You likely don't need any reminders that the likes of Gateway and Dell (and Alienware) have released some new systems based around Intel's flagship Core i7 processor, but it's a whole other matter to sort out the multitude of options available from some of the smaller PC manufacturers out there, and we thought we'd take this opportunity to shed a bit light on some of those slightly lower profile contenders for the desktop throne. Ready to get started? Then check your bank account and head on past the break.

iBuyPower Paladin F860-a, F860-n, and F970


iBuyPower was one of the first manufacturers out of the gate with a Core i7 system ready to be tested and benchmarked, but it's naturally not about to keep things confined to one solitary system, and it recently took the wraps off of three more models based around two different Core i7 processors. Two of those, the Paladin F860-a and F860-n are identical apart from the graphics cards, with the former getting an ATI Radeon HD 4870 and the latter sporting an NVIDIA GeForce GTX260, while the Paladin F970 gets upgrades across the board and, of course, a considerably higher price tag.

Key specs:

iBuypower Paladin F860-a & F860-n
  • Processor: 2.93GHz Intel Core i7-940
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3 1333MHz
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB (F-860-a), NVIDIA GeForce GTX260 896MB ( F-860-n)
  • Hard drive: 1TB SATA-II 7,200-rpm
  • Price: $2,199.00
iBuypower Paladin F970
  • Processor: 3.2GHz Intel Core i7-970
  • Memory: 12GB DDR3 1333MHz
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB
  • Hard drives: 1TB SATA-II 7,200-rpm, 128GB SSD
  • Price: $3,799.00
Read - iBuyPower

Velocity Micro Edge Z-55

Velocity Micro may not offer quite the same extravagant cases that some other manufacturers seem to be so fond of, but it sure does take care of the innards of its systems, and its new Edge Z-55 system is no exception. As with all of Velocity Micro's systems, this one is fully configurable (including options for all three new Core i7 processors), or you can simply opt for the "Launch Edition," which includes the base Core i7 920 processor, a 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card, 4GB of RAM and, last but not least, the company' founder's signature. The early reviews of the system also look to be pretty positive across the board, with it snagging CNET's Editor's Choice award and some similarly high praise from the folks at HotHardware.

Key specs:
  • CPU: 3.0GHz Intel Core i7-920 (overclocked)
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3 1,066MHz
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 512MB
  • Hard Drive: 750GB, 7,200 rpm
  • Price: $2,499
Read - Velocity Micro
Read- CNET
Read - HotHardware

Falcon Northwest Mach V

We actually got our hands on this particular system during the initial round of Core i7 madness and came away suitably impressed, and it's now finally out there for anyone with the necessary cash to call their own. Of particular note, this is quite possibly the only Core i7-based system to offer an HD DVD option, which comes in the form of a Blu-ray / HD DVD combo drive, and will no doubt please those still out there hunting for some high-def bargains. Otherwise, you can expect the usual full range of customization options or, if you're less adventuresome, you can opt for the default configuration listed below.

Key specs: (base configuration)
  • Processor: 2.66GHz Intel Core i7-920
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3, 1,066MHz
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT 512MB
  • Hard drive: 250GB, 7,200 rpm
  • Price: $2,657
Read - Falcon Northwest

Puget Systems Core i7 Gaming Computer, Core i7 Video Editing Computer

While most manufactures are pitching their Core i7 systems at gamers, Puget Systems is taking a slightly different tact and offering both gaming and video editing systems based around the processor. Each of those, of course, are fully configurable, and they each come with a free copy of Far Cry 2, which we're sure will be just enough to push someone, somewhere over the edge.

Key specs:

Core i7 Gaming Computer (base config)
  • Processor; 2.66GHz Intel Core i7-920
  • Memory: 3GB DDR3, 1,333MHz
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT 512MB
  • Hard Drives: WD Caviar 320GB SATA2
  • Price: $2,188
Core i7 Video Editing Computer (base config)
  • Processor: 2.66GHz Core i7-920
  • Memory: 3GB DDR3, 1333MHz
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT 512MB
  • Hard drives: Dual WD Caviar 320GB SATA2
  • Price: $2,312
Read - Puget Systems

CyberPower Black Pearl Core i7 965 EE Gaming System

CyberPower looks to have gone all out with its Core i7 options, but those with money to burn will no doubt head straight towards the company's top-end Black Pearl model, which boasts a base configuration that starts at $3,999. According to the folks at TweakTown, those that do decide to go for broke won't be disappointed, as the system delivered some expectedly impressive benchmark scores and earned enough other high marks to snag their Editor's Choice award. Oh, and you'll get a free copy of Far Cry 2 with it too.

Key specs:
  • Processor: 3.2GHz Intel Core i7-965 Extreme
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3, 1,066MHz
  • Graphics: Dual ATI Radeon HD 4870 2GB
  • Hard drives: Dual 300GB 10,000 rpm SATA-II in RAID 0 array
  • Price: $3,999
Read - CyberPower
Read- TweakTown

Smooth Creations Hellcat Core i7 965 EE Gaming System


CyberPower's system couldn't quite top Smooth Creations' latest Hellcat system in TweakTown's tests, however, with it delivering the most impressive benchmark scores they've seen to date, and an equally stratospheric price tag: $5,400. That'll get you nothing but the top end components, including an overclocked Core i7-965 processor, a speedy 300GB boot hard drive and two 1TB drives in a RAID array for some added storage, plus an elaborate Danger Den cooling system to keep everything from exploding -- the whole thing also comes packed in an actual wooden crate to prevent any shattered dreams that could possibly occur a shipping mishap.

Key specs:
  • Processor: 4.0GHz Core i7-965 Extreme (overclocked)
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3
  • Graphics: Dual ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2
  • Hard drives: WD VelociRapter 300GB, Dual WD 1TB drives in RAID 1 array
  • Price: $5,400
Read - Smooth Creations
Read- TweakTown

As impressive as all those options are, they're only a hint of things to come from all the boutique and specialty manufacturers out there, and you can be sure that Dell, Gateway, and some of the other big players won't just be sitting around with their launch systems for too long either -- heck, even Commodore looks to be blowing things out. We'll be keeping our eyes peeled for the next little while, and we'll be sure to make note of any other notable new systems as they crop up.

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Intel Core i7 desktop roundup: the rest of what's new