdict


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    Sweet spot in price vs. performance

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    Expertly built

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    Capitalism-defying value

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    Crysis 2? Bow before me


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    The Sandy Bridge release hoo-hah is a few months old, and only now that the dust has settled are we beginning to see what system builders can put together around Intel's new CPU architecture for this hardcore gamers' price point. Enter the Phoenix Hydro-X PC from Palicomp.

    Actually, stop. Must systems be christened with this kind of fantastical nomenclature? Aren't games for all the elfeared escapism? Surely it'd be more alluring to the browsing enthusiast to peruse the systems on offer using simple letters and numbers, like German cars, rather than being forced to order the Goblin Slayer King Elemental XXX in an embarrassed whisper? Okay, rant over, resume.

    The Phoenix Hydro X, like Scan's excellent 3XS Vengeance, packs Intel's top 2600K chip – although unlike the 3XS, there's no out of the box overclocking.

    Another crucial difference comes in the GPU spec; rather than the single GTX 580 sported in Scan's system, Palicomp has paired some tasty MSI Twin Frozr HD 6950s in a CrossFireX array.

    Despite the extra silicon inside the formidable Coolermaster HAF X case, it's £250 cheaper than the Scan 3XS, too. So what gives? Where's the compromise in components that lands the Phoenix Hydro X at this price point?

    Take off your cynical hats, folks, this is a balanced, well thought out build that doesn't skimp on any particular area (such as with cheaper, rubbish RAM) and thus delivers uncompromising performance.

    The real sugar of the deal comes down to the CPU and GPU pairing really. That i7-2600K offers much more value and, in some cases, raw performance than its i7-9xx series brethren. Similarly, AMD's long-standing emphasis on the ultra performance GPU at the two-ton mark makes these two HD 6950s an extremely powerful pairing for comparable money to a single top-end Nvidia card.

    We were hugely impressed by the Scan rig's marriage of 2600K chip and GTX 580, but in the Phoenix Hydro X we're witnessing a genuine match made in heaven – pretty much the exact sweet spot in price and performance on the market right now.

    If you were to buy all the components that make the Phoenix Hydro X individually, you'd save yourself around a hundred bob. That includes the Corsair H70 self-contained (read: no nightmare) CPU water cooler unit, 64GB SSD and 1.5TB HDD storage and more fans than Justin Bieber.

    But to our eyes, that hundred nicker mark up is well worth it. In return you receive a very smart combination of parts, expertly built (the inside of the case is immaculately arranged and cable tied) and all under warranty for a year.

    Now take into account the actual performance you get out of the box and it's got better DirectX 11 power in tessellation and gaming stakes than the £1,740 3XS Vengeance, and CPU benchmark scores that, with a little overclocking encouragement, could easily match the Scan rig.

    It's a great time to buy full systems, and right now this is definitely the full system to buy.

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    Phil Iwaniuk

    Ad creative by day, wandering mystic of 90s gaming folklore by moonlight, freelance contributor Phil started writing about games during the late Byzantine Empire era. Since then he’s picked up bylines for The Guardian, Rolling Stone, IGN, USA Today, Eurogamer, PC Gamer, VG247, Edge, Gazetta Dello Sport, Computerbild, Rock Paper Shotgun, Official PlayStation Magazine, Official Xbox Magaine, CVG, Games Master, TrustedReviews, Green Man Gaming, and a few others but he doesn’t want to bore you with too many. Won a GMA once.