PC Specialist Fusion Z11 - Black Midi Tower Window Gaming Case

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PC Specialist has eschewed Intel for its latest gaming rig, we take a look at what else is inside...

PC Specialist is one of the big names in the UK PC market, and it's good to see the firm not resting on its laurels, churning out identikit Intel systems. Instead, its latest machine is built around AMD technology.

The chip of choice is AMD's top-end processor: the FX-8350. It's based on the current-generation Piledriver architecture, and this 32nm part has an enviable set of specifications. Its four cores are clocked at 4GHz out of the box, and there's 8MB each of L2 and L3 cache. It's not overclocked, though - a shame given the chunky Corsair water-cooling unit that's used to lock the chip into its LGA 1155 processor socket.

Zalman Z11 Black Midi Tower Window Gaming Case

Zalman Z11 Black Midi Tower Window Gaming Case

The AMD chip scored 0.96 in our benchmarks - a reasonable pace, but around 20% slower than the speed we're used to seeing from overclocked Core i5 processors. It's enough to handle any and all desktop applications as well as intensive multi-tasking, but Intel still takes home the performance crown.

Graphics power comes from another AMD part - the Radeon HD 7870. It sits just below AMD's top end cards, and it's the kind of GPU we expect to find in machines at this price: 1,280 stream processors clocked at 1,000MHz, 2GB of GDDR5 RAM, and almost three billion transistors. The variant used here comes from PowerColor, and it delivered a solid set of benchmark results. It motored to 56fps in Crysis run at Very High settings and a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, and when running Just Cause 2 at the same settings it averaged 88fps - an excellent score. It's not a top-end card, but there's enough power here to handle the latest titles on a single screen without compromising on quality. Older and less demanding games will run smoothly across multiple monitors too.

Graphics power comes from another AMD part - the Radeon HD 7870

Graphics power comes from another AMD part - the Radeon HD 7870

Windows 8 64-bit is stored on a Kingston SV300 SSD. It's quicker than any hard disk but, in benchmarks, it returned mixed results: its sequential read pace of 474.6MB/S is in the top tier of solid-state performance, but the drive's sequential write pace of 130.7MB/S is disappointing. The rest of the specification throws up few surprises: 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard disk and a DVD writer.

PC Specialist has unleashed a Zalman Z11 Plus chassis, and it's a striking bit of kit thanks to its roof-mounted fins, side-window, jutting panels and illuminated fans. The plethora of fans on the inside - not to mention the Corsair water-cooling unit - keep the components chilled, and PC Specialist has done a great job of keeping the interior tidy. Cables are lashed to the sides of the case, run underneath each other, and many are stored beneath the motherboard tray until they're needed.

Two DIMM sockets are accessible for upgrades, and the Asus M5A97 R2.0 motherboard has single PCI-Express x16 and x1 sockets free alongside two PCI slots. Storage expansion comes in the form of three SATA sockets and a trio of empty 3.5in bays, and they're all side-facing.

Our only concern revolves around build quality: while the case looks excellent, the side panels are a little flimsy and the plastic fans on top of the chassis bend alarmingly.

Our only concern revolves around build quality: while the case looks excellent, the side panels are a little flimsy - and the plastic fans on top of the chassis bend alarmingly

That's not a huge concern, though, in the face of plenty of positives. The AMD processor is reasonably quick - even if it can't match Intel's pac and the graphics card is more than capable. If you're after a well-balanced gaming PC you could do a lot worse than invest in this.


·         4GHz AMD FX-8350

·         8GB DDR3 RAM

·         120GB Kingston V300 SSD

·         1TB hard disk

·         AMD Radeon HD 7870 graphics

·         DVD writer

·         Zalman Z11 Plus case

·         Windows 8 64-bit

·         Three-year warranty


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