The Bitfenix Prodigy M that puts the “Cube” in the Palicomp AMD Nemesis Cube is one of the most distinctive budget cases on the market at the moment. This chassis has a squat design and an attractive front grille and matte black finish. It’s not the easiest case to work in, but Palicomp has done all the work so you don’t have to.
While such a compact and pleasing design may look great in photos, there are some slightly annoying quirks to take into account. The first of these is a lack of insulation. Even when under very little load there’s an audible whir coming from the various fans in the case, so you may wish to put this PC on the floor instead of up on your desk. This lack of insulation also carries over to heat: even when idling the machine gives off a noticeable amount of heat from the sealed side panels. This is surprising considering there are four case fans in this machine: two intake fans at the front and underneath, and two exhaust fans on the top and at the rear.
The second issue is stability. Loaded down with components, the case’s plastic legs are a bit bendy and even lightly tapping the case will send it into a small wobble. You’d need a fairly powerful kick to knock it over, but it still feels a bit cheap and we’d have preferred more solid legs or feet.
All of this doesn’t take away from the fact that the Nemesis Cube is a great-looking machine. Things are even better on the inside, with some great components making this PC a potent performer in both processor and graphics-intensive tasks. The processor is a quad-core AMD Athlon X4 860K “Black Edition” chip overclocked from 3.7GHz to 4.2GHz, which is paired with 8GB of 1600MHz Crucial Ballistix DDR3 memory.
The Athlon X4 860K is a decent value quad-core processor and managed some good scores in our benchmarking test, largely thanks to it being overclocked to 4.2GHz. It performed best in the image rendering test where it managed 76, dropping to 70 for video conversion and down to 58 in the tough multitasking test, giving it an overall score of 65. This PC certainly isn’t underpowered, but you may want to leave it alone while it renders a video.
With a little cash saved on the processor, Palicomp has been able to drop in a great graphics card: a 2GB Powercolor AMD Radeon R9 270X. It’s a mid-range piece of kit, but it’s capable of playing many modern games at relatively high settings without breaking too much of a sweat. It flew through our Full HD Dirt Showdown with an average framerate of 74fps. The taxing Metro: Last Light was almost playable at 24fps, and with SSAA switched off the game ran at a steady 45.5fps at Full HD resolution and Very High graphics settings. You should expect to run modern games at Medium to High settings on the Palicomp AMD Nemesis Cube.
Take off the side panel on the right of the case and you’ll feast your eyes on one of the most interesting PC builds we’ve seen in a while. The shape of the case means that Palicomp had to mount the motherboard upside down, with the graphics card sitting right at the top of the build ejecting its hot air straight into the top-mounted case fan. The 1TB hard disk, meanwhile, is mounted vertically and the PSU sits at the very front of the case. It’s neatly packaged, but if you’re planning on upgrading in the future you’ll have to take a moment to orientate yourself with the chassis’ unusual design. If you do take the side off the chassis, be aware that there are cables connecting to the two 3.5mm audio jacks, USB ports and power button. Disconnect them carefully before you fully remove the panel.
There’s room for expansion: two free memory slots mean you can double your RAM on the cheap if you feel like it, while there are six free SATA3 slots, although you’ll never be able to fill them because there’s only room in the case for one more 3.5in hard disk. You’ll struggle to fit extra expansion cards in the chassis, too – while there are PCI-E slots available, you’ll be hard pressed to actually get all but the smallest components into the chassis.
Palicomp has supplied a great monitor with the AMD Nemesis Cube. The 24in Full HD Asus VS247HR doesn’t have the prettiest design, but its panel performance is very good, especially considering the limited £600 budget and the power of the PC. We recorded sRGB gamut coverage of 94% and a contrast ratio of 1,298:1 with the added bonus of dark blacks (0.18cd/m2) and relatively wide viewing angles. If you don’t already have a monitor, you’d do well to buy the AMD Nemesis Cube with this model. The supplied Nemesis keyboard and mouse are garishly lit and fairly unattractive (unless you love pulsating LEDs) but they work just fine and are comfortable to use.
Palicomp’s warranty lasts for three years and includes parts for the first year and labour for all three. There’s no collect and return element to this basic cover, though, so you’ll have to pay for shipping if a problem develops.
The Palicomp AMD Nemesis Cube is a terrific gaming PC with a distinctive design and well-rounded performance. The lack of space for future expansion hurts it slightly, as does the merely average warranty. Nonetheless, it’s a great value PC, although theChillblast Fusion Cyborg is even better. If that doesn’t match your needs, a PC on our regularly updated best desktop PC list will.
|Processor||Quad-core 4.2GHz AMD Athlon X4 860K Black Edition (overclocked)|
|Memory type||1600MHz DDR3|
|Motherboard chipset||AMD A88X|
|Ports and expansion|
|Front USB ports||1x USB2, 1x USB3|
|Rear USB ports||4x USB2, 2x USB3|
|Other ports||2x PS/2|
|Networking||1x 10/100/1000 Ethernet|
|Case size HxWxD||359x250x404mm|
|PCI (free)||1 (1)|
|PCIe x1 (free)||1 (0)|
|PCIe x16 (free)||2 (0)|
|Serial ATA (free)||8 (6)|
|Memory slots (free)||4 (2)|
|Drive bays 2 1/2″ (free)||2 (1)|
|Drive bays 3 1/2″ (free)||2 (1)|
|Drive bays 5 1/4″ (free)||1 (0)|
|Total storage||1TB hard disk|
|Memory card reader||None|
|Optical drive type||DVD RW|
|Graphics card||2GB PowerColor Radeon R9 270X|
|Graphics/video ports||2x DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI|
|Sound card outputs||3x 3.5mm audio output|
|Display||24in Asus VS247HR|
|Inputs||DVI, HDMI, VGA|
|Keyboard||Nemesis Kane Pro keyboard|
|Mouse||Nemesis Kane Pro mouse|
|Operating system||Windows 8.1|
|Operating system restore option||Windows 8.1 restore|
|Warranty||Three years RTB including one year parts cover|
|Price including delivery (inc VAT)||£600|
|Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)||£500|