PC Specialist Vanquish 912 ‘Haswell’ PC

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Intel has unveiled its fourth-gen Core processor, codenamed Haswell and successor to 2012’s Ivy Bridge.

It promises faster graphics and lower power consumption, allowing for laptops that can keep going for 15- to 20 hours.

PC Specialist’s Vanquish 912 is one of the first desktop PCs we’ve seen to contain a Haswell chip. It uses a new type of motherboard and chipset, making upgrades from Ivy Bridge difficult. So, is it worth the hassle?

Vanquish 912

Vanquish 912

We compared the quad-core Core i5-4670K selected by PC Specialist with an Ivy Bridge i5-3570K. In both our test machines the chips were paired with 16GB of the same memory. Both chips were also overclocked: the i5-4670K from its default 3.4GHz to 4.2GHz, and the i5-3570K from 3.4GHz to 4.6GHz.

Integrated graphics

The i5-4670K comes with an HD 4600 graphics controller, which is a step up on the HD 4000 offered by the i5-3570K.

In games tests the scores were virtually level in both Alien vs Predator and Sniper Elite V2, with the i5-4670K less than a frame ahead at every step. The difference widened in some games, notably Hard Reset and Stalker: Call of Pripyat. In the latter, for example, the i5-4670K notched up figures of 296- and 143fps, at Medium and Ultra settings respectively. These were significantly up on the 276- and 130fps of the i5-3570K.

Less heat, less power

Haswell isn’t only faster than its predecessor, it also draws less mains power and creates less heat.

Testing both chips with Intel Burn Test 2.54 and Real Temp, the i5-4670K never went beyond 83°C. The i5-3570K, on the other hand, topped out at 88°C. Under Maximum load the i5-4670K pushed up to 90°C, while the i5-3570K reached a rather hot 94°C. In Sniper Elite V2 the i5-4670K peaked at 50°C, while the i5-3570K pushed up to 57°C.

We recorded 56W when the i5-4670K was idling, and 65W for the i5-3570K. The new chip never exceeded 256W in our games tests, while the i5-3570K hit 285W.

It’ll be interesting to see how Haswell’s heat and power advantages play out in the laptop and tablet markets. For desktop users, though, the speed advantage isn’t massive, and those seeking a significant boost may be disappointed.

The ‘Haswell’ PC

The ‘Haswell’ PC

Vanquish 912

Not that this should put off prospective buyers of this PC Specialist system. After all, if you’re buying a brand-new system, it makes sense to snap up the newer technology.

And there is a great deal else provided with the Vanquish 912. The 16GB of Kingston HyperX Beast memory nicely complements the i5-4670K chip. Add to this the capacious 2TB Seagate Barracuda drive, and the timely speed boost offered by the 120GB Kingston SSD, and you have a strong all-round system. Little wonder, then, that the PC romped to a very pleasing 6,685-point score in PCMark 7.

Sound and vision are well served. The nVidia GeForce GTX 770 graphics card has 2GB of memory and offers plenty of performance at a relatively good price. The audio is also a notch up on the usual fare, with the SoundBlaster Z soundcard making a welcome appearance.

Not everything about this system is ideal, however. The Cooler Master HAF 912 case is ruggedly stylish, even down to its satanic red glowing front. It takes up a fair amount of space, yet it’s still a tight fit inside.

The graphics card can only just be squeezed into the space available between the drive bays. You can get to the memory, although it’s not the easiest job. All four of the slots are taken up. In fairness, a decent amount of room is consumed by the commendable and essential cooling system, and the Corsair Hydro H60 does a fine job of keeping the case well aired, although its pipes do get in the way of other components.

The 650W Corsair PSU offers plenty of juice for expansion, and ports and connectors are plentiful. Eight USB ports are included, two of which are found at the front of the case, alongside eSATA. Of the six rear-mounted USB ports, four are specified for USB 3.0.

The graphics card caters for HDMI and DisplayPort, plus DVI.

A Lite-On iH0S104 Blu-ray reader is also thrown in, offering smooth playback of Blu-ray media, but it can’t write to any optical media.

It uses a new type of motherboard and chipset

It uses a new type of motherboard and chipset


From Intel’s point of view, Haswell is a very important step forward.

It marks yet another attempt to break into some of the markets of the future, namely mobile computing such as smartphones and tablets. How well its mobile Haswell chips can approach the ARM competition remains to be seen. For desktop PC users, however, the merits are less clear. If you weren’t already keen to buy a new processor and motherboard, there’s no compelling reason to snap up Haswell. For many users a new graphics card (for gamers) or SSD (everyone) will make a much greater difference.

That said, if you’re in the market for a new desktop PC, the Vanquish 912 from PC Specialist is worth investigating. You could get a healthy discount by settling for last year’s Ivy Bridge processor, and probably wouldn’t notice the difference. The Chillblast Fusion Carbine gaming PC, for instance, offers improved game speeds and slightly reduced system performance, but packs in a high- grade IPS monitor and other decent peripherals - at exactly the same price. Overall, the PC Specialist is a good system, and you can’t get much hotter - or should we say cooler? - off the press than this ensemble.

Specs and price

·         Price: $1,855

·         3.4GHz Intel Core i5-4670K (overclocked to 4.2GHz)

·         Asus Z87-A motherboard

·         Windows 8 64bit

·         16GB DDR3 RAM

·         2TB 7,200rpm HDD

·         Cooler Master HAF 912 case

·         650W Corsair TX650 PSU

·         2GB nVidia GeForce GTX 770

·         Creative SoundBaster Z

·         2x USB 3.0

·         6x USB 2.0

·         DVI

·         HDMI

·         DisplayPort

·         eSATA

·         Gigabit ethernet

·         4x Lite-On BD-ROM

·         Microsoft Office starter 2010

·         3-year labor-only Silver RTB warranty


·         Build: 3.5/5

·         Features: 4/5

·         Performance: 4/5

·         Value: 4/5

·         Average: 4/5


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