Aria.co.uk Gladiator i5 4.4GHz Z68 Bundle
Hopefully you've enjoyed today's slightly different take upon some common hardware. It would have been all too easy to just go down the normal route and end up with results that we've all seen before. If you weren't planning to use this as an HTPC then you'd probably go for the Aria.co.uk Gladiator P67 system we reviewed earlier this month.
The Intel HD3000 Integrated Graphics on this particular Gigabyte board open up a whole other dimension by allowing you to need only the smallest amount of extra hardware to put together an exceptional High Definition media server.
No matter what we threw at it in terms of media, from 1080 Blu-Rays through to x264 films, it handled itself with exemplary poise. Playback was outstanding and seeking, even in supremely large files, didn't cause the Gladiator Z68 to flinch or hiccup in the slightest.
With such a choice of visual outputs there is something for everyone too. You can have it as the basis for an office PC and just run out the DVI or VGA outputs. You could install it in one of the many sleek cases available and have it under the TV as a Home Theatre PC. Or you choose to purchase a graphics card and have it as a hardcore gaming rig only limited by your wallet.
No matter what the application it's this flexibility that really separates the Gladiator Z68 from any of its rivals, and even differentiates it from the £30 cheaper P67 Gladiator bundle we looked at earlier. We understand how tight purse-strings can be, and thirty quid is a lot of money, but if you factor in even the most basic of GPUs you'd struggle to beat the value for money that's on offer here.
It's worth mentioning how impressive this latest generation of integrated graphics are too. Certainly you wont be able to max Metro 2033 or similar, but if you're willing to restrain your expectations then there is still a lot of HD Gaming pleasure to be obtained. We used Far Cry 2 as our example, and if you can get 30FPS of 720P eye-candy out of that then any of the PopCap style games will work perfectly, and things like the ultra-popular World of Warcraft will happily stroll along.
Once again the build and bundle quality from Aria deserves special mention. The Gladiator Z68 comes packaged so well it would survive even the most feckless delivery man and arrive to you in mint condition. The inclusion of the related periphery that one would accumulate by purchasing these parts separately is a lovely touch too.
Not that the Gladiator Z68 needs its value for money enhancing further, but it's only about £15 more than if you'd buy the bits yourself from Aria.co.uk, and yet you've none of the faffing about associated with building a new rig and overclocking it properly.
Whether you want a simple home/office setup, a High Definition media behemoth, or want to stick SLI GTX580s in there and go mental, the Gladiator Z68 has got you covered. Although slightly pricier than the P67 equivalent the inclusion of slightly faster RAM and the integrated graphics flexibility is definitely worth it. Unhesitatingly a winner of our OC3D Gold Award.